Issue #146, “A Breaking Point Reached,” again shows how much Kirkman is able to accomplish with little to no dialogue from his characters.
In light of the 12 murders at the hands of The Whisperers, Rick was tasked with delivering the horrible news to the citizens of Alexandria, The Hilltop, as well as The Saviors.
And the reaction, though repetitive, considering how we’ve seen Rick and the others react to the deaths, is well-handled. This is one of those situations where less is more.
By giving the characters no dialogue, but just letting us see their facial expressions and how the community mourns their losses, we know everything there is to know about what they’re all going through.
Once we get to the actual conversations, this is where we see emotions explode. 12 people are dead and someone needs to pay. Rick has to shoulder not just a lot of responsibility, but a lot of the blame because the citizens see him as week for not wanting to strike back against The Whisperers. But the townspeople don’t have the full story- they don’t know of the massive roamer swarm at Alpha’s disposal.
The people, of course, aren’t thinking rationally. They’ve lost people close to them and just want some kind of revenge. Makes sense. And chances are that if it were someone very close to Rick, he’d want that same justice. But here, Rick knows the risks that come with combating Alpha. He won’t put the communities at risk not just because of the stability built, but also because he knows that he’s outmatched by Alpha’s herd.
I do think that there could have been a chance for open conversation and dialogue among the communities. In both the show and comic, we’ve watched the groups grapple with conflicting, moral dilemmas. Even if they come to a standstill, the floor still becomes available for people to state their case. Here, Rick’s word is law because he knows that everyone wants revenge. I think he could have at least told them what they’re up against.
And what about Magna? She and her crew just arrived, but now they’ve been drawn into the conflict as well.
So with morale down and Rick’s leadership called into question, this leads into Rick learning about Maggie executing Gregory, which we knew was coming. As evidenced by leaving Negan alive, Rick is trying to show the world that there’s a better way besides murder. Maggie’s actions jeopardize the stability built in the communities, but Maggie had plenty good reason, given that Gregory tried to poison her.
Rick asks Maggie if she’s learned nothing, and I think that she has. She’s learned from the world around her, but I also think she’s learned from Rick’s actions. There’s no way of knowing this, but had she permitted Gregory to live, who’s to say whether he would try to kill Maggie again? Ever since Rick and company arrived in Alexandria, they’ve been watched by the people around them because, naturally, they’re suspicious of outsiders.
As time went on, Rick’s group proved their worth, but you still have factions that question their judgment and actions. Gregory was one of those extreme examples. You can’t expect everyone to comply, but you also can’t expect one to be like Negan and just patiently wait for an open opportunity, even if Negan didn’t seize that chance to prove a point.
Sometimes I wonder if Rick is as insane as Negan if he really thinks that Maggie is unraveling everything that’s being built. It was inevitable that the peace and stability would begin to crumble. And given how The Whisperers blend in so well, this isn’t a situation that either of them can just hold together without problems.
And Maggie just worked with what she had. Carl is the one who pined over Lydia and went after her. Had he not done that, things may have ended up differently. But Maggie had not just that, but some of the Hilltop residents turning against her, with Gregory as the primary instigator. That alone could be handled diplomatically, but when Gregory crosses the line and tries to kills to Maggie, she feels justified in what she did. She won’t allow herself to be burdened down at times, as Rick is.
I thought the actual confrontation between Rick and Maggie was over a bit too fast, for my liking. We’ve been building to this moment and finally have it, but in the span of a few pages, it’s over as soon as it began. I’d prefer that this tension last at least another issue. Maybe their friendship is that deep, sure, but this clash was over very fast.
But let’s wrap up with the ‘scientist’ of the hour: Eugene. So we get some lip-service to the fact that Rosita wasn’t carrying Eugene’s child, but he promised to care for it, which is fine because it shows that, despite his past deception, he’s willing to show that he’s a good man. But, like Rick, he wants his revenge, but has to go about it the right way or everyone will suffer.
He wants to be careful, but he’s aware of the fact that, yes, they do have Lydia in their possession. Okay, he points this out, but no idea what he’s thinking of doing. The fact that Eugene arrives at this conclusion as a plus helps show that this man is a far cry from the timid liar he once was. Plus, Rosita’s death is sure to spur him into action, even if that means going to a darker place to hurt Alpha.
I would guess that Carl would be willing to take Lydia into hiding, given how her presence could turn the communities into even more of a frenzy. But we’ll see.