The Walking Dead finally gives us the reunion we’ve been hoping for in “New Best Friends.” The focus is on the Kingdom and a new Borg-like group known as The Scavengers, making for a very interesting episode. A war with the Saviors is on the horizon; it’s just a matter of who will join and when. “New Best Friends” shows us that the enemy of my enemy might be my friend, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
Tensions between the Kingdom and the Saviors are on the rise, primarily because Richard can’t keep his cool. Maybe it’s inevitable, as Richard warned Ezekiel, but Richard’s anger with the Saviors is certainly hastening the conflict along. Of course, after the last clash between Richard and the Savior, Ezekiel probably should’ve thought twice about bringing him this time. Now Savior subcommander Gavin is giving Ezekiel no choice but to continue bringing Richard, warning “things might need to get a little visceral.” That doesn’t sound good.
It’s hard to blame Richard, who lost his family, as we’re reminded when we see the “Katy” backpack hanging in the camper. He wants to protect the Kingdom and save this small corner of civility. The visit by the group from Alexandria only serves to light a fire under Richard. Richard quickly goes from a man with honorable intentions to one who would deceive and manipulate his King. He recruits Daryl into his plan to preemptively start a war with the Saviors.
Richard begins building an alliance with Daryl, giving him a new crossbow because “we want the same things.” After taking his motorcycle back when he escaped the Saviors and getting a new crossbow from Richard, all Daryl needs now is a vest. Daryl agrees to help Richard until he learns that the plan pivots on tricking the Saviors into attacking Carol. He warns Richard that no harm should come to Carol and prevents him from attacking the Saviors’ caravan. Richard has become an extremist, committed to going after the Saviors one way or another.
There is still much more to explore in the Kingdom. We’ve met a handful of characters, and one we enjoyed, besides Jerry, was Diane. She has to kill a walker who resembles her sister, then later when they are out at Carol’s cottage, she scolds the men, “Don’t call her ‘lady.’” We hope to spend a lot more time at the Kingdom because there are a lot of interesting characters, not to mention a tiger.
Despite warning everyone off, Carol continues to get visitors. King Ezekiel arrives with an entourage to bring a gift of cobbler. The flirtation between Ezekiel and Carol is sweet, and it feels genuine. One could see how they would connect with each other since they both put on an act for people. Ezekiel plays a wise King to create an image of power, both to give his own people a sense of security and warn off outsiders. Carol adapts her behavior depending on what she perceives as a threat, whether it’s pretending to be naïve and helpless to gather intel, or acting cold and uncaring to distance herself from others. They can see through each other’s performances. Both Carol and Ezekiel only reveal themselves in front of a few people, and feel fiercely protective about those they care about.
After learning that Carol was living just outside the Kingdom, Daryl arrives at her door. We get the emotional reunion we hoped for. As Carol tears up, so do we. Daryl expresses his hurt feelings about her leaving Alexandria simply in the way he asks, “Why’d you go?” Carol explains:
“I couldn’t lose anyone. I couldn’t lose any of them. I couldn’t lose you. I couldn’t kill them. I could. I would. If they hurt any of our people. More of them. That’s what I would do. And there wouldn’t be anything left of me after that.”
When she asks if the Saviors came to Alexandria and if everyone’s all right, he realizes he can’t tell her. It calls back the conversation he and Morgan had earlier.
Daryl: “You know if Carol was here, and saw all that, she knew about Abraham and Glenn, she’d lead us right to them. She’d kill them all.”
Morgan: “She would. And that’s why she left.”
Rather than tell her about the death and mayhem caused by the Saviors, Daryl tells Carol that everyone is fine and they made a deal to keep Alexandria safe. That’s what you do for someone you love—you sacrifice your own needs and desires.
The moments between Carol and Daryl are moving because they are characters we care about, being vulnerable. Their scenes were also captivating because Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus are fantastic together. They are both skilled actors, but they shine even more during scenes together.
The Walking Dead gives us something completely new with the Scavengers. This hive-like collective group isn’t like anything we’ve seen before. It feels like the crew of the Enterprise has landed on a strange planet where the inhabitants have unusual names, militaristic dress, unusual diction, brutal rituals, and live in trash arenas. We even got some music reminiscent of Star Trek: TOS. The group’s silence and strange circling behaviors make them seem that much more alien.
Rick, Michonne, Aaron, Rosita, Tara, and Gabriel have been captured by the Scavengers. Rick sees it as an opportunity to make a deal, hence his creepy smile. The Scavenger leader, Jadus, wants to know what they can offer in exchange for their lives. Rick’s offer is to join together to wage war on the Saviors. Jadus, smartly, has no interest in this. It’s finally Gabriel’s plea (as well as the knife on Tamiel’s throat) that gets the attention of Jadus. He tells her: “Rick can do anything. This group, they found me here, so far from our home. What do you need? Just tell us. We’ll get it for you. Just tell us what you need and we’ll get it for you now.” Gabriel has gone from being a non-believer to the someone with the highest faith in Rick.
Jadus decides to test Rick, in the up, up, up by throwing him into a trash pit with an armored walker. And, yes, it’s awesome and very sci-fi. The pointy walker was terrifying and the garbage arena was distinctive. We’d prefer a unique fight like this over humans killing other humans any day of the week. After Rick emerges from the trash pit victorious, they strike a deal. If Rick and his crew bring the Scavengers lots of guns, Jadus agrees they will join the fight against the Saviors.
Gabriel admits to Rick that he was beginning to lose faith, but when he saw that Rick and the others had come for him, it restored his confidence.
Gabriel: “We will set things right, but things are going to get very hard before that time. We have to hold on. I will. Thank you. What made you smile? What made you so confident?”
Rick: “Someone showed me enemies can become friends.”
Michonne smiles, watching the interaction between Rick and Gabriel. We’ve been seeing a lot of little moments between Michonne and Rick lately. It feels as if they’re going to take some kind of step forward in their relationship or she’s going to die. Let’s hope it’s a next step, but you never know what’s going to happen on The Walking Dead.
“New Best Friends” Review
“New Best Friends” gave us moments of tension and excitement, as well as emotional connections. The long-term characters we love, such as Morgan, Carol, Daryl, and Rick provided some dramatic and moving moments. Additionally, the new communities on The Walking Dead have generated interesting storytelling and introduced some fascinating new characters. We look forward to learning more about these communities and characters as Season 7 of The Walking Dead continues.