The Walking Dead, ‘Crossed’ Plot:
After learning about Beth’s (Emily Kinney) location from Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Noah (Tyler James Williams), Rick (Andrew Lincoln) puts a small rescue team together. Not among them is Michonne (Danai Gurira) who stays back at the Church to protect Carl (Chandler Riggs), Judith, and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam). Meanwhile, the Washington DC group deals with the fallout of Eugene’s (Josh McDermitt) confession.
After three weeks focusing on smaller groups of people, we’re finally back to having everyone on screen. This is all officially after a ton of shit has gone down. Gabriel’s church was soiled in a massacre, Beth has tried to escape from Dawn (Christine Woods), Eugene outed himself as a massive liar, and Carol (Melissa McBride) was brought to Grady Memorial Hospital with grave injuries. These were all major events that naturally required extensive focus on their respective fallouts. Over the course of the hour, we saw everybody attempt to recover from things they had just experienced. There was also some significant setting up for next week’s mid-season finale. This all made “Crossed” an episode that didn’t have much in the way of action, but gave us a lot to work with in terms of character development.
It’s tough for me to pick which story provided the best look at how recent events have changed our characters, so I’ll kick this off with the events surrounding Rick’s mission, mainly because we haven’t seen him in weeks. This is where most of the action was as his group set into motion various plans to get Beth out of the hospital. But now that the episode is over, it’s not the action I find myself looking back at (or those very well done melted walkers). It’s how people had to keep convincing Rick that they can finish this all non-violently. I don’t blame Rick for wanting to silently kill people to pull Beth out. Surely he knows by now that, had he been able to kill everyone at Terminus like he wanted, Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) would still be alive. Yet there’s something to be said about taking an approach with negotiating in mind as opposed to killing. Our characters have long since maintained that they’re not murderers after all. Watching Rick deal with that very justified struggle was powerful, as was Daryl keeping him in check. Obviously this will not matter when guns go blazing next week, but it was a good reprieve.
Also, Daryl smashed a guy’s head with a walker skull. Didn’t want to forget that amazing little moment.
Continuing with the Atlanta theme, Beth’s story was great too. It was definitely better getting her segments in as little bursts as opposed to an entire hour like “Slabtown.” Beth’s escape during that episode rightfully caught Dawn’s eye, and “Crossed” saw her actually playing the role of an ally in keeping Carol alive. Now that’s a little twist I didn’t expect. Dawn’s introduction was done very poorly but her reappearance here is much better as it kept her true character alignment in question. Is she really the psychotic dictator we all pegged her as, or does she absolutely want what is best for everyone? Who knows, maybe she really can form a little truce with Rick. Ah, who am I kidding. This is The Walking Dead. It’s more likely that Dawn is tricking Beth and won’t go down without a fight. But until that happens, I enjoyed this little moment where I didn’t actually dislike her character. As for Beth, watching her sneak through the hospital to get medicine for Carol was really cool and well done. I hope those two make it out okay.
Outside of the events in Atlanta is where the show faltered a little bit. Case in point, the stuff going on with Abraham’s (Michael Cudlitz) group. What this episode did right for them was treating Eugene’s confession with the weight it deserves. No one knows what to do now and they’re all just figuring it out as they go. No one is doing this more than Abraham who just saw his entire new purpose in life get completely obliterated in the blink of an eye. Cudlitz staying on the ground in a stony silence was absolutely appropriate, more so than if he continued going on that rampage that knocked Eugene out. It was on par with what Gabriel was dealing with as well (more on that later).
Where this focus failed though was how disjointed it made the entire episode. For a good while it was essentially Happy Fun Time with Glenn (Steven Yeun), Tara (Alanna Masterson), and Rosita (Christian Serratos). Their mission to get some water lead to plenty of laughter, merriment, and confessions of friendship. Basically nothing like what else was happening in the episode. Now, I don’t mind a little levity in a situation. I’d probably make jokes like Tara in a situation such as this. The extended focus on Rosita, who just gets better and better every week thanks to Serratos, was great too. But there was so much focus on making things seem so happy and joyful that it didn’t even feel like the same episode.
The stuff going on at the church was marginally better. I loved the decision to address how all of this is damaging Father Gabriel. In the course of a single day, that man has watched everything he cares about get completely ruined. His precious church was the location of a blood bath and now these strangers won’t let him live in peace. I can totally understand why he would want to leave the church in an attempt to get away from everyone. But this side-story was subjected to some unnecessary extra material as well. We really didn’t need to see Carl trying to coach Gabriel on the finer details of violent survival. Gabriel’s insistence of non-violence alone makes this something that deserves better attention on later. A single lecture wasn’t going to change anything and it makes me wish that time was better spent elsewhere.
Next week is the mid-season finale and I’m appropriately excited. “Crossed” did a great job setting up the conflict against Dawn and I look forward to seeing it play out very shortly. On it’s own accord though, “Crossed” was a solid hour that didn’t have the best structure. It sought to combine every disparate story and it gave the whole proceeding a very disjointed feel. My sincere hope is that we don’t have this issue next week. The Walking Dead usually does a good job with mid-season finales and I can’t imagine “Coda” doing well without feeling like a cohesive whole. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. My money is on there being some big gun fight though. Something tells me that Dawn won’t leave quietly.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.