The Walking Dead 6.15 (written by Scott Gimple and Channing Powell) brought us one step closer to the ultimate showdown with Negan. Events were set in motion, as Daryl and Carol decided that right before The Saviors’ looming attack on Alexandria would be a good time to leave, forcing our other survivors out in the open to search for their family members. But all Daryl accomplished was getting himself and his friends caught, while Carol ended up doing the one thing she dreaded the most. In the end, “East” was mostly set up for the show’s extremely hyped brutal season finale.
The episode opens peacefully enough, with Rick and Michonne in bed cuddling. Michonne voices Maggie’s concern about an attack on Alexandria to Rick, but Rick feels certain they will easily dispose of the threat, stating, “The world’s ours and we know how to take it.” Oh boy, a cocky Rick is never a good thing.
Just as the community is trying to prepare for an inevitable attack, Daryl takes it upon himself to go and seek revenge on Dwight for killing Denise. This is unequivocally a selfish thing to do. Alexandria needs every person they have right now, and Daryl had to know the others would try to follow him if he went outside the walls while The Saviors are lurking out there. His actions could be explained away because Daryl is stubborn and impulsive, but the whole set up screams contrived plot point so the writers could put our major characters in harm’s way.
In much the same thoughtless way, Carol leaves a note (which Tobin promptly shows to Rick) saying she’s going out on her own because she can no longer kill for the people she loves. Yeah, okay. Now, I understand the character of Carol is having a crisis of conscience as her kill list gets longer, and Melissa McBride’s portrayal of Carol’s guilt and grief has been fascinating to watch. But Carol is smart and her actions are always calculated. I just don’t believe she would ever think stealing a conspicuous car and fleeing in the middle of the night would be a good idea. Not only are those actions completely selfish (like Daryl) but Carol plans to leave permanently. Even a badass like Carol couldn’t go it alone indefinitely, and she would never hook up with strangers. She would also know that Rick and the others need her in the event of an attack, and her departure would trigger at least some of the group leaving a potential fight to go and search for her. Carol wouldn’t leave her people vulnerable like that. Needless to say, it was very out of character for her to take off, but that’s what the writes want us to believe she did. I guess, however, we just have to play the narrative hand we’re dealt as viewers.
Of course, Carol runs into some Saviors immediately, and after a confrontation where she once again pulls out her failsafe “scared vulnerable nobody” routine, she ends up using the gun she sewed into the sleeve of her jacket (just in case) and kills almost all of them. When Carol corners one of the surviving Saviors behind a car, he grabs a knife and lunges at her, and for the rest of the episode, her fate will remain a mystery.
Carol’s disappearance necessitates a little road trip for Morgan and Rick, and it was good to see Lennie James and Andrew Lincoln in some scenes together again. When the pair come upon the bloody road scene, Rick realizes his attack on The Saviors’ compound didn’t end things, but merely started something instead. These are the consequences of hasty actions, Rick.
Morgan and Rick continue to follow a blood trail, where Morgan attempts to understand who Rick has become since the two first met. They have an interesting conversation about Rick banishing Carol after she killed the two people at the prison, but Rick states that if it happened now, he would not only let Carol stay, but he would have killed the infected himself. His declaration was pretty chilling, if you think about it: If you’re not a person Rick considers family, you are disposable.
Rick and Morgan come upon a little farmhouse where a stranger is hiding. Rick inquires about Carol and wants the man to drop his weapons, but the guy says he’s just looking for his horse and runs. Apparently carrying a spear similar to the ones Hilltop makes is enough of a crime for Rick to shoot at a person. Morgan stops him, though, then eventually confesses about keeping The Wolf locked up in Alexandria. I liked Morgan’s astute observations about how things come full circle, using the powerful example of The Wolf saving Denise’s life, which then allowed Denise to save Carl (the notion reminded me of the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life where the character of George Bailey sees the repercussions on everyone’s life if he had never been born). Morgan is absolutely right, saying, “Everything gets a return.” Yep, more than Rick knows. But he will find out soon.
Rick returns to Alexandria, leaving the search for Carol in Morgan’s hands. Meanwhile, Daryl tries to save Glenn and Michonne, but Dwight sneaks up behind the experienced tracker (providing an eye roll moment) and ends up shooting Daryl – though it’s doubtful that shot was a fatal one.
Ultimately, we know all roads lead to Negan and the infamous character’s introduction with Lucille. One, or perhaps more characters (probably major ones) will die in the season finale. They say we’ll be shocked, though by now even those who haven’t’ read the comic books know what happens to one of the characters. But rumor has it the finale will end on a huge cliffhanger, which would make us wait 6 long months before we even find out which character that is. I’m expecting (and dreading) that it will all be extremely brutal, but I hope we also get a great story. Because The Walking Dead really is at its best when it’s telling that story and focusing on the humanity of these characters we’ve come to care about, not when it’s just killing them all off for shock effect.