Oh, what a difference a week makes. Fear the Walking Dead is (temporarily) over, replaced by the far superior The Walking Dead.

Not only was the show better, but my wife joined me. She refuses to watch FTWD and is actively angry at it. "How they could take a great idea like 'Walking Dead' and screw it up so badly is almost criminal," she huffed. And I couldn't agree with her more.

Not that this episode was anything to write home about. It was a mostly table-setting exercise. But It had some interesting moments.

Daryl is learning American Sign Language, and even has an ASL guide in his back pocket. Daryl is not exactly intellectually curious, so this is an obvious sign that he and Connie are destined for romance. Maybe now he'll wash his hair. (Or his wig, if that's what it is.)

Aaron has apparently become something of a hothead, and much more of a warrior. Given his lack of hand, I expect a weapon on that stump shortly, and for the character to act out some Rick bits from the comics. He is apparently the leader of the communities' combined armed forces.

Fun to see the new civilization go back to the past for their tactics and weaponry, including a shield wall straight out of Vikings

I was a bit let down by them trying to stop the forest fire. That's not smart, because it's really dangerous, and it's unlikely they'll affect the fire very much. We can't stop forest fires in the present, and we're using machines. They're using a bucket brigade. Their best use of manpower would be digging a ditch between their homes and the fire. The resultant ditch could later be re-purposed as a walker deterrent. Or a latrine.

Also, it took them into Whisperers territory, which they are supposedly are avoiding, but do so a bunch of times in this episode, none of them necessary. And then Carol and Daryl do it for no good reason, and Alpha sees them. It's no more fun to see TV characters acting stupidly for the sake of the plot than it is to see comic book characters do the same. We've all seen it, and none of us like it, so why do writers keep doing it? Anyway, it looks like war. They should have let the forest burn.

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Luis, I don’t know what news you’re talking about (and I think I don’t want to), but I’m of the opinion that the series has improved quite a bit in the last year or so (since the time jump and Rick’s departure). Cutting the Grimeses out of the story has shifted it away from being a heroic narrative to being more of a community narrative, and I think that’s helped it.

That said, last night wasn’t one of the better episodes. I’d heard about Dante before watching (the TV turned on to Talking Dead in-progress Sunday night, and I got the spoiler that Dante murdered someone -- I didn’t know who -- before we could watch the show). And Siddiq’s PTSD (and later, his water realization) was pretty heavy-handed. But having been clued in, I watched for clues that implicated Dante -- and other than the hemlock, it didn’t seem like it was being telegraphed, other than his just being SUCH a nice guy. But I did love when he first entered the cell of his fellow Whisperer, and he warned him, “Don’t try anything” -- a message with very different implications from an ally than an enemy, but reasonable for either to say.

And that’s an excellent question as to why Lydia didn’t recognize Dante (or if she did, why she kept it to herself). Hopefully that will be addressed.

Anyway, despite the overwrought PTSD sequences, I’m sorry to see Siddiq go. I was rooting for him.

A preview of this weekend's midseason finale answers one of our big questions about Dante ...

SPOILERS...

The episode opens with a flashback focused on what Dante's been doing in secret all this time. Apparently he was fairly new to the Whisperers, and was chosen in part because Lydia wouldn't recognize him. As for why Alpha thought he could be trusted, that's an open question (although she said he acquitted himself well at the barn, during the beheadings) -- but not a plot hole like it would be if Lydia had seen him before but didn't mention it. 

NOVEMBER 24 EPISODE: I thought the line of dialogue about Lydia not knowing Dante was kind of unbelievable, but it at least addressed the discrepancy. We’ve often discussed how Negan might be perceived to be the hero had the show followed his story from the beginning; a taped interview with the actress who plays Alpha reveals that’s how she perceives Alpha. I like the setting of the mine, but how they all (all!) got trapped in it defies my willing sense of disbelief.

I agree about the mine: suddenly they're all trapped in there? But at least it represents another divergence from the comics, which I generally like. It's nice to be surprised.

I kinda smiled in the mine scene not that they all fell in -- which is in itself hard to swallow -- but that they all landed on a ledge safe from the walkers. Hey, if I was gonna build a trap, I'd make sure they all fell into the middle of the undead.

I do like Alpha's deviousness, although the accent still bugs me. Poisoning the water (she's pushing dead walkers into Alexandria's water source upstream, too) and a spy are all roundabout ways to hurt someone. 

I especially like that she's SUCH a different style villain from Negan. On shows like the Flash and Arrow, I keep feeling like we get essentially the same villain with a slightly different trappings. With Walking Dead Negan was head-on brute force. Alpha is much more insidious. Even though she's got also a lot of force on her side, it feels like that's there to buy her enough time to win a philosophical argument against civilization (as she works behind the scenes to stack the deck in her favor).

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