Faith, Ezekiel. Faith.
The episode begins with Negan working on the railroad, all the livelong day. The prisoners are hard at work on the rail lines when Princess spots Tyler Davis from the rail yard. Princess might not like the guy- he did hold Max hostage, after all- but he’s got balls and could be useful. At the same time, Kelly and Magna keep watch on how many guards are in the immediate area.
Magna passes this knowledge to Negan, who makes a note. He then spots Annie just as Ezekiel asks him for the map. Negan asks a Commonwealth soldier if he can pick up some extra shifts so Annie can get a break, but the soldier tells him that the Commonwealth doesn’t make deals. Another soldier- possibly the same guy who struck Negan last time?- joins and asks if there’s a problem.
He shoves the butt of his rifle into Negan’s stomach, putting him on the ground. Negan tries to fight back, but he’s overtaken. When Annie tries to help, she’s pulled away by a soldier. From a distance, Carol and Daryl see their friends trapped in this hellhole.
We rejoin Aaron, Jerry, Lydia, and Elijah, who are still wary of their experience with the variant walker and wonder aloud if there are others like it. Also, Aaron and Jerry now have swords that I assume they took from the renaissance festival. The four hear a noise that sounds more human than walker.
It turns out to be Luke and Jules which…yeah, where the hell have they been? The four tell them that they’re on their way to Oceanside, but Luke sadly informs them that Oceanside is gone, as in taken over by the Commonwealth, despite the deal made. That deal must have changed because the Commonwealth is tracking Luke and Jules right now.
Are the Commonwealth guards good at anything? They can’t track two people on foot? Anyway, they decide to get as far away from Oceanside as possible.
Over at the Commonwealth, the trial of Eugene Porter is underway. Governor Milton takes the stand and puts on an Oscar-caliber performance as she describes being taken to the morgue to see her son. She blames Eugene for taking Sebastian from her, when she just wanted to hold him one more time.
Yumiko objects to Pamela calling Eugene a murderer and motions to have these remarks struck from the record, but she’s shot down. Eugene fears nothing is getting through to the judge, but Yumiko says it’s more about getting through to the people. On cross-examination, she asks Pamela about the lottery and what it means to her. To Pamela, it’s about opportunity and hope for a better future.
This gets a less than favorable response from the peanut gallery. Yumiko counters and asks if it’s a lie, and the prosecutor’s objection is sustained. But Yumiko reminds everyone that they all heard the recording. When pressed, Governor Milton says that wasn’t her son. She knows Sebastian’s voice, and that wasn’t his. The tape was altered.
Yeah, that’s gotta be it. Pamela argues that Eugene altered the tape. After all, he did admit to playing the tape and causing chaos.
Daryl and Carol inform the others about the situation with the prisoners. Short and to the point, it’s bad. Plus, they only saw the adults. No kids. With too many guards, it’s damn near impossible to get in. Daryl suggests entering through the sewers, and Carol knows a way to get into her old house, but she’ll need some backup. Maggie offers that backup, while Daryl and Connie head for the windmill.
Rosita wants to go in as well, but they need eyes on the outside. Plus, as Carol says, Rosita and Gabriel are their best sharpshooters. When did that happen? Whatever. Anyway, they can radio each other if something goes wrong. Fair enough, but if more than a night passes, Rosita is entering.
Over with the prisoners, Negan and Ezekiel join Tyler Davis and propose they join forces, but Tyler is resigned to his fate. He just wants to live and believes the Commonwealth is too powerful. People who die shouldn’t end up dead, he says. It’s either survival or death. Ezekiel presses the issue, saying that they only have each other. If they lose faith that they can change things, they’re as good as dead anyway.
As two guards enter and drag Negan away, Tyler tells Ezekiel that he’s on his own.
Negan’s brought before the warden. The man also tells the guard, 197, who brought in Negan that his transfer has been denied. The guard’s brother is sick and may not be around for long, but the warden says the guard should’ve come directly to him instead of going around him. As such, his work duty has been extended for six months. The soldier is pissed, but leaves.
The warden has Negan’s map and is aware that someone is keeping track of the guard shifts and how many are available at any given time. The man explains that he figured Negan for a leader when he first arrived. But real leaders cleave themselves off from others. The things that real leaders do, most people don’t have the stomach for. The ones that do have the stomach for it? They’re the real threats.
Right now, there’s a threat among the prisoners, and the warden believes that it’s one of Negan’s people. But aside from Annie, most of those people hate Negan. Still, the warden bets that Negan could find out. It’s not optional, unless Negan doesn’t want to see his wife again.
Soldier 197 brings Negan to see a resting Annie. Negan promises Annie that they’ll escape and get to see their baby. Negan would never risk them. He’s not worried about the warden, either. Hell, Negan used to be that kind of guy.
Since Annie is pregnant and being very optimistic about seeing her unborn baby, I’m suddenly having flashes of her getting Lori’s comic book death, but this show doesn’t have the balls.
While Daryl and Connie make their way through the sewers, Maggie and Carol slip into Alexandria and get the drop on a Commonwealth soldier.
Luke and Jules fill the others in on what happened at Oceanside when Lance showed up. Luke wanted to stay and fight, but Rachel insisted that everyone split up and inform the others about what happened. They haven’t seen each other since. Good thing the others are headed for Alexandria.
I ask for one thing, show. Wipe Oceanside off the face of the series, and you can’t even do that for me. They’re not gonna show up at the last second and throw Molotov cocktails again, are they?
Anyway, the group hears soldiers arriving on motorcycle. They can’t outrun them, but a small herd is also passing by. Lydia eyes a nearby dead walker and gets an idea…
Over at the Commonwealth, Eugene’s spirits are lifted as he hears voices of support. It’s a small start, but there are still soldiers doing Pamela’s bidding. Inspiring an uprising may not work without the guards on their side. So it seems like they still may lose the case, and Eugene is once again resigned to his fate and ready to be declared guilty. Yumiko suggests getting Mercer on the stand to admit that Pamela is corrupt.
After all, Mercer commands respect. But Max believes that her brother would never turn against Pamela. If he was going to, he would have done so when Princess was taken. There’s the possibility that Mercer doesn’t know that she was taken, though. The guards won’t let Max anywhere near Mercer, but Yumiko might be able to get close.
Interesting theory. Let’s try it. Mercer finds Yumiko in his office and tells her to leave, but Yumiko wants to protect her friends. However, Mercer is fully aware that Princess was taken with the others. Yumiko pleads with him to testify against Pamela to help save the others, but in Mercer’s eyes, testifying won’t change anything.
Okay, a scene I don’t like. Back at Alexandria, Maggie and Carol hide from the guards. Maggie’s still feeling guilt over losing Hershel, which I get, but then she thinks it wasn’t even fair to bring him into this world, which I call bullshit on. Carol felt the same way after Sophia and Henry. Less so with Lizzie and Mika, I’m sure. Carol tells Maggie that she will always try to make the world better because of and for Hershel. That’s hope.
Didn’t Rick say something similar before Carl died? Anyway, the two hear some knocking and yelling.
Back with the prisoners on the railroad work, Negan tells Ezekiel that the warden placed him on train duty. Ezekiel warns Negan against going rogue again, as they needed that map. He also, again, reminds Negan that while they’re working together, they aren’t friends. Ezekiel hasn’t forgotten what Negan did.
Keep it up, Ezekiel, and you’ll be as annoying as Maggie is. Negan has no idea who Ezekiel is talking about, so Ezekiel mentions him by name: Benjamin. Okay, that was Jared’s doing, not Negan’s. Anyway, Negan apologizing doesn’t change anything, as far as Ezekiel is concerned. He believes that Negan doesn’t deserve a brand-new life if this all works out and certainly doesn’t deserve to be a father.
That might be a bridge too far, Ezekiel. Negan doesn’t back down. He’ll live in the present while Ezekiel lives in the past. Also, Negan will do it for his kid. Following this, Negan returns to the warden, who asks if he has a name for him…
After briefly checking in on Daryl and Connie, we return to the trial of Eugene Porter. The prosecution has already delivered its closing statement that we don’t see or hear. Yumiko is asked if she’s rested her case, but Eugene asks to speak on his own behalf.
He tells the audience that he’s been living on borrowed time for at least a decade. He admits he should be dead by now, were it not for the aid of friends who changed him and the hearts of so many others. He’s beyond certain that his fate will not discourage them from keeping that going and helping others find the courage to do what’s right.
Eugene admits that he wasn’t always a good man. He once fell in with a group who thrived on doing horrible things, but he looked the other way. He soon realized that while he wasn’t swinging the bat, he still had blood on his hands. His inaction made him culpable, and he hates himself for that. So he changed the world in his own way.
As such, he learned that one person can make a difference. Sometimes all it takes is one person. Okay, back up a second. Eugene didn’t really have a choice when it came to being a part of the Saviors. But hey, these people don’t know that, so whatever.
Yumiko’s defense rests as the Commonwealth finds Eugene Porter guilty of first-degree murder.
At Alexandria, the prisoners are all brought before the windmill as the warden tells everyone that there is a traitor among them. That traitor, it turns out, is Negan, who has spearheaded a rebellion. Any co-conspirators will be given the benefit of the doubt, as they must not have been acting of their own free will. But only Negan will be punished.
It’s important that everyone is here to see this. Negan is forced to his knees, but at the last second, the warden announces that there are no martyrs here. So he brings Annie up and forces her on her knees, going completely against what Negan was told. Negan tries appealing to soldier 197, reminding him that he has a family.
Then several others, including the other main characters, stand in front of Negan and Annie. The warden admires their bravery and orders the soldiers to kill them all. Ezekiel addresses the soldiers and tells them that they don’t have to do this. The world is broken, but the people don’t have to be.
The soldiers begin to lower their weapons. When 197 trains his gun on the warden, he’s forced to shoot another soldier who is about to shoot him. The warden takes Kelly hostage, but he runs right into Daryl’s knife. He’s not dead, though.
Also, Maggie and Carol find Hershel. That’s nice, but when Rosita arrives after checking the other houses, she learns that Hershel has no idea where Coco is.
So what was Lydia’s plan? It’s the old ‘cover yourself in blood and guts’ trick as the others lead the herd onward. Two Commonwealth vans head out, but instead of immediately opening fire, they shine a spotlight and scan the herd. In the midst of this, a walker bumps into Lydia, causing her to drop her blade. Another walker picks it right up and moves along…
Before Negan can kill the warden, Rosita stops him and demands that he tell her where her daughter is. When he doesn’t respond, Rosita brings over the newly turned Commonwealth walker. The defiant warden warns Rosita that she will lose everything, so he becomes walker food.
The episode comes to a close as Eugene is taken to the cells and brought before Mercer, who tells Eugene that it’s time to fuck shit up.
Okay, you know what? That’s a hell of an ending and F-bomb drop right there.
“Faith” is pretty strong and besides the Commonwealth storyline, it takes advantage of the fact that all roads are leading back to Alexandria. Plus, the reintroduction of Luke and Jules does give us some idea of what’s happened at Oceanside. Not the outcome I would’ve wanted, as I’d hoped Lance’s coin flip would lead to Oceanside being wiped out.
But again, it’s nice to see Luke and Jules. I don’t think we’ve seen either of them since Season 10’s “A Certain Doom,” and that episode premiered a little over a year ago.
That said, I like that this group is still dealing with the reality of walkers that can climb ladders or pick up weapons. I thought the series, with only a few episodes left, would shrug that off, but it’s nice that the variant walkers are still being treated as a threat. That said, I’m curious about that one walker that picked up Lydia’s blade. You don’t show that scene without there being a payoff, after all.
The theme of faith resonated well through the other storylines. Eugene’s trial might as well be held by a kangaroo court with the odds stacked against him, but that’s no reason to not try. Yumiko has an uphill battle and Eugene is resigned to his fate, but there’s still the court of public opinion. Despite the guilty verdict, it’s clear that public sentiment is still against Pamela and more on Eugene’s side.
Side-note, I don’t like Eugene bringing up his temporary time as a Savior to talk about being in a group that did horrible things.
Again, the people listening don’t know the truth, but why not bring this full circle and admit that he lied about being a scientist? Admit that he put people’s lives at risk because he was a coward. I feel that would go over better rather than talking about being in a group where he had no choice but to serve.
Despite Pamela putting on a performance and saying what she wants as fact, some of it must come from a genuine place. Sebastian was a little shit, but he was still her son. Like the survivors, she’d do any say anything to protect her child. So in that regard, perhaps she doesn’t want to believe that Sebastian would say such terrible things. But at the same time, she must know he was a terrible person at heart.
Yumiko’s in a difficult spot because the court is stacked against her and she has few allies. Her one solace might have been Mercer, so it’s crushing for her to learn that Mercer knows about Princess being captured and him seemingly not caring. In this instance, Mercer has a plan of his own. Since we’ve met him, we see a conflicted man who knows about the Commonwealth’s problems, but kept fighting, as a soldier would.
By episode’s end, he’s ready to, as he said, fuck shit up. What a great way to at last unleash the beast. Yumiko’s faith in Mercer might have been shattered a bit, but his future actions may rekindle that faith.
The prisoners also have their faith and resolve tested. Tyler Davis at first is resigned to his fate, as he learned the hard way what happens when he helped the survivors. He just wants to stay alive. It’s nice to see different sides to the Commonwealth soldiers and residents. They just want to live and not ruffle any feathers because they fear what the Commonwealth would do.
We had the train worker last episode kill himself because he didn’t want the Commonwealth going after his family, and this time the warden, even facing down death, defiantly tell Rosita that she would lose everything. So there’s a big risk that comes with taking on the Commonwealth.
But the survivors rise to the occasion. Negan especially. The Benjamin mention was a bit random because Negan didn’t have anything directly to do with that death, but it further shows how much hatred Ezekiel has for what the Saviors did to his people. But Negan proves his worth when he’s willing to put his life on the line to save the others.
He sees himself in the prison warden, but now he’s in the position of subordinate. To prove himself not just to Ezekiel, but to the others in hope of inspiring them, Negan gives himself up as the sacrifice.
That went sideways when the warden brought out Annie in a moment that I didn’t really expect. That might have been one of the few times Negan showed genuine fear, and it was for someone else.
But Ezekiel stepped up not just to defend Negan, but demonstrate to everyone that they don’t need to further break down the world. It’s already broken, so why create further divisions? This worked for the better when others stood alongside him, but he also made a breakthrough when the soldiers lowered their weapons. Or at least the one who Negan appealed to when he mentioned his family.
Oh, and Hershel’s back, but the other kids are still missing. How tragic.
Anyway, now that Alexandria is back under proper control, and Mercer has a plan to put into play, it’s time to fuck some shit up as we head into the final two episodes. We’re on the home stretch now.
See you next week.