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The Walking Dead: S709 “Rock in the Road” – Our Review

the walking dead season 7 episode 9 rock in the road rick

Check out our review of this weeks episode “Rock in the Road” of The Walking Dead on AMC.

The Walking Dead – Season 7 episode 09: “Rock in the Road”

Warning: There will be spoilers.

Some quick recapping then we’re just diving right into it…

Robert: A few days before Valentine’s Day, The Walking Dead returned so we can see how Rick & Crew will survive in a world with Negan and the Saviors. And the answer for that is = they will be it will be TOUGH. I have a LOVE / HATE feel on the entire episode where I found the first half STONE DEAD BORING and the 2nd half was Better but was it enough? Let’s see…

Robert: Before the entire episode gets started with get this bizarre action from Father Gabriel who decides to make a move as he steals all the food, handheld weapons and a car then takes off in the middle of the night. Sneaky Gabriel or Cowardly Gabriel? Hmm?

the walking dead season 7 episode 9 rock in the road rick and crew with gregory

Robert: So the story continues where Rick & crew are together in Hilltop, trying to convince the coward & petulant Gregory (Xander Berkeley) to join their cause against Negan & the Saviors to no avail. As they gather themselves to leave, they find a group of Hilltop that want to join their cause so not a total loss. This part was great if only for Xander Berkeley is great in his self-servingly cowardice. Then Jesus mentions the Kingdom to Rick.

“Time for you to meet Ezekiel. King Ezekiel” – Jesus
“King?!” – Rick

the walking dead season 7 episode 9 rock in the road rick and crew in the kingdom

Robert: The adventure to the Kingdom is flat with only some slightly good moments of Rick & crew seeing Morgan. Morgan finds out about Glenn and Abraham’s death which was hard to hear again and Morgan was brilliant in how he took the information, hiding back the pain in those words. It was great then Rick has the same reaction when Morgan lies about Carol, telling Rick that she’s dead vs living outside of the Kingdom to honor Carol’s request to be left alone. Rick mentions a story about “A Rock in the Road” to try and persuade King Ezekiel to join their cause. Sadly King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) takes the evening to think about his decision and turns down Rick’s plan to fight Negan and the Saviors but does offer to provide sanctuary to Daryl from Negan’s frontier justice given the fact the Saviors never enter the Kingdom (that MIGHT change though and I think THAT might be when Ezekiel joins Rick. Negan & King Ezekiel may have a face to face inside The Kingdom that likely won’t end well.

the walking dead season 7 episode 9 rick and king Ezekiel

Robert: Now did I like this part, sadly, I didn’t like it – I felt that all the scenes in the Kingdom fell flat, too dry and a bit boring. Even when Rick & crew meet King Ezekiel & especially Shiva, it was a good scene but a little too late to help the overall scenes. Now I don’t know why, perhaps Rick & crew need more exposure to King Ezekiel & the Kingdom to get a better rapport? I don’t know but this whole bit was dry and boring despite the dire plot development that happened. Even Rick’s “Rock in the Road” story, somehow it fell flat as he seemed almost TOO desperate while telling the wonderful story.

So that’s the first half of the episode now for the second half…

Robert: Rick & crew come across a car blockade to funnel and redirect a Walker / Zombie horde away from the Negan & the Saviors sanctuary. Of course this becomes a bigger issue when the team comes across a bomb trap for the Walker horde. Rick realizes he needs the bombs so the team scrambles to disconnect them from a hard steel cable between two cars while suddenly a Walker horde shambles faster than EVER in the show – OMG the panic is ON. The teams break up into groups to put the car blockade back so the Saviors didn’t know that they passed through while Rick & Michonne continue to disconnect bombs then DRIVE the two cars & steel cable across a football field sized portion of the highway, cutting through a few hundred of the Walker horde.

the walking dead season 7 episode 9 rick and crew disarming bombs

Robert: Okay. I liked part of this disarm the bombs storyline then Rick & Michonne pulling a Zombieland like action with the duel car cutting down Walkers. Again though, the Walkers are useless even though the team has a a panic attack when they first see them PLUS these Walkers are the FASTEST Walkers ever to shamble across a football field sized part of the highway. THIS is getting tiresome, Walkers are pointless now on The Walking Dead. Oh and I guess some bombs were left so after Rick & Michonne easily escape from the remaining horde they didn’t cut down & are racing away with the rest of the team, the horde goes BOOM.

*Robert rolls his eyes*

Robert: Okay. Yeah. Right, what’s next? Right, Rick & crew head home just to find Simon (Steve Ogg) aka little Negan and Saviors there looking specifically for Daryl in which they took gleeful delight in smashing everything in Alexanderia in doing so. Little Negan / Simon & Saviors leave all disappointed as Rick & crew hide this new ride full of bombs. Once gone, Rick scrambles to find out what Father Gabriel had done. They find the inventory book with BOAT written there by Gabriel. Rick & Aaron don’t understand how Gabriel knew but their trek to the dreaded water Walker trap & houseboat but they head off there with a small group of the team and suddenly run into a mass group of armed younger survivors nearby and then Rick smiles. Why?

the walking dead season 7 episode 9 rick smiling

Robert: Because THIS is where Father Gabriel went. The group of armed younger survivors are wielding Alexandria weapons. Rick has his new army!

Robert: Okay. I liked the second half but more with the Alexandria scenes because it showed more depth as to the world they’re in. They barely got back and hide the bombs before the Saviors came in on them. THIS shows exactly why they need to fight back, the Saviors can come crashing in on anyone at a moments notice. Rick & crew MUST get out from under Negan’s thumb and I liked that. THIS is the true example of the conflict in their world now.

Ian: So Daryl is back to normal, everyone has met everyone else and we’re introduced to a filler arc with the dumpster folks. TWD keeps on proving to be frustrating to watch as the rock is more like a pebble, something you can avoid but if you accidentally step on it – it stings like nothing else. While there’s a few solo episodes that manage to accomplish something more than just shambling along, it feels rare.

Ian: There needs to be some kind of goal post that isn’t just surviving as the idea of the dead hordes lacks that punch but thankfully, JDM works as Negan (the same saving grace in a sense that David Morrissey brought to Governer role). This episode took some small steps towards getting to caught up with the comic but there in itself lies the biggest problem – The comic doesn’t have an end goal either. It’s a huge shame that the biggest hill to overcome is disinterest in the series as average episodes like this one air more often than character focused one off arc(s).

Bits & Pieces

  • Radio Negan: Ode to Fat Joey was great
  • Jesus & Richard’s short convo when Jesus says, “I’ve never seen you smile, Richard. This news might just make you!” or something to the effect.
  • Fastest Walkers on the show! They ran a football field in 5 mins shambling along.
  • Rick & Crew reaction to Shiva was a nice touch.
  • Even though there was the looming presence of a threat, there was NO REAL threat on the show which feels like the showrunners depending on Negan and his gang as being the real deal compared to six and half seasons of Walkers.
  • With AMC saying they’re going to have less violence on the show in the 2nd half, does that mean NO ONE dies anymore?! Gah!

Next Week…

Just WHO are the group of armed survivors? Yet ANOTHER new group? The Junkyard Survivors?! Why was Rick smiling? What happens with The Kingdom and the Saviors in their next exchange? Where’s Father Gabriel? OH OH OH SPIKY WALKER!!