That’s a pretty nasty wound you’ve got there, Rick.
The episode begins in Alexandria with Michonne waking up and going about her daily routine. She kisses a sleeping Rick before cooking with Judith, going over construction maps, and settling disputes between residents, among other things. But it’s all so…boring.
So then one evening, she eyes her sword and goes out to have a bit of fun. She gets the attention of some walkers and then cuts then down. Then it’s back to life anew as she works on creating the future governing laws between the communities. More walker hacking, and she later cleans her blade. Day after day after day Michonne cuts down some walkers.
One evening, she spots a walker hanging from a tree and this catches her off guard. It’s enough to distract her as an approaching walker gets the jump on her, making her drop her sword. But she then bashes it over and over again with a club.
Then we jump to the Hilltop as Maggie and baby Hershel stare out at the dawn of a new day. The Hilltop is busy, while Maggie packs a crowbar as she prepares to leave. She tells Jesus, who brought another letter from Georgie that she just arrived this morning. She can’t read it now because she has to get a few things…and this somehow involves a crowbar. Still, she tells Jesus to do a good job while she’s elsewhere.
Her answer is that she’s going to make things right, though they never talked about what happened with Gregory. There was a time when Jesus agreed with Maggie, and he says that Rick was wrong to keep Negan alive, even though he deserves to die. What he wants is for Maggie to be sure. She’ll be back when it’s done, as she heads off with Dianne.
The bridge isn’t looking much better. Rick asks Eugene about the odds of the bridge holding, and in the long term, it’s not looking good. There’s one silver lining, though. Two herds are running parallel, but show no signs of merging. Eugene apologizes for not doing more, saying he could’ve read more books, but Rick doesn’t want Eugene doubting himself. In fact, after everything, Rick thanks Eugene for all he’s done.
Rick then visits Carol, who is also leaving and taking her people home to the Kingdom. Alden will head with the Saviors, but Rick worries that things won’t be better. Still, Carol knows that the Saviors don’t want any other survivors or Negan there. So it’s up to them to decide who they want to be, like they all did.
Rick still doesn’t know if they’re doing the right thing, but if anyone gives him hope for how things can turn out, he knows that it’s Carol. Though she’s still trying to figure things out just like everybody else. She really wanted this to work.
Then Jerry arrives to tell Rick that Maggie is heading to Alexandria, based on what Jesus said. He didn’t say much more, though. Rick radios to Alexandria to get an urgent message on alerting Michonne and do not let Maggie in. He radios for Maggie to talk, and Rachel, who is on the road, says that Maggie is done talking. And that is Rachel’s contribution for the episode. Make a note of it.
Rick tells a nearby Daryl that Maggie might do something she’ll regret, so Daryl offers to take him to Alexandria on his motorcycle. And since Daryl is being so cordial, perhaps Rick should be a little suspicious.
Over at Alexandria, Michonne greets Nora, played by Tamara Austin, who tells her that today will be a bad day. A fourth of the tomatoes have gone to the crows, but once the windmill gets up and running, they should be fine. Also, Scott tried feeding Negan, but he’s not eating. Michonne opts to head down and give it her own try.
On the road, Daryl passes the correct path to Alexandria, so Rick demands he pull over. The two face off, with Rick recognizing that Daryl messed with the radio relay. A struggle ensues as the two end up in a ditch after Daryl smacks away Rick’s radio. I guess we can say they landed in a literal plot hole, if you will.
Michonne heads to Negan’s cell with a tray of food and sets it down, telling him that his hunger strike ends today. He’s not on strike, though. He’s just not in the mood to eat, though he’s glad that Michonne cares. She’ll be back in an hour and wants the food gone, as she has better things to do. Well, right now, Negan wants someone to talk to. After all, he’s proof that Rick is making civilization better, right?
Well, he won’t be on strike if Michonne talks to him. So Michonne gives Negan 20 minutes before he has to eat every last bit of food.
In the plot hole, Rick and Daryl can’t climb the roots to escape. Daryl wonders why Rick couldn’t just let things be. Rick knows why Maggie can’t just let this go, but Daryl acknowledges that Rick wouldn’t be alive if not for Glenn. He’s fine with Negan dying, even after he spared Dwight. To Daryl, keeping Negan alive gives the Saviors hope that things go back to the way they were, but to Rick, he’s doing that so they won’t.
Still, in Daryl’s eyes, the Saviors killed by Oceanside got what they deserved. To Rick, this doesn’t work if Maggie kills Negan. He would become a martyr. But to Daryl, he doesn’t see why they should have faith, when Rick doesn’t have enough faith in everyone else. Daryl would die for Rick, and he’d have done the same for Carl, but right now, Rick is chasing something that isn’t meant to be.
Rick admits that he never asked anyone to follow him, but to Daryl, maybe he should have.
So Negan tells Michonne that he’s not meant to be rotting in this cell in the same way a warrior like Michonne isn’t meant to play babysitter. To her, though, they’re starting up civilization again while Negan is rotting away with nothing. Negan is grateful his wife doesn’t have to see him like this. She was an angel and deserved better than what she got. Negan tells Michonne that his wife died from cancer.
They would’ve loved to have a kid like Carl, and Michonne still thinks of him. But he’s still alive in everything that’s happening in Alexandria. Negan asks if Michonne sees him inside the cell as well. With 10 more minutes, Negan asks about Michonne’s past, and she talks about Andre, and she’s made her past with him not making it. Negan tells Michonne that his wife wouldn’t have been made for this world.
When she died, part of Negan was relieved. Now he knows that she made him not weak. They’re built for more. Being behind walls and bars, they die. But out in the world, it’s like an addiction, and Negan knows that Michonne knows what he’s talking about. And that’s why she’s grateful, as Negan says, that Andre is gone. Because all he would have done is make her weak.
This enrages Michonne enough to dump the plate of food. Well, Negan, now you don’t get any dinner.
Over at the junkyard, Jadis awakens a sleeping Gabriel with a kiss before bringing out a walker. There’s one place for her to go, and Gabriel is the price of admission. Gabriel tells Jadis that she doesn’t have to be afraid. She’s changed, but she denies that. She’s not like the others- she can’t open her heart and let people in like he does. To Gabriel, he’s a better person because of Jadis.
With that, Jadis lowers her walker as Gabriel admits that he may have pushed her away. He hopes that Jadis can forgive him some day just as he forgives her. And Gabriel’s compassion is enough to get Jadis to pull back the walker before it can bite him…but that doesn’t stop Jadis from drugging and knocking him out. Tough luck.
Saviors returns to the camp with guns and weapons. You had one job, Alden. Carol doesn’t want a fight breaking out, but Jed figured out that Oceanside is responsible for the Saviors’ deaths. If it’s war they want, it’s war they’ll get. And Jed isn’t about to listen to Carol’s orders. He takes her keys, but that’s when she goes on the attack.
As bullets rain out, Rick and Daryl hear the shots and try to get out of the hole.
Back at Alexandria, Michonne returns to working on the rules when she eyes her blade. She returns to Negan’s cell with a plate of food and wants to know why he said what he said. He wasn’t trying to piss her off, and he cares what she thinks because she never comes down here. It’s always Rick. To him, they’re the same. Both of them are trapped and connected to the dead, and Negan knows that Michonne can’t stand that.
Michonne denies that, saying that yes, they need to do what must be done to accomplish things, but Michonne is thinking of ways to keep people together instead of breaking them apart. She’s sacrificed and compromised, and she gets strength from the dead, but makes no excuses for that. This world will be better for her daughter and every other child that comes into it.
Negan realizes that Michonne is afraid she’ll become like him, because there is nothing worse than nothing. To Michonne, as long as Negan is breathing, it’s not nothing. And now it’s time for Negan to eat, one way or another. With that, he grabs the sandwich. He takes a bite and then tells Michonne that there are things they desperately hold onto in life. Michonne figures that Negan sees her as his last best chance.
Right now, Negan needs to see her. As in Lucille. However, she’s still out there somewhere. And this saddens Negan. In rage, Negan begins to bash his head against the wall over and over again.
Walkers start falling into the plot hole, so Daryl knives each one that makes its way into the hole. The two use the walkers as steps, but soon enough, too many are falling in and now ready to grab at Rick and Daryl’s feet. S Rick finally crawls out of the hole, he grabs a branch and uses it to extend his reach so Daryl can grab his hand.
With their powers combined, the two escape the hole. Rick decides to stay behind and lead the walker herd away, so Daryl tells him to take them to the bridge. Rick won’t do that, even though there’s no other way. As Rick boards the horse, Daryl tells his brother to stay safe.
Gabriel awakens again and finds himself in a shipping container. As he walks out into the junkyard, he calls out for Jadis, but gets no response. He then finds a letter in his pocket from Jadis, who tells him that she needed to leave.
As Michonne reads Judith a story back in Alexandria, she stops on a page containing a helmet, baseballs, and a bat. She arrives at the end of the story.
On the road, Maggie and Dianne pass by some walkers- a few with their heads missing- while Daryl also continues on his way.
Rick, on his horse, leads the walkers along until he runs into another herd heading his way. The horse throws Rick off of him, causing Rick to land on a cinder block and ending up with rebar impaling him through his side. Mr. Grimes finds himself alone, impaled, and in pain with walkers approaching him from all sides as the episode comes to a close.
So Rick has taken a nasty and what looks like a fatal wound, Maggie is on her way to get revenge against the man who killed her husband, Michonne is frustrated with Negan, the bridge still isn’t looking too good, and the Saviors are still out for blood. Rick’s vision for a grand future where everyone cooperates is crumbling before his eyes and, as of now, it looks like he may not even life to see the rest of progression.
Watching Rick struggle this week, as well as his conversations with Daryl and Carol remind me of something he said way back in Season Three: he didn’t ask for this. He never chose to lead- people merely followed him. And while that’s gone well, for the most part, people are openly rebelling. Before, there was a chance for negotiation, but Rick’s decisions, starting from letting Negan live, have led to this.
And that’s kicked off a chain reaction of events that culminated in Maggie executing Gregory, which opened the door for the Oceanside women to kill Saviors, which I still find flimsy, but hey, I guess it works for drama. In a way, the bridge we keep hearing about is emblematic of Rick’s woes this season. He’s trying to stick a band aid on a festering wound that won’t stop bleeding.
For all his hope that things will improve, it seems they have to get worse before they can get better. Maggie is taking matters into her own hands, Negan is beginning to rebel in his own way, and Carol, like Daryl, admits that the Saviors are a lost cause. Relations between them and the other communities may smooth out at some point, but that won’t be right now when tensions are still raw and Saviors are being killed off.
And what makes this episode work is that the writing sets it up where you can see both sides of the argument. Sure, Rick doesn’t want anything fucking up the new beginning or ruining what Carl envisioned before he died, but keeping Negan alive won’t sit well with those who have suffered under his reign, not to mention the people who have died because of the Saviors.
Can you really blame Oceanside for taking matters into their own hands? Or Maggie and Daryl deciding that it’s finally time to go after Negan? No side is completely in the right here. We’re meant to side with Rick because he’s the main protagonist and is arguing for stability and rigidity in life, but that’s impossible to achieve when emotions on all side remain at an all-time high.
The argument between Rick and Daryl was great and I honestly could have done with more of it. For one, who knew that Daryl would be the one to get the flagship show’s first F-bomb on air? Before Negan and before Rick departs next week? In rewatching, you can barely make it out, but I sure as shit heard a “Fuck” come out of Daryl’s mouth. Took them long enough when Fear the Walking Dead has already done it twice.
But onto the argument itself, Daryl has a good argument in saying that Rick should just let things be. Negan’s caused enough harm to people. Now that he’s defenseless, why not let justice have its day? Especially after, as he points out, Glenn is the reason that Rick is standing right now, Rick owes this to Maggie.
However, this becomes difficult when Rick is trying to avoid turning Negan into a martyr. It would undo everything that Carl wanted for the future, even though he would probably love nothing more than to go down into Negan’s cell and end him. But once he does that, there’s no turning back in his mind. People would accept it, but Rick wouldn’t be able to live with himself.
Like the Oceanside women killing Saviors because Maggie took matters into her own hands with Gregory, it paints a morally gray area where neither side is completely in the wrong or right, but you can understand both sides. And as strong a bond as Rick and Daryl have, it was time they had a conversation like this, especially given how Daryl has said from the start that the Saviors weren’t going to last.
I’ll admit that I got a bit tense when walkers started falling into the hole and Rick had to hold onto that branch in order to grab Daryl. I thought that would be the moment where he’d be bitten in order to save Daryl, but no, Rick got some rebar through the torso instead. Could Rick end up the sacrificial lamb as he prepares to take a trip down memory lane next week? We’ll see.
We speed through the confrontation between the Saviors and Carol so quickly that I’m curious what became of that conflict. For one, I am glad that the Saviors, despite how people see them, are being proactive not just in obtaining weapons, but in figuring out that Oceanside is responsible for the recent deaths. People may look down on the Saviors, but at least they’re thinking about their own survival.
I did also enjoy Michonne’s conversations with Negan, but also her relieving some tension by going out to kill walkers in the dead of night. A life of normalcy can grow dull and make you weak. It’s part of the reason people like Carl and Carol acknowledged that the people of Alexandria were weak because of how sheltered they were. And Michonne is focused on the future, but she needs an outlet.
And Negan finds a way to get under her skin in the right way, but he also expands a bit on his backstory. It makes me wonder if we would ever get an adaptation or take on “Here’s Negan” because between Michonne, Jadis, and Gabriel, he’s explained a lot about his background prior to leading the Saviors. I wish we could’ve seen Negan, though. He’s in darkness, yes, but we know it’s him. No surprise there.
Now that he thinks Lucille might be gone, though, what’s left for him? And I do wonder if things are going to get nuts in Alexandria because Michonne must have no idea that Maggie is on the way.
And I don’t have much to say about the Jadis and Gabriel subplot yet because I’m waiting to see what happens.
There’s indeed trouble in paradise in the world of The Walking Dead right now. And with Rick Grimes’ final episode coming next week, I’m very anxious to see how things play out going forward. See you then.