It's not often that an episode of "The Walking Dead" leaves us feeling angry, but this one absolutely did. We're ready to jump in there ourselves and rid the show of some of this rampant stupidity running around. We're also not thrilled with the on-the-nose writing when a little subtlety would do so much better.
Isn't it sweet that Carol (Melissa McBride) and Tobin (Jason Douglas) reconnected after basically ignoring one another forever? But why is Tobin suddenly getting so much screen time? Could this be like the episode where Aaron's (Ross Marquand) boyfriend Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson) suddenly had a whole lot to say about love and life and commitment and greeagghhh-- of course he turned into a walker! And here we go again.
Poor Tobin didn't stand a chance when the writers decided to throw him in front of Carol again to show her character that there is no happiness allowed in this world. He became the first and most significant death in Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) successful plan to infect The Hilltop survivors with walker-tainted arrows so they would turn after the Saviors had left and wreak havoc on their own. The plan went off without a hitch, sowing chaos and taking so many other no-named survivors we're not sure how many people are left at The Hilltop or among The Saviors.
It's ironic that Simon's (Steven Ogg) plan was to simply kill everyone there, but instead he was forced to accidentally implement Negan's plan to perfection when Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and company proved far more prepared for the attack than he thought possible. And of course, none of the major players were in any real danger during this particular shootout. After all, this isn't a season finale. But that doesn't mean we're not itching to say goodbye to some people.
This one is almost too easy, and we get that it's totally unlikely, but that's why we have a "Should Die" category. We can't be the only ones who are ready to wring Henry's (Macsen Lintz) neck after his antics this week. The kid is off the rails, and Lintz is playing it to the hilt with Bad Kid Angry Acting 101 in every scene. We liked him a lot better when Morgan (Lennie James) had taken him under his wing and was trying to train him in combat and restraint. Unfortunately, the sane Morgan seems to have already taken his departure from the show if this week's Gavin (Jayson Warner Smith) visions are anything to go by.
Henry isn't far behind him, blinded to the point of stupidity with rage over the death of his brother. And while he seemed to be torn up by killing Gavin a week or so ago, now it's like he has the bloodlust. Even a walker outbreak within the Hilltop mansion wasn't enough to keep him from his mission of stupidly opening the gate so he could stand inside and threaten everyone. He does know that bullets work through wire, right?
But Henry's stupidity was necessary to bring an end to the incarceration storyline, which had no sustainable future, and give pretty boy Alden (Callan McAuliffe) a chance to do right by Maggie while Jared (Joshua Mikel) and the worst of the Saviors make their escape to either bolster Simon's numbers or more likely reconnect with Negan himself once he extricates himself from his Jadis-sized (Pollyanna McIntosh) problem.
The bottom line, though, is that Henry's stubborn stupidity should get him killed, but we don't think it's going to happen. Instead, Henry is the lesson that Carl (Chandler Riggs) was trying to teach Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira). There has to be a better way or the people who grow up in this world will become like the Saviors, like Henry. And we totally get and agree with that message. We just think it could also be spread by saying, "See, Henry's a lost cause. After he's dead, you can try again with Judith."
We're ready to upgrade a "Should Die" prediction to the "Will" category, after the painfully obvious fakeout we got in this week's episode. Ever since she went rogue and tried to kill Dwight (Austin Amelio), only to have him turn around and save her ass from the Saviors, Tara (Alanna Masterson) has been battling with guilt. This week, she declared her and Dwight square after he saved her life, which considering he basically killed her girlfriend, Denise (Merritt Wever), that's a very magnanimous thing to do. You could say it's like Tara is finding her peace just in time to die. But what purpose could her death possibly serve?
Our theory is that she'll either die to save Dwight, or her death will serve to help convince The Hilltop -- and perhaps Daryl (Norman Reedus) most of all -- to give Dwight a chance and accept him into their community. After all, Tara was once a member of The Governor's community, as the writers so pointedly reminded us this week, so is her situation all that different than Dwight's? As we know, if a character's death can propel another character's story forward, that makes it worthwhile for the writers.
On top of that, since the death of Denise, what has Tara really been other than angry and bull-headed? She hasn't had a storyline of her own in way too long, which is basically the writers saying they're not sure what to do with her. It doesn't help that Masterson has been putting less charisma into her performance than Lucille these past several weeks. All of this makes a recipe for a character that will be creatively more useful dead than alive.
Plus, you know how much "The Walking Dead" loves the death fakeout, exemplified best (worst?) by Glenn (Steven Yeun) falling off the dumpster. After Negan's men shot everyone up with tainted arrows, even Tara seemed worried that her own wound might lead to her turning. But Dwight shot her, and we've good reason to believe he's using clean arrows. In other worse, he spared her Simon's far more deadly attack, which means Dwight is now one up on her. How to even the scales? Death would do it, right?
"The Walking Dead" continues every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.