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Review: The Walking Dead 8×14, “Still Gotta Mean Something”

Aaron Neuwirth reviews The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 14, "Still Gotta Mean Something," in which Jadis and Negan hash out some difference and Rick defines "his word."

Thanks to a slightly extended episode crowded with characters, The Walking Dead managed to spin its wheels a little more, as we reach the final two episodes of season eight. “Still Gotta Mean Something” decided to play a cruel joke on us all by having a cold open that suggested it would be an all-Jadis episode. Sadly, Jadis only took up a portion of an episode that left time for lots of emotional monologues covering familiar ground, and a pretty wild role-reversal for those who tend to rely on Rick giving people his word. Compared to last week’s episode that was top heavy with fun action, before crashing in its back half, this was an overstuffed episode that at least had some unpredictability to it.

Staring with Jadis, last we saw of her, she had captured an injured Negan and was heading somewhere to likely take some vengeance. Given how much I enjoy the weird energy Pollyanna McIntosh brings to the character, it would have been nice to delve more into her world, following the slaughter of her people. Instead, we have to settle for scattered scenes where she prepares Negan for her latest zombie pet, while he attempts to wiggle his way out of it.

To their credit, the two oddballs have the right sort of chemistry to make these scenes work. Negan decides to open up about Lucille, and we get a serious story about Negan’s wife of the same name. Perhaps that much sharing from Negan in this state seems like a bit much, but it’s acted well enough, and we can only assume this whole Simon business really got to him. Given that it’s also serving as a complete counter to off-the-wall Rick, The Walking Dead is trying its damnedest to make us see the ironic turning of the table sin perceived personalities.

Now I still would have liked to know more about Jadis. I mean, she was attempting to signal a helicopter with a flare. What does this mean? Who is scouting the land via helicopter? What’s Jadis’ involvement in all of this? Apparently, those are questions for another time. Instead, the two reach an understanding, allowing Negan to take a drive back to the Sanctuary (picking up an unknown along the way), with plans of making a big surprise party out of his return. Meanwhile, Jadis cries in her minimalist container room.

Rick and Morgan are at the center of the rest of the episode, with a side of Carol’s floatiness for good measure. Honestly, while Rick at least offers up a twist on his pissed off persona, Morgan and Carol seem to be in a weird rut of taking a step forward, followed by three steps backward. Morgan is back to being cracked, as we saw last week, but now he’s gone off to speak of just how terrible things are. “Everybody turns!” he exclaims a number of times, proving that there are always more layers to crazy. I suppose this concept will have some level of finality as he exits the series to go to Fear the Walking Dead, but it’s not that exciting when it’s just a more extreme version of what we’ve seen.

Carol is baffling, as she’s just wavered back and for the between being her badass self and being despondent. Apparently, Henry meant a lot to the Kingdom, so Carol has to balance running the same familiar lines with Ezekiel and Morgan with a low level of hope that this kid may be alright. Wouldn’t you know it, Carol manages to find the kid, and begins to perk up a little by the episode’s end. When I saw the show is spinning its wheels, it’s because of these mini-arcs that do so little work based on the setup and underwhelming payoff. This is why I’m surprised I can be thankful for Rick for a change.

We already knew Rick has been pretty upset since the death of Carl. That led him to his suicide mission against Negan. This week has Rick dealing with his demons once again, and not even some sweet words from Michonne and former Savior Alden were enough to keep Rick from holding back. After a brief capture (somehow Rick and Morgan were taken by surprise, which may be the least believable thing of this entire season), Rick is helping the escaped Saviors fight off a small herd of walkers. One of them even saves Rick, but this doesn’t stop the slaughtering of these men. It’s a pretty wild moment, as Rick is literally shooting men in the back, after giving them his word, no less.

The rest of this exciting sequence involves Morgan finally taking down that one super dickish Savior, Jared, in a way that’s completely fitting. We then get a chance for Rick and Morgan to speak, with Rick letting us know that Morgan still has something inside of him, thanks to some discussion of their meeting in the pilot episode. It’s a nice bit that’s almost entirely ruined by the heavy-handed shot of Rick looking into a mirror and seeing his grizzled reflection. Look what he’s become!

“Still Gotta Mean Something” is an episode packed with a lot of stuff for the characters to do. I liked some of it, as it gave us weird Jadis moments and an unexpected Rick twist. It’s just annoying to watch other characters walk around the same exact issues they’ve been dealing with for what seems like years at this point. I’m all for watching Carol and Morgan be who they are, but it’s starting to wear on me, and that’s not great when I’m speaking of two of the most interesting characters in Rick’s group. Hopefully, the end of this war will give them more to work with, as opposed to blah discussions of the same ol’ stuff.

Dead Bits:

  • Zombie Kill of the Week: Morgan finds Henry’s stick in a walker, removed it, and stabs the same walker in the face with it. Nice.
  • Tara lives. No sign of infection and Daryl still needs to be won over by facts other than her survival.
  • Eugene is making lots of ammo, and it may be up to Daryl and Rosita to stop him.
  • I’d be happy to see more of Negan wheeling himself around in that cart.
  • So who did Negan pick up in the car?
  • “I lied” – Rick enjoys laying out the scenario for those who are dying.
  • “Dude” – Never change Jerry.
  • Thanks for reading and feel free to hear what me and a few other fans of the show have to say about the series on The Walking Dead TV Podcast.

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