Breadcrumb Storytelling: The Walking Dead S6ep12

This post is about The Walking Dead on March 6th, 2016. It’s not a synopsis but there are spoilers. You’ve been warned!

There are spoilers in the trees.

Storytelling isn’t something The Walking Dead always accomplishes with grace. Trying to get characters from point A to point B with long marches through the woods, coming up with confusing plans to resolve problems, the Glenn Miracles (one more and he can be sainted,) and often a lot of exposition with no action.

Last night’s episode finally showcased how this season has been setting up some really good storytelling. We were once more poked with the moral ambiguity stick, sprinkled with Polaroid photos. Ah, memories. We watched Carol at odds with herself, questioning her beliefs and quietly grieving over Sam. (She has now lost four children in the course of the show.) We witness Abraham’s inability to let someone down gently and learned why dingle-berries are brown. We were shown Morgan building something. Is it a cage? Is he going to lock Rick in a cage? We also were reminded that Tara is living in the land of déjà vu with this mission. Maybe Rick’s middle name is Brian.

What really happened in this episode is that we witnessed the breadcrumbs of information leading us strategically into the best type of storytelling: Actions not Words. Show vs. Tell.

Earlier in the season we watched Daryl deal with three people who escaped from Negan. Nothing is really explained and only tidbits are given through their dialogue. This leads us to believe they are from Negan’s settlement, and that it’s bad news because necessities have to be earned, which includes medical help.

Later we run across the bikers on the road, nicely dispatched with a rocket. That may be a bit unrealistic but it was fun. The bikers make it clear that Negan takes what Negan wants unless it gets exploded. Rick and Company feel at ease, however; because gobs of goonies are all over the highway with none to carry word back to this Negan character.

Last week we met the people of Hilltop and learn about the classic “protection scam.” You give me half, and I don’t kill you in exchange. It seems fair except for “half” being a relative term in the current economic climate. Rick and Maggie set up the same deal with a twist, “Give us half and we’ll kill Negan.” It’s a win/lose situation because our heroes get some food but the Hilltop people are still going to be under the thumb of an unstable leader.

Finally we come to last night and the hasty plan of underestimating your enemies. The capture of Maggie and Carol puts us in a spot to consider the whole sequence from a new perspective. What do the people of Hilltop really know about the Saviors? How many settlements are really under the protection of Negan? Think about the compound. This was a military base, not a settlement. With the addition of the extra forces in the woods, I’m guessing there’s more to the Negan Network.

All of this underlying information was given to us in a roundabout way. The characters involved are only divulging what they know, and clearly they don’t know everything. That is why the buildup to Negan has been good storytelling. Everyone is in the dark, and bit by bit they are turning on the light.

This is the type of storytelling that excites people. Hopefully the show can continue to keep things interesting going forward.

Thank you for reading and if you have anything to add or share, please feel free to comment!


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