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Below includes spoilers of the show and comic book, theories of who might be killed off. You've been warned but hope you enjoy!
Season eight promised us an all-out war between the communities, but it's time to deliver action and intrigue has been slow-going - to say the least. In the eleventh hour of the new season, episode seven seems to follow in the same glacial pace as the prior two seasons. Someone has betrayed the Sanctuary, and every episode "it's time to find out who that is", as AHK (Alexandria, Hilltop Colony and Kingdom) fight for a better future.
Time for After glaringly dragged out its exploration of who is the culprit and put the Sanctury at risk for AHK's attacks. Doubling down on Eugene's investigation of Dwight's messages to Alexandria, the entire episode merely played with his conscience. Will he feel guilty enough to rat out Dwight? Does his loyalty to Negan equal his self-preservation? And, it asked the audience to indulge in his quest whether we're not really interested in it or not anymore.
Something deeply analytical could be said for the differences of episode's focuses on two characters: Dwight and Eugene, and how they play off of each other for the respect of their leaders.
Dwight has become far more layered as one of the Saviors seemingly turned over to the good side; a survivor of the apocalypse roped into working for Negan seemed to like his time earning his respect, but has become faced with a decision to become the person he wants to be. He's sticking his neck out for Rick and the other communities, though he hasn't found a home or allies waiting for him on the other side.
In contrast, Eugene only became a survivor by the sacrifices of other people; most people who are dead now. Ever since he fibbed to Abraham about knowing a cure for the apocalypse, and letting people die to protect him as they tread from Texas to Washington, Eugene has always been out for himself, and nothing has changed his behavior.
For a majority of the episode, we trailed Eugene and the different messages he received from Dwight and Father Gabriel to do the right thing versus following his own natural cowardice. Of course, he ended up doing what was right for him: trying to detract the walkers away from the compound with music (which Dwight shattered) and earning more of Negan's respect. He did, however, manage one last time not to give Dwight up, but his decision wasn't particularly shocking or help us give Eugene the benefit of the doubt; it just felt like a last attempt to keeping us believe in Pinoccio's alligator tears.
In what was probably the best moment of the season so far, Rick was temporarily kidnapped by Jadis and the Heapsters. Stripped down to his boxers, they wanted to sculpt him and used a toothless walker to challenge him in a fight. Once again, Grimes managed to save his own skin and use that leverage over Jadis to score a new deal for weapons and them as allies.
Of course, as he thinks everything is going swimmingly and sticking to the plan, that's when all hell broke loose. At the last second, Rosita was the voice of reason and managed to convince Michonne that it's better to be Team Rick and stay at Alexandria, waiting to see how his plan plays out. They left Daryl and Tara to do something profoundly stupid: run a truck into the Sanctuary, drawing all of the walkers inside. It was basically the antithesis of the group's original plan. By the time Rick arrives with the Trash Heap Gang, promising the walkers were surrounding Negan's joint, it's like a ghost town.
Despite promises of a different tone and approach, the current installment so far has been by no means anything different than the past two seasons. Similar to the aftermath of Glenn's death in season seven, the air has been sucked out of the character's developments as several episodes cover one day's events between multiple characters. No longer does the series feel like a wide dissection of how survivors hold onto their humanity and not become one of the undead as loose ideas are tied together unneatly to be anything too poignant or entertaining. The gang might be back together eyeing the same cause for freedom and liberation, no longer under Negan's control, however, most episodes this time around (like season six and seven) lack moments to drive character's arcs or their own conflicts further.
The plot for the All-Out War seemed ambitious in the beginning. How were they going to pull this ginormous task dividing the Sanctuary into pieces, cutting off their supply, and getting semi-innocent (it depends on who you ask) parties like the workers or soldiers to surrender. Over the episodes though, things began to reveal itself as pretty much the same: Rick has a plan, which seemingly everyone is on board with at the beginning. And, then in episodic time, nearly only a day or two later, his supporters have their own unexciting agendas which leads us back to square one. Are you Team Rick or Team Villain.
Right now, as the season propels itself for the midseason finale, it's a little disconcerting that the big draw to give the war a boost is to decide which character is going to die. Any way theories slice who is going to face their final demise, it doesn't bode well that killing off some of the last longtime, fully established characters is the last resort to breathe new life into this show.
Who do you think is going to die in the midseason finale? Let me know what you think of the season so far!