The Walking Dead weekly recap: ‘Crossed’ signals

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There’s good news and bad news about this week’s episode of The Walking Dead.

First, the good news: Everything is GREATM, and that’s not a spelling error. It’s the new buzzword coined in “Crossed,” the seventh episode of season five, featuring no less than four distinct story lines, if not more, in a single 42-minute installment. Tara introduces the acronym as a team name that represents solidarity; it stands for Glenn, Rosita, Eugene, Abraham, Tara, and Maggie, the six survivors currently traveling together.

For GREATM, life is great, at least compared to others in the apocalypse. Yes, their car has broken down. Yes, their supposed savior isn’t actually a super-scientist, and is instead just a mulleted, manipulative maroon. And yes, professional tough guy Abraham has seemingly lost his mind. But a couple of hours on the side of the road, with some freshly caught fish and filtered river water, and a few personal conversations under the belt, heal all wounds; Eugene starts to wake up, and even Abraham begins to snap out of his stupor.

There’s good news and bad news about this week’s episode of The Walking Dead.

But things are less than GREATM for just about everyone else. Father Gabriel flees his own church, leaving Carl, Michonne, and Baby Judith in the middle of the day, for reasons unknown. Does he have somewhere to be? Or is he just not interested in watching these murderous strangers strip his church down for walker-killing parts? Either way, Gabriel makes a break for it, and all he gets in return is a rusty nail in his foot and a zombie’s teeth within inches of his face. He survives the encounter bite-free, but how much longer can he go without getting his blood on his hands?

In Atlanta, the situation is even worse for TRDS — which, under Tara’s rules, is the team name for Tyreese, Rick, Daryl, and Sasha, and not a misspelling of TARDIS, or TURDS. They follow Grady Hospital escapee Noah back to the site of his former captors, who now have Beth and a gravely injured Carol in their clutches. Rick wants to kill the whole Grady group in the middle of the night, but Tyreese the teddy bear wants to consider gentler tactics. Daryl becomes the deciding vote, and he sides with Tyreese, turning the murder-spree plot into a hostage negotiation.

Turns out, the group should’ve listened to Rick. They capture three police officers and plan to offer Officer Dawn and the other Grady goons a trade: “Your people for our people,” essentially. But catching these cops almost comes at the cost of Daryl Dixon’s life; if not for his quick thinking and use of a zombie head as a war club, the Tyreese plan would have gotten him killed.

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Even after Daryl joins Rick in apprehending the cops, one of the prisoners turns out to have shades of Eugene; he’s a bit of a conman, in other words. Officer Bob, no relation to the late Bob Stookey, comes off as a nice enough fellow, until he uses that niceness to his advantage. Long story short, he convinces Sasha to take him on a stroll, and he knocks her unconscious a few seconds later. Now, Bob’s on the move, jeopardizing the Tyreese plan, and everyone’s lives as a result.

The worst news of the night, however, is that all of these moving parts — Rick versus the hospital, Gabriel on the go, GREATM on the road — don’t really move anywhere by episode’s end. “Crossed” suffers from “Part 1 Syndrome,” in that it feels like the first half of next week’s midseason finale. The stage is set for more than a few climactic showdowns, but it comes at the cost of 42 minutes of wheel-spinning.

Will the upcoming hostage negotiation between Rick and Grady be worth the price of a mostly motionless episode? We’ll find out in one week.