Well, well, well. Season 8 of The Walking Dead has been incredibly lackluster, to say the least, but this week’s episode, “The Key,” certainly kicked it up a notch and things are FINALLY getting interesting. Negan and Rick had an epic throwdown, Maggie met a mysterious new character, and Simon is vying for Negan’s throne, and everything is super exciting.
*Episode Spoilers Ahead*
“The Key” centers around a few stories, all of them pretty damn interesting. First and foremost, Maggie, Enid, Rosita, and Michonne find a truck with empty crates and a message asking to trade food and records (music, no spoken word). After wrestling with the idea a bit, Maggie finally gives in. Upon reaching the meeting site, Maggie’s crew is greeted by a woman named Georgie and two of her cronies. In return for the goods, Georgie is offering knowledge to help build the future. Everyone except Michonne is pretty apprehensive, so they decide to take Georgie and company back to Hilltop until they figure out what to do with them. Eventually, Maggie comes around and decides to give up the goods and build a relationship with the mysterious Georgie, and Georgie gives up a book with plans and blueprints for a medieval style society, using windmills and the like. It’s kind of an odd situation, but it makes sense when you think about where the comic series went after the “All Out War” arc. Basically, this is one big set up for things to come, which is smart, because there isn’t much time left for this season, and I can’t see them being able to milk this current storyline much longer due to the damage it has already caused to the show itself.
Rick and Negan have one of their best showdowns thus far, as Rick wildly runs into harm’s way, crashing a vehicle into Negan’s and effectively cutting him off from the rest of the Saviors. What ensues is amazing: inside of an abandoned building, Negan starts off with the upper hand, but that doesn’t last long at all. Thus begins a cat and mouse game as Rick searches for Negan, but not before finding Lucille for himself and eventually lighting her on fire and using her to beat the hell out of walkers! Barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bats lit aflame really work wonders for this show, apparently. A lot of the dialogue in between the actual fighting basically consists of rehashes of stuff we’ve already heard numerous times, but this week is about finally delivering some great action, so that can be forgiven. Negan eventually escapes out a window, with Rick following a few minutes later, but Negan has already gone. And as we find out at the very end of the episode, he’s currently in a vehicle being held at gunpoint by none of than Miss Trash Lady herself, Jadis. For a character I have been so vehemently against, I must say that my interest is finally piqued with Jadis holding Negan hostage. Clearly, she wants some revenge for what was done to her people by Simon acting of his own accord (which Negan finally found out about during his banter with Rick) instead of obeying Negan’s wishes. Bravo, TWD. You’ve finally made the character no one gives a shit about do something interesting, but whether that continues into the next few episodes remains to be seen.
Finally, Simon and Dwight are road trip buddies. Initially following along with Negan and a gang of Saviors to enact his walker-guts plan on Hilltop, Simon opens up about his current distaste for Negan’s showings of mercy as of late. Dwight obviously has to play it cool and not reveal himself as the traitor he is, but eventually, they decide they’re on the same page. After Rick takes out Negan’s vehicle, Simon instructs all of the other Saviors to stand guard where they are and has Dwight come along to help look for Negan. They don’t look too hard, though, as they find Negan’s vehicle on its side and set it on fire instead of looking around more. This storyline exists to drive a wedge between Negan and Simon, and I can see Dwight offing Simon to “prove his loyalty” to Negan at some point. Again, very interesting stuff and everything is handled well. Steven Ogg is great in his role as Simon, but I don’t see him being around for a whole lot longer.
So, while we got some great stuff this week, we were also left with a lot of questions. I do honestly predict next week’s episode, and possibly the following one, will be much slower, as the final two episodes will need to turn the dial up to eleven. “The Key” was a great step in the right direction for season 8, and it truly showcases what makes The Walking Dead great.