So, the first episode is here. My thoughts:
I thought it was well done, action-wise, with some terrific zombie gags. And I was invested in the characters immediately, despite the long interim since Season 7. Both, I realized, were accentuated by enduring the mediocre Fear the Walking Dead in that interim.
* Not being a Negan fan, I found his speeches occasionally hard to take in the comics. On the screen, though, there's an added irritation: It's more obvious that he could be shot during those speeches, and the war would be over. For example, he stood up on porch of some kind with all his lieutenants, with dozens of automatic weapons trained on him. Um, shoot him?* Then later, he gives the "shittin' britches" speech to the preacher, who, you know, has a gun. so, um, shoot him?
(* When Rick's crew do open up, they all miss. Preposterous.)
* I found the time jumps to be a bit much. Yeah, we've got Old Man Rick, which could be a dream, but given the comics, is likely some time after the war. (But not too much time, as Judith is only 5 or 6.) That one was OK. The one with the stained-glass window, though, with Rick in extremis, was just annoying. Somewhere in the middle of the season, I'd guess? Because the war is likely to take the whole season. So we have to wait a long time for that explanation, which I call bad storytelling. One time jump to puzzle over is fine, two is going to the well one time too many.
I should also note that in the comics, they get the zombie herd past the gates by means of a sacrifice -- one of the Alexandrians drives a truck through the gates on a suicide mission. It was supposed to be Rick, but he was waylaid by Holly, who did it instead. Since Holly's already dead -- killed by the Wolves -- that's not an option.
Then Holly is returned during a parlay, but with a bag over her head. Turns out, she's turned, and when the bag is pulled off she bites Denise. The head-bag bit was already used on FtWD, and Denise is already dead on the show, those aren't options either.
So I guess "RV in the Iron Mask" is what they used instead (which doesn't call for a sacrifice, so is a better plan anyway). And instead of Holly, Negan has Gabriel, so things look bleak for the preacher man.
Of course, they could still do the truck bit anyway. I like it when they shake things up like this, because it means that the comics readers like myself can't guess what's specifically going to happen next. And anyone without plot armor, like Gabriel, could go any minute.
The comics did spoil one thing: Gregory's escape. He still has a role to play, per the comics, and there are no handy substitutes for this nasty man. I figured he'd find a way out -- but not the one he did, which was entirely in character.
I turned Talking Dead off after about 45 minutes. I didn't feel like it was adding much to my viewing experience this time. OK, it's a celebration, 100 episodes and so forth. Maybe they deserve a two-hour bow. I just didn't feel compelled to watch it. If anyone watched to the end, let me know if I missed anything important!
We watched all of Talking Dead. (We used to not watch it at all until I realized I can never fall asleep on Sunday nights anyway, so what the hell?) No, you didn’t miss anything in the last hour and 15 minutes. Tracy remarked several times that she much would have preferred the regular studio format. Me, I’d’ve rather had a two-hour premiere and a single hour TD.
I watched the whole thing, too. Fun to see a bunch of actors who played dead characters. I figured Steven Yeun (Glenn) would be the big surprise, and instead we get this lame selfie video where he explains that he couldn't be there because he was in a different country. I have to believe the producers would have gone to any lengths to get him there: price no object! There must be more to that story.
I haven't seen Talking Dead yet, but as much as the producers might like him to be there, I'm sure he's got other commitments; it's probably not so much a matter of paying Yuen, but a matter of convincing whatever he's shooting to hold production for 2-3 days when he goes to appear on a talk show. That's potentially a lot of money for a show that die-hard fans will watch anyway. And a slightly disappointing moment on Talking Dead can't be that big a deal; they surely have better uses for that money.
So ... anybody else scratching their heads about Sunday's episode?
There appeared to be three groups doing ... something. No, four. Heck, maybe five. There was Aaron's group shootin' it up with Saviors at ... the main HQ? Unclear. And nobody seemed to be very careful -- both sides would stand up and shoot, as if they'd never heard the expression "take cover." Rick and Daryl were looking for big weapons ... somewhere. Again, unclear where. On the top floor of somewhere, where apparently Rick left a dead man who would soon turn and a baby behind. Are these supposed guns something that Dwight told them about and I missed it? Throw in the "who cares" reveal of a deservedly forgotten character and that ended. Then there's Carol and the King at ... the satellite where's Rick group killed that initial group of saviors? Looked like it, with the satellite antennae on the roof. But then they were going somewhere else in pursuit of some guy. I don't know why or where. Then there's Tara's group, where she and Jesus get into that tired argument of what to do with prisoners. I'm a pretty peaceful guy, but we've seen what happens in this world when you show mercy. Anyway, they make the usual dumb arguments while Morgan is somewhere nearby on a (maybe?) related mission, but gets everyone killed and then goes all Wild West on the Saviors.
That's all I know. Now, there was wine involved, and Joan and I had just watched the Stranger Things Season 2 finale, which is a much superior show. So maybe the bar was just set too high.
But can anyone add to my summary? I have no idea what I just watched.
I was pretty much blown away by the season six opener, and I think the showrunners managed to keep that momentum going throughout all of season seven. But season eight has gotten off to a slow start in my estimation. It’s been three days since it aired, and I can’t even remember what I wanted to say about it. I pretty much agree with everything you wrote, though, so I’ll just say, “What he said.”
After some rumination, I remembered a scene where Daryl found the cell he was kept in. I presume that was the Sanctuary, so that's where he and Rick were. I don't know why they thought there were some big weapons there, though. Did I miss a scene?
And so I'm guessing that Aaron's group was a diversion. But how'd Rick and Daryl get in? Wasn't there, like a huge zombie horde surrounding the place? Maybe that was shown at the beginning and, without context, I just forgot about it.
Still can't guess why Carol's group had to go clean out the outpost again. And they were worried that the guy who escaped was going to warn ... what? Another target?
Tara's group won whatever battle they fought. Was that also at the Sanctuary? That seems premature. So they were ... where? What did they capture? Another outpost? The same one Carol was at?
Maybe I should watch Talking Dead after all.
It wouldn't do any good.
"I remembered a scene where Daryl found the cell he was kept in."
Tracy and I discussed that scene. From the way it was shot, it certainly looked as if that was the scene Daryl was kept in, and I said as much. Tracy said, no, that's not where they were... that was just to show they had held someone else prisoner in that place at some time. I bought that because I didn't think they were in Negan's main HQ in the first place. Maybe I wasn't paying attention, but that scene was certaionly shot in such a way that made me think it was Daryl looking into his old cell. But I see now it's not just me. This episode was extremely unclear and to who was doing what, where and why.
Realizing as I posted the last post that I was being lazy, hoping someone would explain the episode to me, I went searching online and found this Forbes article.Turns out this guy was just as confused as I was, which made me feel better. But he knew one big thing (or assumed it), which made things a bit clearer, which I'll share here:
Nobody was at the Sanctuary.
That storyline, with Negan, Father Gabriel, Eugene, Simon, Dwight and everyone else there trapped by a huge horde that the Grimes Gang had let into the gates, was not visited in this episode.
With that in mind, we have to make some assumptions ourselves, and some things actually get a little clearer:
Daryl and Rick are at Shepherd Office Plaza, not the Sanctuary. How do we know this? According to comicbook.com, that was on the note that Dwight sent (via arrow) to Daryl in the opening moments of the first episode of this season. The note also included a rough map and where the guards were located. I never got a good look at that note, but I'm guessing some enterprising fan went through the episode frame by frame. So, aha!
Unless we're completely wrong about that scene with Daryl, this was where he was kept when he was imprisoned. That changes my understanding of some previous scenes, but I can live with that.
Carol and the King are chasing the guy who threw a grenade at them in the first episode. Forbes guy thinks it's the outpost (with the satellite dishes) that started this whole thing. So now they're chasing this guy, for fear he'll raise the alarm. Which doesn't make sense unless these scenes take place before the last episode, because calling Negan now to warn of an attack is kinda tardy.
Forbes guy thinks Aaron and the others are attacking another outpost, which evidently has no back door, so "the plan" -- which we were not privy to -- is to trap them there, shoot a few and let their own undead kill them. Good plan. So why were our guys on their back foot at the end, allowing Aaron's boyfriend to get shot? Tis a puzzlement.
Tara, Jesus and Morgan were at yet another outpost. Evidently we won that one.
So, if that's all true, then I understand the episode better. Which in no way lets the writers, director and showrunner off the hook. This was just bad storytelling, plain and simple.
Compounded by the artsy head shots at beginning and end. Hey, fellas, instead of showing off, how about a little exposition?
In newspapers we always put legibility ahead of design. It doesn't matter how good something looks if you can't read it.
Talking Dead was no help. Not only did they never make it clear where the various factions were (and while I knew none of them were at the sanctuary, and that Morgan & Co's group was at the outpost they'd attacked before, the other locations were mysteries to me), but they didn't even bother to remind us who Rodriguez was -- even though they were joking about everyone googling him. Why not take a moment and throw a shot of him from season 1 onscreen. It's not rocket science.
Thanks, Cap (and thanks, Forbes guy).
Rob, I didn't remember Rodriguez, either, but a co-worker who has seen season one more recently than I haqve tells me he was with the initial group of RVs (with Shane, Lori, Andrea, Dale, et al) and that his wife and kid were killed.
Rodriguez? I thought his name was Morales.