By Robert Larson
This comes across feeling like an oddly lifeless (har har) issue of The Walking Dead, except for the very last panel, and I’m still not sold on whether or not that’s nothing more than a fake-out. I wouldn’t have thought that the fall of Alexandria would have so little going on, but as it turns out, most of this arc’s energy was spent in the first two issues. Now we’re just waiting for the Saviors to make their move, or whatever other twist might come from this arc. Warning: I will be discussing spoilers in this review, so consider yourself forewarned.
Negan has the time of his life killing zombies, even going so far as to say that nobody seems to get bit anymore; Rick then saves him from one, and Negan jokes that they’re getting to be buddies. Elsewhere, members of Alexandria are either trying to kill walkers or lead herds out of the city, but the sheer number is getting to be overwhelming. The Saviors make their move against Dwight and open fire against a nearby herd. Eugene is caught at one point and goes down in a herd, but Andrea rides in to save him in a hail of gunfire. When she emerges though, she has a large, visible wound on her neck.
Andrea’s seeming bite is meant to be a sucker punch in the issue; it’s even foreshadowed somewhat by Negan’s joke about nobody getting bit anymore. But with everything that was going on in that scene, there’s always the possibility that she got winged by one of the bullets flying around and wasn’t bitten. I could be wrong, and this could be the death of a major character; Kirkman has certainly killed off characters in uncelebrated fashion before. But the fact that it comes at the end of an issue in the middle of an arc just makes it feel like a cliffhanger that will be quickly resolved next time. Middle issues always need extra tension, and this feels like a device.
I’m also confused by what the saviors are hoping to accomplish. Wouldn’t it make more sense for them to wait for the horde to be fully dispersed before opening fire, particularly with a lot of other zombies around who will be drawn by the fire? I could be wrong, but it seems like a waste of ammunition for the sake of getting to push Dwight around, and that’s assuming they don’t find themselves swimming in zombies in a little while.
What’s more, if I’m right and that’s how the Saviors are dispatched, it will have come across like a serious waste of storytelling. Part of what’s made this interesting are the ways that the war with the Whisperers unleashed latent forces and tensions among the survivors. Rick putting his back to the wall, allying with Negan, and building up a military seemed to be more destructive in the long-run because they threatened a very specific political truce that existed. But if the Saviors go down from a herd, then the only real tension left to resolve is Negan, and that seems pretty minor.
Overall, I walked away unimpressed from this issue. Things will pick up, but this felt like an especially weak middle issue for the series.
The Walking Dead #165