It certainly fits to title this episode “Trust.” The penultimate episode of this second part of the final season of The Walking Dead spends time lining up some key pieces and making sure certain bonds remain, and other ones are formed is a big part of it. Trust comes into play between Daryl and Maggie. It’s also a factor with Ezekiel and Dr. Tomi. Eugene and Max find themselves getting back into a trusting mode. Even Mercer opens up to Princess, leading to newfound trust. Will Lance be able to gain the confidence of a very pissed-off Leah? Well, that will be for the mid-season finale to decide.
Much like me, this show can’t get enough of Toby Carlson, so I was happy to pick up where we left off with him, face half-eaten off as the Commonwealth stormtroopers investigate the area. Lance is running some questions by Aaron and Gabriel, fully knowing what happened but going along with their nonsense lies to see where it goes. As much as we spend time with the other characters this week, Lance is a focal point for the episode, and I continue to enjoy his oddball behavior that is tolerated just enough by the others.
His decision is to lead his squad to Hilltop, where we find ourselves in the scene teased in the mid-season opener. The context is now clear – Daryl is not at all against Maggie (which I never really doubted). Instead, he’s is hoping Maggie trusts Daryl enough to open the gates and have the soldiers inspect the area for the remaining members of the apartment building who may have had something to do with Carlson’s death.
For all the effort put into trying to convince Maggie that she should have Hilltop sign up for Commonwealth protection/allegiance, this episode confirms she was in the right to deny them. It’s nothing but suspicions and intimidation tactics driving Lance. Maggie may not have the best poker face (she couldn’t look more worried during that truck scene), but dealing with this sort of inspection and the threat it presents leaves her clear-minded on what to look out for.
Of course, it’s not like Lance is wrong either. He knows Maggie was involved in whatever happened at the apartment building and would use lil’ Hershel if he had to in order to prove it. Still, Lance thinks ahead. Between being threatened by Maggie and Elijah (and Daryl), and the lack of clear proof, he’ll bid his time and make a different move. How he was able to track down Leah is a different story, but if his plan is going where I think it is, an exciting showdown may emerge next week.
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth has plenty of other drama taking place. Mercer is dealing with his thoughts on the levels of corruption he knows he has to look the other way from. He’s also attempting to make what he has with Princess work. Romance has never been the strongest aspect of The Walking Dead (the nihilistic apocalypse series that occasionally features body dismemberment), but you take what you can get when the chemistry is strong enough. Mercer may have a way to go as far as being a less awkward beau, but he clearly wants some good in his life.
Director Lily Mariye knows what she has with Mercer too, because if the fans are happy with what he brings, well, a confrontation between him and his sister, Max, while he’s working out, makes for some specific visuals. The conversation has plenty of value, as it speaks to what the two know to be serious issues that may or may not involve Pamela Milton. Mercer makes a great point as far as exposing Sebastian; however, what if he brings it up and then just disappears. At the same time, people look up to Mercer, while various citizens have been disappearing.
Max may be annoyed with the situation, but at least she’s coming around to Eugene. Poor ol’ Eugene, back to being afraid of his shadow and hoping not to ruffle too many feathers. He and Rosita do what they can to share the shady stuff with Connie and Kelly. Eugene even does his delicate best to present what he knows to Max. Fortunately, being back in awkward but likable mode pays off, as the two seem to connect once again, similar to their radio days.
The final storyline focuses on Ezekiel. He is back on his feet after having the “tumor the size of a grapefruit” removed from his neck and shows that he wants to make amends. Given what Carol did for him, he apologizes for being standoffish about it. Later on, he’s in Dr. Tomi’s office, hoping he can lend him supplies and his services for an appendectomy. We learn it’s more than just that. As it turns out, Ezekiel is leading a cause to help treat the people he skipped ahead of in line.
I’m not sure how he’s pulling this off under the noses of the Commonwealth security, but at least he has Carol on his side. Tomi is a bit worse for wear (he reluctantly returned to being a surgeon, after all), but managing to help these people at least brought a smile to his face. Still, how long can all of this last?
Given the show this is, I don’t think it’s too bold to think darker times are ahead. Too many loose ends and shady business is taking place, and it’s going to have to get cleaned up. We’ll just have to see how much damage this leads to. Still, “Trust” finds these characters relying on their shared history to continue to justify their ultimate cause – finding the best version of the right thing in times of peril. That plays well to the episode’s writing, given all the movements between storylines. Here’s hoping the finale knows how to settle it all for the time being.
- Zombie Kill of the Week: Daryl shoved the knife on his rifle into the head of one walker, turned around, lined it up with another walker, and got a two for one special.
- It got really greenscreen heavy this week after a rooftop that looked pretty good previously.
- “I think you’re part robot” – Princess to Mercer, who responds with beep-boop noises.
- Convenient not to have Mercer out in the field to help with Lance’s mess.
- Somebody get Dr. Tomi a girlfriend or something. The dude is constantly on edge.
- What else is wrong with that truck?
- I get that this can be a dark show, but let’s get a little more light on Mercer. Brother is already pretty midnight.
- They left Hershel’s hat at the crime scene? C’mon guys!
- Leah looks ready for a fight, alright.
- 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.