As its name suggests, The Walking Dead: A New Frontier’s fourth episode, “Thicker Than Water,” confronts Javi with the ideas of whether the bonds of blood or friendship are more important to him. Unfortunately, the path getting to those decisions before the strong ending is far less enjoyable than much of this season has been so far.
“Thicker Than Water” hurtles forward with the mistaken idea that Joan, the villain introduced in episode 3, is a force to be reckoned with. She remains so undeveloped that her big moments at the start and end of the episode paint her as little more than the standard Walking Dead caricature of a villain. She essentially exists as a plot device to reflect some of Javi’s choices in the last few episodes. Considering the back and forth of Javi’s antagonistic relationship with his brother David, Joan’s instant rise to prominence in the plot feels much less natural in its incorporation.