Before we dive into the final third of The Walking Dead‘s final season, AMC is bridging the gap with Tales of the Walking Dead. The six-episode anthology series will explore The Walking Dead universe from the perspective of new characters along with some familiar ones in very unfamiliar settings.
This week, we kick things off with a pair of survivors looking for people from their pasts. As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers.
After what might be the most unpleasant opening credits I’ve ever witnessed, the episode begins with a man named Joe watching a taped broadcast of a football game with his pet Doberman. We quickly learn that he’s a survivalist/doomsday prepper, which appears to have worked out well for him.
Joe also loves his dog very much, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when he’s killed defending his owner from a walker attack. Without his best/only friend in the world, Joe becomes understandably depressed and lonely. He eventually finds comfort in reading printouts of old internet chats he had with another prepper. Despite clearly having feelings for each other, he turned down her offer to meet in real life.
As you might imagine, Joe’s recent loss spurs him to venture out and find his old friend.
After combing through the transcripts to deduce where she may live, Joe loads up his electric motorcycle and heads toward Michigan. That evening, he’s forced to stop when his tires are popped by a set of road spikes. While looking for a way to repair them (?), he’s caught in a tree net trap. Moments before a walker closes in, a woman (Evie) stabs it in the head. She agrees to cut Joe out, but only if he handcuffs himself.
Evie takes Joe to her cabin and binds him to a chair with an impressive amount of packing tape. Despite this Misery-esque setup, the woman appears happy to have Joe there and is surprisingly friendly. Her cheery demeanor is negated after she admits that her plan is to steal Joe’s bike. When he tells her that the vehicle has a kill switch, she forces him to drive her where she wants to go or be shot.
With the power dynamic clearly established, the pair finish their introduction by clashing over their differing personalities…which is a bit weird since they’re both survivors. Joe may be a more stereotypical “prepper,” but Evie’s hippy/new age vibe doesn’t keep her out of that club, either.
Whatever the case, she gives Joe a crystal to help cleanse his negative aura (ugh) and tells him to rest up for their drive.
The next morning (and after an offscreen tire repair), Evie climbs into the passenger car and forces Joe at gunpoint to drive her through the state of Ohio. She attempts to make conversation and even tries singing along with him to a song he likes, but Joe is understandably not interested in bonding.
That evening when the pair stop to rest, Evie goes through Joe’s belongings to see what she can learn about him. After finding a book of poetry and transcripts with his prepper friend, she admits that her journey is to find someone she loves, as well. Joe responds with hostile disinterest, which is completely understandable after being taken hostage and handcuffed.
Evie is hurt that she’s unable to connect with Joe, but still puts a blanket over him as he goes to sleep.
The next day, Evie makes Joe stop so they can enjoy a beautiful sunset. When she points out that there are still beautiful/magic things in the world, Joe counters that it’s hard to believe that in a post-apocalyptic world — especially when she’s holding a gun on him.
After noticing his words hurt her, Joe apologizes and agrees that some things in the world are still nice.
That evening, the pair are forced to fight together when they’re surrounded by walkers. After taking them all down (and Joe saying how impressed he is with Evie’s martial arts skills), she finally lets him out of his handcuffs. Instead of getting the hell out of there, Joe decides to stay.
He even lets her drive his motorcycle (with him in the passenger seat) as they cross into Michigan (UGH).
After the pair find an abandoned factory to take shelter for the evening, Evie reveals that she’s headed for the town of Mount Pleasant, which is less than ten miles from Joe’s destination.
Turns out that she and her husband (Steven) separated right before society fell and he went to live with his family in Michigan. He also had a ritual of painting people he hated in a particular way, which has Evie worried that she was one of his sources of malicious inspiration. Although it’s been over a year since she last saw her husband, Evie believes that the universe brought Joe into her life so she could find Steven again — or at least his paintings to see if he still loved her or not.
Joe then hands over his poetry/transcript book and asks if she can help locate his friend since she knows the area. He also explains that despite the personal nature of the book’s contents, he now trusts her enough to read them.
The next day, Joe is turning on the bike (conveniently disengaging the kill switch) when Evie calls for him to come back inside. Once he arrives, she explains that one of the places Joe’s friend mentioned in their chats is a location Evie knows. As the pair celebrate having a shared mission, they also admit how nice it’s been having human contact again.
Before things can get too warm and fuzzy, they hear a lamb bleating outside. When they go over to the animal, they find it tied down with a note stating “Thanks for the bike.” Moments later, a man drives off with Joe’s motorcycle. Joe grabs Evie’s gun and attempts to shoot him only to find that the weapon wasn’t loaded.
Now without a bike or any of their belongings (except the lamb), the pair becomes hostile with each other again. Things reach a boiling point when Joe says that he agreed with Steve for leaving Evie. Evie counters by pointing out that Joe could have overpowered her at any time, but didn’t because he’s lonely. He was so busy trying to survive the end of the world that he never made connections with anyone.
Joe responds by storming off, leaving Evie and the lamb to fend for themselves.
Despite not having a map and having to make a 12-hour drive on foot, Evie still manages to find her husband’s family cabin — all without suffering from dehydration, starvation, exhaustion, or any number of things that could/should have killed her. After looking through Steven’s paintings, she discovers that he painted her in a way that showed he was still in love with his wife.
Despite walking a 12-hour drive on foot, Joe manages to find his prepper/online friend’s house, which he was able to identify via a picture she sent him. Like Evie, he also doesn’t suffer any ill effects from his perilous journey.
Upon arriving at the house, Joe is immediately surrounded by zombies. He notices security cameras rigged up in the trees and begs his friend (Sandra) to let him in. As the zombies shuffle closer, a trap door opens, allowing Joe to escape. He drops down (injuring his leg) and follows an underground tunnel to a set of stairs, where Sandra is waiting for him at the bottom.
Despite some initial awkwardness, the pair are overjoyed to be reunited and finally meet in person. When the moment comes to decide whether they should hug or not, Sandra notices Joe’s injury hurt and helps him toward the bunker’s living area. As the two continue to bond/flirt, she gives Joe a brownie to eat before asking if she can freshen up. Once she’s gone, Joe notices that something in the brownie has dulled his senses.
When Sandra returns, she’s painted her face like a clown. She also binds Joe’s hands and begins interrogating him about why he’s really there. When Joe asks for his restraints to be loosened, she slices his neck with a knife and asks more forcefully what his intentions are. Joe desperately tries to explain that he just wants to be with her, which results in him getting sliced again.
Sandra then begins to explain how she went crazy. At the start of the apocalypse, she was inundated with the screams of people banging on her shelter and begging to be let in. After a while, a man was able to enter and attacked, forcing her to kill him. She noticed his watch and decided to keep it for herself.
After that, Sandra began keeping a collection of watches from all the men she killed…and Joe and his watch were next.
Sandra charges Joe with a cleaver and swings at him, but he’s spared when the blade hits the crystal Evie gave to him (UGH!!!). Her moment of confusion allows Joe to knock Sandra back and run away. She quickly chases him down and gets set to finish him off, but is interrupted when her security alarm goes off.
Turns out that Evie not only made it to Sandra’s house without a map, but is now standing outside with the lamb (…).
After gagging Joe instead of killing him, Sandra wipes off the clown makeup, steps outside, and invites Evie in for shelter and a drug brownie. She marvels at Evie’s 15-mile journey (???) before asking how she knew her internet handle. Evie explains that she was with Joe and helped him figure out where Sandra lived. Sandra attempts to play dumb about knowing Joe, but slips and reveals she does. The charade is completely dropped when Evie reveals that she knew the brownie was drugged thanks to her extensive knowledge of edibles.
Evie easily kicks Sandra’s ass. She then hears Joe yelling through his gag and takes Sandra’s cleaver to set him free. Moments after she does, Sandra comes charging in with a spear to kill them. Joe takes the cleaver and throws it right into her chest.
Despite being resourceful survivors, the pair decide to leave the well-stocked bunker and return to the wilderness. They also don’t damage Zombie Sandra’s head, allowing her to nearly kill them. Thankfully, Evie and Joe make it outside and slam the bunker door shut.
The next day, Joe thanks Evie for saving him before lamenting that he’d wasted his whole life by isolating himself. Evie counters that they can continue to survive while also exploring what this messed-up world still has to offer. Joe agrees and accompanies her and their pet lamb on a new adventure.
If you’re going to kill a dog in your story, then the rest of it better be exceptional. Unfortunately, “Evie/Joe” was average at best.
Terry Crews was wonderful as expected. Heck, even Olivia Munn (who I’m decidedly not a fan of) was good. But the narrative was tragically pedestrian, especially considering what a series like Tales of the Walking Dead can do. Without the constraints of serial continuity or main characters to protect, this anthology should’ve really been able to cut loose. Perhaps future installments will, but this episode featured all the tropes we’ve seen plague The Walking Dead franchise.
If it was just technical issues, (like Evie and Joe being equipped with plot armor or traveling at the speed of light), then it might be forgivable. But then we got the old Walking Dead standby of someone who seems initially good turning out to be psycho. You could argue that the impact was greater due to Sandra’s connection with Joe, but her turn was telegraphed so early after they reunited that it was difficult to enjoy.
It was also frustrating to see Joe trust Evie so quickly after the episode did a nice job establishing his survivalist paranoia. Even with Evie addressing the matter (her theory about why he never tried to overpower her), it still doesn’t line up with how quickly he went along before getting along. It also didn’t help that Munn had to portray such a clichéd “hippy” character. As someone who’s been pretty rough on her in the past, I give her a lot of credit for making Evie more interesting than the script did.
But let’s go back to the technical issues for a bit. Maybe I’m just being too picky, but there are things about the episode that are still bugging me:
- As well-prepared and aware as Joe is, why didn’t he have a leash for his dog when zombies approached?
- How were Joe and Evie able to fix or replace completely blown-out motorcycle tires? Did Evie just have a patch kit or extra set laying around?
- Joe said it was a 12-hour ride to their destination right before his bike was stolen. How did that change to 15 miles?
- If they made up some of that time walking along the railroad tracks, how were they not dying of thirst, hunger, exhaustion, etc., and wearing the same clothes with minimal wear?
- Maybe it was the whole wristwatch thing, but why did Sandra let Joe in instead of allowing the zombies to kill him.
- How did Evie manage to find her way to Sandra’s house without a map?
- Considering how both Joe and Evie proved they were adept at properly killing zombies, why did they not ensure Sondra’s brain was destroyed before leaving the cabin? Maybe people didn’t know about dead people turning without being bitten, but it still seems like an oversight.
- Why would two survivors not take advantage of a fully stocked, well-secured bunker to begin their new lives?
None of those things make the episode bad, but they become much more noticeable when the narrative is mediocre. The leads definitely made “Evie/Joe” more watchable, but not at all memorable.
Let’s hope this isn’t a sign of how the series’ next five episodes will go.
Join the AIPT Patreon
Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:
- ❌ Remove all ads on the website
- 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
- 📗 Access to our monthly book club
- 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
- 💥 And more!