When it comes to The Walking Dead I find myself to be very critical of the show. While I tend to stick with it, I find there are often episodes that feature way too much dialogue only to end with a scene of action that makes sure we look forward to the episode to come. With that in mind, how did I find A Rock in the Road?
Thankfully as we usually see with the mid-season premier, this is an episode where a lot happens. Now that Daryl (Norman Reedus) has returned to the group, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is ready for action. With Hilltop ready to join in the fight against the wishes of Gregory (Xander Berkeley), Jesus (Tom Payne) decides it is time to introduce Rick to the King.
Really, it is no surprise that we finally see Rick and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) finally meet. It was teased in the trailers for the second half of the season and The Walking Dead isn’t holding them back now. This doesn’t mean that we’ll see a full-on onslaught against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) just yet though, things never go that easy.
Where A Rock in the Road works though, is that all the meandering and the slow pace of the first half of the season is now over. We are seeing the groups come together and a shifting in the balance of power. We also get a very good action scene featuring the zombie, which may be one of my favourite of the season so far. It also is a big scene that we rarely see in The Walking Dead and may be a highlight of the show itself. You’ll know it when you see it, and of course I won’t spoil it here.
Along with the meeting of Rick and Ezekiel we also see a coming together with another group, though we don’t know much about them. What this meeting brings though is an answer as to who the mysterious figure may have been that was teased in the last episode. What this meeting gives is an answer as to where Rick will get the “numbers” to fight against Negan’s strength. For the viewers watching though it just raises more questions, which may be answered next week.
The name of the episode, A Rock in the Road also hints at another highlight of the episodes which his well performed by Andrew Lincoln, and this is something that the character of Rick is also good at. Finding the inspirational speech to rally the troops, even if he appears to have met his match with Ezekiel, it is clear that Rick can’t just lead but has to be a diplomat in a world full of self-imposed kings, which includes himself.
For fans of The Walking Dead, this is one of those episodes that they look forward to. In ways, we struggle through the slow episodes to get to these moments that have big set pieces, and some story progression. Many questions are answered, and new ones raised. Now just to hope that the episodes to come can keep the same momentum and not fall back on past sluggishness we’ve seen in the past.
The Walking Dead airs in the UK on Fox, Mondays 9PM