By Jay Hunter This was the week that The Walking Dead really shed it’s skin. A show that once had more in common with a post-apocalyptic anthology, only metamorphose into a showcase of brutality and torture, emerged from it’s chrysalis as a bizarre Mad Max-esque zombie show.

These are the three phases of The Walking Dead in it’s seven year runtime. Make no mistake about it, we are now firmly in fantasyland. A world where Kings and tigers rule, zombies have battle armour and tribes forge alliances to take down warlords. But i’m strangely okay with it.

This weeks episode opened – ironically – with the group trying to escape a huge dump. While searching for a missing Father Gabriel, Rick and his group encounter a mysterious collective, its inhabitants unlike any they have come across. Once again, Rick attempts a call to arms with a new group only for talks to breakdown. The garbage-pail leader pushes Rick into her – more literal – rubbish version of the Rancor pit from Return of the Jedi. Emerging from the trash rustles a walker, so painfully created in order to sell Pop Funko toys it’s laughable. Admittedly, the Mouth of Sauron walker looks cool, but it has no place in The Walking Dead. Dispatching the zombie with a mountain of bin-bags, Rick proves his worth and so a tentative relationship is formed.

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The episodes best scene however didn’t involve spilling guts, but a touching conversation between Rick and Carol. As subsequently pointed out by the pacifist Morgan, Daryl could have awoken Carol’s inner demons by revealing to her that Negan had brutally murdered Glenn (and to a lesser extent Abraham, Spencer and Olivia). In turn forcing The Kingdom into war by sheer will. However, with Daryl exposing his softer side, he lied saying everyone was fine. It was a sweet moment that shows just how much Daryl cares about Carol’s feelings.

The contrast in these two scenes prove that the show seems to now be splatting anything it can against the wall and seeing what sticks. There was genuine human-drama in the chemistry between Daryl and Carol, but the battle armour zombie will no doubt be a profitable toy as The Walking Dead is now coming across as a show written by children, for children. The question is, will the fanbase be okay with that?

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