Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: The Walking Dead 108

Non Spoiler Review:
Rick is brought to the Kingdom, another large community ruled by a man calling himself Ezekiel, only he's not the only stranger who has come for a visit. Meanwhile, Carl comes to grips with some of his new limitations.

Issue 108 felt a bit odd, and not only from the unique community we encounter with Rick and Jesus. Perhaps it's a result of watching the series together with the graphic novel. This month's scene with Michonne and Carl seemed strangely reminiscent of their interaction in the recent episode Clear.

Last month I'd mentioned some plot development that felt contrived, and this issue is no exception, with a few other fortunate opportunities placed in Rick's hands. Is it all for real or is there a nasty twist coming up?

Spoilers Now!
Negan is enjoying a ping pong match (and winning). When he finds little willing competition he heads off with one of his wives (who is Dwight's ex). Dwight is heading out on the road.

Michonne and Carl are outside the town gate finding themselves surrounded by walkers. Carl is a little too confident and is knocked down from his blind side and barely escapes with his life (but not with his hat!). The incident hammers home how vulnerable he is, which requires a pep talk from Michonne, who reminds him Rick lost his hand and is doing fine. She asks him to be careful and promises to keep it between the two of them.

Later Michonne and Andrea enjoy a quiet coffee break. Michonne admits she feels embarrassed about her talk with Heath and can't seem to find any hint of the sociable person she once was. In church, Spencer goes to pray for the strength to do what must be done.

Rick and Jesus are about to enter the Kingdom, a community second to the Hilltop in size and ruled by a king named Ezekiel. They're greeted by two knights on horseback who welcome Jesus and lead them to a walled school where the population resides in the winter. King Ezekiel emerges with his pet tiger.

King Ezekiel appears to be a good but strong ruler, who hates Negan as much as the rest. With the report on Carl's experience inside the factory he believes he has what he needs to mount an attack against Negan. Rick wants to lend his help too.

Ezekiel believes it can't be a coincidence that fate brought another traveller to his kingdom—Dwight emerges. Rick accuses him of committing terrible acts under Negan, but Dwight explains he's lost his wife to him and he can help deliver the cult leader and free those in his thrall. Rick takes a swing at him and the two are only stopped by the growling tiger who abhors violence as much as Ezekiel. Dwight explains Negan burned his face for trying to get his wife back. He can help end Negan if they'll just put their faith in him. Once Negan's dead it won't matter if they trust him. The nightmare will be over.

The Verdict:
When I saw makeshift knights on horseback I shuddered that the Kingdom might be full of survivalist cos players, but it wasn't all that bad once we got inside. The question remains if King Ezekiel is as benevolent as he portrays himself, because he feels just too good to be true right now. 

Something just feels off about the whole thing. Like why Jesus brings him up now (though they do admit Gregory at the Hilltop is a coward). And how Ezekiel has acquired the last valuable bit of information about Negan's installation courtesy of Carl. And, of course, Dwight's convenient arrival. If it's all genuine, then I have to fault Kirkman's writing for a lot of coincidences lately. For the first time in awhile I agree with Rick's take—that Negan is setting them up for a fall—in which case it would all make sense. 

But trouble is brewing in Alexandria, too. Spencer is praying for courage to ask Andrea out for a date shoot Rick Negan. He's the wild card that might just mess up the grand plan. It will undoubtedly result in multiple unintentional deaths. 

However it works out, the Walking Dead world has expanded some more with another community and another interesting character (and he is a character). But most important, did they get the hat back?

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