Reviewed by John Hussey

Things are certainly getting interesting as Rick and the gang prepare their plans for a second attempt at stopping Negan and the Saviors. But things hit a dramatic speed-bump after they went in search of Father Gabriel, resulting in them being surrounded by a brand-new group, known as the Scavengers. Rick simply stared back at them with a gleeful smile and set the scene for this week enduring adventure.

The Scavengers are certainly a strange group. At first I pondered on whether or not they were the Whisperers due to their strange zombie-like formation. They appear almost lifeless, near enough without intelligence. I’d go as far as to say they have almost reverted back to basic instinct, but without resorting to cannibalism like the Walkers. The Scavengers remind me of cavemen, only less aggressive. They only feel the need to take things and don’t cause any hassle. At the same time, however, they showed signs that they are capable of fighting and that’s where Rick’s gleeful smile comes in.

Before him is an army. This, in Rick’s mind, is one of the essential elements needed to take down Negan. All that is required is for Rick to pull off something amazing in order to win over the situation. So it’s actually surprising that when things begin to go sour that it’s Father Gabriel that takes charge of the situation. After he holds a blade to one of the Scavenger’s throats he manages to persuade the leader, Jadis, that her community could benefit from attacking the Saviors. In return for helping with their downfall they will have possession over some of their weapons and supplies.

I do like it when characters within The Walking Dead surprise me, with Father Gabriel being one of them. When he first appeared in Season Five I was very sceptical about him, particularly because he was one of those typical religious idiots who believed God would protect them, and that the crisis around them was a message from the almighty in order to test their faith. No. It’s people like him in these kinds of stories that ultimately cause death to those around them, and often than not go crazy because of their obsessive compulsion.

Father Gabriel appeared damaged, and further stood as a massive hypocrite and a coward due to allowing his fellow survivors to die whilst he buried his head in his church. But over time he has proven his worth, and above all, proven me wrong as he channelled his guilt into something positive and ultimately began to become a vital member of the team, even going as far as believing in Rick and following him into battle against both the Saviors and the walking dead. “New Best Friends” was simply another example of how far he has come as a character, and I actually love how his faith has become his fuel for helping other’s without becoming too preachy.

After Father Gabriel convinced the Scavengers to listen to Rick’s wisdom and strength the ex-deputy is forced to prove his worth. This moment was truly awesome and made The Walking Dead (just for a moment) feel like Resident Evil. Rick was made to fight a monstrosity, almost like he entered the boss section of the iconic survival-horror franchise (even to the point where he’s confined within a tight enclosed area until the battle is over).

This particular Walker is covered in armour whilst metal spears reside all over its body to create the perfect defence. This battle is extremely intense and I liked how it made you question how Rick was going to survive. Luckily Michonne managed to scream out some helpful encouragement to help Rick out. Prior to this he suffers some close calls and actually gets wondered pretty badly (which if not treated properly could actually cause him some serious infections).

This ultimately leads Jadis to trust in Rick but not before she attempts to swindle Rick by asking for half of the Saviors supplies should they succeed. Rick firmly stands his ground and manages to come up with a reasonable negotiation. However, this scene still remains kind of creepy because Judis’ behaviour is really odd. She’s actually uncomfortable to watch because there’s just something not quite right about her and her group. Their behaviour feels rather basic. It shows in their speech pattern. I’m just really hoping that nothing happens in the next couple of episodes which ends up provoking them because Rick has a enough on his plate to have to start worrying about another community trying to kill them.

Things end rather happy with this side of the narrative with Rick and his group given a little bit of hope that their latest crusade might actually succeed. But I am starting to lose my patience with Rosita because her attitude is just really annoying. I get that she’s upset over Abraham’s death but I hate to break it to her (despite the circumstance being rather harsh) but he left you because he loved Sasha more. And now that he’s dead you’re going to use that as an excuse to vent out your sad, lonely frustrations. I’m sorry but she’s really pissing me off. They’ve all lost someone dear to them but now’s not the time for rash and selfish actions because they will only lead to one thing: death. I don’t want to see anyone else die because of her stupidity. Or at the very least I hope this comes back to bite her in the arse.

The other half of the narrative concentrated on the progression of the Kingdom’s situation. The start of the episode shows us that King Ezekiel is still performing his trade with the Saviors but it goes a little wrong. One of the Saviors decides to be a total dick and harasses Richard for no apparent reason other than being a massive tool. Richard tries his best to retaliate, leading to Morgan to try and keep the peace but things get out of hand and you begin to feel that the Saviors may perform some kind of discipline to remind Ezekiel who’s really in-charge.

Luckily it doesn’t come to that. Instead Ezekiel continues to prove himself as a weak king by allowing his enemy to walk all over him. In a piss-poor way of keeping the peace he forces Richard to obey the Saviors depends and is disarmed. I am really fed up of seeing characters play the pessimist role because they always stand out as the biggest hypocrites within the show and usually cause more trouble than good. If Ezekiel isn’t careful than things will fall apart within the Kingdom and people will die, and not because they were trying to fight for what they believe in but because their king failed to make the right decisions in order to protect them.

Morgan continues to push my button as every one of his scenes forces his shitty believes down my throat. God I really want someone to slap some sense into him. I really thought Daryl would do this but in the end he gives him a gentle version of his opinions and that’s about it. But I can hardly blame him for being a little quieter now considering his recent escape from Negan’s twisted, and humiliating form of slavery. Then again he was seen going bat-shit crazy upon his escape by smashing open one of the Saviors heads, so I don’t know where Daryl’s stands at the moment. All I know is he’s really broken.

It was interesting to see Daryl’s reaction to the slow unravelling of Richard. Now, I have to admit I really did see where he was coming from. He needed to create some sort of excuse to force Ezekiel to see reason. The king needed to understand that his current actions were only making the matter worse, with the Saviors growing stronger after every supply pick-up, meaning that sooner or later Negan would become too powerful to stop. But, Richard’s methods were a little extreme and his results would’ve ended in him starting something he wouldn’t have been able to return from. Richard would’ve essentially become no better than the Saviors and made the war for peace completely pointless.

Seeing Daryl triggered by Carol’s safety being put in jeopardy was really awesome to see. It’s both his strength and his weakness as it’s one of the easiest ways to strike a nerve and make him put everything on the line. Honestly, I really thought he was going to kill Richard in order to prevent him from achieving his goals. Then came to beautiful moment when Daryl was reunited with Carol. It reminded me that at the heart of all this chaos and bullshit lies one of the sweetest romance stories in television history. A lot has changed over The Walking Dead‘s seven season run, things have tragically come and gone, but what has always been apparent is the gentle progression of Daryl and Carol’s relationship.

It’ll probably never go anywhere but we all know it’s there. And this episode was another rare chance to see that romance shine bright and truly come to the surface as the two of them showcased their delight in seeing each other again. What made this moment powerful is how the two character’s relayed their feelings to one another. Carol opened up about her attempts to run away from the group after she started to feel unable to kill for her friends. Now we know that her reasoning wasn’t a sudden bullshit excuse for the sake of storytelling but an actual progression of her character.

Carol, like Daryl, has made one mighty U-turn with her characteristics, moving from a bullied house-wife that lacked any real courage (whilst feeling the need to question Rick’s leadership despite contributing nothing to the group apart from the ability to clean clothes), to a proper pyscho-bitch that you don’t want to mess with. We really got to see what she was truly capable of during the Wolves attack, to which she entered automatic mode and commenced with her killing spree. Naturally this started to take its tool on her as she began to question how much of her humanity remained, with each kill destroying another piece of that humanity as she feared she would eventually lose her identity within this horrific world of survival.

Daryl, on the other-hand, decided it was best to lie to Carol about recent events. At first I thought this was a dick move and that lying to Carol would only cause massive trust issues down the line. But, honestly, this was for the best. You could see how emotional Carol was getting and if she was told that Glen, Abraham, Olivia, and Spencer had been murdered by Negan, and that he himself was taken prisoner and tortured, Carol would’ve felt responsible because she wasn’t there when Rick and the others needed her most. On top of this Daryl clearly understood her personal feelings and didn’t want her to be enticed to return to the battlefield in fear that she finally lost herself within the bloodshed. Ultimately by lying he saved Carol.