One thing is consistent about downward spirals: they’re perpetual. Once you hit rock bottom, there’s seldom a way back, as Richard discovers in this week’s episode of The Walking Dead.
Right from the off – the faraway look in his eye, the remembrance of his former life – it’s always been clear that he was a tinder box waiting to go off. And go off he does, and inevitably someone else is caught up in the blast radius.
The Walking Dead’s future stars are never the ones you expect – take Carol, for instance. From Season 1 up to about 4 she was consistently the first name on our Bingo Death Card. Then she became indispensable, and that got thrown out the window.
Benjamin was one we were anticipating seeing rise to prominence. Young, relatively innocent, keen on learning… actually, he was always doomed.
The real tragedy is that he dies in such an anti-climatic manner – in both yet another illustration of the Saviors’ all-round bastardry, and that No One Is Safe. Okay, we get it now.
Ironically, Richard’s actions look like they’ll ultimately get him what we wants. His demise looks set to bring about the conflict everyone else has been trying to avoid – Morgan has rediscovered his dark side, and Carol is rejoining the battle. It looks like we’ll soon have a fight on our hands once more.
Sure, it’s all a bit perfunctory, but considering how shambolic some of the show has been lately, this return to old-school Walking Dead rediscovery feels like a huge improvement, complete with characterisation and everything.
But beyond Morgan and Carol reverting to type, what really stands out is this interpretation of Ezekiel. So often the assured authority figure, here we seem him for what he actually is: an emperor in new clothes. A benevolent one sure, but one playing dress-up all the same. The Saviors permitted his game, but once their patience runs thin, the game stops being fun and turns – well, a little bit sad and pathetic really.
Then again, maybe we’ve misjudged the King. Only time will tell…