The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 10 Recap: “New Best Friends”

Photo: Courtesy of AMC.
Something happened about one-third of the way through Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead, “New Best Friends,” that could actually end up being a major turning point in the series. This something, of course, is Rick Grimes and his friends somehow getting lost and wandering into another TV show entirely. A groovy sci-fi one from the ‘70s, maybe, or at the very least, one where a dystopian tribe of grey-clad warriors with choppy haircuts straight out of a Divergent movie living in a trash pile actually makes sense. Correct me if I’m wrong (I am not, baby Judith is essentially our human calendar), but doesn’t The Walking Dead take place approximately three years after all of these people had 401k plans and iPhones? Weathered and militarized groups of survivors like the Grimes Gang, Hilltop, The Kingdom, and even the cartoonishly evil Saviors feel like they belong in the universe Dead has established, as they naturally cling to 21st century civilization and, in different ways, attempt to create a new normal that looks a little bit like their old one. Jadis and her Trash People — with their peculiar manner of speech, their “take but don’t bother” golden rule, their willingness to live in a dump, and their pet Winslow the Garbage Monster (did I hear her refer to him as Opp-Bop-Bop? Was that honestly what she said? Because that is what I heard) — absolutely do not. They need to go to back where they belong in 2029 to fight Skynet and defeat the Terminators, for the good of Sarah Connor and all of our futures, once and for all. But I guess we’ll have to get used to Jadis and the Trashies, because the Grimes Gang have a deal with them, now. They’ll join the fight against Negan and his Saviors in exchange for guns — guns that Rick now has to go out and scavenge for, as Alexandria only has two of them — and one-third of the bounty once their war is presumably won. Which seems like a pretty fair shake, considering Rick’s army is currently in piss-poor shape without the help of The Kingdom and Oceanside. (The latter will presumably be discovered in the coming weeks, though, based on Tara’s guilty face when Rick brought up the fact that she’s the person in the group who has traveled furthest from Alexandria, and therefore knows where not to look for weapons.) Pointing out that the comically decivilized Trash People would make more sense if Dead took place decades after the apocalypse doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy “New Best Friends,” though. In fact, I truly enjoyed watching a confident Rick go for broke in negotiating this deal; his fight with Winslow the Garbage Monster made for really fun television. And after so much of the first half of Season 7 felt like depressing torture porn slog, seeing a mostly united Grimes Gang join forces to defeat a common enemy — while the big bad Negan remained entirely absent — felt like a fun, optimistic escape from the never-ending death and bleak sadness we just lived through for eight episodes. However, what happened this week between Daryl and Carol at The Kingdom was way less fun — and somehow, almost made even less sense — than Rick’s sojourn with the Trash People. We all knew things would quickly escalate between Ezekiel’s gang and the Saviors, and that Daryl would somehow find out about Carol, after they declined to join the war in last week’s midseason premiere. And all of this did indeed go down, but what should have been an emotionally satisfying reunion between two typically reliable characters was cheapened by the show wanting to delay Carol rejoining the group. First off, Richard’s plan to murder a bunch of Saviors on the road and make it look like Carol did it so the Saviors would kill her — hopefully finally getting Ezekiel involved, because we all know Carol is the Archie to his Betty and Veronica — actually wasn’t terrible as far as maniacal last resort plans go. But it does make him a soulless monster who would fit in better with Negan than with King Ezekiel, and also means he’ll die before the season finale, so there’s that. However, Daryl not telling Carol about Negan murdering Glenn and Abraham once he ruined Richard’s plan was just dumb. Daryl has roamed these suburban DC lands more than any other character besides Jesus, Tara, and Aaron, so he knows that Carol is in the middle of a relatively small stretch of land that will soon be entrenched in all-out war. Many members of The Kingdom know who and where she is — one of them is literally planning to have her killed! — so there is zero chance that she will be able to avoid this thing; having her think that all is well and Glenn is at home reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting does her no favors. Having characters keep massive secrets from each other for nonsensical reasons as a means to extend dramatic tension is incredibly frustrating for viewers (I’m talking to you, every superhero show where the protagonist keeps his or her secret from people who should absolutely be clued in for years at a time). And since Carol’s sudden turn from hardened warrior woman who does what needs to be done for the sake of her people to emotionally ruined, grieving mom-type who just can’t handle having to kill anymore was handled so poorly last year, I was more than ready for she and Daryl — again, a historically very reliable pairing — to team up and right last season’s wrongs with a dynamic reunion this week. But since we all saw Daryl depart for Hilltop at the end of the episode, we’re going to have to wait at least one more week for Carol to return to form and for The Kingdom to get in formation. Hopefully, Dead will find a way to make it worth it.

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