THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR “HUNTED.”
On this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, each story focuses on food: how to get it and what you will do to eat. Carol tracks horses, the Reapers attack, and Maggie and Negan continue their uneasy dance of grudging allyship to get to the supply depot. With a whole town desperate for food, Maggie refuses to turn back. Even in the face of a Reaper attack that fractures the group, Maggie marches on.
THEY LASSO HORSES DON’T THEY?
Aaron is still singularly focused on rebuilding the walls of Alexandria. Carol appears to be avoiding wall building duty, but she isn’t exactly chatty about her reasons. When Aaron asks why Carol ducked out on wall work, Carol explains that she needs to track down the missing horses. Aaron reminds Carol of how well that last expedition to track horses went for poor Buttons, but Carol cannot be swayed. Carol maintains that horses will help them look for food and rebuild the walls.
With Kelly and Magna in tow, Carol finds Rosita on a mushroom forage in the woods, and they are off on a horse hunt. After several failed attempts and the discovery of a graveyard of half-eaten horses, the group wants to head home. Carol refuses. Magna clocks that Carol is almost vibrating with stress, and she hugs her. Carol is stunned, but she softens and hugs Magna back. Defused, Carol agrees to head home. On the way, the group finds four horses, and they manage to coral them and lead them home.
The hunting party is buoyed by the good luck. With the horses, the residents will be able to accomplish work on the wall quicker. It is smiles all around except in the barn. In the barn, Carol is easing a horse to lie down with gentle pats. The moment Carol places a pan by the horse’s head, it is obvious what comes next. Sure the community has work horses. They also have horse jerky to keep them going now too.
DON’T GIVE HER HOPE
On the journey to find the horses, Magna asks Carol not to give Kelly hope. Magna explains that her family needs to heal, and she does not need to know Connie’s fate. When Carol disagrees, Magna notes that she knows Carol believes that Connie is dead. Magna argues that Carol wants to avoid the ramifications of Connie’s death, and in doing so, she continues to give Kelly false hope. Carol does not answer in the moment, but by episode’s end, she takes Kelly out on a scouting mission to look for Connie. When Kelly says goodbye to Magna, Magna can only look on in horror as Carol leads her away.
I think Magna is right here. Carol’s motivation is all about her guilt about her part in Connie’s separation underground. Carol may on some level believe that she can make amends by helping Kelly learn the fate of her sister, but Carol is a realist. Carol knows that in this world, that kind of luck is rare and that Connie is most likely dead. Since the audience knows better, we can only hope that Kelly’s next scout will lead her back to Connie.
While Aaron rebuilds the walls of Alexandria, Judith, Gracie, RJ, and Hershel play a friendly game of slapjack. Like all apocalypse kids, the talk is about how parents constantly lie to you and leave you behind. When Carol drops off a plateful of horse jerky, the kids are hesitant at first. Hershel digs right in. As Hershel notes, horse meat tastes better than spiders. None of the other kids have had to travel on the road like Hershel, but just the mention of spider entrees is enough to get them to snatch up a piece of horse. Food is food.
WHEN REAPERS ATTACK
When we last saw Maggie’s group, they had come under fire from the Reapers. This episode picks up in the woods. The fight has devolved into hand to hand combat by Blair Witch lighting. The Reapers split the group up fairly quickly. It is hard to tell who has died, except for Cole. The extreme close-up of his throat slitting was a pretty good clue as to his fate.
By daylight, Maggie finds a mall. After one tug on the door, a knife flies past her head. Either the Reapers tracked her, or mall security has a hell of a way of telling her the mall isn’t open. Maggie manages to find her way into the mall, and she heads up a darkened stairwell. It is not long before Maggie is ambushed by a Reaper, but she manages to shove him over the railing. As deaths go, I’d rather not lie paralyzed at the bottom of a mall stairwell. At least the overhead mall music died long ago.
When Maggie exits onto the showroom floor, there is a scarcity of fixtures. I’m guessing this store died out long before most of the world did. Still, with its smattering of naked mannequins, the place reminds me a little bit of Night of the Comet. Alden staggers up an escalator. Maggie’s relief at the sight of Alden is cut short by the fact that a Reaper tackles him to the ground. It is also cut short by the very large Reaper with a landscaping scythe that tackles Maggie.
After Maggie rams a broken bottle in the reaper’s neck, Negan appears with a tire iron. Negan knocks the man out with a blow to the head. Maggie is stunned for a moment at the sight of Negan’s help. However, Maggie soon finds her feet and throws a dagger into the back of the other reaper with Alden. The reaper drops a couple stun grenades, and like a second rate magician, he absconds with the bottle reaper.
At this point, Negan reiterates that they should cut their losses and turn back, but Maggie is dead set on going to the supply depot for food. Alden has been very thoroughly stabbed, but Maggie won’t leave him behind. Negan stresses that he is on Maggie’s side, and he grudgingly agrees to help her with Alden.
A WALK TO THE STORE
On the two mile walk to the depot, they run into Agatha and a dying Duncan. Maggie has a chance to say goodbye before Duncan takes his last breath. So in the premiere we met all of Maggie’s best fighters, and now ⅔ of them are dead. Part of the justification for this food and supply run was that they had a shot against the Reapers because Maggie had her best fighters back. Considering what quick work the Reapers made of the group in the woods, I’m going to say Maggie overestimated their chances.
Emotional from the death of Duncan, Maggie reminds Negan that she does not believe he has changed. “Stop pretending you’re one of us, Negan. Maybe you even believe it, but you’re probably as good at lying to yourself as you are to everybody else,” Maggie says. Could Negan argue that he saved Maggie’s life? Sure. But there is no point. Maggie can’t trust Negan. Furthermore, Negan’s help was as much to save him from the Reapers as it was to help Maggie. So Negan just walks away without a word.
As the group continues their march through the woods to the supply depot, the trail of dead has caught up with them. Alden has slowed the group down. The group is surrounded on all sides by the dead. While Negan helps Alden get away, Agatha and Maggie take out some walkers. Agatha has clearly forgotten the rules of an undead apocalypse, and she is fighting out here with her sleeves rolled up. No walker is going to pass up a juicy, exposed forearm, so one of them zeroes in and takes a big bite. Maggie refuses to leave Agatha behind, but Negan knows the score. Negan drags Maggie away kicking and screaming as the horde dogpile on Agatha. Thus the “best fighter” count clicks down to zero.
Once the horde is out of sight, Alden asks to stop at a church they pass. Negan does not want to take the time, but Alden is clearly exhausted. Once inside, Alden asks Maggie to leave him there. Alden reminds Maggie that the supply run for food is the priority. Frustrated, Maggie tells Negan that it is his fault that they lost the food security of Hilltop. Negan lets Maggie vent, and they leave Alden behind.
PRAY FOR ME
In the woods, Father Gabriel steels himself to pull a knife out of his leg. Nearby, a reaper limps away. With the knife out of his leg, Gabriel limps after the reaper in pursuit. When Gabriel catches up to the reaper, he is on the verge of death. The man tells Gabriel that he is relieved that he is the one to find him. “Pray with me,” the man says. Gabriel refuses. Gabriel notes that there is no God there, before he kills the man.
This scene brings to light that the Reapers have clearly done recon on the Alexandria group. Gabriel’s collar is covered. How did the man know that Gabriel was a priest? Did they spot his collar on the road? Or have they already scouted Alexandria? Quite a lot of information in a couple throwaway lines. If Gabriel clocked the realization, it did not show on his face. And since Gabriel’s only follow up question consisted of a machete to the man’s face, I don’t think Gabriel realized what the man had told him.
Yes. The action sequences are suspenseful and exciting. The Reapers feel a little bit like Michael Myers popping up everywhere and being almost as hard to kill. There is continued progress in the allyship between Maggie and Negan, but if their alliance ever leads to any kind of friendship, it would be a mistake. Maggie can count on Negan doing what is best for Negan, but I think it is finally sinking in that he is not wholly out for himself. Whether Negan’s actions are only in service to his survival is still up for debate, but his interactions with Judith show there is some spark of humanity in him.
ODSS & EGGS
- The walker that bites Agatha was Greg Nicotero.
- Rosita wears her hair down for possibly the first time ever.
- Carol is very aware of which mushrooms cause hallucinations.
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