Literal warning signs.
The episode begins with a walkers streaming the darkness as some finish feeding on a nearby body, who turns out to be Justin. He soon joins them as he passes a warning spray painted on a building that reads “Final Warning.” If only the Wolves could spray paint that legible.
As Rick gets ready for the day, he bids a sleeping Michonne and Judith farewell and presses his hand on the board where Carl and Judith planted their painted hands. He heads out into the Alexandria Safe Zone and looks over the handiwork as he picks a tomato, which he then sets elsewhere on the ground at what I’m assuming is Carl’s grave.
He heads back inside to talk with Michonne about this proposed charter, which won’t be done by supper. He’s glad that she’s leading Alexandria and keeping it safe so they can make it better. Also, Judith has a cough. No fever, but Michonne and Rick will take her to Siddiq. Rick will take his time, and last he checked, things are going well with Maggie.
Though both she and Daryl are still angry. Still, Rick is confident that this will work. To him, everyone will soon be on one accord. Rick then thanks Michonne for everything she’s done and what she’s doing now. And, most of all, for her. He then asks her to take a break so they can go about building the future another way. Rick Grimes is a certified master of long term foreplay.
On the road, Maggie and a Hilltop resident travel by horse when some Regina, Arat, Laura, and another Savior arrive to look for Justin. Maggie knows nothing about this and tells the Saviors that they’re bringing the ethanol, as the last shipment and the people went missing. One of the Saviors, Jed, played by Rhys Coiro, pulls out and eats a tomato, prompting Maggie to promise that she’ll write him up for that.
Laura promises that the Saviors will make good on the fuel. Maggie’s companion still can’t believe they’re working with the Saviors, but she’s willing to give them a chance. Further up, they spot someone on the road.
Following a visit to the doctor, Rick and Michonne have play time with Judith. As they read her The Wizard of Oz, they spot Scott rushing in their direction. He tells the two of them that one of the missing Saviors was spotted dead, but it looks like someone took them out, first.
Justin’s body is brought to the camp, where tensions are high. Alden breaks it up, though the Saviors aren’t willing to listen to him, as he’s not one of them anymore. Jed dares Carol and the others to just open fire, but Laura tells them that everyone needs to protect themselves. Also, Daryl wants no guns used. Though some believe Jadis could have done this as revenge for what Simon did. No one argues against that…
Just before a fight can break out, Rick arrives on the scene and orders everyone to stand down and to start the redirect. He asks Gabriel where Jadis was last night, and she was with him on watch all night. Okay, even if Jadis has nothing to do with this, Rick needs someone he can trust to watch her.
Then Alden suggests that arming some people should work, but that would make things worse. Maggie agrees with that. The plan is to figure out who killed Justin, and then he’ll consider this. The Saviors are the majority of the work force, so they depend on the others to be kept safe. After all, Maggie did suggest the Saviors work on the bridge. As for Justin, though? Who knows? But Rick does toss a suspicious glance Daryl’s way.
Jadis tells Gabriel that she played no part in Justin’s death, and Gabriel then mentions that he was with her all night, but he eventually left. As in he lied to protect her. He asks Jadis if she saw anything when she was out and if that might explain what happened to Justin, but Jadis doesn’t give a direct answer. Rather, she asks if he thinks she’s hiding something.
Rick takes a seat with Daryl, who already knows why he’s here. So Rick does ask about Justin’s wound, which looks like a puncture from a knife. However, it’s small and clean, much cleaner than a bullet. In fact, it kind of looks like an arrow or a bow. Daryl asks if this is what Rick used to do, and it is, when he had to, though Rick doesn’t believe Daryl did this. Besides, if Daryl wanted to kill Justin, he would have killed him in plain sight.
Daryl may have an idea why Justin died, as bringing the Saviors together with the others would cause trouble. After all, why should the Saviors take part in this future, after all the people that died in this war as a result of fighting with the Saviors. Sure, Rick has thought about that, but killing each other when the world already belongs to the dead isn’t the way to go about things.
All Rick is asking is that Daryl try. If people see it, they may look past all of this. After all, Daryl also didn’t kill the guy who left his brother on a rooftop to die. I mean, that’s also because you pointed a gun at Daryl so he wouldn’t kill T-Dog, Rick. But okay. Semantics.
Maggie and Cyndie radio to the others as grids are cleared. The two spot a few walkers, so the others will converge on their location. Cyndie knows that there’s a house near this location, as she used to live here before Oceanside.
They approach the house and find walkers banging on it. Maggie will take care of the walkers while Cyndie takes care of the roof. As Maggie leads the walkers away, Cyndie approaches the boarded up doors, where the walkers soon stream through. Luckily, the cavalry arrives to help take care of the walkers. However, Grid Five has not arrived yet.
They find Beatrice in the woods and knocked out. When she’s arrived, it turns out that Arat called the all-clear, but then someone attacked her from behind. And whoever did this must have taken Arat, as her radio is lost.
Back at the camp, the others discuss what to do and whether they should search for Arat. If they don’t figure out what happens, the Sanctuary will fall. Jerry wants to know what happens when they capture who did this. Do they die like Gregory or be kept alive, like Negan? It’s a fair question. Anyway, everyone will pair up with someone they trust and search for Arat.
So Rick and Carol are paired together, with him asking her if the Saviors should be apart of this. And if Arat dies, a fight could break out again. Rick admits that since he put Negan in the cell, he’s had this feeling when he wakes up that he should go down and kill him. It’s all he wants, but then he remembers everyone that they’ve lost, not just to the Saviors, but from the beginning. Rick needs to honor them.
He has to build life, not take it. It’s them or the dead. Every life counts. It’s times like this you wish Morgan was around.
Meanwhile, Maggie and Daryl both disagree with Rick’s methods. When she looks at Hershel, she thinks about how things could have been. For her, what Rick is doing is right for the future and Hershel. They spot an approaching walker crawling on the ground and dispose of it, but it’s got an arrow sticking out of it. Daryl immediately realizes what happened to Arat.
Jadis returns to the junkyard with nothing more than a gun and flashlight, and finds an old filing cabinet. Inside is a walkie-talkie, and she tells the person on the other side that it’s Jadis. She knows that this person is in range because she spotted the helicopter. The person asks whether Jadis has an A or B, and these people have no pick-ups, but the deal still stands. And Jadis has no A or B.
She paid her share and she’s been compensated for her troubles. As for what it will take, an A. Tomorrow. It turns out that Gabriel followed her, and he demands to know who she’s talking to on the radio. Jadis admits that she’s done bad things, but not this. Gabriel is aghast, as he cared for her and stood in her defense. She acknowledges that she traded people, which she was going to do with him for Rick.
All in exchange for supplies for her people. It didn’t start that way- it just ended up there. She tried, but the second things go wrong, people suspect her. And when the Saviors came at her, people stood by and did nothing. Everyone except Gabriel. She wants Gabriel to leave with her, as there’s another place where they can travel to, together.
There’s just one thing, though: Gabriel can’t tell everyone. He has to trust her and they can have a life like he could never imagine. Gabriel ultimately refuses, saying that he has to tell Rick. He can’t choose her- not like this. All this time, she thought Gabriel was a B. With that, she knocks him out.
In the woods, Carol is ambushed by Jed and another Savior, but Rick orders them to stand down. Jed is ready to cut Carol’s throat. He’s not the one who killed the Saviors, as this situation here is about the guns, since they’re being hunted. The Saviors don’t need a babysitter, jut some protection for their trip home.
Jed heard Rick’s words about how every life counts, and he doesn’t believe that, while Rick says there’s no going back if Jed does this. But there’s no going back for what happened to Justin. Carol tells Jed that it’s over, as she stabs him. The two Saviors are brought to their knees, and Jed should count his stars that he’s alive because every life counts.
Maggie and Daryl arrive at a location which turns out to be the school from the beginning of the episode. And the Oceanside women have Arat at gunpoint. Indeed, they were responsible for Justin’s death. Arat is apparently the last Savior to kill, it’s over, but Maggie knows that something like this would continue. Plus Rick will find out. Cyndie talks about how she played with her brother here, but then the Saviors arrived.
And Simon wanted what they had. They went along with Rick because they thought they didn’t have a choice, but once Maggie hanged Gregory, Oceansisde knows there are other rules. So yes, Maggie is to blame for this. And Arat apparently shot Cyndie’s brother in this location. Arat admits that Simon would have killed her as well, but Cyndie remembers Arat’s smiling face as she shot her brother.
But what did Arat say when she shot him? No exceptions. That was it. Daryl and Maggie simply walk away as the Oceanside women execute Arat.
Next morning, as the Saviors leave the camp, Maggie and Daryl go over Cyndie’s action, saying that they gave Rick’s way a chance. And now it’s time to see Negan.
One of the common criticisms thrown towards this series has been the inability to balance several converging storylines. This episode is, for the most part, focused. With the exception of Jadis’ subplot, the bulk of this episode revolves around the mystery of Justin’s death and everyone pointing fingers every which way in one giant blame game.
There are big moral implications at play here that stem from Maggie’s decision to execute Gregory, and that action has furthered fractured an already splintered world that’s trying to bring itself back to civilization. That’s hard to do not just when people have differing ways on how the world should work, but it’s even harder when you’re working side-by-side with the Saviors.
We’re dealing with the aftermath of a war. And the Saviors are, for all intents and purposes, war criminals. Yes, they willingly surrendered, but that doesn’t mean people just got over what happened in the same way that Maggie will never get over Negan killing Glenn. The same applies to the Oceanside women when it comes to the Saviors wiping out the men in their community.
But this is where things get iffy for me. The entire last scene with Arat was great. Loved the acting, but the reveal of Oceanside being behind this bugs me. For one, it feels like this was just to give the Oceanside women something to do. Cyndie’s the only noteworthy member and even she’s not that relevant to the larger story, despite her constant presence.
Second, Negan killed Simon. If anything, he did the Oceanside women a favor. Cyndie mentions that Arat was the last one. Between her and Justin, that’s two. So…have the Oceanside women just been offing random Saviors and no one’s noticed until now? That feels rather flimsy, especially given how everyone is keeping a very close eye on the Saviors.
The idea is interesting, but I’m not sold on the execution is what I’m saying. Nor am I sold on the execution! I loved Arat and I’ve always enjoyed Elizabeth Ludlow’s performance. She’s one of those Saviors I hoped to see more of with the Saviors reforming, and I think she could have gotten there. It seemed like she was, but the Oceanside just had a bone to pick.
So admittedly, yeah, I’m not a fan of it because I really liked this character, but for what it does for the story, it is very strong. The Oceanside women are doing this because of Maggie executing Gregory. She’s given them a reason to take the law into their own hands and become trial, jury, and executioners for the Saviors. That’s Maggie’s doing, not Rick’s.
And it had to be eating away at Oceanside that they worked alongside people responsible for murdering their community, no different than Alexandria and the Kingdom. But once Maggie took matters into her own hands, she gave Oceanside a reason and motivation to do the same. It’s a grey area because yes, they’re trying to rebuild, but they can’t just overlook past atrocities.
It’s this kind of moral dilemma that I really enjoy about The Walking Dead, and in that respect, Oceanside’s involvement here makes a lot of sense. I just wish I cared more about these characters to be more invested in their loss because, again, right now, Oceanside feels like a non-factor compared to the other communities.
I do like that this basically sped up Maggie’s decision to visit Negan. Arat said the same words that Negan said before me killed Glenn: “No exceptions.” How can Maggie step in after that? And how can she continue to bide her time while dealing with Rick’s way? She can’t, so story-wise, I get her accepting that now is the time to pay Negan a visit.
The tension was high here and again, I’m glad that the bulk of this episode revolved around not just these tensions, but the mystery of Justin’s death. From the fight to the Saviors confronting Maggie on the road to Rick questioning Daryl, everything centered on one focal point as the lines between justice and vengeance became blurred.
With AMC constantly reminding us that Rick Grimes is only around for two more episodes, it was nice to see him spend some quality time with Judith and Michonne, even if that ends up being one of the last moments he has with his family. And hey, of course he’s going to try and “build” a future with Michonne. These two barely get any play, so why not take the opportunity when you’re about to exit the show, Rick?
The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was Jadis’ subplot, and I know that I’m not alone on this. I like that it built off of Jadis’ trust and friendship with Gabriel, who really was the only one who stood up for her this week, but I feel this could’ve been saved for another episode. I’m curious about who she’s talking to on the radio and the trading, as we’ve seen her keep Negan and Rick imprisoned in the junkyard before.
I’m not sure what her plans are regarding Gabriel because I’m inclined to guess that she’s not going to have him killed. Call it a hunch, given how we’ve seen how much she cares for him, but I wager he’ll be fine. Who knows? Maybe Jadis will have a plan for Rick instead. He’s more an A than a B, whatever that ends up ultimately meaning.
“Warning Signs” definitely lived up to its title, showcasing the increased tensions on all sides with everyone still casting a distrusting eye towards the Saviors. They may be building to a better world, but some crimes cannot be forgiven. Maggie’s actions have become a guiding light for Oceanside as they took matters into their own hands to put down the last of the Saviors responsible for attacking their community.
With that said, and with two more episodes for Mr. Rick Grimes, it’s time to pay Negan a visit over in Alexandria. That should go well, right?