Although a bit of a placeholder, 'Twice as Far' gave us an acceptable send-off for one of the show's better new additions, and also put into motion what is set to be a great final two episodes for the season.
There seems to be a glass ceiling for supporting characters on The Walking Dead. Only moments before she got an arrow to the back of the head, I was thinking about how great a character Denise was becoming. Shame. And shame on whoever was involved in executing the Saviour shootout. The whole emotional weight of the thing was undercut by what seemed like cheap production but, from what we know about how this show literally prints money, was probably just incompetence.
‘Twice as Far’ was your average Walking Dead episode in all the ways you know and love and hate- that is until the last 15 minutes. We had an artsy montage to open things up, two scavenger story-lines, a bit of arguing and some gore. Daryl’s train-track phobia was a nice touch though. After what the group went through at Terminus, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more lasting psychological damage. I mean, I’m still not over it.
Denise was the highlight of the episode. The Walking Dead has always been great at delivering a wide variety of characters, and Denise exemplified that commitment to diversity. She was different; and not just different in terms of her appearance or sexuality, but in the left-field way she was written, and in the nuanced performance that Merritt Wever gave week in and week out. Denise managed to make old story-lines, about trauma, about dead family, about facing your fears, feel fresh again, with the odd and human ways in which she navigated them, and credit should be given in spades to the writers and Wever for that. However, her death was a bit of a shame. Reducing her to a revenge device for the last two episodes of the season seems a waste. And her ‘I’m about to die’ speech was painfully hammy.
While her death itself was most certainly shocking, the return of some guy from an episode that aired back in November last year that I and, I’m assuming, every other non-comic book reader had completely forgotten about, as some kind of arch villain was just odd, and for him to be the one holding the crossbow just didn’t connect for me. Major deaths in the show are usually personal and carry a narrative weight, but this felt random, and although more shocking, it had far less of an impact. I can appreciate that this guy, Dwight, is important to the Negan arc in the comics, but if that was the case, then the show writers should have either implemented him more recently, emphasised his importance more consistently, or just dropped him entirely. Honestly, from the way they have been chopping and changing the source material as of late, I don’t understand why they would feel the need to awkwardly remain loyal here, to some guy everybody had already forgotten about.
But this isn’t a perfect show. It’s an enthusiastic one that sometimes gets at greatness but mostly just gets by. What we can always count on however, are amazing season openers and closers. And with the way things are racking up for the finale in two weeks, I have only high expectations.
The Walking Dead airs on FOX on Mondays at 9pm.