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TV Review: The Walking Dead - Season 8, Episode 12

03.18.2018by: Cody Hamman

Season 8, Episode 12: The Key

PLOT: As Rick tries to stop malevolent forces from reaching the Hilltop, the community has a benevolent visitor.

REVIEW: AMC's The Walking Dead made some important strides toward wrapping up the "All-Out War" storyline with tonight's episode, shaking up the hierarchy in the antagonistic Saviors community. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) has been replaced by a more dangerous leader, his bloodthirsty former right hand man Simon (Steven Ogg). Simon has been going rogue lately, disagreeing with Negan and going against his orders, even choosing to murder the entire Scavengers community, sparing only one when Negan had told him to do the opposite and kill only one. Now he has seen and seized an opportunity to take over his community. I have a feeling that doing this and ditching his boss was a bad move on Simon's part, because there are only four episodes left in The Walking Dead's eighth season, and I don't think he's going to hold his new job position into season nine.

It was, of course, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who managed to knock Negan off his throne - an act that involved him actually knocking Negan's car off the road, out of its placement in a convoy that was heading out to intimidate the Hilltop community with weapons dipped in zombie blood. After the build-up of the final moments of the previous episode and the beginning moments of this one, it is kind of a letdown that we didn't get to see the Saviors put their bloody weapons to use... but there's always next episode.

What we got instead was an extended confrontation between Rick and Negan that starts with a car chase. And even though The Walking Dead is the most popular show on television, this episode did not have the budget to pull off a cool car chase through empty city streets, even skipping over a chase-ending stunt and just cutting to an unconscious Negan waking up in his overturned car. Thankfully, the Rick vs. Negan portion of the episode continues beyond that point, with Rick chasing his adversary into an abandoned building while demonstrating what The Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick described as "stormtrooper aim". I hope Rick was purposely missing Negan with all those shots he fired at him, because it would be pretty pathetic if a former police officer living in a zombie-infested post-apocalyptic wasteland had aim that terrible.

Their fight does build up to an awesome moment that had me thinking of George A. Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD, which began with a SWAT team locating a room in the basement of a building that had been used to store the living dead. Here Rick takes hold of Negan's beloved baseball bat Lucille and uses it to knock open the door to a similar room. I suspect the existence and placement of this room was a nod to DAWN...

Or at least, I thought Rick and Negan had gone into the basement, until they were suddenly busting out of it through a tall window. That was weird.

Also weird was the new character who stopped by the Hilltop community to offer its leader Maggie (Lauren Cohan) the "key" of the title - a book with tips on how to turn Hilltop into a functioning society, medieval style. It felt very strange to see this fifty-something woman named Georgie (Jayne Atkinson) appear on this show in her immaculate pantsuit, flanked by her bodyguards Hilda and Midge (Kim Ormiston and Misty Ormiston), offering knowledge in exchange for musical (not spoken word!) records. It wasn't quite as strange as the Scavengers and their refusal to speak in complete sentences, but it was up there. People have gotten very eccentric while living in the land of the dead. I really didn't like the whole "visit from Georgie" thing and I'm confident Maggie would have figured out a way to get Hilltop running smoothly without being given a book by a random stranger, but the way the situation was handled was one of the show's attempts to make viewers believe that the recent death of Carl Grimes had a purpose.

Negan isn't leading the Saviors, the Hilltop has a key to the future, Michonne (Danai Gurira) is trying to inspire people by preaching the hopeful word of Carl... The Walking Dead really is starting to look beyond All-Out War.

The Key was a decent episode that brought a sense of relief, because within it you can feel that the end of the war is coming soon.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: Rick didn't just use Lucille to knock open a door to a room full of zombies, he set fire to that baseball bat and started whacking zombies with it, catching them on fire. Rick and Negan fighting while surrounded by burning zombies was a cool scene.

GORY GLORY: There was some good gore on display as the Saviors coated their weapons in zombie blood, spilling walker guts in the process.

FAVORITE SCENE: It doesn't get better than Rick and Negan fighting amongst zombies, some of which are on fire.

FINAL VERDICT

Extra Tidbit: What did you think of The Key?

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