Alive or Dead Or Plot Summary:
The Alexandria crew must evade the Saviors in order to make it to The Hilltop. However, Tara (Alanna Masterson) is having serious issues with Dwight (Austin Amelio), over Dwight murdering her girlfriend a few seasons back. Meanwhile, Carson (R. Keith Harris) and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) wander the woods searching for refuge. Back at the Saviors’ compound Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is pressed into making bullets again for Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
For the past few years, I have railed against The Walking Dead on this site. Once one of my favorite shows on television, this series devolved into a series of unfortunate, unbelievable, and many times unwatchable events.
Gone were the days of pure terror, and character development. In its place rose a slow-moving series that spent too much of its time on disposable side characters, long scenes of tortuous exposition, and characters suffering seemingly for the sake of suffering.
However, there’s been a definite course correction in the second half of Season 8. The series remembered how many talented actors they have right now. It remembered how to build legitimate dramatic tension. It remembered how to use walkers as a device of pure horror, not fodder for big crowd-appeasing action sequences. And most importantly, it remembered how to make the audience care about the story, and the characters.
‘Dead or Alive or’ built great moments of tension throughout the episode. We were in fear for Dwight’s life when the “master of bad ideas at bad times” Tara decided she was going to exact revenge upon him. Our knuckles got a little whiter when Negan seethed at Eugene, implying that he helped Carson and Grabiel escape. We were gripped with intrigue at how Maggie (Lauren Cohan) would deal with dwindling rations, and restless prisoners.
You felt invested in the characters, you feared for their lives, and you were glued to the very end of the episode. Sure, there were a few let downs (e.g. Gabriel’s “this why we can’t have nice things” storyline), but for a series that has be one massive let down for years, this was a beacon of hope. Maybe this show is returning to better times. Maybe The Walking Dead will be great once again.
We’re only three episodes in, so things could easily change for the worse. But this is the strongest mid-season run in quite some time, so let’s hope next week’s “weapons dipped in walker blood” episode can continue the streak of quality episodes.
Rating: 8 out of 10