The Walking Dead: 613 “The Same Boat” Review
Reviewed by John Hussey.
After a few shaky weeks of underwhelming episodes, “The Same Boat” did a fine job of raising both the quality and suspense back to high standards. I went into this episode with slight dread, especially because I had grown tired of pointless sub-plots and annoying character changes, but I was surprised by how much this episode blew me away. It was on par with the mid-season opener.
As established during last week’s conclusion, Carol and Maggie had been captured. The kidnappers were revealed to be more of Negan’s people and they weren’t in a hurry to hand Rick’s friends back despite Rick suggesting a peaceful exchange. The episode then revolved around Carol and Maggie’s capture, which at first seemed rather dull as a premise. But, as it turned out, this was a great set-up.
Carol has always been a hard character to follow due to her painful development. To begin with she was an abused wife, quickly turned widow, before having her only child cruelly taken from her. Though in the early stages of her development she was dependent upon others, proving rather useless and hypocritical due to complaining about Rick’s leadership despite contributing nothing extremely useful herself, she did quickly become a badass. Her character went from withered to stone-cold and this was a huge change of character and something I really enjoyed watching.
However, as mentioned in last week’s review, her character of late is rather questionable. Her sudden affection for one of the Alexandrians and her constant nosy attitude is making her a rather unlikable character again. I felt that she was going to crack under pressure this week and fall apart. This, to me, seemed rather out of character considering how far she had come as a survivor. Last season she was all for goading Rick on to massacre the Alexandrians in order to steal the sanctuary for themselves, having come to the realisation that they couldn’t cope with living in the apocalyptic world.
Perhaps her change of lifestyle, added by her guilt over Sam’s death, has softened her. Either way, her hesitation in this episode really brought out the most tension as I really dreaded where it would lead. In this world of survival there is no room for errors or second chances. I really did feel that her failure to pull the trigger would result in Maggie’s death, which really would’ve made me both depressed and irritated.
Throughout the episode Carol acted rather strangely and I couldn’t make out for a huge portion of the duration whether she had unrivalled or whether she was simply bidding time in order to make some kind of move. In the end I was still left without full answers. Carol really did seem to be in a dark place where she was coming to terms with who she was within this world. I suppose when it comes down to it nobody in the show are who they were. That part of them is practically dead and is now replaced with a more primeval persona. The journey each character has gone through has been harsh and without much reward, so it’s easy to see why her encounter with Negan’s men has left her with a new perceptive on her own existence.
Maggie was the biggest surprise of the episode. Whether it be her quest to survive has simply greatened due to the loss of her family, or because of her growing child within, Maggie went full-on crazy and made sure each of Negan’s men payed the price. It was almost as if she took a page out of Rick’s book and approached her situation with “kill first, ask questions later” in mind.
She really did show off her independence this week along with all her strength. Maggie is a great character and one of my favourites. Her and Glen make a happy couple and it’s wonderful to know they have a child on the way. So seeing her captured by psychopaths was truly worrying throughout. All that went through my head was, “any moment now something is going to go wrong”.
Throughout the entire episode she didn’t let anything phase her, she didn’t lose faith or let her guard down. As soon as she could she tried to find a means of escape or any means of negotiating. At one point she did try to deal with the situation in a calm manner, but this quickly fell flat and it became apparent that killing her enemy was the only means of escape. In many ways this attitude scared Carol and reflected what herself and the group had become. They were no longer civilised. It’s now all about survival and finding that means of achieving it.
True, Rick and his group aren’t nearly as bad as their enemies, such as the Governor, the Terminus people, and Negan, but their ends don’t justify the means. They still end up killing their enemy, so it does make you wonder who the better person is. Are they all just as bad as each other? This question has been brought up before but “The Same Boat” really went that extra mile to establish that factor.
It was made more complicated by having the leader of this particular group a villain with depth. We get her establishing her past, explaining how she was a normal person with a family and how the Walker’s arrival changed all that. It shows exactly what everyone had to go through. The world was torn apart and replaced with a new one and those that couldn’t adapt were swept away. So just because Rick and his group only kill when necessary doesn’t mean they aren’t killers, that they aren’t without their crimes.
Yes Rick will showcase compassion and tries from time to time, along with others within his group, to re-establish a sense of the old world but as soon as things go wrong, and people are killed, he quickly resorts back to his primal instincts and kills those who have wronged him. And let’s remember that he used to be a cop, a member of society that used to abide by a code and enforce it to maintain order. Now he makes up his own code, his own rules in order to keep himself and those around him alive and this leaves little room for fair justice.
I really love where the show is at the moment in terms of the social world and how things run. Things are bleak, are without rules and society is on the brink of destruction due to territorial warfare. And looking at how far the characters have come, it is scary to think about what they have all gone through to get to this point. They are not the same people anymore.
It was great to have some villains that weren’t one-dimensional and really added to the narrative and the on-going questions. They all felt threatening and all felt to have their own voice and reasoning, establishing further the grim world The Walking Dead has slowly developed. In the end though they all got their comeuppance and died gruesome deaths. It was certainly impressive, and sinister, when Maggie used one of their own, now a Walker, against them in order to gain an upper hand.
The death of their leader was certainly the best death of the episode, i.e. death by impalement and having her face mauled. It wasn’t, however, without its tense moments of wondering whether Carol and Maggie would get out alive due to Maggie’s relentless rage and Carol’s continuous doubts. Luckily, for now, the group remains safe and unharmed. But this keeps making me fear for what is to come in a couple of episodes time. As Rick and his group keep on fighting Negan and his group and bumping them off it leads me to think about the consequences.
Once Negan comes into play I believe Rick will be up against an enemy he will not be able to defeat without high causalities. Negan certainly isn’t going to allow Rick and his group to go unpunished and from what we’ve seen so far, he appears to be without mercy. So, yeah, I am dreading his arrival and constantly wondering who will be left alive by the end of this year’s finale.
“The Same Boat” was a brilliant episode, filled with a great narrative, some fantastic character development and general establishment. This is the kind of quality I wait patiently to see, so it is a shame that we have our off episodes or off story-arcs in-between, because when The Walking Dead does it right you are left satisfied. So this episode was a nice treat and once again I look forward to seeing what happens next.