THE WALKING DEAD: Season 7 Episode 9 Recap – “Rock in the Road”
The overwhelming success of The Walking Dead is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the entire show. The show is brutal, deeply nihilistic, and often times depressing. But it continues to draw huge ratings and be one of the biggest shows on television. The Walking Dead was a critical darling in its first season, when the show was produced by Shawshank Redemption director Frank Darabont. Now, in its seventh season, the show has been repeatedly criticized for its cheap cliffhangers, hokey dialogue, and clunky plotting. The midseason premiere of Season 7 is not as gory or eventful as the season’s controversial premiere. But it’s also far easier to watch and a change of pace from Season 7A’s relentlessly depressing tone.
Season 7B begins with Rick rallying the troops and preparing to fight the all-powerful Saviors. The episode also marks the first meetup with Rick and the flamboyant King Ezekiel. Without giving too much away, “Rock in the Road” was one of the better episodes of the season. Season 7A was a joyless slog that hammered the helplessness of Rick’s situation over and over again. It is refreshing to FINALLY see Rick start to rebel against Negan’s rule. Season 7B of The Walking Dead is going to be loosely based off of All Out War, the twentieth volume in The Walking Dead comic strip. This is the most explosive and action-packed part in the entire series, with Rick joining forces with the Kingdom and Hilltop and taking on the Saviors.
Negan, who does not appear in the Season 7B premiere, has been a frustrating character from the start. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a solid actor, but it’s unclear whether the writing or his performance has failed to make Negan an effective or threatening villain. Negan comes more across as a schoolyard bully and generic TV sociopathic than an actual menacing antagonist. One of the most frustrating and boring aspects of Season 7A was watching him bully people around, including our protagonist Rick. One of the most satisfying aspects of the episode was watching his enemies unite in order to take him down. I am looking forward to the battle that ensues as well as the remainder of the season.