A review of tonight's “The Walking Dead” coming up just as soon as I enjoy this yo-yo…
After the show spent much of the fall focusing on one subset of characters at a time, “Crossed” widens the net (and gives Glenn and Rosita one to fish with) in advance of next week's mid-season finale(*). Not all the characters are together at the moment – part of Rick's group joins Daryl and Noah in the plan to rescue Beth and Carol, while Father Gabriel escapes into the woods and Abraham's group deals with the aftermath of Eugene's confession and beating – but we got glimpses of all of them as they moved into place for whatever's coming in our last episode until February 8.
(*) As is often the case with this show's finales, AMC isn't making next week's episode available in advance, so look for it sometime later than normal next Sunday night.
As a result, “Crossed” lacked the concentration that's made this season so strong so far. The premiere was straight-up action, with everyone moving to escape from Terminus, then we got two additional episodes with one cohesive group at one location, and after that we stuck with small groups (or, in the cast of “Slabtown,” one regular character) until tonight. Episodes like “Crossed” are necessary from time to time to move the plot along – and to make sure the emotional aftermath of something like Eugene's confession is dealt with in a vaguely timely fashion – but they're not as powerful as a lot of what the show has done earlier this fall.
That said, “Crossed” had some nice moments. One of the more welcome elements of this season was the sense of optimism, however mild, that the characters had. We know there's no happy ending possible here – at least not so long as this is the highest-rated drama on television – but it was a relief to not be wallowing in despair quite so much as in previous years. But much of that hopefulness came courtesy of Bob and of the very thin possibility that Eugene wasn't a con artist. But even with Bob dead and Eugene revealed for what he really is, we got to see Glenn clinging to that sense of hope, got to see Tyreese urging Sasha to hold onto the good part of Bob, and even got to see Abraham emerge from his catatonia.
Of course, the episode introduced another Bob, in the form of one of the cops working for Dawn at the hospital, and played well by “The Americans” (and Marvel movie/TV) alum Maximiliano Hernandez. Bob's humble, repentant attitude sucks in Rick, and his name sucks in Sasha, who's trying to get past the death of her Bob – and her inability to stab him herself – and who therefore makes a good patsy for this Bob to knock out so he can make his escape.
Given the refreshing speed with which the show dispensed with the Termites, I wonder if we'll be done with the hospital crew by the end of next week's episode, or if the plan is for a cliffhanger to hold us until mid-winter. (The show has taken both approaches with previous mid-season finales.) Either way, my confidence is pretty high based on the previous six hours, and if I didn't love “Crossed,” I also know why the show has to do episodes like it now and again.
Some other thoughts:
* Social media is dead in the zombie apocalypse, but Tara has still managed to come up with a team name for their little group, based on their first initials: All hail Team GREATM!
* I understand Rick's concern about bringing his kids into the city, but at this stage of things, I would think the bigger fear would be being separated from them ever again. Then again, maybe he knew that Judith was due for one of her incredibly (and, given their circumstances, blessfully) rare crying jags.
* Father Gabriel is a weird, weird character, but the fact that he's been entirely on his own for years – and relatively sheltered from both zombies and violence – helps explain some of that. Morgan (whom I'm hoping we see next week) wasn't exactly in his right mind after spending so much time alone.
* Also, I hope Gabriel got his tetanus booster sometime shortly before the apocalypse happened.
Before we go to the comments, it's time once again to explain how this blog's No Spoiler rule applies to this show:
1. No talking about the previews for the next episode.
2. No talking about anything else you know about upcoming episodes from other sources – and, yes, that includes anything Gimple and Kirkman have said in interviews.
3. No talking about anything that's happened in the comic that hasn't happened in the TV show yet. (Or anything that's been revealed, like character backstory and motivation.) As with “Game of Thrones,” the goal is to treat “The Walking Dead” TV show as exactly that, and not as an excuse for endless comparisons with the comics. If you want to talk about the comics, feel free to start up a discussion thread on our message boards.
With that in mind, what did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at email@example.com