‘The Walking Dead’ Review: ‘The Calm Before’ Brings Together the Communities for Tragedy

IndieWire | 3/24/2019 | Staff
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This Week On “The Walking Dead”

“The Calm Before” is complicated. On the one hand, it’s an effective piece of horror, skillfully playing out the dread of what, exactly, Alpha is going to do as reprisal for her stolen daughter, culminating in a truly memorable and ghastly image. The performances are strong, many characters are reunited, and it’s a vastly superior hour (plus) than the last big shocker episode, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be.” But as another chapter in the ongoing narrative, it just makes me want to throw up my hands. Here, again, is another pile of agonizing misery for our heroes. Here, again, the audience is strung through the emotional wringer so a new Big Bad can prove how super dangerous they are. It’s an exhausting and exasperating hour of television. Between this episode and “Scars” last week, the show’s as dark as it’s ever been.

Weeks - Jokes - Something - Fair - Show

I’ve spent the last several weeks making exaggerated jokes about how something terrible was going to happen at the fair, because the show has trained us to always expect the worst, especially when it looks like things might be going right for our heroes. And lo and behold, the episode ends with Alpha establishing a “border” (which doesn’t make a lot of sense, aren’t the Whisperers nomads?) by killing a number of significant characters and placing their zombified heads on pikes. The casualties are significant, including promising newer characters introduced this year, like Brett Butler and Ozzy the Highwayman (who wasn’t around long but made a great first impression), to more established veterans like Enid, Tara, and Henry.

The show gives Henry the big final reveal treatment, probably because Carol is in the group that finds the border, but it’s Tara that really stings the most. She’s long been a personal favorite,...
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