Only two episodes remain in this brutal, incredible season of The Walking Dead, and this time around, AMC’s zombie drama is cruising into its home stretch with nothing held back.
The Sunday, March 20, episode began as a quiet portrait of Alexandria after the Saviors massacre — a victory that left the community’s pantry nicely replenished and its borders secure, but its citizens deeply unsettled by their own acts of cold-blooded, preemptive violence. But by the time the credits rolled, we’d received yet another reminder that this world leaves no room for weakness; you can kill, or you can die.
Business as Usual Behind the Walls
With the Saviors vanquished, the good people of Alexandria were back to more pedestrian activities. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin) were sharing daily watch duty. Rosita (Christian Serratos) struck up a no-strings-attached romance with Spencer (Austin Nichols). Carol (Melissa McBride) and Tobin (Jeffrey Douglas) were looking cozy (although Carol continued to show signs of trauma from the violence she committed last week). And Morgan (Lennie James) created a single supermax jail cell in the basement of his townhouse. Why?
“It’ll give you some choices next time,” he said to Rick (Andrew Lincoln), thus fulfilling his weekly quota for finding new and creative ways to be passive-aggressively judgmental.
The Nerds Step Up
Thus far on The Walking Dead, Eugene and Denise (Merritt Wever) have been the brains of the operation, but this week they both took the opportunity to step outside their comfort zones — and outside the walls.
For Eugene, that meant an excursion with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) to a metalwork shop, where he’d gotten the bright idea that the group could start making their own bullets. But things got testy when Eugene said that he was adapting to the requirements of life in zombieland (read: toughening up), a claim Abraham pooh-poohed. Infuriated, Eugene informed Abraham that he no longer needed a ginger-bearded babysitter, thank you very much — and Abe called his bluff, abandoning him to find his own way home.
Meanwhile, Denise was making her own field trip with Rosita and Daryl (Norman Reedus). Destination: an apothecary gift shop, where the group found a rare, unransacked pharmacy. The outing also offered a chance for Denise to reveal a bit about her backstory as the estranged child of alcoholic parents, and then to make an absolutely epic speech about the importance of facing your fears … which, in hindsight, should have tipped us off that something very bad was about to happen to her.
And Then Something Very Bad Happened to Denise
That aforementioned epic speech about the meaning of bravery? Denise was right in the middle of it when an arrow went through the back of her skull.
Before her body even hit the ground, a group of 20-odd men emerged from the woods. Shock No. 1: They were led by Dwight (Austin Amelio), the haunted-looking Savior refugee who stole Daryl’s bike and crossbow all those many weeks ago. (His face is half melted off on one side now, but that’s definitely him.) Shock No. 2: On his knees in front of Dwight, hands bound, was Eugene.
Fortunately (unless you’re Dwight, that is), Eugene wasn’t kidding about having developed, uh, certain survival skills to go with his talent for outside-the-box thinking — as his friends discovered when he suddenly whirled and sank his teeth into Dwight’s genitals. The move created a diversion that gave Daryl, Rosita and Abraham (who was hiding in the woods) the upper hand and established Eugene as a true savage hero of the zombie apocalypse. And though he took a bullet in the ensuing shootout, Eugene is going to be fine.
But while Eugene will live to see another day and/or bite another penis, Denise is sadly gone — and in a shocking turn of events, so is Carol. The battered wife turned fierce warrior stayed long enough to dig Denise’s grave, then disappeared, leaving only a note behind. She couldn’t kill anymore, she explained, and so she couldn’t stay.
Her last words: “I’m going like I should have. Don’t come after me, please.”
But will her friends let her go so easily? And will Carol be able to stay away when the Saviors come looking for vengeance?
The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.
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