“The Walking Dead” Season 7, Episode 9, “Rock in the Road” Review
And.. we’re back! If I may say so, The Walking Dead left off on a pretty perfect note prior to its mid-season finale. Perfect in a sense that it left me satisfied enough to where I wasn’t clawing for it to start back up as soon as possible, but it also set-up the groundwork for a kick-ass starting point after the break. Here we have Rock in the Road, where we find Daryl reunited with the rest of the group. There’s some shady stuff going down and there’s an underlying sense of tension for time quickly running low. It doesn’t take long for the group to decide to go to The Kingdom and finally meet King Ezekiel, planning on asking him for help in the inevitable fight against Negan and the rest of the Saviors.
The interaction between the two groups was pretty satisfying, albeit predictable within where you know its going and how Ezekiel will react to being asked to help fight the war. That being said, the writing was strong and the chemistry was fairly instant between all of them. It also gives Andrew Lincoln to show his chops as Rick, as monologues a story about a rock being placed inconveniently in a Kingdom, and how it rings true to Negan’s influence on not only The Kingdom or Alexandria, but any other group that he is holding to their knees. While the answer is predictable, the episode does go out of its way to put the groundwork down for an eventual revolution with The Kingdom and their people.
The obvious “water cooler discussion” aspect of this episode was the defusing of the bombs. Every week, The Walking Dead delivers action set-pieces that are worth mentioning, regardless of whether or not you liked the episode as a whole. In this episode, we have a pretty phenomenal set piece that begins with Rick finding a bomb-placed trap that he decides to try to defuse and use against The Saviors at some point in the future. That’s pretty intense in its own right, but it follows-up with a totally kick-ass sequence where Rick and Michonne connect the wire between both of their cars and mow down a literal army of Walkers making their way towards them. This is done with total grit and hyper violence and I absolutely loved it. One of the coolest things this show has delivered in a while.
The rest of the episode doesn’t quite live up the height of how that particular scene made me feel, but it does slow down a little when it comes to The Saviors showing up to Alexandria to smash things and intimidate Rick into giving up Daryl. This, of course, doesn’t happen but puts forth the inevitable cliffhanger as the group goes off to look for Father Gabriel. The last ten minutes of the episode doesn’t quite live up to the Walker massacre, but it sets up the remainder of the season in a satisfying way with an ending that I won’t even pretend to know what direction its heading in or what piece of the source material it stems from. This is by no means within the pantheon of Walking Dead episodes, but it is certain to please fans all-over and create hype and speculation. 4/5.