Sunday, February 19, 2017

Walking Dead recap: Season 7, Episode 10, "New Best Friends"

Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is still uncharacteristically happy in “New Best Friend,” thanks to the group that he ran into at the end of last week's episode and forms an alliance with this week—and he hasn't even been told yet about the seaside community that Tara (Ma Masterson) encountered during her last supply run. Yet, even by the standards of The Walking Dead (whose characters often speak in aphorisms, if they say anything at all), this new group is theatrically taciturn. It's as if their response to the end of the world had been to devolve rapidly, losing the power of speech in the process. Their leader, Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), talks, like The Road Warrior's Lord Humungus, in the clipped monosyllables of a toddler, ordering a follower to escort Rick to the top of the trash pile by saying: “Show Rick up-up-up.”

Maybe these junkyard people communicate telepathically, like the ants they resemble—right down to their colorless attire. The episode’s director, Jeff January, invites that association by filming them from above as they stream out of a container nestled within an anthill-like mountain of trash, moving in seeming lockstep before forming a series of concentric circles around Rick’s people. January is also canny in his shooting of the fight scenes, highlighting strategy and emotions rather than glamorizing the violence. Rick and his followers win their lives and Jadis’s grudging respect by working together, like the de facto platoon that they are: They spring into separate but coordinated action when the junkyard people close in on them, forcing a standoff, before Jadis makes Rick prove his mettle by fighting a walker in a spiked helmet with the help of coaching from Michonne (Danai Gurira).

In contrast, when Ezekiel (Khary Paton) faces off against the Saviors who come to collect from his people, the philosophical differences among the Kingdom’s citizens undermines their sense of unity, weakening individual members’ stabs at resistance. The struggle that ensues after Jared (Joshua Mikel) takes Richard’s (Karl Makinen) gun and Morgan’s (Lennie James) staff at least shows that the Kingdom isn’t lacking in fighting skills; even Benjamin (Logan Miller) has gotten good enough with his staff that he can knock Jared down. But when Jared kneecaps Richard with Morgan’s staff, the focus isn’t on Richard’s pain, but on Morgan’s writhing in the background as his hopes for a pacifist solution to this dreadful dilemma take another beating. Read the rest on The House Next Door

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