Entertainment Television

5 best things from 'The Walking Dead' midseason finale

By Steve Tilley, Special to Postmedia Network

Aaron (Ross Marquand), Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in Episode 8. (Photo by Gene Page/AMC)

Aaron (Ross Marquand), Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in Episode 8. (Photo by Gene Page/AMC)

After an uneven first half of the season – one that alienated some fans so much that they checked out entirely – The Walking Dead might be finding its footing.

 

Sunday night’s 90-minute midseason finale of AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama featured pretty much every character in the show, making sure we knew exactly where things stand as The Walking Dead takes a break before returning in February. And, as predicted, not all of those characters made it out alive.

Here’s the best of the best from Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead, titled Hearts Still Beating.

***Spoiler alert***

 

Best moment – reunited, and it feels so good

After all the madness and pain and death of the first half of the season, The Walking Dead goes into its midseason hiatus on a high note: the band is back together. Though it was a sometimes slow and choppily assembled 90 minutes, the episode ends with nearly all of the principal characters assembled at the Hilltop colony, where Maggie, Sasha and Enid have been making themselves abundantly useful.

When Rick, Michonne and company show up, meaningful glances abound – between Sasha and Rosita, between Carl and Enid, and so forth. But we got a little misty-eyed when Rick and Daryl hugged it out, and Daryl returned Rick’s prized revolver. Rick doesn’t just have his gun back, though – his mojo has been restored, his spine has been rebuilt, and the second half of the season will likely see the war against Negan start winding up in earnest, as Rick is finally ready, able and willing to fight.

 

Best character – Negan, again

Negan is an awful person, but he’s always interesting to watch. Slimily integrating himself into Alexandria, psychologically tormenting everyone around him, treating his baseball bat better than he treats human beings - this is a nasty, nasty man. But with so much overly dour gabbing between characters in this episode, it was Negan’s scenes that consistently stood out.

 

Best zombie kill – rowboat zombies

We have so many questions about Rick and Aaron crossing that zombie-filled lake to the mysterious survivalist’s houseboat. Like, why didn’t one of them create a noisy diversion at the side of the lake to lure away the wading dead? (Snort.) Or why didn’t they at least drag the damn rowboat to a point on the shore that was closer to the houseboat instead of crossing the maximum amount of zombie-infested open water? Whatever the case, it was fun watching multiple waterlogged zombies get stabbed in the face with jagged chunks of wood.

 

Best line – “That note was in the box when we found it.” – Aaron

Ha! Just kidding. That’s what Aaron could have said, and saved himself a savage beating at the hands of the Saviors. But instead, he somehow couldn’t explain that a mean note found in the supplies that he and Rick scavenged wasn’t written by them. And so, he got the living crap pummelled out of him by Saviors who thought he was dissing them. It’s kind of hard to feel sorry for him, really.

For lines that actually were spoken in the show, Negan exclaiming, “There they are, you did have guts!” to Spencer was horrible, but also kind of awesome.

 

Best surprise – guts and glory

While fans of the Walking Dead comics might have known what was coming, the entire scene between the Saviors and the Alexandrians in the streets of the walled town was back-to-back shockers. First, Negan sniffs out Spencer’s conniving nature and stabs him in the stomach, spilling his innards onto the pavement. Then, Rosita makes her assassination attempt against Negan, but her single bullet hits Negan’s bat, Lucille, instead. In response, Negan has one of his henchwomen choose someone to kill, and she shoots poor, sweet Olivia. No! Why Olivia?

And as if all that weren’t enough, Eugene finally confesses to having made the bullet, and is carted off by the Saviors to become, we assume, a valuable asset at their home base. That’s a lot of losses in a single scene, but it made the uneven hour leading up to it worthwhile. And it means we’re actually looking forward to the second half the season because we want to know what’s going to happen next, and not because of some hokey cliffhanger. But hey, Walking Dead, let’s pick up the pace a little, OK? Even your zombies don’t move this slowly.