After a couple of weeks of playing character roulette, last night’s edition of the show decided to bet on the Game of Thrones approach of multiple character turns. The mid-season finale is only one week away so it is understandable why the writers decided to do this, however, this approach probably did more harm in cluttering the pacing rather than providing a good build up to next week’s pre-Christmas closer.
Awesome things first though. Daryl Dixon’s use of a head was the best I’ve seen since the first time I watched Art Attack or Al Snow join the WWE (or ‘F’ as it was back then). Daryl’s fate being sealed in this fight was obviously doubtful yet that didn’t stop the moment from being incredibly intense, particularly thanks to the walker on his left chomping at the bit to take a piece out of him. The special effects team have really kicked things up a notch this season, we’ve had burning walkers, soaking wet walkers and now scorched walkers plastered into tarmac. Equally, the wonderful ways in which walkers can be killed has been just as fun to watch, using the fire hose a couple of weeks back was particularly satisfying.
However, none of these compared to the eye-gauging, bowling ball skull-crusher that we saw in ‘Crossed’. This is up there with some of Daryl’s greatest hits alongside the walker getting slammed in the trunk of a car and my personal favourite from Season 2’s ‘Chupacabra’, the crossbow through the skull.
Looking back at the episode as a whole, this was an enjoyable and entertaining outing for the series with Rick’s group leading the action. As signalled by last week’s ending, Daryl returned to the church to gather ammo and soldiers for the inevitable attack on Dawn’s A&E unit. The ‘previously on…’ segment gave the audience a recap on where things stood after a few weeks of varying storylines, this also did the episode a favour as no time was wasted listening to Daryl explain what Beth & Carol’s situation was. Jumping straight into the fortification of the church signalled that the build up to the mid-season finale was going to be fast & furious.
For the most part this was true, Rick’s plan to take out each person in the ward was cold and calculated, listening to Daryl talk him down about this and killing the officer who attacked him in the car park was reminiscent of some scenes where Rick did the same against a bullish, no-nonsense, head-rubbing Shane. If this was intended it may be a glimpse of what may be to come in the second half of season five.
As for the plan, it went well as a taste of what’s surely to come when the two groups face off next week. Although, Sasha’s decision to kill Sgt. Lamson’s friend just because his first name is Bob was a bit of a stretch and not too impressive as a way to provide a climax.
Moments at the church with Gabriel addressing his cowardice weren’t much use as we’ve been down this path before. Sure there was a lot of symbolism with his failure to end the life of a formerly-religious walker but it didn’t show us anything new about Gabriel. Likewise, Maggie & Abraham’s collective didn’t add too much to the anticipation for next week. Abraham didn’t speak a word about his relationship with Eugene or his wife’s death and Glenn’s trio going for water only gave us a brief moment to learn about Rosita’s story.
Both of these elements diluted what was an encouraging build up in the Atlanta part of the story, if this was just a way to get things out of the way so we can concentrate on events in the city next week then it’ll have been worth taking the hit now. If not then let’s hope the stuffing isn’t taken out of the pre-Christmas finale, we want to see a cracker of an episode, not a turkey.