What the fuck, guys. Like, what the fuck seriously. How is the brutality of this series still surprising to me? If it wasn't so horrifying I would probably be able to appreciate how Kirkman used the past two and a half volumes to lull us into a false sense of security -- despite multiple characters literally stating out loud that nothing that good could last -- only to shatter that security in the first 80% of this volume.
But he also managed in this volume to renew my faith in the series by finally giving me what I've been asking for for thirteen fucking volumes: hope. This damn shit is too bleak, and if it hadn't ended the way it did, I might have just up and quit on the series, but it did end that way, with Rick finally realizing that's it's not the dead that are the problem, but the living.
And I mean, come on with this, because it shouldn't have taken him that long to come to that realization.
That's really the thematic throughline of this episodes. Every character makes the choice between sticking together and running away to keep themselves safe, and it's the characters who band together, who refuse to give up on each other, that make me not want to smash myself in the head in frustration.
Hopefully this represents a turning point for the series, because if it goes back to the same bleak old shit and everything getting progressively worse and worse, after Vol. 16, I can promise you that I am out.
3.5 stars, really, but rounding up to four for the ending.