TV Review: The Walking Dead Strikes a Great Balance between Humor and Horror in “Bounty”February 26, 2019
The more I see of season nine the more I wonder just what the hell was going on the last couple of seasons. The Walking Dead was a show that was, creatively at least, seeming on its last legs coming into season nine but has now pulled itself out of the gutter, brushed itself off and rediscovered why it was so good for so many years. This week’s episode “Bounty” is a great example, combining horror and humor in just the right way, making for an interesting episode from start to finish.
The episode was basically split into two storylines, which covered the confrontation between the Whisperers and the gang at Hilltop and the Kingdom’s flock search for a lightbulb. There is a nice time skip moment that unites these two storylines, which brings about the idea of family. These groups have been through too much together, bled, fought and died together, to let things fall apart now. However, with some key information still missing it remains to be seen if that will happen.
Alpha, leader of the Whisperers, demands her daughter Lydia back. After Daryl discovered just what kind of ‘mother’ she was to Lydia last week, he walks out to meet her and tells her that is not going to happen. Of course, this is when she unmasked two Whisperers, bound and gagged Luke and Alden, and makes it simple: The two of them for Lydia. Daryl is now cornered and knows what he has to do but alas, hormonal Henry as freed her and they’ve taken off.
Meanwhile, outside the gates of Hilltop, a real group of zombies approaches. One of the Whisperers has a baby with her who won’t be quiet and with a simple shrug of the shoulders from Alpha, the mother leaves the baby and walks away. That was a gut-wrenching scene but then the writers amped it up by having Connie run out from where she was hiding and rescue the child, taking her into the cornfield. In a truly terrifying few moments, the viewer was put in her shoes, surrounded by the dead with only the sound of her rapidly beating heart to keep her company. Daryl and company, who had snuck out to find Lydia and Henry, come to the rescue but it was still a crazy and dread filled scene.
Back at the Kingdom, no one knows about the new threat yet. As they get ready for a mission to find a light bulb for a projector, something special for the fair, they believe that dead are the only thing they need to watch out for. It may sound stupid, and what they have to go through to get it is over and above what you might think is worthwhile, but the little things mean even more in this new world. Ezekiel knows this and makes everyone else a believer as well. The mission to the theater to find this bulb is important for many reasons, not the least of which is trying to keep a sense of hope alive in the Kingdom.
Jerry is the real star this week and has been a great character this year. His joy and enthusiasm are infectious, as are his slang words for pregnancy. This is a character that has been missing on The Walking Dead, something to add light to the seemingly never-ending avalanche of bad news and enemies. I really hope they don’t kill him off anytime soon, although there aren’t too many people that are safe anymore.
Daryl and company end up finding Lydia and she agrees that she has to go back to her mother to save Alden and Luke. As Daryl says, sometimes life sucks and you have to make the best decisions you can for everyone. It’s funny, this is echoes of what Rick would say but it seems to mean more now. Rick was a cop, by the book, make a decision and that’s it. Daryl understands the grey areas a little more, and we witness this as he and Connie head out to find Henry, who has decided, in his very teenager way, to go and rescue Lydia.
A solid episode with a great mix of terror and humor, “Bounty” gives me hope that there are still many good days ahead for this show and the worst is behind them. However, let’s just take this one week at a time for now, ok?
Four stars out of five