By Jared Cornelius
Welcome back to Typing on The Dead, Bleeding Cool's recap and dissection of the latest Walking Dead issue. With pacing problems slowing some of the development in the last few issues, the series has felt more like a primetime drama then a gritty survivor's tale. While the drama continues this issue, I'm happy to say that the pacing and direction seem to be on track. Prepare for Intrigue, murder, and romance! It might as well be an episode of Degrasi Jr. High, except with murder. As always, *SPOILER WARNING* for the remainder of the article.
The Walking Dead #137 by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard
Obliviously not the answer Carl was looking for. Lydia realizing she's might've hurt Carl's feelings, tells him it's not the hat she's getting comfort from, but speaking with him. It puts a big grin on Carl's face, but his moments interrupted by Maggie and Jesus who've returned to start questioning Lydia. Maggie's none too pleased that Carl's been talking with the prisoner and tells him that his interference could jeopardize their ability to make Lydia talk. Carl continues his quest for Lydia's semi-freedom telling her and Jesus that she's scared and that maybe if Lydia wasn't locked up she'd share information more freely.
Jesus reminds Carl that she killed two of their people, Carl retorts with, "How many of her people did you kill?" Reminding Jesus of how wild and scary it was living out in the open. Maggie sends Carl back to work, while Jesus continues his line of questioning. Maggie comments on how nice it was of Carl to give her the hat, Jesus just comes out and asks who the leader of Lydia's group is, but she's had enough questions and decides she doesn't want to talk anymore. The questioning is cut short anyhow as Alex steps in to let Maggie know the boys Carl beat up are awake.
At the infirmary, Tammy asks about having a civilized dialog with Maggie.
Tammy is less than pleased to hear that Carl's been released already, telling Maggie, "he's free and clear!" Maggie informs Tammy that's not the case that Carl will still be punished but she's not prepared to lock him away. Additionally Maggie tells the families that she has a better picture of what happened and will talk about what to do with the boys when they get better. Tammy asks what that means and responds with a string of profanity that I'll condense into the following image.
Maggie's not too happy about her response and says it's time they think about relocating to one of the other communities. Tammy again responds with some profanity and reminds Maggie that her family has been at the Hilltop longer. With tempers hot, former mayor Gregory decides to step in and try and cool both parties down. He suggests that they talk about the issue tomorrow and asks them to trust him. Gregory proceeds to pull Maggie outside and professes that the boy's families are good people and he can help keep the peace, saying that they can talk about the matter later. Maggie thanks Gregory for his seemingly genuine interest and briefly bumps into Doc Carson's brother. Maggie also meets up with Jesus who informs her that Lydia is becoming less cooperative, leaving Maggie with a problem on her hands.
Sophia's apparently feeling much better, and returns Carl's glasses, having found them where they were attacked. Carl tells her he didn't even realize he was missing them, and figured he was grossing people out. Sophia thanks him for saving her, informing Carl that she thought she was done for. Carl gives his old friend a hug and says that nothing will ever happen to her while he's around. The tender moment is interrupted by Maggie in need of Carls help.
Back in the brig, Lydia's huddled in the corner, when the door opens to reveal a mysterious figure. She asks who it is and is finally introduced face to face with Carl. She asks what he's doing, to which he simply responds, "I'm letting you out." Lydia seems shocked by the offer of freedom, but Carl explains that Lydia is his responsibility. If she tries to hurt anyone, or escape it'll be on his head, but he believes in her because she's nice. Lydia promises she won't make any trouble for Carl, but he makes the rules clear for her.
Lydia tells Carl that he's scaring her, but Carl stoically tells her that he wants to trust her and he doesn't want her to be scared, but he's not going to let her hurt any of his people. Lydia promises not to hurt anyone and the two teens share an awkward series of okays. Ready to go, Carl ushers his new friend/captive into the Hilltop with a smile on both their faces.
Meanwhile Maggie finally has time to meet with Gregory about a solution for both parties. He touts his skill set as a peacemaker and offers Maggie a glass of wine. Maggie accepts and Gregory prepares his guests drink.
Gregory drones on about what hard working people they are, and points out how parents feel about their children. We switch scenes to somewhere else at the Hilltop, where Carl is giving Lydia a tour of the grounds. He shows her the in progress windmill and the chicken coop, where to two stop for a bit. Carl asks Lydia what they eat in the wild, Lydia simply responds, "the land provides." Carl prods a little harder and Lydia gives up that they eat berries and vegetables from overgrown gardens. She tells Carl they hunt sometimes, and may share a meal if the roamers bring down an animal. Carl asks if they ever eat people, Lydia responds pretty normally.
Carl tells her he's sorry, but he actually encountered that situation, giving her an abridged version of the fear the hunters' arc. Lydia asks if they've always killed the people who threaten them, Carl responds that his group did what they had to long enough to find a place where they wouldn't have to anymore, reminding Lydia that they changed. Lydia asks why Carl threatened her if they didn't kill anymore, Carl tells Lydia he's sorry but had to be sure, saying he didn't mean it. Lydia says she's cold and snuggles up to Carl. The young lady confesses that she likes Carl, he responds the same way.
Back at Maggie's mediation, Gregory is talking about things cooling down, when things have, "taken care of themself." Maggie isn't feeling too good, and feels like the room is spinning. Gregory starts to get smug and wonders why. Maggie catches on quick and moves toward Gregory to attack him, but he states it's unwise as it'll make the poison move thorough her system faster. With Maggie on the ground, Gregory starts to gloat like a super villain, cackling that she didn't think she'd run the Hilltop forever and how he built the town. But just as he's finished with his Bond-esk master plan, he has a surprise visitor.
We return to Carl and Lydia still being chummy. Lydia wants to see Carl's missing eye, but he's not too keen on the idea, telling her that it's healed over, but really gross. Lydia is persistent and takes Carl's glasses off with little fight from the young man. Carl looking awkward, tells her it's gross, but Lydia doesn't think so. Lydia thinks it's sexy, licking him under his eye, Carl is real surprised by this turn of events, even before Lydia asks him an important question.
It was another issue light on action, but boy we sure did have some interesting developments didn't we. We might as well jump head first into Lydia and Carl's burgeoning friendship/relationship. Lydia gets to be the real star of this issue, but what makes that impressive is we really still don't know a lot about her. Sure we've learned more about Lydia over the last few issues, and while nothings been confirmed about her yet, Kirkman's written her in a way that's believable. Whether she turns out to me a brainwashed sleeper cell agent, or a genuine scared young girl, I can't get a good read on what her real intentions are and that's a good thing. I've heard a common complaint that the books become a bit complacent, and while I don't necessarily agree with that I will say that some story beats have telegraphed a mile away.
Lydia's story arc and motivations are refreshingly unclear, making her fascinating to read about. Now with romance added to the mix, it remains to be seen whether Lydia is taking advantage of the situation or she has feelings for young Mr. Grimes. I feel like we still have much more to learn about Lydia, especially where she came from. There's been a few times in recent issues where she's talked about the Whisperers as more of a cult, this issue specifically when talking about what they fed on that came across as a little cultish. With the interesting interaction between the two teens it could lead in a ton of different and intriguing directions like a post-apocalyptic Romeo and Juliet.
The still defiant Carl is making waves at his new home. By getting Lydia released he did get lucky, but no one has really made any determination if she's dangerous or not. I'm sure none of the Hilltop folks are going to be too happy to find out that someone who killed members of their community free is going to sit well, except for maybe Gregory.
Gregory and the two other families would have you believe that Maggie is out of control, but the list of poor calls is starting to add up. Releasing Carl so soon, Dante lost in the wild, putting a teenager in charge of a prisoner. If Maggie survives, (which I assume she will) she'll be answering to the rest of the Hilltop, especially if things go sideways with Lydia. Speaking of Gregory, the former leader was probably better off before he started spouting off like the villain of a Saturday morning cartoon. I'll admit his plan was much more subtle than I thought, but where did he get some sort of poison tablet? I already said I'm not worried about Maggie surviving, she might be incapacitated for a few issues, but I'm far more interested in Gregory's fate when it's discovered he tried to murder her. Looks like Negan's going to have a bunk buddy!
I'm pleased that we got such a focused and direct issue. The ever expanding cast of characters has made it more and more difficult to give the people we've grown to love a chance to shine, often switching from scene to scene leading to a plodding pace. This issue got the tone right, really only focusing on four characters, with two or three extras to move the story along. While Gregory's plan has finally been set in motion and Carl's romance with Lydia seemingly in full swing, we still have a ton of unanswered questions that hopefully will come to light in the next few issues.
That's all for this month folks, remember to check out my weekly column, Sweet Release! Where I talk about the latest and sometimes not greatest games hitting store shelves. While you're at it check out some of the other great stuff on Bleeding Cool, like this review of Edward Scissorhands #4 from our very own Christine Marie!
Jared Cornelius is some guy from the Jersey coast who's spending more time in the cold than he'd care too. If you'd like to warm his heart, contact him on Twitter @John_Layrngitis.