At the end of the mid-season finale of Season 6, when virtually every character was in a cliffhanger, Sam has the final lines of the episode: “Mom…Mom…Mom…”
These words haunted me until the premiere aired, and Sam is somehow…fine. He assures his mom he can do this, and they go off together. This little side scene doesn’t really fit, and the only purpose it seemed to serve was to get Gabriel and Judith out of immediate harm.
But they didn’t need to.
They should have just had Sam freak out like we all expected him to do. The sound shuts off, like it did, so we only hear a little of what the characters are saying. Imagine now how much more intense that scene would have been if, when everything got quiet, all we heard was Judith start to cry.
The next few seconds play out as they did. When Carl goes down, we know that Judith is still strapped to him. Rick has to carry them both out.
In the ensuing chaos, Father Gabriel gets separated from the others. There’s a minute or so of him panicking and you assume he’s not going to make it until he finds safe harbor at the church.
What I Learned: Don’t fool your audience by backtracking over a cliffhanger.