Not a lot happened on last night’s THE WALKING DEAD on AMC. Sometimes, the show does slow-burn, character-heavy episodes that don’t advance things a lot, but this episode, “Crossed,” is not that because no one is featured for very long. It has the full cast in it, so the action is split between many different settings, not allowing a lot of time for anything to happen to anyone. I hate to say this, because I have no specific complaints about what does play out on screen, but that makes this hour my least favorite of the season, though it is still the best series on television overall.
“Crossed” is really part one of a two-part finale, which has been built up to over the past few weeks. I think it would have benefitted from airing as a two-hour finale, rather than splitting the story over two nights. That way, the big showdown could be in the same installment, making it feel worth it to go through the slower parts. But in a mere seven days, we’ll get that conclusion.
The most central story in “Crossed” finds Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Noah (Tyler James Williams) heading in to Atlanta to rescue their people from the clutches of Dawn (Christine Woods). They disagree about how to do so, though. Rick wants to go in and slice throats, whereas Tyreese and Daryl favor capturing a couple of Dawn’s officers and trading hostages. Outvoted, Rick gives their plan a chance.
It’s interesting to see how the power structure on THE WALKING DEAD frequently shifts. Rick is the undisputed leader, but some of the group try a lot harder than Rick to hang onto their humanity. It’s a testament to Rick that he listens to those people, and even though the plan doesn’t seem to be going as smoothly as one might hope, he’s not a dictator who changes course at the first sign of trouble. Bob’s legacy lives on in those who support peace and diplomacy over violence.
Of course, not everyone is a part of the group and will see things that way. Father Gabriel’s (Seth Gilliam) subplot this week finds him ripping up floorboards to escape the church. The fact that he struggles mightily with the first Walker he encounters and can’t bring himself to kill it may send him scrambling back to the safety of the group; at least, I hope so. It’s telling, though, that he thinks he must sneak out of the church, rather than walk out the front door. It’s good that Rick is tough, but he needs to be careful about how he presents himself, lest he continue to scare off new recruits.
Back in Atlanta, Sasha allows herself to be comforted by Tyreese, then softens towards a prisoner, Bob Lamson (Maximiliano Hernandez, the Marvel franchise), who appears to be cooperating. This lets Lamson get the drop on her and escape. Will that harden Sasha’s heart again and remove what trust she is gaining towards others?
I hope not. Lamson could seriously hurt or kill Sasha, but he doesn’t. He merely knocks her unconscious and escapes. He’s afraid, and justifiably so. Surely, she can see that point of view and not blame him too harshly?
Lamson gives me an idea about an alternate climax than a bloody battle. Noah proclaims Lamson one of the good guys, and that judgment seems reasonable. Might some of Dawn’s people join up with our group? Maybe even Dawn herself? Hear me out. While Dawn rules in a brutal fashion, she is trying to keep people alive. If she sees there’s another way and can unload from herself that heavy mantle of responsibility, maybe she can get along. Unlike other groups, the hospital people aren’t totally evil. They don’t torture and usually don’t kill. Noah might not want Dawn to join up, but that seems the best outcome, even if it’s iffy that Dawn will give up what she sees as a safe haven. Unless that haven is destroyed, of course.
We actually do see a little of Dawn’s softer side in “Crossed” when she gives Beth (Emily Kinney) the keys to the medicine cabinet, allowing Beth to help Carol (Melissa McBride). Instead of resenting the prisoner who almost escapes, Dawn seems to have developed respect for Beth, finally seeing her as strong, a characteristic Dawn respects. That is the thread of hope in her that makes me believe a peaceful resolution is a possibility. As long as Rick doesn’t go in guns blazing, that is.
Elsewhere, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) remains unconscious and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) doesn’t move. It takes Maggie (Lauren Cohan) to get through to Abraham in a tough love approach. Abraham has lost hope and he surely feels guilty for hurting Eugene. But amazingly, he does want to live. THE WALKING DEAD so far paints him as someone who might become somewhat suicidal once his mission is taken away. I’m glad that doesn’t end up being the case once he has to take a long look at what that would mean.
Tara (Alanna Masteron) says it best when she points out that one can’t blame Eugene too much for using the one tool he has at his disposal to stay alive. Glenn (Steven Yeun) seems to agree with her, and Maggie covers Eugene from the sun, so the group isn’t abandoning Eugene. Rosita (Christian Serratos), perhaps accidentally, proves Eugene’s usefulness in the skills he taught her. Eugene screwed up big time, but it doesn’t appear he’ll be abandoned, nor does he really deserve to be.
So what’s next for the mid-season finale? I assume at least one main character (Sasha?) will die and the hospital plot will be over. But THE WALKING DEAD has proven over and over again that it’s not predictable, so the only logical thing to do is to hold tight and wait to see what happens.
THE WALKING DEAD’s mid-season finale airs next Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.