Anyone who wasn’t down with shifting the focus entirely on Daryl and his Reaper adventure in last week’s episode should get ready for the compensation coming in this week’s Walking Dead. “Out of the Ashes” is tracking four or five storylines, providing an update on almost everyone in this show. We have our first proper look inside the Commonwealth. Eugene and Stephanie figure out some things while Yumiko reunites with her brother. Aaron is having bad dreams and compensates by torturing a stray whisperer. Maggie and Negan are still working out their issues. And Judith is dealing with no good teens in Alexandria. It’s a lot to track, but this show does need to keep moving forward.
To focus on Aaron for a bit, remember when this guy was so earnest and happy? The world has really done a number on him over the years. Being a father and losing various loved ones has undoubtedly changed his worldview. Once the man who would keep the peace, now he’s waiting up covered in sweat over nightmares of all the evil he has seen. Plus, he’s going with a “shoot first ask questions later” approach that would make Rick Grimes proud.
With the need for supplies (and anything useful) growing, heading to Hilltop made plenty of sense. The unexpected thing was the last set of Whisperers hanging around those parts. Rightfully angry, as this was once their home, watching Aaron and Jerry (not Jerry!) get mad enough to go to torture town was quite the sight. When Carol is the voice of reason regarding what’s too much for these people, that’s notable. It would have been nice for Aaron to relay more of what’s going on in his head. Still, at least this group got the information regarding Connie out of the now one-handed Whisperer.
Connie’s location is still a bit of a mystery based on what was described. We know she’s involved with Virgil in something, but what will that lead to? Will it mean more supplies? That would be good because Alexandria needs structure. Poor Judith has to deal with bullies, and she doesn’t have too many around to help, outside of Rosita, who is around to deliver a monologue rather than do anything about the mean boys. Really, there’s only so much to say here, as we know Judith’s new storyline will lead to some kind of comeuppance. Will it be something vicious, similar to how her deceased older brother once acted? I hope not. Michonne has taught Judith well over the years, so here’s hoping she keeps her cool.
Speaking of people keeping their cool, Maggie and Negan really have to figure their stuff out, both for their sakes and the audience. While this is a dynamic I’ve wanted to see explored, it does feel like the writers don’t seem to have much else to say. This week, Maggie repeats the same dialogue about why she hasn’t killed Negan that she uttered in the season premiere. It’s time to refresh this argument. The only way to do that is apparently getting these two closer. They almost came to blows (or did something else?) before Gabriel and Elijah (still alive!) arrived, proving it’s right to wait for others before moving onward.
And now for the Commonwealth. After all of the talk about it, an introductory video hosted by Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) gave us all the clues into this world that, of course, has more going on beneath the surface. That said, what we have seen so far is a large community with all kinds of organizations and a bakery, and an ice cream truck. How fun! What could go wrong here? Despite the glossy surface, it seems like the bureaucracy involved in everything can be a massive downer for many. We also know Yumiko’s brother, Tomi (Ian Anthony Dale), isn’t exactly going out of his way to tell people he’s a surgeon. He’s happier just baking.
We’ve only seen so much of the Commonwealth so far, but you don’t have a guy like Lance Hornsby around because he’s entirely on the level. Obviously, there’s an interest in Eugene and the gang (mainly Yumiko), as they have not only been let in but are being cleared of their first offense. Yes, Eugene and Stephanie have not only bonded in real life but are already scheming together. Why the radio is not under better guard or is such a unique device has some clear answers but others that can be filled in.
What does all of this add up to? One could say this is an episode about setting up more to come, and it is in many ways. However, the character bits are there and effective for some. After Eugene’s radio relationship, let alone his heavy from sweating a couple of weeks ago, seeing him register as a human being experiencing new things, in reality, is worthwhile. I’m still waiting on what is to come of Aaron’s general demeanor, but at least Ross Marquand is getting more to do. Plus, the more Jerry, the better. This episode emphasizes the large ensemble, and while the story is packing in a lot of information to track, there’s at least plenty of assured work to give the audience a lot to work with.
- Zombie Kill of the Week: Jerry putting a sledgehammer to a walker’s head at Alexandria, saving Aaron in the process – good stuff.
- Jerry sneaking around the house to pee is the kind of fun The Walking Dead forgets to have a lot.
- Commonwealth jobs: Eugene – teacher, Princess – retail, Ezekiel – animal control.
- “Must be the accent” – Princess has thoughts on why Yumiko received a special notice on her position in the Commonwealth.
- I will say, the Whisperer played it well as far as his status. I couldn’t pinpoint what he was going for in terms of being true to his word, hiding something, or what.
- Tomi seems like a good guy. Glad these siblings got back together.
- Eugene likes rocky road ice cream but didn’t order it. He did get sprinkles, though.
- “You have really beautiful eyelashes” – Princess distracting Mercer is fun, but his reactions are terrific.
- Using walkers for torture – that’s rough stuff, guys.
- 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.