Once I’d recovered from the horror of the opening episode of the latest season of The Walking Dead (as much as one can ever recover from that!), I admit to growing more and more frustrated with the rest of the episodes. Having to introduce so many different communities often left me feeling unsatisfied at the end of each week, with very little actually happening to move the overall story forward.
Rock In The Road was therefore a welcome return to form and a start that I hope signals the next half of the season is going to go from strength to strength. Crucially, this mid-season premiere picked up the pace, as we finally see Rick and the Alexandria gang preparing to make a stand against the Saviours. Clearly, this being The Walking Dead, this action is bound to end in death for some (please not Daryl or Michonne!), but it’s the only way forward for the characters and the series and I’m excited at what lies ahead.
It was fantastic to see Rick and the characters we’ve grown to know so well meet and interact with other communities (their reaction to the tiger was fun) and with Daryl in hiding at The Kingdom, hopefully we’ll see new alliances starting to form. It’s clearly not going to be easy for them to convince others to fight, with the threat of a close encounter with Lucille hanging over their heads and it will be interesting to see on which side of the fight these communities and indeed individuals within them will choose.
Charcter-wise, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes has always been one of the biggest assets to the series and was the reason I started watching in the first place. We’ve been through a lot with Rick and his period of resignation to Negan’s rule was beginning to grate, so thank god he’s getting back to being the leader he has always been. Tom Payne as Jesus is also fast becoming one of my favourites this year and I hope I’m not getting attached to someone with a short life expectancy! I had been hoping to see the original gang (especially Daryl) reunited with Carol this week, but hopefully this will happen as the season unfolds. It was also fascinating that Morgan hid from them that she isn’t actually that far away.
As for set pieces, this episode treated us to one of the most visually impressive scenes in the series to date, as Rick and Michonne dispatched a multitude of Walkers all in one go, using just two cars and some wire. If only getting rid of Negan was that easy!
However the most intriguing part of the episode was what has motivated Gabriel to drain their supplies and run? He has always been weak, but it did seem out of character when he had finally started to step up recently. However, after rewinding the opening scene, I noticed that he wasn’t alone in the car as he drove away from Alexandria, so perhaps he is likely being controlled by others, possibly the group introduced in the final moments of the episode. I’ve never been a fan of Gabriel, so if this storyline gives him a bigger role and purpose, I’m all for it.
Thankfully, after the recent run of dull episodes, Rock in the Road suggests that perhaps the series is taking a turn for the better. I admit I’m dreading the inevitable losses that are to come, but I’m excited again about this series and look forward to seeing what the writers have in store!
The Walking Dead season 7 continues in the USA on Sundays on AMC and in the UK on Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX. You can watch the promo for the next episode “New Best Friends” here.