Warning: this post contains spoilers from the most recent episode of The Walking Dead. Watch the episode on Sling On-Demand before you read.
Maybe because it was also Oscars night AMC offered up a slightly superfluous episode of The Walking Dead.
Daryl summarized 75 percent of the latest episode when he said, “We want food, medicine, and one of them cows.” It basically played out like a game of Catan: Cities and Knights: in exchange for vowing to protect the walled Hilltop Colony from Negan and his band of robbers, Rick and his fellow defenders from the Alexandria Safe-Zone received a Year of Plenty (i.e., Catan-speak for commodities like grain – presumably sorghum).
Carol was nowhere to be seen for the second episode in a row. If you watch this show mainly to bask in the glory of her badassery (totally valid), then you will again be disappointed. Instead, we got a lot of Sasha / Abraham / Rosita in a would-be love triangle if only all named parties were actually interested. Frankly, it’s hard to remember Abraham and Rosita are even an item, since most of his screen time for the past dozen or so episodes has been spent pining away for Sasha, who wisely traded guard shifts with Eugene in order to discourage Abraham’s advances.
While Abraham struggled to let go of his fantasized future with Sasha, Maggie’s pregnancy caused him to question the broader future they’re all fighting to make possible. Inside the RV bound for Hilltop, Abraham indelicately inquired whether Glenn and Maggie had planned to get pregnant, asking Glenn: “When you were pouring the Bisquick, were you trying to make pancakes?” Even for Abraham, it was pretty cringeworthy, despite the underlying moral uncertainty of welcoming a child into a world whose most numerous inhabitants are hell-bent on eating it. This question, coupled with Abraham’s blunt wondering at however long Richonne have been “ugging bumplies,” suggests a buildup toward further explorations of Abraham’s paternal and romantic motivations in future episodes. Sidenote: whoever is clamoring for deeper insight into Abraham’s love life, please stop. It’s cost us two good hours with Carol we can’t get back.
In “The Next World,” Jesus promised Rick his world was about to get a whole lot bigger, but he might have oversold Hilltop by just a smidge. At first glance, Hilltop boasts a historic house with a not-purely-decorative cupola, which is good for keeping watch. There’s also a blacksmith who specializes in making spears, which are fine weapons if you’re an Ewok, but they’re only marginally better than NERF guns when guarding against ruthless marauders amid the zombie apocalypse (hence the colony’s need to form partnerships). So Hilltop is really – by Jesus’s own admission, no less – just one bitey Shetland pony short of being a grade school museum field trip, which is ultimately what watching this episode felt like.
It was a nice diversion on a day when the audience’s full attention could not be guaranteed, and, despite learning some new things, it will be nicer still to return to routine peril (and a Carol subplot).