The Walking Dead: 507 “Crossed” Review
Reviewed by Louis Rabinowitz.
It’s been a long time since we’ve last seen Rick Grimes – the past three episodes have seen The Walking Dead returning to its season four habit of focusing on just one group. Likewise, it’s been a while since Beth and Abraham’s crew were seen – each of the splintered groups left on an as-yet-unresolved cliffhanger. This week’s episode, Crossed, saw all of those dangling cliffhangers resolved as the whole crew returned for 2014’s penultimate instalment.
In a fairly radical departure from the way The Walking Dead has operated for the past couple of seasons, Crossed saw four separate story stands – Rick’s crew as they headed out on a rescue mission, Beth and the Grady Hospital group, Abraham’s now slightly broken group (or GREATM) and back at the church – and while some story strands felt a little inconsequential, the cutting between groups managed to help The Walking Dead uncover a common problem with the bottle episodes – pacing. Despite the relatively minor amount of actual advancement in the plot, Crossed felt a great deal more entertaining than the last few episodes as we pinged between groups.
Rick’s group saw perhaps the most interesting slice of story, as they planned their heroic rescue of Carol and Beth from Grady. The planning also managed to highlight an interesting change in characters – Rick, last season’s peaceful farmer, was intent on silently murdering everyone, while Tyreese and Daryl advocated a method involving a little less murder; a hostage exchange. There’s been a significant upswing in Rick’s character growth this season – now one of the group’s most brutal members, Rick’s become a great deal more complex than the white knight he could be at certain points in the show’s past. We’re yet to see whether the group will regret not taking his stealth option after the climatic events of Crossed, but the episode’s portrayal of Rick as the violent, mildly unhinged wildcard (with even Daryl talking him down) was one of Crossed’s notable successes.
Meanwhile, over in Abraham land, things were perhaps a little less tense. After Eugene’s revelation that he was a fake, both Eugene and Abraham were out for the count for most of Crossed, leaving Glenn, Rosita, Maggie and Tara (GREATM minus the vowels) to carry most of their plot strand. While the fishing break felt a little bit out of place next to a tense hostage exchange and the hospital goings-on, the scenes at the creek managed to shed a little light on some characters who have barely registered this season. In particular, we finally got a little backstory on The Walking Dead’s resident cardboard character, Rosita – and while the morsel of character background wasn’t a game changer for the character, it was at least an admirable attempt to finally shed some light on perhaps the show’s most peripheral regular. Likewise, Tara received a few short but amusing scenes – and while she hasn’t had much screen-time this season, Crossed managed to show off Tara as something of a unique character for the show; The Walking Dead is light on Whedon-esque quippy characters, so it’s refreshing to see a character who can actually make light of a situation rather than brood.
There weren’t too many scenes at Grady Hospital this week, but what we got was very interesting indeed. While Dawn’s present of the key to the drugs locker to Beth is clearly manipulation, it’s good to see The Walking Dead adding complexity to a villain who seemed utterly hateful in her first appearance. Dawn is hardly a Governor (or indeed, Gareth) level villain, but Crossed does at least add a few layers to a potentially two-dimensional villain. Despite the strength of most of the episode’s subplots, Crossed stumbled a little in the fourth strand – Gabriel’s unfortunate church adventures (I’m still collecting spin-off ideas). Gabriel was a compelling character when he was a man with a secret and a tragic one after his revelation of his past – but with his secret revealed, he’s now essentially The Walking Dead’s token dim character (though as we’ll get to later, Gabriel wasn’t the only one missing brain cells this week). His escape through the church may yet lead into something better in the mid-season finale, but Gabriel’s antics here felt a little tacked-on and ultimately unnecessary.
I’ve been praising The Walking Dead’s ability to turn out a great cliffhanger regardless of the episode’s quality almost every week – but oddly, with the chance to properly set up the midseason finale in style, Crossed fumbles its final moments. Lamson was an intriguing character for most of the runtime (sympathetically played by Maximiliano Hernandez, who played fellow traitor Sitwell in Captain America), but his betrayal of Sasha is a clunky moment for multiple reasons. Just like Gabriel, Sasha’s grief over Bob caused her to firmly grab the Idiot Ball and turn her back on the hostage, allowing him to clonk her head against a window and make a break for it. It’s presented as a shocking punch to the audience, but instead feels almost ridiculously predictable – given that Crossed had the chance to have the audience screaming for the mid-season finale, it’s a little disappointing to see the penultimate episode end on a bit of a misfire. Despite that cliffhanger, however, there’s plenty to be excited about next week’s showdown. Who will survive the mid season finale? Will Rick kill anyone? All the answers are waiting next week, in Coda…
Crossed is a entertaining penultimate episode (even if the final moments fairly poorly executed) that ably sets up all the pieces on the table for next week – where all the pieces will probably be ceremoniously knocked off the table.
Scene of the Episode: The Walking Head – Daryl takes combat pragmatism to another level, defeating an attacker by ripping a walker’s head out.