The Walking Dead 6.7: Ten Green Balloons
“If you kill people do you turn into one of the monsters?” asks Sam Anderson (Major Dodson) to Carol (Melissa McBride). Hands down the best moment in episode seven, Heads Up. Sammy’s still wallowing in his fear of this new reality, as he refuses to come downstairs. Meanwhile, Carol continues to wage a moral war against Morgan (Lennie James), after he challenges her desire to kill back in episode two, JSS. “The only thing that keeps you from becoming a monster is killing,” responds Carol; questioning her own words in the process. She’s not entirely wrong, because if you kill someone in self-defense then they become a walker, not you. Well played and Melissa McBride, you continue to astound me. She goes from a moment of pure hesitation about her own morality to a strong-willed adversary. Before knocking down that door, let’s rewind to a previous encounter between Carol and Morgan. Back in episode three, Thank You, Rick makes his way to the RV and then runs into some wolves. These are the same people who, Morgan allowed to leave Alexandria alive. Basically, Carol sells Morgan out to Rick after hearing the story; resulting in a small council meeting. “All life is precious and that idea it changed me, it brought me back…it keeps me living,” explains Morgan. Another small emotional payoff, as this line refers to his journey back in episode four, Here’s Not Here. Fast-forward; Carol drops off baby Ruth at the Andersons and then returns to stalking Morgan back to an undisclosed cellar…where he’s kept a wolf alive.
Heads Up finally picks up the pace after a couple of slower chapters. Between the Enid/Glenn return home…yes, the conspiracists were right, he’s still alive; Rick’s struggle to accept help from the Alexandrians; and the Carol/Morgan dynamic; everything moved along like a well-oiled machine. The writers even used a similar pacing technique, to the kitchen time from JSS; throughout the episode we observe the town’s watchtower’s structure begin to break. A nice metaphor for the stress put on our characters, as part of Rick’s group is still stuck outside, with walkers preventing them from returning home. No worries, if the watchtower falls pretty much only the Alexandrians will die. I mean Glenn survived a walker heard attack, because the walkers were “too pre-occupied” in tearing apart Nicholas, for them to rip him to shreds too. I call shenanigans! The writers certainly didn’t make their case by having Deanna’s son, Spencer, survive literally, dangling himself over the walkers…then he falls into the zombie mosh pit, but they’re too slow and gets pulled back up to safety. Oh, all these shenanigans. The seventh season kicked things off by making the walkers scary again, but now the writers are teasing deaths instead of making the tough calls. “What happened is what always happens…people die,” I would believe you, but Glenn is still alive, so never say always, Enid.
Now the writers did wisely chose to pair Glenn with Enid (Katelyn Nacon), the girl who says so much without saying anything at all. “We’re not friends, I’m doing this for Maggie, she wouldn’t leave you behind…she wouldn’t want me to leave you behind,” says Glenn, after disarming Enid and taking her gun away. The writers develop a quick paternal bond between Glenn and the orphaned girl, as he calls her bluff, “Ya you are, because you don’t want to lose anything again, so you give up and say ya that’s what happens.” Another character payoff point for JSS! The writers are also trying to remind the viewers that Glenn isn’t only returning home to Maggie, but to their unborn child too. The pair just happens to stumble upon some balloons, a hydrogen tank, string, and more balloons, that they can use to distract the walkers. Instead they are used to pay homage to the song Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree, the balloons are set free, signaling to the others of their return. Ten green balloons give Glenn’s group the same amount of hope, as a single yellow ribbon. Then the town’s watchtower collapses. Cut to black.
Perfect episode ending, the writers carefully setup multiple character confrontations that now need to be resolved during the midseason finale, Start to Finish. Ron Anderson has a loaded gun and is following Carl around town. A small moment that harkens back to Shane following Rick into the woods, all the way back in season two, episode 12, Better Angels. Carol confronts Morgan about holding the wolf leader, in a cellar. Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham still need to meet up with Glenn and Enid to formulate a new plan. All the while, Rick finally concedes and is just about to accept the Alexandrians into his group…under his protection…and then the watchtower falls. The Alexandrians walls break down and now the monsters are free to roam their streets, nice timing since Neman’s saviors scouts are close by. TBC.