The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 9: “Rock in the Road”

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 9: “Rock in the Road”
Grade: B+

The midseason premiere of The Walking Dead has Rick’s group all back together again, now with the goal of taking out Negan and the Saviors—but they need numbers, so they (unsuccessfully) attempt to gain the help of both the Hilltop leader (though they get some of the citizens to agree to fight) and King Ezekiel of the Kingdom. With little support from the other groups, Rick’s group come upon a Walker trap with explosives set up by the Saviors that they disable to use against Negan. After returning home and dealing with Negan’s men searching for Daryl (who was given asylum by the Kingdom), they learn that Father Gabriel is missing and has taken most of their supplies—however, after finding a note left by him, they track him down to another large group with a large amount of weapons encircling them.

As a midseason premiere, it wasn’t the best episode—nothing too exciting or dramatic happened, though the intensity of a large Walker horde coming toward them while trying to get the explosives was great. The best part of the episode was having the main cast back together again after a disjointed first half of the season. This episode, felt disjointed within itself—a lot happened in this episode. Though it’s only the start of what’s to come, it looks like it’s going to be great.


HIGHLIGHTS

Everyone is together again
and Negan isn’t in the episode except for his voice over the radio. With everyone together all working toward fighting against the Saviors, the show has picked up its energy again and is heading toward something great. Negan not being in the episode worked to the show’s advantage, as giving the time for our main characters to reconnect (though, they sort of didn’t even though they had the chance to).

The dynamite scene
was incredible. The intensity of it, all of them working quickly and efficiently so that none of the explosives are set off and the horde of Walkers coming at them made the scene of slow-moving, far-off zombies exciting. Rick and Michonne taking the horde down with the cable was awesome, but seemed unnecessary to get that close and risking getting killed.

The end scene
in search of Father Gabriel worked best for me. The smile on Rick’s face in the end shot as they’re surrounded by the new community, who seem to be heavily armed and skilled, got me excited for the rest of this season.

LOWLIGHTS

Disjointed
is a great word for what this episode was. It covered a lot of ground with a lot happening. The group went from getting the other communities to join them, to finding and getting the explosives, to returning to deal with the Saviors looking for Daryl, then going on a hunt for Father Gabriel, all the while not giving much attention to the main characters and relationships they have to each other. A lot of scattered plot.

Dialogue and characters
suffered in this episode. For the main characters, there was a lot of waiting around and standing as a group talking to the leaders of the other groups. I mean, for the main cast, were there any more than maybe two scenes where they weren’t all together, like standing right next to each other and not doing anything but adding some mediocre one liners? I’m glad they’re all together again, but it’s almost like the show didn’t know what to do with them now that they are reunited. (The exception is the great action scene of moving the cars, removing the explosives, and escaping the Walkers, the best scene of the episode.) There were other great character moments but they happened with secondary characters: Benjamin, Ezekiel, and Aaron and Eric.

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