The Walking Dead is finally back from its mid-season hiatus and it’s a pretty solid start so far. Apart from the first episode (you can read my review of that here) I would say this season has actually been really good, although there does seem to be a lot of people out there who would disagree. At this point, I still don’t think the show is as good as it once was, however, season 7 has definitely proved itself after a disappointing fifth and sixth season.
Rock in the Road picks up almost straight away from where we left off in episode 8. At first we see Father Gabriel back at Alexandria and its nighttime (remember that it was day time in episode 8) and he’s on a watch post before going into the stock room and taking all the food. He then disappears and we don’t see him again for the rest of the episode. It made a lot of sense that we didn’t really hear much about this story line until the end either, especially considering what Rick and the others come across, and it’s clearly opened up for next week’s story line.
We then move on to Hill Top where the group are inside talking to Gregory. I really appreciate how much they all dislike Gregory I think it would surprise me more if someone actually did like him. Either way, the discussions with him went exactly how you would expect them to, making it all the more pleasurable when Enid asked the group to come outside and it became apparent that some of the people at Hill Top were willing to fight because they have faith in Maggie.
Also, during these scenes can we appreciate 1) Rick and Michonne smiling at each other and holding hands when the group at Hill Top offered to join the fight, and 2) Carl smiling at Enid and the way she sort of half-shrugged and smiled as she looked away. It’s little moments like this that we need more of in this show.
It wasn’t too surprising that Ezekiel chose not to help, although it is clear that he is seriously considering it. There’s still 7 episodes left of this season and it’s pretty early for them to just start fighting. No doubt most of those episodes will be about gathering people and preparing to fight while running into various obstacles, and ending the season with a fight that will bleed into a season 8.
With the Walking Dead already greenlit for a season 8 there’s a chance that they want to use Negan in that season too so it makes sense that they hold off on the big war against the Saviors until the end of the current season, or closer to the end of the season. It would be interesting if they did the latter because that could leave Negan with no people on his side, or next to none, if the group manages to win the war, making a very interesting turn of events for next season.
Either way the Kingdom is clearly going to be the big game changer and give the group enough numbers to fight the Saviors, it makes sense that they would come on board a little later because if they come on board now then that would bring the fight forward.
The scene with the explosions was surprisingly intense. Rosita disabling the bomb and taking charge was great to see, and the way Tara stepped back when she saw the bomb was hilarious. The best part of the whole thing was probably Rick and Michonne, the way they worked together to take down the oncoming hoard of Walkers was badass and was so much fun to watch.
Seeing the group working together it really gives a glimpse as to what things could be like when they merge with the other communities and take on Negan. We’ve seen them work as a bigger group before, but things are much different now and it’s nice to see them slowly building up to this upcoming war.
Some other things I really appreciated:
- Rick’s face when Gregory gets Maggie’s name wrong.
- Tara. Just everything about her this episode was great.
- Jerry. Especially his reaction to Rick’s story.
- The group’s reaction to seeing Shiva.
- Benjamin carrying spare food and water in case he runs into someone who might need it.
- Daryl staying at the Kingdom. I wonder if he’ll run into Carol, and what his interactions with Ezekiel will be like.
- Aaron, again, just everything about him in this episode.
- The Aaron and Eric interactions were really great to see as well, and hopefully we get more of those, or just more of Eric in general.
- Rick’s little smile at the end.
Like I said before, this episode was a pretty solid return for the show. It’s set up this half of the season quite nicely, and it’s fairly clear to see where the season might go from here. If they do plan to end the season with the war against the Saviors (or at least save it for closer to the end), and they keep at the pace they have so far, it could pan out incredibly well.
For now we just have to wait and see what happens. Hopefully it can keep it up and we can end this season on a good note. (Well, minus the impending heartache and possible deaths of course).