In this episode, The Walking Dead gets back to one of its favorite pasttimes: walking through the woods. Dwight, Tara and Rosita are leading the Alexandrians to Hilltop, but along the way lie many dangers – from swamp zombies to Saviors. To make matters worse, Tara is still a little annoyed about Dwight killing her girlfriend, Denise, and her efforts to get him killed on the journey escalate to the point where she starts chasing him through the woods with a gun. However, Dwight isn’t counted among the dead this week.
Meanwhile, Father Gabriel and Dr. Carson (not the one who got thrown in a furnace – the other one) are also romping through the woods, but Gabriel’s infection is gradually robbing him of his eyesight, and the Saviors are hot on their trail. Back at the Saviors’ HQ, Eugene gets a promotion from Negan: heading up his very own outpost, where he will produce bullets for the Saviors. Of course, Eugene also has a Sword of Damocles hanging over his head; if Negan finds out that he helped Gabriel and Carson escape, Eugene’s stay with the Saviors could get decidedly less comfortable.
Overall, “Dead Or Alive Or” is a fairly slow-paced episode… but that doesn’t mean it’s without casualties. And there was one significant character death this week.
The Walking Dead fans like to joke that there’s a Highlander rule for doctors (there can be only one), so given Siddiq’s arrival in Hilltop this episode, it was perhaps inevitable that Dr. Harlan Carson would get pushed off the shelf. Dr. Carson and Father Gabriel spend the episode experiencing a run of improbably good luck: first they are drawn to a house because Gabriel believes he hears the sound of bells; then the house just so happens to contain the antibiotics they need to fight Gabriel’s infection; then Gabriel accidentally smashes open a piggy bank that contains a map and a set of car keys for the truck outside. Gabriel chalks all of this up to divine intervention…
…And then the cruel god of the Walking Dead universe pulls the rug out from under them. First Harlan gets his leg caught in a bear trap. Then, when the pair of them reach the car, they are ambushed by Saviors. Harlan, having bought into Gabriel’s belief that God is on their side, decides to try and take one of the Saviors’ guns and is immediately shot – to Gabriel’s horror and dismay. At the end of the episode, Gabriel ends up in Eugene’s machine workshop, organizing bullet casings – and he seems a lot less confident that God is on his side.
There aren’t any particularly formidable walkers in this episode – just a handful of biters that the Alexandrians encounter on the way to Hilltop (Tara tries, unsuccessfully, to get them to bite Dwight). However, there is a memorable scene where walkers come lurching out of a swamp, suitably decomposed, and Daryl and co. have to dispatch them.