Last week’s assault on the Saviours all seemed to be going hunky dory; the crew broke into their rivals’ hideout, and dispatched them all without injury (save for Glenn’s emotional killing of his first human). Sunlight burst through on a glorious victory, and the world was a shiny place again. That was until it was revealed that Maggie and Carol had been captured by a few of the Saviours’ wandering scouts.
The Same Boat is an intriguing little episode of everyone’s favourite zombie-based show, mainly because it finally re-explores the states of two long-standing characters, both of whom have been rather left on the top shelf for a while now. Carol, since arriving in Alexandria, has lost her bite, and, save for the psychotic little threatening of cry-baby Whateverhisnamewasthatdeservedtogeteateninthemidseasonpremier, has been somewhat unsettling in her role of happy housewife. Maggie, meanwhile, has had very little to do except worry about Glenn’s whereabouts. So it’s nice to give these guys some decent screentime for a change.
Holed up in an old facility by a group of ragtag Saviours, who seem forever to be fighting amongst themselves, we see a wonderful new side to Carol; though they have played upon her rage and revenge season after season, we now see how the guilt of her former deeds are taking their toll. In the character of Paula (a fine performance by Alicia Witt), we are presented with a skewed mirror image of Carol; a younger girl who claims to have no emotion towards the long list of misdeeds she has performed in her fight to stay alive. Throughout the episode, we watch as Carol battles against her own inner demons in order to finally, and painfully, defeat this facsimile, proving once again why Melissa McBride has so firmly earned her place in fans’ hearts.
Lauren Cohan also gets to shine, showing us just how battle-worn former farm girl Maggie has truly become. “Kill or be killed” really seems to be this season’s theme, and Maggie’s new found gung-ho in terms of “get the fuck out of my way or I’ll stab ya” is really starting to show. Her dualoguing with the tragically short-lived Michelle (Jeananne Goosen, in a character that I really would have liked to have seen explored further) highlights the darkness that is brewing within Maggie alongside that little Korean cub.
There’s plenty of Negan-ing to go around as well this week, with the Saviours’ creepy mantra, “we are all Negan”, along with what is surely the most sigh-worthy “is Rick really going to believe this?” moment of season six so far, when he puts “Negan” out of his misery. But then again, Ol’ Rick’s never been the smartest of cookies.
One of the most moving episodes to date (despite the lack of main character death!), The Same Boat is a great stylistic change from the last few months’ big open battles and jolly road-tripping. Claustrophobic and incredibly tense, this is The Walking Dead at its best.
Dir: Billy Gierhart
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Michael Cudlitz, Lennie James, Sonequa Martin-Green
Music: Bear McCreary
Episode Number: 13 of 16
Run time: 45mins