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Negan’s dastardly plan was set into motion and “The Walking Dead” got scary again.
Whereas zombies were completely horrifying to the characters of “The Walking Dead” at the start of the apocalypse, it’s pretty safe to say that they’re all pretty well desensitized at this point. After years of dealing with the undead on a daily basis, they’ve become proficient zombie-killing machines, and so too has the show itself become desensitized along with them.
For the last several years, zombies have been little more than nasty-looking props on “The Walking Dead,” mostly presented as mere nuisances rather than genuine threats. Mind you, the show’s makeup effects work remains incredibly impressive, with Greg Nicotero and his team consistently bringing unique, grotesque zombies to the screen, but they rarely get to do much more than slowly shamble towards our heroes before being effortlessly dispatched. Even massive hordes have been wiped out with relative ease of late, most recently when Jadis sat back and watched her undead friends walk directly into a meat grinder. An insanely cool scene, but another reminder that the show’s zombies aren’t exactly fearsome foes.
— The Walking Dead (@TheWalkingDead) March 26, 2018
But “The Walking Dead” seemed to respond to the recurring complaints of hardcore zombie fans last night, as “Do Not Send Us Astray” was a very zombie-heavy hour that served to remind that as scary and threatening as Negan and his Saviors might be, the undead shouldn’t be overlooked or underestimated. With Negan missing, Simon took it upon himself to lead the Saviors to Hilltop last night, enacting Negan’s plan of stabbing the good guys with weapons covered in zombie blood and literally infecting the community from the inside.
In a sequence that was genuinely terrifying, a few members of the Hilltop community (including Tobin, Carol’s kinda-sorta love interest) who were stabbed with blood-covered weapons died from infection and rose from the dead in the middle of the night, chomping their way through the community before being put down for good.
Several members of the community were gruesomely feasted on by the freshly-turned zombies before all was said and done, reminding the characters that the only thing left to fear certainly isn’t other human beings in the world they’re living in. No matter how adept they may be at killing zombies, and how comfortable they may often feel in their compounds, all it takes is one zombie striking in the night to completely turn the tables. And it was real nice to finally see an episode of the show that embraced those horror roots.
From Tobin’s eerie rise from the dead, evoking the chilling memory of Roger’s similar death scene in George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, to some nasty flesh-ripping brutality, “Do Not Send Us Astray” positioned zombies as the show’s big bads, suggesting that the show’s walkers still have a whole lot of bite left in them.
Now can we get a whole season focused on zombie-fueled terror? Pretty please?