The cost. You think that’s referring to the whole Lauren Cohan pay situation? Yeah, probably not.
The episode begins with Morgan in the woods as he spots a vision of Gavin, telling him that he knows what it is- that Morgan was supposed to kill him. But when Morgan goes for the strike, no one’s there. Suddenly, car horns go off in every direction and Morgan follows suit, blasting the horn in his vehicle. It’s time.
At the Hilltop, everyone prepares for battle. Except for Henry, who Ezekiel tells to stay inside since this isn’t his fight. Carol agrees, saying that if Henry goes out into battle, he’ll die.
Siddiq tells a doctor, Dana, played by Peggy Sheffield, that while he might not be as prepared as he’d like to be, he’s still ready. Still, Siddiq is ready to help, so rather than being asked what he’s done, he’s ready to help with what he can do. And since Dana is another doctor who we haven’t seen before, as far as I remember, I wager that her days are numbered.
As night arrives, everyone at the Hilltop waits as the caravan of Saviors approach. They hit an immediate hitch when they hit a spike trap in the road. Over the radio, Maggie tells Simon that she wants to talk to Negan. Simon will have to do for now, as he’s speaking on behalf of Negan. He assures her that Negan received Maggie’s boxed gift, and now the Hilltop will have to pay.
Maggie points out that 38 Savior prisoners are still breathing. And if the Saviors don’t leave, she has a bullet for each one. However, Simon isn’t worried about the prisoners. As far as he’s concerned, they’re damaged goods that have to figure out their own shit. Maggie still feels her plan will work.
Simon reminds the Saviors outside that the plan isn’t just infection, but conclusion. Dwight, though, feels this isn’t what Negan would want, and Simon should know that. Negan could still be out there. And if he shows up, Dwight doubts Simon will want to face him.
Then Daryl arrives opening fire on his motorcycle. The Saviors go on the offensive and the firefight begins, both with bullets and arrows. Alden tells Maggie that he wants to help defend the Hilltop, but he’s whisked back inside. Also, Tobin ends up getting stabbed in the process. Siddiq offers to stay with him so Carol can continue helping the others.
As Daryl watches the Saviors approach from a distance, Dwight nails Tara in the shoulder with an arrow. They then fall back as Michonne informs Daryl that they should head back as well, as Maggie’s given the signal.
With all of the vehicle lights shot out, the Hilltop is even darker than it already is. In a move I can only chalk up to bad writing or pure stupidity, the Saviors slowly advance in the dark towards their target, who not only has the home field advantage, but can no doubt see them while the Saviors are walking blind.
As expected, the lights go up and the Hilltop fighters open fire on the Saviors, forcing them to retreat. In enter Rick, Morgan, and a few other fighters, Rick in particular having much betteraim than he did when he faced off with Negan. He almost strikes Siddiq before realizing that yes, it’s him.
Morgan continues seeing glimpses of Gavin, who keeps telling him that he knows what it is. Maggie and Rick open fire on the retreating Saviors, but they still manage to escape. Maggie’s disappointed, as she wanted the Saviors dead, Negan most of all. Rick tells Maggie that he ran into Negan and tried to kill him, but failed.
The next day, while Maggie and Enid discuss resources, Tara tells Daryl that her injury is just a scratch. They get into yet another discussion over Dwight, and Tara’s history with the Governor finally comes up, not to mention Merle worked with the Governor, too. Though Daryl feels that if he stuck with him, he’d be with the Saviors or a similar group. But he figured out who he is, just like Tara.
Tara feels that’s what happened with Dwight, but then Daryl asks if that happened before or after he killed Denise. That’s all square with Tara now, as she remembers Dwight actively helping her in the woods. But Daryl is adamant that Dwight hasn’t changed. Okay, let’s move onto another scene, shall we?
Since Maggie’s turned off the generator, Rick is hard at work opening up the windows so people can get some air. He ignores the turnip that Michonne brought for him and tells her that he saw Negan at the back of the Savior convoy, which is why he tried to kill him.
Alden is brought to the grave site and told by Maggie that he’ll be taken outside the gates with a guard so he can bury the Saviors. However, Alden is glad to see the Saviors dead. Dianne admits that she knew before that Maggie was a good leader, but after last night, she saved the community.
All because others sacrificed theirs. Negan is still in play. She sent him a body to make him mad and lure him to the Hilltop, and she wanted Glenn’s grave to be the last thing he saw, even if it came at a cost. She doesn’t know if that makes her a good leader, but the only regret is that Negan isn’t with the pile of bodies.
In the infirmary, Carol and Tobin have a moment to talk. He tells her that she doesn’t owe him anything for how she suddenly ended things. She was trying to live a life, but then there were more Saviors out there, so she couldn’t just keep living.
Tobin asks if she’ll leave again when this is all over, and she might just accept that some are lucky enough to live, and others are lucky enough to fight. She doesn’t see an end to this. To Tobin, the end of the fight is what we’re fighting for.
Henry, meanwhile, sneaks off with an assault rifle. I assume no one questions why a child is walking off with a gun that’s bigger than he is.
Outside, as Rick loads his gun, Siddiq offers to treat Rick’s wounds so they won’t get infected. He then shares a prayer for the dead that he got when he was young. But Rick isn’t interested, so he soon leaves.
That evening, Maggie asks one of the residents about his condition, and he’s fine. He’s glad about Maggie’s leadership, saying that if Gregory was still in charge, the Hilltop wouldn’t be standing.
Meanwhile, as Tobin rests, he closes his eyes at 2:13 am. Around 3:26 am, another resident awakens and finds someone resting near him with a burning fever. Before he can go get Dana, a reanimated Tobin awakens and eats him.
Dana soon enters the infirmary, spotting a trail of blood, and is also soon bitten by Tobin. Well, good thing we’ve got Siddiq.
As the dead make their way towards the mansion, another wounded resident, the one who was speaking to Maggie a few scenes ago, reanimates, but ends up tripping down the stairs. Walkers are clumsy like that. But the walkers are soon ready while everyone sleeps completely unaware. Okay, if they sleep that deeply and left the door so walkers or anyone else could get in, these people deserve to be bitten.
Outside, as Gregory rests, Henry awakens him and asks if he knows what Savior killed his brother, but obviously Gregory has no idea. He reminds Henry that the weapon he’s holding is very dangerous, so perhaps Gregory should hold the weapon instead. He apologizes for the loss of Henry’s brother and killing the Saviors won’t make it better, but it would help.
Henry promises to start killing random Saviors until he finds out who killed Benjamin. Alden gets how Henry feels, as he lost his brother, too, but killing won’t make him feel good. Not for long, at least.
Inside, meanwhile, everyone finally awakens to the sounds of screams as the dead fest on the living. Took you people long enough.
Henry asks Jared if he’s the one who killed Benjamin, and he then opens the prisoner gate. How the hell did he get the key? Pointing his gun at the Saviors, he demands to know who murdered his brother. As Henry starts counting, a walker bites one of the Saviors. With this distraction, Jared seizes Henry’s gun and with the gate open, the Saviors make their escape. Good job, Henry.
Back inside, Rick, Morgan, and Daryl continue to put down the dead. They think the dead might have gotten in during the fight, but the dead are their own people, not some random walkers. Carol confronts a reanimated Tobin and puts him down. When Rick, Daryl, and Maggie enter, Rick remembers that when he ran into Negan, his bat was covered in walker blood.
Though he thought Negan just ran into some walkers, everyone soon realizes that the Saviors are making the survivors kill their own. One resting resident realizes that he’s next to die, so he asks one of the others to put him down.
And then there’s Tara, who is still resting. Rick and Daryl enter and tell her, Enid, and Rosita that the Saviors infected their weapons, and most of the people hit by those weapons turned. Daryl reminds Tara that she said she was done waiting, and he still laments not killing Dwight. While Tara wanted Dwight dead, she realizes that Dwight wanted to be on their side. Karma’s a bitch.
Outside, Siddiq and Alden take out more walkers when Maggie and others approach. He tells them that a kid came and opened up the pen. While some Saviors left, a few did stay behind to try and close the main gate. As for why Siddiq’s out, he came to check on the prisoners, but found the pen empty.
Next day, Ezekiel and Carol search for Henry, but learn from Enid that Henry opened the pen. Again, ghost Gavin tells Morgan that he knows what it is.
The episode comes to a close as the dead are buried. Dianne asks Maggie what’s on her mind.The answer? The cost of the battle.
This episode is…odd. There’s a lot I enjoy about it and unlike the midseason finale, the show makes it very clear who is where in this very hectic and fast-paced battle. More than there, we get some nice, quick character moments building off what’s been established not just in this war, but in Tara’s case, actions from previous seasons finally being addressed.
Where this episode suffers is from some bad character decisions and conveniences that I’m going to chalk up to bad writing, but we’ll get to that later.
The actual firefight between the Saviors and the Hilltop was well-executed and had some great moments, and not once did it ever drag. It helped that the battle was over rather quickly with the Saviors forced to retreat after putting Negan’s weapons test to the…well, test. It served its purpose and introduced a dangerous new element to the survivors.
For the longest time, Tara’s inability to give Dwight a chance has had many, myself included, calling bullshit on the hypocrisy since she was with the Governor. Sure, she didn’t put the blade to Hershel’s neck, but she still allied herself with the Governor. As did Merle, and I never expected he’d be mentioned, but I appreciate it. But if Maggie and everyone else could forgive Tara, it’s proof that people can change.
Daryl even points out that people have to find out who they are, but in this instance, he’s still unwilling to give Dwight that chance because he believes that he won’t change. More so after he shot Tara, though I believe not just that he shot her with an untainted weapon, but that he did so to keep Simon from delivering a fatal blow. Neither of them knows that, but Dwight may have just saved Tara’s life again.
While I’m tired of them going back and forth on Dwight, it’s nice for the show to finally acknowledge that people like Tara can change, so it’s not impossible that Dwight could do the same, even though Daryl doesn’t agree with that. Not yet, anyway.
Rick is still reeling from Carl’s death to the point that he’s shutting Michonne and Siddiq out when they’re just trying to help. And now that he’s blown his chance to kill Negan, all he can do is blow some steam in the one way he knows how: beast mode. He had much better precision and aim here than he did with Negan in an enclosed space.
However, him making the decision to go out and face Negan did have a positive result, as Rick was the first at the Hilltop to realize that the Saviors were infecting their weapons, based on him seeing Lucille covered in walker blood.
Maggie’s leadership skills continue to shine here as she makes the tough decisions that she knows will get people killed, but this is a war, so that comes with the territory. But as she points out at the end, such decisions come at a huge cost. Now she made great gains, too, putting the Saviors on the defensive, and she couldn’t have known about the Saviors’ plan with the weapons.
It makes sense that, since leading the Hilltop, she’d have some struggles, but she’s gained a lot of goodwill with the residents who see her as the leader that Gregory wasn’t. She’s putting them before herself and doesn’t soften on the Saviors, except for Alden, who, like Dwight, is proving that those seen as the enemy can change.
Even though the show didn’t get that far with Tobin and Carol’s relationship, such as it was, I did like that the two had a moment to catch up. Though Tobin, like other characters before him, befell the same fate in that when a character starts getting philosophical or gets more dialogue than usual, their time is up. And Tobin was no exception.
And this leads into my negatives with the show. First off, let’s talk about the Saviors. They don’t have a home field advantage here. Yet when all of the lights go out, they walk towards the mansion, knowing that the survivors are there. They don’t even fire off a few shots in the darkness in the hopes that they get lucky or fall back.
They walked straight into the line of fire. What did they expect when the lights came up and the Hilltop pumped them full of bullets? Simon’s a hothead, but he can’t be that stupid.
Oh, but the Hilltop’s not off the hook, either. For one, why was the door to the mansion open or in a position that walkers could just walk right in? If it’s for people to get air, I get that, but where were the guards? Why was no one keeping watch at all? I get that the people were just in a huge firefight, but that doesn’t mean they get to drift into a deep sleep. That ended up getting so many of them killed.
And seriously, a body falls down the stairs and no one heard that? Surely one of these people had to be a light sleeper. This felt like a way to just thin the herd, even though most of the people killed aren’t people we’d grown attached to, except for Tobin. There’s no excuse for no one hearing any noise or keeping guard, especially right after the Saviors attacked. Whose to say they wouldn’t have tried again?
But no. Instead, we lose a bunch of nameless people that now fill out the Hilltop’s burial site because of stupid decisions and bad writing.
Then there’s Henry. Damn kid, really. He’s not as bad as Lizzie, and he even has the potential to be a badass like Carl, but damn it if this kid didn’t make some poor decisions. It was inevitable Henry would try to figure out the truth behind Benjamin’s death, but there are tons of Saviors. There’s no reason why he should automatically think the one who killed his brother would be in the pen.
Sure, Jared was, but Henry wouldn’t have known that. Also, did Maggie just tell everyone about the key to the pen? Because Henry seemed to get access to both it and a rifle without anyone stopping the kid. You’re telling me that these fighters, who have the Saviors on tight security, pay no mind to the child carrying a gun bigger than he is and that said child can get the key housing the prisoners?
Bullshit. I just hope that Henry’s ass is prepared because Carol is going to whoop that ass for Henry being the reason that some of the Saviors escaped. That or she’ll tell him to look the the flowers.
“Do Not Send Us Astray” was a tightly packed episode with a great firefight between the Saviors and survivors, mixed in with some good character moments in-between. Unfortunately, these great moments come alongside some bad decisions and conveniences, courtesy of equally bad writing.