A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 10: “New Best Friends”

Now to find out just why the hell Rick had that goofy grin on his face as he and the others encounter a new community.  But before that, let’s check up on the Kingdom.  This is “New Best Friends.”

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The episode begins Ezekiel and some Kingdom members in a clearing as they await the arrival of the Saviors.  One member, Diane played by Kerry Cahill, manages to down a walker that’s wearing a dress similar to her sister.  Don’t think too much about that.

Anyway, the Saviors soon arrive and receive their offering of fruit and supplies.  The leader of this small group, Gavin, played by Jayson Warner Smith, finds the load a bit light, but everything is accounted there nonetheless.

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Jared, though, wants Richard’s gun, even though he’s the one who hit Richard first. When we end up with a standoff, Ezekiel tells Richard to give Jared his gun.  Jared collects and tries to get in a strike, but Morgan blocks it with his staff, so he loses it in the process. Jared strikes both Richard and Morgan with the staff, but Benjamin intervenes and knocks Jared off of his feet.

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Both Gavin and Ezekiel realize that this can’t stand, but Ezekiel relents and says that Richard won’t attend any future exchanges.  Despite that, Richard could still be first on a potential lineup.  Gavin acknowledges that yes, this wasn’t Richard’s fault, but things may need to become more visceral.  And despite the connection Morgan has with his stick, , he won’t be getting it back.

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Back at the Kingdom, Ezekiel is impressed with Benjamin’s abilities, but admonishes him for seeking a fight just because he knows how to fight.  At least Jerry is impressed with Benjamin’s skill.  As for Richard, he’ll receive a talking-to from Ezekiel later.

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Daryl, meanwhile, figures that Morgan went with Ezekiel to meet the Saviors, and he’s less than pleased with that.  After all, Morgan knows what the Saviors are and Daryl says that if Carol saw what happened to Morgan, as well as if she learned what happened to the others, she’d be leading them right to the Saviors.  She would, yes, but that’s just why she left.

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Following this, Daryl meets with Richard, who is in the middle of target practice with a bow and arrow.  The Saviors are smart enough to know that Richard shouldn’t have a gun.  He gives Daryl a crossbow because he knows that they want the same thing.  As such, Richard will need Daryl’s help because the Kingdom needs something to move Ezekiel if the communities want to eliminate the Saviors.

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After bringing Daryl to his hideout and revealing his cache of weapons and explosives, he the two end up on a road that the Saviors frequent.  They’ll hit them with guns, followed by Molotov cocktails- the fire is so the fight looks bad, as the Saviors will no doubt be pissed about some of their soldiers being killed.

In addition, Richard left a trail from their current location to the weapons cache to the cabin of that someone Ezekiel cares about and occasionally brings food, even though they don’t live in the Kingdom.  Richard figures that when the Saviors find their friends dead, they’ll follow the trail and attack the woman living in the cabin.  Even if she’s not killed, this should be the push Ezekiel needs to join the upcoming war.

Daryl picks up on the fact that it’s a woman Richard is talking about and demands to know her name.  Richard does spill that it is, in fact, Carol, and he hoped that Daryl didn’t know her, but he also didn’t think that Daryl would care because he knows what needs to happen.  It doesn’t help that Carol is just living out there and waiting to die.

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Immediately, Daryl wants no part of this and just as the Saviors’ vehicles approach, he grabs Richard and a fight breaks out.  Richard fights back and the two end up in another standoff that results in no Savior losses.  They’re running out of time and Richard reminds Daryl that if he and his people want to move against the Saviors, they’ll need the Kingdom. And what they have to do may require sacrifice.

They’ve already lost so much and Richard can tell that Carol living on her own isn’t a good thing.  Daryl promises that if anything bad happens to Carol, he will kill Richard, who is ready to die for the Kingdom anyway.

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So let’s go back to the junkyard, where the inhabitants that time forgot soon circle the survivors.  One woman, who I’ll identify later, asks if Rick’s group is a collective or if there’s a leader.  After Rick gets in his introduction, the leader tells Rick that her group owns his life, as well as the others.  They can’t buy them back since the group is holding Gabriel.  Before anything else happens, Rick wants to see Gabriel alive.

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Sure enough, Gabriel is brought out.  The leader of this group tells Rick that the boat things Rick and Aaron found were taken, so the group took Gabriel.  In that case, Rick acknowledges that his group has nothing to trade for their lives.  Plus, their lives already belong to the Saviors, and if Rick’s group is killed, these people will be taking from the Saviors, who will no doubt come looking for this group.

So there are two options: they kill you or own you.  But there’s a way out: join Rick in fighting them.

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The leader refuses and Gabriel is taken away.  A skirmish breaks out between the two groups but it comes to a halt when Gabriel holds a knife to one of the group’s members: Tamiel, played by Sabrina Gennarino.  He demands that he and the others be let go and tells the group that the Saviors have communities and items that these people would want.

The group lowers their weapons and Gabriel is given a chance to speak: if these people join Rick’s group in fighting the Saviors, they’ll be rewarded.  Sounds nice, but these folks want something now.  Gabriel tells the leader that Rick can do anything.  If there’s anything the group needs, say it and Rick’s group will get it.  Instead, the leader tells Tamiel and Brion, played by Thomas Francis Murphy, to take Rick Up Up Up.

Who says Up Up Up?  I couldn’t help but think of the Upside Down from Stranger Things. But I digress.

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Rick is taken up on high and looks at the world’s worst green screen-I mean, looks at the vast, expansive junkyard while the leader tells him that her group has been here since the outbreak.  They take, but don’t bother.  Things grow harder and are changing again, so maybe it’s time the group changed as well.  She needs to know if Rick is worth it, so she pushes him into a sectioned-off area of the junkyard that none of the others can reach.

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And what makes this area so special?  Well, it’s home to a spiked walker that Rick must fight.  He takes advantage of whatever he can, such as a keyboard, but almost every move he makes results in him getting cut in the process.  After Michonne suggests that Rick use the walls of trash to his advantage, he buries the walker in mounds of trash.  He then finishes the walker with a glass shard.

This might be the closest we ever get to a Walking Dead/Mortal Kombat crossover yet. You could substitute the walker for Goro, Reptile, or any other secret or challenging character you must face when asked to test your might.

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Okay, anyway, Rick emerges victorious and the group lowers a rope for him to climb.  The leader says that if Rick can get his hand on a lot of guns, the group will help him.  Rick is confident that they will win and he promises a third to the group once this is all over.  The leader, however, wants half. They go back and forth and the leader soon agrees to a third as well as keeping what her group stole.

I mean, Rick’s not really in a position to negotiate, so he agrees to the leader’s terms. Turns out her group waited by that boat for a long time for someone to get the supplies for them.  Again, they take, but they don’t bother.  Sort of a dick move, but sure.  The walker, by the way, was named Winslow.  The leader, who finally identifies herself as Jadis, played by Pollyanna McIntosh, tells Rick to leave since the deal expires.

As Jadis’ group falls back, a bloody Rick stumbles out and tells the others that they have a deal.

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Carol gets a visit from Ezekiel and some followers who were out clearing the dead. Ezekiel respects Carol’s privacy, yes, but the dead, not so much.  He’d hoped they would be quiet enough to avoid getting Carol’s attention.  She then receives some cobbler from Jerry before heading back in and returning to her book.

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However, there’s another knock at the door.  This time, it’s Daryl, and she’s more than happy to see him.  He tells her that, despite Morgan saying she left, he was out there and happened to see her.  When asked why she left, Carol tells Daryl that she had to go.

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Back at the junkyard, Gabriel tells Rick that while on post, he heard a noise and one of the members jumped him in the pantry.  Jadis was upset about not getting the boat supplies, so they took him hostage and made him pack up everything.  Rick is just glad that Gabriel got them here.  Gabriel tells Rick that he was beginning to lose faith, but then he saw Rick nodding at him and knowing that Gabriel didn’t just walk away.

Gabriel knows things will be right again, but there will be tough times ahead before that. He then asks why Rick smiled and what made him so confident.  Rick responds that someone showed him how enemies can become friends.  If you’re talking about Gabriel, Rick, keep in mind that you’re the one who saw him as an enemy.  Not the other way.

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Alright, enough of this gooey shit.  Rosita wants to stay out so they can find guns for this deal, to get back to Alexandria, but Tara implores that they stay together and find supplies. Rosita, though, would rather go it alone because there’s always another fight brewing. She won’t let anyone get in their way.  If they have to take from other people, she doesn’t care.

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Jadis demands that Rick bring her guns soon or else.  Despite having no idea where to look, Rick is confident that they’ll find some firearms.  Since Tara has been out further than the others, Rick asks her if she at least knows where they shouldn’t look. She does at least know that much.  Before leaving, Rick grabs a cat statue to replace the damn gorgeous one that Michonne lost.

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Back at Carol’s place, she tells Daryl that she couldn’t lose any of the others, including him.  She could have killed if any of her people were hurt, but then there’d be nothing left of her after that.  Daryl confirms that the Saviors came.  When asked if they hurt anyone, Daryl, after thinking over his response, tells her that the Saviors are no more and that everyone at home is fine.  The two then eat.

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Later, Daryl leaves, but warns Carol to watch out for herself.  He then sits outside of Shiva’s cage and tells Morgan- who is impressed with how Shiva warms to Daryl- that he found Carol and understands why Morgan lied to protect her.  However, they still need the Kingdom on their side, but Morgan doesn’t believe he can persuade Ezekiel.

Daryl tells Morgan that whatever he’s holding onto is gone, but Morgan believes that the two of them are the same.  After all, if Daryl had told Carol what really happened between their group and the Saviors, she’d be with him right now.  For that, Morgan is glad.  They’re all holding onto something.  Daryl ends this by telling Morgan that he’s headed back to the Hilltop tomorrow morning.

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Indeed, the next day, Daryl departs as the episode comes to a close.

So if negotiations broke down last week between Rick and the Kingdom, this week focused on terms slowly deteriorating between the Kingdom and the Saviors, but also allowing Rick to somehow find a new alley in the junkyard that time forgot.

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But let’s start with the Kingdom.  We saw on the first encounter that Ezekiel is being very patient when the Saviors humiliate or abuse his followers, but he’s refusing to let them fight back.  Doesn’t matter that the Saviors instigate an incident, he disciplines his followers.  I get that keeping this deal a secret from the Kingdom as a whole is for their own good, but he has to know that his followers have a breaking point.

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We know how much Richard is itching to fight, Benjamin is getting better and got in a strike during this week’s encounter, and now Morgan has lost his stick.  The Kingdom members aren’t trying to start a scuffle- they’re just defending themselves.  If Ezekiel is going to continue having problems with that, then it’s only a matter of time before the simmering tensions explode.

Hell, we now know just how far Richard is willing to go to bring down the Saviors, even if it means sacrifice.  His plan is foolish.  I can’t even call it a desperation tactic because if that were the case, he’d be willing to sacrifice himself, not someone else.  But why try and lure the Saviors to Carol and assume that her death would convince Ezekiel in going to war?

As far as Ezekiel knows, Carol keeps to herself, so he’d have to be suspicious why the Saviors would target Carol in the first place.  At least Daryl realized Richard’s plans and put a stop to it.  For the time being.

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The reunion between Carol and Daryl was warm, heartfelt, and earned, given the strength of their bond.  When Daryl asked Carol why she left, that was an emotional moment for them both, made stronger by the great chemistry between McBride and Reedus.

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But then the moment goes further when Daryl refuses to tell Carol about who the Saviors killed.  He’s doing it because he sees Carol’s state of mind and doesn’t want to bring her any more suffering.  More than that, Carol mentions that if she killed again, there’d be nothing left of her.  Why add an extra level of heartache to someone who is already in pain?

At the same time, Daryl not revealing the truth makes me think that Carol is going to find out eventually.  Most of the time in television, if a character is keeping a secret, then the big revelation is going to hurt even worse because someone was kept in the dark about the news.  And I’m curious what could become of Carl and Daryl’s friendship should she find out that Daryl lied, even if to protect her.

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But let’s move onto the Garbage Pail Kids, and I know I’m not the first one to refer to them as that.  Their English seems old-fashioned, they don’t talk often despite having so many people, so recruitment must be a test of patience, and they don’t look like they can put up much of a fight in hand-to-hand combat, anyway.

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However, there’s still strength in numbers and Rick knows that these people could be of some use, even though he doesn’t know them, has little to offer, and isn’t in a position to negotiate.  There’s something humorous about Rick being so confident and optimistic that he can arrange a guaranteed deal with this community when they could be more a hindrance than help.  But crazier things have happened.

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Like that spiked walker.  That was a thing of inspiration from this show’s production team. It felt like a mini-boss you take on before reaching the final challenge of any video game. And I liked the way in which Rick had to defeat it.  He didn’t have a weapon, and despite looking pretty scared when he first saw the walker, he fought and survived a challenge that apparently some people have lost.

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That being said, can we talk about the shitty green screen effects?  I’m not an expert on green screen, CGI, or really anything in general, but when Rick stood atop that trash heap, it looked very distracting, especially when what looked like a plane flew by Rick in the background.

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But onto the character stuff, I’m glad at how far Rick and Gabriel have come.  Here’s a preacher that Rick didn’t trust from the start, but now, after all they’ve endured together, Rick never believed that Gabriel would abandon him and the others.  It really does show how Rick, despite hating Gabriel for a period of time, can come around and soon call the man his friend.

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Speaking of friends and enemies, Rosita is saying and doing anything it takes to make enemies among the group.  Between Sasha, Morgan, thinking Gabriel stole from them, and now quarrel with Tara, Rosita is going to piss off the wrong person and I would bet that the next confrontation she has could get physical.  I expect that if Rosita gets under another person’s skin, that person is going to throw a punch.

“New Best Friends” gave Rick some new allies from the reject Mad Max cosplayers and gave Daryl and Carol the reunion that they deserved.  With Daryl now headed to the Hilltop and Rick’s group now looking for weapons, the lead-up to war with the Saviors continues.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 9: “Rock in the Road”

So our main characters have had more than enough of living under the Saviors’ rule.  With the second half of the season underway, it’s time to rise up, gather resources, and prepare for war.  Let’s jump back in with “Rock in the Road.”

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The episode begins in Alexandria.  After flipping through his Bible, Gabriel abandons his post and visits the pantry.  We hear a crash and then see Gabriel loading up as many supplies and cans of food as possible.  He packs up, leaving his Bible behind in the process, gases up a car, and drives off…with someone in the passenger seat.

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Over at the Hilltop, Gregory declares his deal with Rick’s group null and void since they failed to eliminate the Saviors.  As such, they aren’t trade partners and never met. Hell, Gregory feels Rick owes him for taking in Sasha and Maggie…the same people who helped save the Hilltop while Gregory hid.

Rick insists that they can defeat the Saviors.  It’s a better alternative than living under the Saviors’ thumbs while people die.  Gregory would rather continue his arrangement with the Saviors, so Maggie steps in and asks how many people the Hilltop can spare.  Tara insists that people will step up and fight if given the chance, but Gregory doesn’t believe the Hilltop residents are untrained fighters.  They just grow things.

Even though Gregory agrees that life would be better without the Saviors, he’s unwilling to lend his assistance.  Hell, as far as he’s concerned, Rick and his group didn’t even visit the Hilltop today.

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Though Gregory’s bullshit is difficult to bear, it turns out that the survivors may not need him after all.  Enid has told a group of Hilltop residents all about Rick’s plan and if there’s a chance that they beat the Saviors, then they’re willing to fight.  It’s a start, but even if Rick’s group found more weapons, they still lack the numbers.  The distance and geography work against them since Negan has so many outposts.

More than that, the Saviors will no doubt come to Alexandria in order to find Daryl, so it’s imperative that the survivors return.  However, Jesus reveals that he has one of the Saviors’ long range two-way radios, so they can listen in on anything happening at the Sanctuary.  There’s no rush to get back to Alexandria.  Instead, Jesus says that it’s time he introduced the group to Ezekiel…King Ezekiel.

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So Jesus leads them to the outer edge of the Kingdom, where they meet Richard and Alvaro, played by Carlos Navarro.  Jesus tells Richard that he’d like an audience with Ezekiel. Richard is skeptical of these newcomers, despite Jesus’ insistence that they’re good people who want to make the world less dangerous.  Richard will allow the group entrance, but only if they surrender their guns.  All two of them.  No big deal.

Though Richard is glad that Jesus, and not Gregory, has a backbone and a brain to boot, he doesn’t believe these trades or protection pacts will matter until they start dealing with the Saviors.  In response, Jesus believes this is the day that Richard will finally smile.

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So the survivors are brought into the Kingdom, which does have adequate numbers. They reunite with Morgan, who updates Rick and Daryl on Carol’s situation after she left Alexandria.  She’s fine, but just wanted to get away from everything, so after getting patched up at the Kingdom, she left.

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So Jesus brings Rick’s group to Ezekiel and his tiger.  It’s not often you see a tiger, more so in the apocalypse.  Rick states his case- Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom all have one thing in common: they all serve the Saviors.  Alexandria fought them once and won, but taking out one outpost didn’t eliminate the entire threat.  So…can you really call that a win, Rick?

Okay, whatever.  Ezekiel is upset that Jesus told others about his deal with the Saviors.  And that only became known after Jesus told Ezekiel about the Hilltop’s travails with the Saviors.  This arrangement isn’t known to the public for a good reason.  In Jesus’ defense, he broke the Kingdom’s confidence so Ezekiel could hear Rick’s plan.

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Ezekiel is hesitant in joining Rick’s fight against the Saviors, but the group points out that they’ve lost good people to the Saviors.  It’s here that Morgan finds out the fates of Abraham, Glenn, Spencer, and Olivia, not to mention Eugene being taken hostage.  And though Daryl escaped, he’s still a target.  Jesus thought this arrangement with the Saviors was manageable, but that’s changed.

For all the strength of Rick’s group, they lack the numbers and weapons.  If they strike first, together, they can win.  Richard likes this idea, as he doesn’t want to wait for things to get worse.  The time to strike back is now.  Ezekiel asks Morgan for his input.  Morgan admits that a lot of people on both sides will die, so he wonders if there’s another way to do this, like capturing Negan.

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Rick then tells a tale that I think he’s been itching to share for weeks: there was this road to a kingdom, and there was a rock in the road.  People would avoid it, but horses would break their legs on it and die and wagon wheels would fall off.  As such, people would lose the goods they wanted to sell.  For example, this one little girl’s family had a cask of beer that fell off.  As her family had no money, this was their last chance to get food.

The girl cried and wondered why the rock was there to hurt others.  So she dig and dug so deep and hard that her hands bled, but she after hours, she managed to remove the rock. However, just as she was prepared to fill the hole, she saw a bag of gold in that hole. The king put that rock in the road because he knew the person who dug it out deserved a reward that would change their life forever.

A bit of a shitty king, but I suppose he had a point.  Anyway, after Rick’s monologue, Ezekiel invites everyone to stay until tomorrow, when he will deliver his decree.

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Out in the woods, Benjamin runs into Carol, who heard him from a mile away because Carol has super hearing.  He explains that he didn’t run because he’s training to be a better fighter.  Carol tells Benjamin not to wander around alone at dark, but he tells her that Ezekiel will keep checking on her to make sure she’s okay since he looks out for the people he cares for, after all.

Benjamin offers her some food and water- he carries extra in case he runs into someone who needs it.  After all, there’s not a lot of people left and you have to help each other.

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That night, Benjamin tells Ezekiel that he’s getting better with the stick, as he managed to take out two walkers.  During his unaccompanied trip, he ran into Carol and said that his reason for carrying food and water is the same reason the Kingdom should work with Rick.  These visitors are willing to risk everything.  If the Kingdom doesn’t help, then Rick’s group may not win.

But on the off-chance that they do, they will have saved everyone and the Kingdom would have done nothing to assist.  And Ezekiel did say that he wants Benjamin to be ready for anything.  With this in mind, Ezekiel thanks Benjamin for his sage counsel.  The king is pleased.

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The next day, Ezekiel tells Rick and company that life at the Kingdom came at a cost, as he sent people to battle the dead when he didn’t have to.  He wanted to expand and create more places like the Kingdom.  Rick counters that the dead don’t rule them.  The world beyond the Kingdom isn’t as good and some people don’t have it good at all. Understatement of the century, Rick.

Ezekiel has to worry about his people.  He’s trying to hold onto this uneasy peace with the Saviors.  He won’t offer aid now, but he does offer Daryl asylum for as long as necessary since the Saviors don’t enter the Kingdom.  Daryl, though, wonders how long that would even last.  The group leaves unsatisfied and empty handed.

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Sasha tells Rosita that saw this coming, but she’s still upset.  Rosita doesn’t see why Sasha is telling her this, though.  Just because they both had sex with Abraham doesn’t make them friends.  Okay, does Rosita have a bug in her ass or something?

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Morgan wants Rick so he can hopefully change Ezekiel’s mind.  Richard, though, is more on board with Rick’s plan.  It doesn’t help the communities are just making the Saviors stronger by giving them food and arms.  Also, Daryl won’t be leaving.  Rick wants him to stay at the Kingdom.  That way, he can hopefully convince Ezekiel or, even better, stare him into submission.  That’s actually not a bad idea, Rick.

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On the road, the group overhears Negan’s eulogy of Fat Joey- apparently without Fat Joey, Skinny Joey is just Joey- and soon arrives at a blockade of cars in the road.  With a base not too far, they figure that the Saviors want to make it hard for people to reach this outpost.  The plan is to move the cars around and move them back so the Saviors don’t know others entered this area.

As the group gets to work moving the cars, they notice some explosives and steel cables needed for dealing with a walker herd.  The group welcomes themselves to these explosives, but they need to disarm them first.  Backing up won’t make a difference if the explosives go off.  At the same time, the group hears on the radio that Negan has ordered a search party to go find Daryl.

So now the survivors need to get the explosives and get to Alexandria before the Saviors. Good thing Rosita is an expert at disarming bombs.  Do you remember when Rosita was a pro at this?  I don’t.  Anyway, they need to unwrap the secondary explosives and make sure the casings aren’t messed up.  The explosives still need to be triggered to be set off, though there’s one in particular that Rosita doesn’t like.  She’s particular like that.

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Then, in the distance, Carl spots some approaching walkers.  There’s still time to disarm them and get the cars back on the road.  Sure, the Saviors will know that their bombs are missing, but this herd needs to stay on the highway.  The group may need it later.

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Jesus and Sasha head back to the Hilltop on foot.  As the others move the cars, Rick and Michonne cut through the wires and try to get as many weapons and explosives as possible.  They soon head to and hotwire two cars connected by the wiring and, in a set piece I’m sure most of us loved, they mow down the herd as the wire cuts through as many walkers as possible.

I guess it’s a good thing there was no rock in the road.  Rick and Michonne soon rejoin the others and head out just as the walkers are engulfed by an explosion.  Nice going, Rosita. But hey, they made it.  As Michonne tells Rick, they’re the ones who live.

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They return to Alexandria in no time.  Rick tells Tobin that everyone needs to get ready, but there’s no time for that, as Simon and a group of Saviors have arrived not for a tribute, but to find Daryl.  And Simon isn’t dumb enough to believe that Rick doesn’t know about Daryl’s disappearance.  So Simon wants everyone to partner up and search for Daryl.  That way, they can all watch him die if he’s found.

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The Saviors go through every nook and cranny of Alexandria, leaving a mess in the process, but don’t find Daryl.  In the now empty pantry, Aaron tells Simon that  but no sign of Daryl.  In the now empty pantry, Aaron tells Simon that it’s getting harder to find things for their community when they spend so much time gathering for Negan.

Again, Simon isn’t here to collect, but that day is coming.  Simon thanks Rick for his cooperation and tells him that if Daryl shows up, there’s no statute of limitations.  Well, at least Simon acknowledges that there’s still a statute of limitations in the post-apocalyptic world.  Tobin and Aaron tell Rick that Gabriel has disappeared, the pantry has been cleared out, and he stole a car.

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Aside from Rosita, no one wants to believe that Gabriel would steal from them.  Not to mention that Gabriel left his Bible, and Rick finds that curious.  He then sees the word ‘Boat’ written in a notebook.  So how would Gabriel know that Aaron and Rick were out there?

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As Aaron packs up, Eric confesses his concern, as Aaron did get the shit kicked out of him.  Eric doesn’t want Aaron to go after Gabriel, but after everything the community has endured, Gabriel is one of them and has proven his worth.  Despite the fear of what could happen if the Saviors returned while Rick and the others were out, Aaron is still set on leaving.

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After Rick and Aaron lead the group to the lake, Rick spots some footprints.  The group follows them and ends up in a clearing where, all of a sudden, they find themselves surrounded by a group of armed men and women.  And through it all, Rick eventually smiles.

So we’re back for the second half of the season and off to a good start as the main survivors get to work building an army to take down the Saviors.  Sure, they don’t make much progress since both Gregory and Ezekiel aren’t on board with this plan, but it’s only a matter of time before Rick has his united coalition to combat Negan.

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Before, when he decided to go for one of the outposts, Rick thought his plan was foolproof.  Attack the Saviors before they made the first move.  And despite doing that and more, the Saviors struck back and hard, so Rick needs to dial back his overconfidence. Rather than do it alone, he’s hoping that the Hilltop and Kingdom are just as fed up with Negan’s reign as they are.

Rick and company have proven time and time again that, when committed, they can overtake any challenge.  Hell, upon first learning about Negan, Rick said that confrontation has never been something the group has had trouble with, and then he met Negan.

So brute strength and heart alone won’t do it.  There’s strength in numbers and like the girl who dug out that rock in the road, Rick has to overcome obstacles in order to get back to some semblance of peace.

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Not just with Negan as that obstacle, but also in convincing the other communities that this is a fight they can win.  At this point, Gregory’s opinion is irrelevant since people at the Hilltop trust Maggie’s leadership and are already willing to put their lives on the line if there’s even a one percent chance that the Saviors can be defeated.

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And Ezekiel has every reason to be concerned.  He’s already kept his arrangement with the Saviors a secret and he doesn’t want to send more people to their deaths.  Why take the risk when there’s no guarantee of victory?  He’s sympathetic to Rick’s plight, yes, but not at the cost of his people.

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While Richard and Benjamin are already on board with fighting, I wager it’s going to take a major incident to push Ezekiel into joining Rick.  As Daryl asked, how long will the Saviors agree to not enter the Kingdom?  Someone is going to get hurt, killed, or the Saviors will break the peace because they can.  And that will what be what convinces Ezekiel that the Saviors must be removed from the equation if there is to be true peace.

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Also, I’m glad we got to spend a bit of time with Morgan, not just to get his reaction to who has been killed, but to see that he’s still keeping Carol’s location a secret.  And he’s still grappling with his stance on killing.  He did it to protect Carol, but despite hearing what the Saviors have done, he’s still looking for alternatives rather than going to war.  But like when he saved Carol, he may have to kill again to protect those going into battle.

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And even though Carol wants to stay out of the conflict- for now- she’s still a skilled warrior, as seen when she tells Benjamin about how to stay stealthy.  I’m unsure if she’s going to remain on the sidelines, but I imagine all that’s happened to her friends will at least get a reaction out of her.  Enough to draw her back into combat?  No idea.

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I like that we don’t spend an entire episode’s worth of Rick and company trying to recruit. It would’ve been easy to spend half the episode at the Hilltop, the other half at the Kingdom, and just end it there.  But these people have to keep moving because despite needing the numbers, they still have to contend with the Saviors, more so now that Daryl is a fugitive.

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Not to mention the fact that they’re desperate for weapons, which made the sequence on the road more hectic…even though these characters have such thick plot armor that we know they were never in any real danger, despite Rick and Michonne being surrounded.

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Plus, The Walking Dead has good set pieces when it comes to eliminating batches of walkers, but cutting through them with wire and two cars?  That’s some inspired ingenuity right there.  A bit ridiculous, but fun as hell all the same.

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Onto some character bits.  I can do without Rosita being such a prat to Sasha.  Where’s this coming from, by the way?  They seemed to be on good terms, last I checked.  If anything, I would think they’d be drawn closer since they both loved Abraham.  But no, she brings up that shared connection as a way to be cold to Sasha, who only expressed her disappointment about the situation.

More than that, she’s quick to throw Gabriel under the bus when he was the one to tell her that she didn’t need to sacrifice herself if it meant killing Negan.

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If I had to guess, maybe Rosita’s just salty that she couldn’t kill Negan from a few feet away.

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But what is Gabriel doing, anyway?  I wonder if it has to do with this new community we see at the end of the episode.  And though Rosita has turned her back on Gabriel, I’m happy that the others, especially Rick, trust that Gabriel wouldn’t just betray them.

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As for this new community, just who the hell are they?  At a first, quick glance, it’s easy to think these were Oceanside residents, but we saw men among them, so that rules them out.  But judging from Rick’s smile, he sees some advantage in this group.  Potential cannon fodder-I mean, soldiers for the war against the Saviors?  Who knows?  Here’s hoping we find out next time.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 8: “Hearts Still Beating”

From bottle episodes to multiple plots, it’s time for The Walking Dead to end the first half of its seventh season, and if anything, it solidifies in Rick’s mind by episode’s end that things need to change and fast.  This is “Hearts Still Beating.”

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The episode begins at the Hilltop with Maggie sitting at Abraham and Glenn’s graves.  She later climbs the walls when Gregory tells her that people are saying nice things about her, Sasha, and how they saved the community.

Gregory doesn’t want it going to her head, but Maggie wonders if this bothers Gregory, who is about to eat an apple.  Then another Hilltop member, Eduardo, mentions that Maggie is pregnant, so goodbye Gregory’s apple and hello Maggie’s apple.

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We then cut to Alexandria, where Negan puts the finishing touches on a clean shave while Carl and Judith watch.  He then gets to work cooking up a storm.

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Outside, Tara gives Olivia some lemonade that’s intended for Negan.  Tara offers to take over, but Olivia refuses since she promised Rick that she would watch Judith.  She tells Tara to leave.

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Over at the Sanctuary, Daryl makes his escape from his cell.

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Meanwhile, Aaron and Rick find a boat riddled with bullet holes.  Rick wants Aaron to stay back, but Aaron refuses, saying that he’s seeing this through. Instead, he gets some wood to use as paddles and the two then set out on the water.

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As Carl sets the dinner table, Negan tells him to get another setting, but he soon gets tired of waiting for Rick.  Lucille, though, is hungry, so Negan orders Carl to pass the rolls.  At least he said please.  Lucille doesn’t have a pussy, but she apparently has a mouth.

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As Eugene enters the Safe Zone, the Saviors make good of Spencer’s supplies and are glad that he got messy for them.  One of the Saviors, Laura, played by Lindsley Register, tells Spencer that if he plays his cards right, they may show him where she lives.  Laura then tells an eavesdropping Eugene to fuck off and mind his own business.

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Back by the Kingdom, Carol reads from a book when she spots a package from Morgan on her doorstep.  Carol calls out to Morgan and tells him that the package of fresh food is unnecessary because Ezekiel is keeping her well-stocked.  Morgan promises to leave Carol alone, but she did call him over in the first place to ask how he’s doing.

Morgan is good, so now he can go.  He tells Carol that she may be going soft.  Morgan won’t be going anywhere, as he and Carol receive an unexpected visit from Richard, who wants to talk to the two about something important.

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On the water, Rick and Aaron continue their trek and take out as many walkers that are drawing close to their boat, which is taking on water.  They manage to reach another boat, but a walker has already made it her territory.  And then another walker grabs Aaron and drags him into the water.  After a bit of time passes, he resurfaces unharmed.  Sorry, Bob.

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However, Aaron and Rick come up short, as they find food and tons of guns, but no ammunition. Just a less-than-pleasant note from the owner.

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Back at the Sanctuary, Daryl sneaks into another room where he feasts on peanut butter and changes into a new set of clothes.

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As the two pack, Rick tells Aaron that he didn’t mean to imply that Aaron couldn’t help out.  It’s just that people don’t agree with Rick scavenging for the Saviors, so Rick wouldn’t blame Aaron if he backed out.  Aaron reminds Rick that he was with him on the road.  What they’re doing is going to keep people alive.  It doesn’t matter what happens to them, even if Michonne doesn’t see this as living.

After Alexandria lived free, it’s hard to give up what you have, but either your heart’s beating or it isn’t.  Same for your loved ones.  You take what’s given to you so you can live.

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Michonne is still on the road with Isabelle, who is continuing her drive presumably towards the Sanctuary.  Michonne asks how long she’s been with Negan and why she was out there alone, but gets no response.  Whether Isabelle believes that talking won’t change how this ends for her remains to be seen, but for now, Michonne won’t kill Negan today. She just wants to find a way to win and change how this ends for her.

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Back at the Hilltop, Sasha and Maggie get an apple pie as a gift for their work in saving the Hilltop.  Enid asks if Maggie is President yet, but she isn’t.  Also, Jesus hasn’t returned yet.  Enid knows that Sasha is lying to Maggie about Jesus, given that he left yesterday, not today, as Sasha said.  Sasha says this is for Maggie’s own good.  Enid knows that Sasha wants to kill Negan.

If Sasha had help, she wouldn’t have to keep this from Maggie.  But Sasha doesn’t want Enid helping or talking, even though this effort to take down Negan goes well beyond Sasha.

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Richard speaks with Carol and Morgan about communities that once banded together, but are now gone.  He lost hope in people until he found the Kingdom and met Ezekiel.  But now the Kingdom is under threat by the Saviors.  A few months back, some Saviors met Ezekiel and, recognizing his capabilities, cut a deal.  In exchange for food and supplies, , the Saviors wouldn’t hurt anyone or enter the Kingdom.

And since Ezekiel both trusts Morgan and likes Carol, Richard needs them to help convince Ezekiel to fight the Saviors.  There’s peace with the Saviors now, but Richard fears that something will go wrong or the Saviors will just stop honoring the deal.  Once that happens, the Kingdom will fall.  Richard lost his family to this world and he’s afraid that if nothing happens now, more will die.

He knows what the Saviors can do and does not trust them.  In essence, Richard wants Morgan and Carol to convince Ezekiel to launch a preemptive strike against the Saviors.

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Over at Alexandria’s church, Rosita admires her handcrafted bullet when Gabriel asks if it’s for her or Negan.  She’s not worried about dying so long as Negan is killed in the process.  Gabriel agrees, but he doesn’t see why does Rosita has to die.  And there’s no need to lie if this is their last conversation.

Rosita believes that Abraham was still alive, they could fight.  If Glenn lived, Maggie’s child would have a father.  Michonne and Carl have Rick, Aaron has Eric, Eugene knows things, and Daryl is strong.  Gabriel mentions Sasha as well and tells Rosita that it shouldn’t have been her or anyone else.

He is convinced that they will win, but they need to wait for or create the right moment together.  Rosita is a part of that, so she shouldn’t do this because everyone needs her.

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Richard knows that the Saviors outnumber the Kingdom, so they need to attack first while they have the advantage and, hopefully, the element of surprise.  Though a capable fighter, Carol wants no part of this and would still prefer to be left alone.

Morgan knows people will die, and he only killed to save Carol.  In Richard’s mind, there’s no difference between that and killing other Saviors to protect everyone else.  Richard tells While Morgan would rather build on the peace that exists now, Richard tells him that he’ll have to choose to kill one day because things aren’t going to get easier. He should choose now before losing someone close to him.

But Richard knows that there’s no reasoning with the Saviors.  He believes that the Saviors will turn on the Kingdom, and when blood is shed, it will be on Morgan and Carol’s hands.  With that, he leaves.  Carol tells Morgan that she doesn’t want anyone else knowing where she is, but he never meant for anyone to see her.

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Spencer enters his home and finds it turned upside down, but it’s soon cleaned up as he gets himself nice and ready for a confrontation.

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Back in the woods, Richard enters a hidden home and collapses to the floor as he eyes his supplies.

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Rosita then asks Spencer if he’s on for a date, but he just wants to get close to Negan, as he figures that he’s got good momentum with the Saviors.  Spencer asks why Rosita ended or even started what the two of them had, given that he felt they had something good.

Truth is that Rosita was trying not to think about shit. finds Spencer sweet, sure, but she admits that she just used him.  At the very least, she does agree to dinner with Spencer, no strings attached.

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Daryl again manages to find a motorcycle when he’s confronted by Fat Joseph, who surrenders and offers to let Daryl leave right now.  He tells Daryl that he’s just trying to get by, but Daryl just beats him to death just as Jesus finds him.  Daryl retorts that it’s not about getting by, but getting it all.  Before the two leave, Jesus pockets one of the walkie-talkies.

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After being refused entry by Arat, Spencer is eventually allowed to pass and officially introduces himself to Negan.

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Michonne and Isabelle companion are still on the road when they come to a stop. Isabelle tells Michonne that Negan is up ahead.   You know, because they’re all Negan. She says that whatever Michonne is planning won’t work, but she still has some choices. As her final move, Isabelle informs Michonne that there’s a silencer in the glove compartment…

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Meanwhile, Rick and Aaron return to Alexandria, when they learn that Negan is waiting for Rick.  The Saviors then check the truck for supplies, among them the note that Rick and Aaron found on the boat.  Why the hell do they still have that?  Anyway, the Saviors think that the disparaging note is meant for them, so they start beating the shit out of Aaron and stop Rick from interfering.

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Negan is overjoyed about Spencer’s housewarming gift, but the only thing missing is a pool table.  Luckily, the house across the street has one, but Negan has a better idea.

With the pool table set, Spencer tells Negan that he understands what Negan is trying to build with this network.  It makes sense, but Rick has a history of not working well with others.  More than that, Rick wasn’t the original leader and wasn’t as good as Deanna.  Negan finds that a sad story, but lucky for him, Rick isn’t in charge.  Even still, Spencer knows that Rick’s out-of-control ego will lead to him trying to screw things up.

With the Alexandria residents now gathered at the pool table, Negan asks what Spencer is proposing, and Spencer offers to be the leader that Negan needs.

But Negan has been thinking about how Rick, despite hating him, is out gathering things to make sure no one else is hurt.  He’s swallowing his hate to get shit done, and that takes guts.  Then there’s Spencer, who waited for Rick to leave so he could get Negan to do his dirty work.  After all, if Spencer really wants to be in charge, why doesn’t he just kill Rick himself?

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Negan says it’s because Spencer has no guts.  And with that, he plunges a knife straight into Spencer’s stomach and guts spill out everywhere.  Negan is beyond embarrassed, as Spencer did have guts after all- they were inside him all along.  The residents are left shocked, but Negan orders someone to get this mess cleaned.  He asks if anyone wants to finish the pool game, but no takers.  Rosita pulls out her gun and fires.

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The other Saviors finally let up on beating Aaron and Rick is allowed to help him.  They hear a gunshot ring out and it turns out that Lucille ended up taking a hit from Rosita’s bullet.  Negan demands to know about the bullet that he correctly guesses is homemade.

Since Lucille’s beautiful surface won’t look the same, Negan figures that Rosita’s shouldn’t either…unless she tells him who made the bullet.  Arat then places a blade to Rosita’s face.

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Rosita says that she made it, but Negan figures that she’s lying.  Negan orders Arat to kill someone, so with fucking perfect aim, she turns around and kills Olivia.  And this is where Rick and Aaron arrive just in time for Negan to ask for a thank you.  Even though this relationship started off tense, he just showed how reasonable how he was.  After all, Carl gunned down two Saviors, but Negan brought him home and fed him.

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Not to mention Spencer plotting behind Rick’s back, but now he’s dead.  Again, thanks to Negan.  And Rosita shot Lucille, so now there’s one less mouth to feed in Olivia’s death.  Negan wouldn’t have killed her- that’s all Arat’s doing.  Rick tells Negan that his shit is waiting for him at the gate, so he can leave.  However, Negan still wants to know who made the bullet.

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Eugene admits that he was the one who made the bullet, and Negan believes him.  Negan orders Lucille to give him strength and Negan will now relieve Rick of Eugene.  Whatever Rick scavenged is no good because after today, he’s in deep shit. Also, Negan loves Rick’s kitchen.  With that, the Saviors depart.  Spencer soon reanimates just as Rick puts him down.

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He later sits in the cell that Morgan built as he looks over a note when Michonne joins him.  The two embrace because, let’s face it, they’ve had one hell of a day.  Michonne confirms that she found what she was looking for, as she had to go her way instead of joining Rick and Aaron.  But when she found it, she realized that she didn’t want it to be her way, but theirs.

There are more Saviors than anticipated, but that doesn’t change how Michonne how feels or how things are.  There’s so much that they’ve lived through when they should have died and they will keep standing, so now they’re left wondering how they make that mean something.  After all, Rick once said that they’re the ones who live.  That’s why they have to fight: not for themselves, but for everyone.  They can find a way to beat the Saviors.

And Rick now knows that.

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Back at the Hilltop, Maggie again climbs the walls when she calls out to Sasha and Enid.  Turns out that Rick, Michonne, Tara, Carl, and Rosita have arrived at the Hilltop.  Rick tells Maggie that she was right from the beginning, as they need to get ready to fight.  Rick couldn’t have listened back then, but now he can.

Oh, also, Daryl and Jesus are at the Hilltop and he returns Rick’s colt.  Now reunited, the group heads towards the mansion as the first half of The Walking Dead’s seventh season comes to a close.

But wait, there’s more!  In a stinger at the end, Gabriel takes his post atop the Alexandria walls while the same individual who spied on Rick and Aaron watches him from a distance.

Well, that’s it for the first half of Season Seven and the wheels are in motion with the communities heading towards taking on Negan and the Saviors.  “Hearts Still Beating” is a very good episode and finisher for the first half that balances different storylines and communities very well.  It was all well-paced.  We’re at Alexandria, the Hilltop, the Sanctuary, or the Kingdom long enough to get the gist of what’s going happening.

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While I haven’t had a big issue with the episodes dealing with one community, it makes sense, given the situation, that things are ramping up, so of course we’d head back to multiple plots and catch up not just on how the communities are doing, but how they’re planning on dealing with Negan.

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And a big part of that has to do with being unified, as Michonne concludes when on the road and as she tells Rick in a very good speech about working together.  Making the most of this situation with the Saviors doesn’t work if everyone isn’t banded together.  Hell, even Gabriel tells Rosita that creating the right moment comes from working as one as opposed to going at it alone.  Hopefully Sasha and Jesus have let Maggie in on their plan.

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But a team won’t function as well without its leader, and it looks as if Rick has finally come around to fighting back as opposed to biding his time.  And that’s through a combination of the people who have either suffered or been killed up through this point, watching Aaron be beaten, Michonne’s speech to him, and how his own son went right to Negan’s stronghold, killed a few Saviors, and could’ve gotten himself killed.  Again.

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Rick had been brought down, but he’s not out.  And while Maggie instantly wanted to fight, it took him more time to come around.  Now that he’s ready for war and has reunited with the others at the Hilltop, now it’s just a matter of formulating a successful attack that won’t lead to more deaths, impossible as that sounds.  Instead of just taking the fight to Negan ahead of time, he needs a better strategy.

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He also needs to be more trusting of his new allies, as it was unnecessary for him to suggest that Aaron sit out the boat mission, even though he didn’t mean it.  Despite the tense, first encounter, Aaron has proven himself loyal and willing to help when necessary.  He was there when Glenn and Abraham died, so he knows the cost, but damn the consequences, he’s proving to Rick why he’s a vital member of this coalition.

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Over at the Kingdom, Richard is falling into the same trap that Rick did with his plan of a preemptive strike against the Saviors.  He knows that the Saviors can’t be trusted and he wants to take the fight to them ahead of time, but if he was aware of what happened with Rick, chances are he would be more cautious about wanting to get a potential early advantage against the Saviors.

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By the way, what’s going on with Carol?  Seems like she’s still in her funk about not wanting to kill or be involved with this conflict at all.  That’s fine, but for her to say that she doesn’t want anyone to know where she is and that she’d rather be left alone isn’t helpful at this point.  I doubt this is long term.  Maybe once she learns what happened to the others, she’ll go back to killer Mama Bear Carol.

At the very least, the seed has been planted in Morgan and Carol’s minds about the Kingdom playing a part in an offensive against Negan.  And as Richard said, Morgan will have to kill again eventually to protect the people in his life.  Once Rick arrives at the Kingdom, I wager he’ll do a better job of persuading the community to fight than either Carol or Morgan.

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Now let’s get to Spencer’s death, another comic moment come to life in a beautiful, bloody way.  The moment played out, note-for-note, like you remember it from the comics and it really showed what Negan sees in Rick.  For all his hatred for Negan, Rick, as far as Negan knows, isn’t a schemer.  He’s swallowing his pride and working for Negan in order to protect Alexandria.

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By contrast, Spencer would take the coward’s way out and, like Gregory, suck up to the opposition in order to get in their good graces.  Problem is that Negan gets off on and likes when people fight against him.  What Spencer’s doing requires very little thought because there’s no guarantee that Negan would accept him with open arms.  As broken as Rick has been this season, Negan at least knows that he has a spine.

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Oh, but Spencer’s not the only one making stupid decisions.  Rosita took a prime opportunity to kill Negan and had a perfect shot, and not only did she almost get herself killed- and she seemed ready to die- but she got Olivia killed in the process.  Why now?

Daryl punched Negan in the face, which led to Glenn getting killed. Rosita took a shot and missed, but despite that, her actions got someone killed.  Clearly Rosita never watched The Wire or she would have remembered Omar’s words: you come at the king, you best not miss.

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Perhaps it was impulsive thinking, but what made her believe she could pull off what amounts to a suicide mission?  She didn’t even land her target, and now not only is Olivia dead, but Eugene has been taken captive.

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That’s another thing: why does Negan decide to take Eugene?  Aside from the knowledge of how to make bullets, what could Negan get from him?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to take Rosita?  He took Daryl hostage and said that he had guts.  Take the woman who almost killed you instead of the guy whose skill is making bullets.  Or, hell, just take them both.  Rick wasn’t about to stop Negan.

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Credit where it’s due, that was a fantastic shot on Arat’s part.  The woman didn’t even give it much of a thought- she just spun around and killed Olivia on the first try.  It’s more impressive given how far away Olivia was when Arat could have just killed anyone in the crowd around her.  By the way, I love Arat.  Or rather, the intensity of Elizabeth Ludlow’s performance.  Like Daryl, she’s not a comic character, but is enjoyable all the same.

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The reunion at the end felt very earned, especially seeing Rick and Daryl reunite after Negan refused to let the two so much as talk or look at each other.  I would assume that Daryl and Maggie are on good terms as well.  Our group is down, but they’re not out.

And with most of our survivors back together, the time has come for the communities to combine their resources and slowly build a strong coalition capable of taking on their common enemy in Negan and the Saviors.  Will everyone answer the call? Will there be any holdouts?  And who the hell is spying on Alexandria?

“Hearts Still Beating” was a very strong outing for the first half of the season.  It balanced multiple communities very well and was both fun- mostly through Negan’s actions- and suspenseful to watch at the same time.  As we head towards war, I am very excited to see how things go in the second half of Season Seven.  See you then.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 6: “Swear”

You remember Tara and Heath, right?  While Rick and the others left to further attempt dismantling the Saviors, Tara and Heath left to go on a run after the events of “Not Tomorrow Yet.”  Now it’s time to catch up with The Walking Dead’s two most exciting characters.

I kid, but there’s been a lot of speculation about this episode.  We’ve had bottle episodes this season that deal with, for the most part, one community.  But given how the Saviors are the major threat, it’s easy to write off Tara and Heath’s time as filler.  However, that’s not the case here, as we get an episode that focuses a good amount of time on Tara and introduces us to a new community that could be vital to the battle ahead.

This is “Swear.”

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The episode begins by the water.  A couple of girls: Cyndie, played by Sydney Park, and Rachel, played by Mimi Kirkland, make quick of walkers lying dead in the sand, though Rachel is more eager than the other.  They then stumble upon Tara’s body.

Rachel wants to kill her, but Cyndie says that they don’t have to, even if that’s their responsibility.  Rachel won’t snitch, but she’s not going to help Cyndie, either.  With that, Cyndie drags Tara onto the shore.

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Then we cut back to the camper as Heath and Tara go through what they’ve found so far.  They two went further than they were supposed to, but as Glenn once said, there’s nothing in the world that isn’t hidden, so they just need to keep looking.  But there’s not enough gas to keep going, as it’s already been two weeks.  Tara maintains that they need ammo and medicine, so she doesn’t want to leave without fulfilling her end of the bargain.

But Heath is still rattled by the amount of people killed at the Savior outpost.  Sure, maybe they all had to do it, but Heath reminds Tara that the people of Alexandria lived a certain way before Rick’s group arrived.  Now Heath gets it: you take what you can, kill who needs to be killed, and keep going because no one is in this together.

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Tara calls bullshit on that and knows even Heath doesn’t believe his words, but Heath disagrees.  That’s not just him, but it’s Tara and everyone who wants to stay alive.  After today, Heath declares that the two will push towards the shore, but head back after that, even if they just have rusty cans.  Tara picks up the gun with a bat scrawled onto it.

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In the present, Cyndie, after looking over a map, returns to the shore and leaves Tara two bottles of water, a fish, and a spear before leaving.  Soon after Cyndie is a good distance away, Tara awakens and begins to down the water.

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As Cyndie goes through the forest, Tara follows her from a considerable distance and winds up in a small village.  She finds the people working under the cover of mesh, which also is used to cover their homes.  Soon, the members then all fall in, grab their guns, head off…and start opening fire on Tara.  But they have Stormtrooper aim, so of course they all miss.

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Tara manages to take down one woman, Beatrice, played by Briana Venskus, and knocks her out with the butt of her gun, but she’s soon cornered by Rachel, who still wants to kill her.  Tara finds herself surrounded and then meets the group’s leader: Natania, played by Deborah May, who warns Cyndie to get away from Tara.  In response, Tara feebly offers to leave.  A bit late for that, Tara, isn’t it?

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We flash back to Tara and Heath heading to the bridge, where they find a cavalcade of vehicles .  The two wait to see if any human or walkers are waiting to strike, but soon head towards the cars.  They then happen upon an overturned truck filled with sand.

Just as Heath finds some shells in the ground, Tara pulls loose a backpack that sends down all of the sand.  Walkers begin to crawl out of the sand.  As walkers surround Tara, Heath falls back.

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Back in the present, Natania introduces brings Beatrice and Kathy, played by Nicole Barré to speak with Tara.  Natania explains that the bells and horns that Tara hears are in place to redirect any dead.  The area is clear, for the most part.  When asked where she’s from, Tara explains that she came from Atlanta and stayed on the move with her friend, whom she worked with on a fishing boat apparently called a larder.

Then Tara is asked why she’s here, as the community gets nervous when newcomers arrive.  Tara explains finding the settlement on the bridge when, during the walker attack, she got knocked off the bridge and ended up in the water.  She only snuck around to see if the area was safe.  If she’s pointed in the right direction, Tara will leave.  However, Tara knows too much about the community.

Normally, Tara would have been killed because strangers are killed on sight, which I find hilarious since these women can’t aim for shit.  But anyway, Tara spared Beatrice at least, so that has to count for something.

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That evening, Tara is invited to dinner, which is fish stew.  Natania then formally introduces Cyndie to Tara, who thanks Cyndie for saving her life.  Cyndie is trying to show Rachel a certain way, as she hasn’t had to kill yet.  Natania explains that living so close to the ocean gives the village access to fish.  She’s hopes that Tara can stay so the village stays a secret.  Plus, Natania believes that Tara is a skilled fighter and is a good person.

When Natania offers a chance for Heath to stay as well, Tara asks the million dollar question: where are the men?  The women explain that their group got into a fight with another group and none of the men made it.  After that, the women decided to protect themselves and kill whomever they met on sight.

Again, ladies, your aim is shit, so I don’t buy that claim.  Anyway, the women found the village with the intent to stay hidden and alive.  Tara could have hurt them, but she didn’t.  Natania hopes that Tara can be honest about where she’s really from since a larder is not a boat, but a room for storing meat.  Silly Tara.

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Tara talks about her community, her girlfriend, and how her group has done bad things like this village, like kill this group of people at a satellite station.  In Tara’s eyes, the people her group killed got what they deserved, but that’s not why they were killed.  Tara’s group did it to stay alive, just like these women.  In fact, she hopes that the communities can work together, but the women shoot down that idea.   After all, they want to stay hidden.

Tara says that, eventually, the village will need friends.  If they see everyone as enemies, then enemies are all they’ll find.  Natania offers Tara a guide so she can find Heath and so the women can check her community.  Beatrice will go, but Natania refuses to let Cyndie leave as punishment for breaking the rules.  Though Natania does tell Cyndie that, if this works out, there will be plenty of other chances.

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The next day, Natania bids Tara farewell as Kathy and Beatrice escort her away from the village.  When the three happen upon a walker caught in some branches, Tara goes to kill it right when she finds herself under fire from Kathy and Beatrice.  But again, their aim sucks, so they miss as Tara makes her escape.

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Tara soon hides in a ditch and eventually engages Beatrice in another fight until Beatrice gets her gun.  Tara pleads for Beatrice to let her go, given that Tara could have killed her.  Beatrice retorts that Tara’s group had no idea what they started by killing the people at the satellite post, and she calls mentions the Saviors by their name.

Even if Tara’s group got one small win, Beatrice tells her that there are more Saviors and outposts, and if they know about Tara’s group, it’s too late for them.  Beatrice explains that the Saviors executed every man and boy over the age of 10.  Jesus.  The remaining people were supposed to keep working for the Saviors, but they decided to just leave.  And Beatrice won’t let Tara lead the Saviors back to them.

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Before Beatrice can open fire, given her many chances, Cyndie tackles her.  Tara continues her escape, knowing that Cyndie won’t shoot her since she saved her already. Cyndie wants Tara to swear that she’ll never return or tell anyone about this village, but Tara sees no reason do so in the first place.  Cyndie tells Tara that her group didn’t have to kill the Saviors at the outpost.  No one is evil- they just decide to forget who they are.

Again, Cyndie demands that Tara swear that she’ll keep the area a secret, and Tara soon does agree not to talk about the village.  Cyndie gives Tara a backpack of food and water before taking her to the bridge.

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The two return to the bridge, with Cyndie not willing to leave until Tara makes it to the other side.  Tara asks why Cyndie isn’t like the others, but Cyndie simply asks why Tara isn’t as well.  That’s not an answer, Cyndie.

The two make their way past the vehicles and take out as many walkers as possible. Cyndie picks off as many as she can, but she soon runs out of ammunition.  As luck would have it, Tara soon makes it to the other side.

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After a flashback of Tara and Heath’s final moment before the two were separated, Tara spots Cyndie being hauled away.  She continues her trek when she spots a pair of broken glasses and begins following a path in the dirt.  She then finds a key card in the dirt, hoping it was Heath, and heads off.

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She later happens upon a fishing boat because payoff and then winds up at a supply shop where she eats the fish that gave her.  With a new pair of sunglasses, Tara soon returns to the Alexandria Safe Zone, where she reunites with a crestfallen Eugene.

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Having been briefed on what’s happened, Tara later talks with Rosita, who asks if she has any leads on guns or ammunition, no matter how dangerous of an area she found. She’s ready to take this fight to the Saviors and needs any way to make this right, but Tara that they can’t.  The episode comes to a close with Tara telling Rosita that she didn’t see anything while on her run.

Well, here we are.  There’s been a lot of talk and anticipation about this episode.  Many had believed it would be filler or just a much slower paced episode.  Given how we’ve spent the past few weeks dealing with how communities deal with or combat Negan, to go from that to catching up with Heath and Tara felt like something that wouldn’t factor into the overall plot.

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Not to mention the fact that Tara and Heath probably aren’t topping many people’s favorite character lists, and how we were meeting this new community, “Swear” had the makings of what could have been an episode that people could write off as irrelevant to the season.

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But, to my surprise, that wasn’t the case.  While this wasn’t anything great, this episode did two things: first off, it introduced us to Oceanside, a community I never thought we’d see this early on the show.  More than that, the show fleshed the community out in a way that I don’t believe the comic did, certainly not this soon or prior to “All Out War.”

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However, instead of the TV version of Oceanside having any generic backstory, the show managed to tie them into the main storyline by connecting them to the Saviors.  Granted, if you removed the Saviors from the equation, Tara’s time with this group probably would seem more like filler, but this was a good way to make the community more relevant right now as opposed to later.

And while Tara may have been cocky enough at first to think that the outpost attack was enough to derail the Saviors, the Oceanside community knows all too well what happens when you fight against Negan.  And wow, the repercussions paint Negan as even more of a villain than he already is.

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This is a lingering questions I have regarding Oceanside’s conflict with the Saviors: what in the world did they do to warrant all of the males over 10 being executed? Hell, Rick’s group killed an entire outpost and Negan planned to kill just one person in retaliation- two due to Daryl’s interference.  But the Oceanside group must have screwed up or fought back long and hard to lose the majority, if not all, of their male population.

Either way, even if we don’t know, this further showed the consequences of trying to fight against the Saviors and took some of the wind out of Tara’s confidence.  Tara was in cahoots with the Governor and now sides with Rick: she’s now allied with two leaders willing to kill who needs to be killed in order to survive.

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Sure, Tara is nowhere as hard or cold as Rick or the Governor, but she still understands the need to strike early.  But between learning how both Oceanside and Alexandria suffered at the hands of the Saviors, I think that Heath’s words about killing have left a mark on Tara and she may not want to take part in or possibly be the catalyst of another incident.

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After all, she didn’t tell Rosita about what she saw on her run, but keep in mind that Tara only promised to not reveal anything about Oceanside.  She didn’t promise anything about the bridge.  We saw all of the shells in the sand, and between that and Rosita wanting Eugene to make her a bullet, there’s nothing stopping Tara from at least telling the others about the bridge.  So the door’s still open for Oceanside to meet our survivors.

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As for the Oceanside folks themselves, I’m curious to see whether they play a part in the coming conflict with the Saviors.  Given how we see all of those guns just after Negan has deprived Alexandria of their weapons, I expect some sort of follow-up.  You don’t introduce a community like this that has a shit ton of guns and there not be any sort of payoff later.

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That said, I’m of two minds about the inhabitants.  They seem like decent people when you get to know them and they have every reason to be suspicious of anyone they meet. But for all their talk of killing strangers on sight, Tara walked out relatively unharmed.  Not even so much as getting popped in the knee for even sneaking around the village.  It’s hard for me to think Oceanside’s inhabitants are ruthless when they couldn’t subdue one person.

But at least they were smart enough to see through Tara’s ruse and invite her to stay to help grow the community.  I get the sense that Oceanside would prefer not to engage in battle, but if necessary, they will defend themselves.  Of the residents that we meet, Cyndie comes off as the most welcoming to Tara, given how she saved her multiple times and helped her cross the bridge.

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And I got the vibe that she’s one of the residents who is still willing to fight the likes of the Saviors.  The others seem reluctant, but ready, to take part in another clash, but Cyndie admitted that she’s a good shot and she’s not against breaking the rules to help out someone else.  If the other communities had a battle ready ally in Oceanside, I would put good money on Cyndie stepping up first to lend a hand.

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It was nice to see Tara handle this new situation on her own.  While I like Alana Masterson in the role, Tara has never been a character I’ve had an attachment to, and while I’m still not her biggest fan here, it was good to see her prove how useful and good of a fighter she is outside of the main survivors.

Though she could use work on her storytelling, since she was exposed on not knowing a larder, followed by her coming right out and admitting what her friends had done to the Saviors.  Then again, as far as I can tell, she hasn’t told them the name or where her community is located, so she didn’t play her entire hand.

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The problem with this episode was the pacing.  More so the cutting back and forth between the past and present.  It wasn’t done as well as “First Time Again,” I feel, and not like the flashbacks were frequent, but I would have rather we had all of Tara and Heath’s moments played out as one long sequence.

You can start out with Tara washing up on the shore, sure, but then just start with Tara and Heath’s conversation, end with Tara falling into the water, and then play out the rest of the episode in the present.  The problem with cutting back and forth is that we knew where Tara ended up before we saw the scene of her ending up in the water.

And once more, going back to “First Time Again,” those flashbacks filled in the blanks of how the community dealt with the deaths of Pete, Reg, and the new set of circumstances. Those flashbacks were complimented by them still addressing those issues in the present. Whereas here, Heath and Tara have a conversation before heading to the bridge and dealing with walkers.  That’s about it.

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I hope that Heath’s fate being unknown isn’t just a way for the show to remove Heath from the equation right now since Corey Hawkins is also going to be on 24: Legacy, but for now, where Heath went to is anyone’s guess right now.

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By the way, getting real tired of these fake-outs.  It would have been pretty damn cliche if the walker Tara saw on the bridge was indeed Heath, but it wasn’t.  Just a fake-out.  Was it necessary?  No.  Was it effective?  Also no.

So “Swear” was a good episode.  Not as bad as people expected it to be, but not as engaging as the others, in my opinion.  The introduction of the Oceanside community and the reveal that they have had a run-in with the Saviors helps connect this village to the greater, ongoing story.  Even though Tara swore not to tell anyone about what she saw, I’m hopeful that we see more of Oceanside this season.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7 Premiere: “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

We have been waiting for this moment.  The sixth season finale of The Walking Dead, “Last Day on Earth,” introduced Negan to Rick’s group as a menacing threat and the episode itself ended with Negan picking and beating an unseen member to death with his barbed wired bat, Lucille.  After a lot of buildup and momentum in the longer than normal episode, “Last Day on Earth” had a lot of people excited going into it.

To say that a chunk of the fanbase was dissatisfied, disappointed, or downright angry because of the cliffhanger ending would be an understatement.

Whether it was Greg Nicotero trying to justify the cliffhanger, the cast saying they themselves had no idea who had been picked, and Robert Kirkman himself even sort-of apologizing for the cliffhanger in a Letter Hacks section of The Walking Dead comic, it’s clear that someone heard the backlash.  Even without the cliffhanger, the show remained on people’s minds.

Fast forward to Season 7 and here we are with “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be.” There were a lot of promises going into this premiere, expectations from viewers, and hopes that the cliffhanger was worth it.

I myself was more disappointed than anything with the decision, but wouldn’t just leave the show because of a creative decision.    That’d be petty.  Would the premiere satisfy? Would we even learn about Negan’s pick?  And would it be worth the wait?  Oh, let me stop wasting your time.  Let’s jump right back into the world of The Walking Dead.

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The season begins sometime after we left off on “Last Day on Earth,” with a frightened Rick, now with blood on his face, declaring that he will kill Negan.  Not today or tomorrow, but someday.  Negan, though, wants to hear that again, as he isn’t impressed.

He asks Simon, Steven Ogg’s character, what weapon Rick had- it’s a hatchet.  Plus an axe.  Negan’s far from impressed.  Simon, turns out, is Negan’s right hand man, and one of those is important.

Without one, you’re left without work.  Negan wonders who Rick’s right hand man is, or whether that’s the one who met a now bloodied Lucille.  Negan claims Rick’s axe, stares Rick down, and pockets the weapon.  He then drags Rick with him into the RV for a little trip.  We then pan down to a bloodied mess on the ground.

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Negan forces Rick into the camper, but it doesn’t start.  Negan mocks Rick’s declaration to kill him, especially given what just happened.  Rick’s best chance is to use the axe to kill Negan right now.  Maybe he’ll get lucky.  Negan isn’t impressed with Rick’s bravado.  Once Rick grabs the axe, Negan is ready with a machine gun.  He socks Rick right in the gut for extra measure and then sees that dawn is breaking.  It’s a brand new day.

Still, Negan wants Rick to consider what can happen if he keeps acting this way.  The RV finally starts and the drive begins as Negan plows down walkers, all while Rick is reminded of his friends through convenient, black and white flashbacks.  The camper comes to a stop as Negan sits next to Rick, saying that he is his, as are the others.  Hell, even the axe belongs to Negan.  He wants damn near everything, didn’t you know?

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He opens the door and tosses the axe onto the roof of the RV, but still wants Rick to get it.  Rick refuses, but he eventually gives in, Negan forcing him out to retrieve the weapon.  In the thick fog, Rick fends off walkers while still having flashbacks-I mean, memories.

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He’s soon forced to climb the camper and spots the axe.  And then he looks out at the land ahead, filled with walkers and realizes he’s back at the spot where the man was hanged.  As Rick falls to his knees, he hears Negan taunting him for his optimism.  The world doesn’t work like that.  It’s time to think about what matters.

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We flash back to earlier that night as Negan is left unable to decide.  He goes one by one to pick his victim as Rick watches.  He finally lands on his choice: Abraham.   Negan goes to town and bashes Abraham’s head over and over.  Though Abraham was defiant in his final moment, telling Negan to suck his nuts, Negan continues the beating long after Abraham is dead.  His head is nothing but a bloody mess.

An overjoyed Negan wants everyone to look at his dirty girl as Lucille is bloody beyond belief.  He guesses that Rosita was with Abraham, but there was a reason that Abraham was picked.  He took a beating for the team, so Negan orders Rosita to look.  This is what leads Daryl to lash out and punch Negan.  The Saviors restrain him, but Negan doesn’t want them to harm him.  That lashing out is a no-no.  That shit doesn’t fly.

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Dwight is ready to kill with the crossbow at the ready, but Negan tells him to stand down, saying he doesn’t kill Daryl until he tries.  That’s now how this works.  The first one was free, and Negan will shut any other shit down.  Negan doesn’t know much about Rick’s group, but he’s a man of his word.  First impressions are important.  As such, he needs Rick and company to know him.

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So back to it, as Negan turns Lucille on Glenn.  With his face fucked beyond belief, Glenn attempts to call out for Maggie, but it doesn’t come out clearly.  Negan is sorry that the group is taking this so hard, but no exceptions.  So he gets back to work and beats the fucking shit out of Glenn, even long after he’s no longer has a head and his body is nothing a twitching mess.  Lucille is thirsty, as she is a vampire bat.  Timing, Negan.

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In the present, Rick and his axe remain on the camper, which is still surrounded by roamers.  And Negan still wants the damn axe.  He gives Rick one more try to get the axe, but then gunfire rains out across the roof of the camper.  Rick runs and grabs onto the hanged walker- risky move, but cool nonetheless, which begins to give way.  Before the walkers can claim Rick, Negan opens fire from the camper and kills the walkers.

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Rick crawls away from the walkers and retrieves the axe, all while having flashes of Lucille meeting the rest of the group.  He returns to the camper to find the door locked. Negan kills some of the walkers, which gives Rick an opening to enter the camper and return the now bloodied axe.  The journey continues until Negan arrives at the destination.  He knows that this is hard for Rick, losing two of his own and in front of his son.

He picks up Rick’s axe, saying that Rick must have been addicted to being in charge.  However, Rick can still lead a productive life of giving to Negan.  He then returns the axe to Rick, saying that he may need it.

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Negan dumps Rick out of the camper and brings him back to the spot where the murders took place.  He tells Rick that this was all because of the way that Rick looked at him.  Negan wanted Rick to understand, but he doesn’t like how Rick is still looking at him.  So Negan wonders whether he should give Rick another chance, and Rick does want one.  What happens next will determine if this is everyone’s last day.

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The Saviors put guns to everyone else’s heads.  Negan summons Carl to his side, and it takes some prodding to get Carl to comply.  He asks if Carl is left-handed, and he isn’t, so Negan ties his belt to Carl’s left arm.  He increases the pressure, but it doesn’t hurt.  He tosses Carl’s hat and orders him on the ground next to his father.  Negan then asks Simon for a pen.  When given one, Negan draws a line across Carl’s arm.

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Rick begs Negan not to do anything, but Negan isn’t doing shit.  Instead, he wants Rick to cut off Carl’s left arm.  Or else everyone else around him dies, as well as everyone in Alexandria, and eventually, Rick himself.  He’ll get to live long enough to understand what he’s done.  Michonne tells Negan that the group understands, but Negan wants Rick to understand.  And this job needs to happen or Negan will just kill Carl instead.

Then Rick offers himself to Negan, but this is the only way.  And not making a decision is still a decision.  When Rick refuses, Negan begins to count.  Rick cries that this can be him instead of his son.  Carl pleads with Rick to just do it.  Rick picks up the axe, but Negan stops him.  Rick answers to, provides for, and belongs to Negan.  Negan finally gets the look that he wants from Rick.  With that he, takes back the axe.

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Negan congratulates everyone for a productive day.  He hopes that, for everyone’s sake, they now understand how things work.  Things have changed.  Whatever the survivors had before is now over.  Negan then orders Dwight to bring Daryl along, so Dwight forces him into the van.  At least, in Negan’s eyes, Daryl has guts.  And he belongs to Negan.  If Rick gives Negan anymore shit, he will cut Daryl into pieces or have Negan do it.

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Welcome to a brand new beginning, Negan tells the survivors.  He leaves the group a truck that they’ll use to bring him supplies.  They’ll be back in a week for their first offering.  Until then, ta-ta.  With that, Negan and the Saviors leave.  As they depart, the survivors are left at an absolute low point with Glenn and Abraham now dead.

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They sit in absolute silence until Maggie stumbles over and tells Rick to get ready to fight the Saviors.  Well, of course.  Rick counters that the Saviors have Daryl and an army, so it would be a suicide mission.  Still, Maggie wants to go to the Hilltop on her own while Rick and others go back to Alexandria.  Rick tells Maggie that there’s still hope.  And yet Maggie still wants everyone to leave.

Michonne refuses to let Maggie leave, but Maggie insists.  However, Sasha jumps in, saying that she’ll escort Maggie to the Hilltop.  The group coalesces around Maggie, Rick even begs Maggie to let them help her.  Maggie hugs Carl as the others begin moving the bodies.

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As Negan’s words go through Rick’s mind, we get a dream vision of the group having an outdoor dinner in Alexandria, Glenn is even holding his future child.  Back in the present, Rick grabs the axe and heads into the camper.  He starts it up and drives off as a walker feasts on a pile of blood left by one of the bodies.

I’ll give the showrunners of The Walking Dead this: they know how to, for the most part, maintain tension and suspense.  My reservations and issues with the cliffhanger aside, because you can’t undo that, I found myself as tense as I was while watching “Last Day on Earth” back in April.  Most of the time.  These people know we want to have our expectations met and, if possible, surpassed.  Was that the case here?

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Well, yes and no, but I’ll get into that later.  Because the cliffhanger brought the momentum of “Last Day on Earth” to a screeching halt, this episode had to recapture all that momentum, build on it, and make the wait worthwhile.  I was hesitant going into this that the episode would just tease the death until the very last second.  If the show really wanted to troll us, the ending could have cut to Morgan and Carol arriving at the Kingdom.

Hey, it’s not like The Walking Dead is above dick moves.  But no, it didn’t do that.  It just stalled the same way I’m stalling in discussing how I felt about the episode as well as jumping all over the place.  So before getting into mixed territory, I do want to talk about what I enjoyed about this episode.

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To start, the acting.  Whether it’s the group crumbling as two of their own are killed or the hopelessness on Andrew Lincoln’s face as Rick finds himself defenseless against Negan, pleads to take his son’s place, or even trying to maintain some bravado in the face of death, the acting was stellar all around.

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And Lauren Cohan’s performance as Maggie in those final moments further sets her up to develop into the leader that we know she will become later.  And you gotta feel bad for Maggie.  She’s lost most of her family, and now her husband is gone as well.

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Next up, the brutality.  My word, the brutality.  You’ve got those hyperbolic folks who called the deaths disgusting or too much to bear, so I’m guessing people have forgotten what show they’ve been watching.  Or that, if they’ve ever watched something like Game of Thrones, this kind of violence and brutality should be nothing by comparison.

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Watching Negan brutally beat Abraham and Glenn to death in all its gory detail, with guts and all spilling out, it was vicious, and call me a sadist all you want, I was grinning as well as shaking.  Negan’s introduction isn’t meant to be toned down.  He’s got a bat wrapped in barbed wire.

On top of the cliffhanger, if The Walking Dead didn’t give us the brutal deaths, it would feel like a cheat.  It’d be like cutting to black before someone is shot in the head.  You feel robbed of the moment, more so after the episode had to regain its momentum.

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So yes, I am a proponent of the violent deaths.  Some call it torture, but this is a show where the dead eat the living, a young, psychotic girl like Lizzie can kill her sister without remorse and later be justifiably executed while her back is turned, and people like the Hunters prepare, cook, and eat other human beings.  So seeing someone’s head bashed in should be easy to handle.

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Maybe I’m just desensitized to the violence of this series- though the comic still knows how to shock me at times- but this solidified how much of a threat Negan is and the violent lengths he’ll go to in order to make his point.  So I doubt those turned off by this moment will quit the show or turn them off altogether.  Like those who were enraged about the cliffhanger, I’m certain that they’ll return, at least out of curiosity.

The Walking Dead #100- Glenn's still alive after being hit with Lucille

And in a refreshing change of pace, Glenn actually got his comic book death.  That’s a rarity for this show.  Lori, Abraham, Dale, Shane, and even the Governor, just to name a few, have been killed in ways different from their comic book counterparts.

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But here, from the close-up of Glenn’s bloodied face to the way Negan looms over him, it was literally Issue #100 brought to life.  Details like that, coupled with Negan’s dialogue throughout, leave the comic fan in me very satisfied, on top of the death itself being very gruesome.

As with the previous episode, much of this has to do with the group’s bravado.  They were certain that they could stop Negan and the Saviors in their tracks by attacking a base and killing them in their sleep.  These two deaths are, to me, a welcome change of pace and from a character perspective, I think it’s necessary to see them suffer a loss.  And comparably speaking, they’ve only lost two people to the number of Saviors killed.

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But seeing the group and Rick especially look so defeated is crucial.  Their overconfidence led to them underestimating Negan.  And this gives Rick proper motivation to spur the group into action and launch a counterattack.  Before, it was just Rick trying to stop Negan before he could do something.  Now, he and the rest have motivation to get revenge against their fallen friends.

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And I enjoyed Rick’s interaction with Negan, if just to see Negan establish how threatening he is while trying to be cordial with Rick.  All while still breaking him down and after he’s just killed two of his friends.  It was tense, funny at times, and again, it’s interesting to see Rick at such a demoralized state after he’s been confident for so long.  A far cry from the Rick Grimes that towered over Gareth and the Hunters before butchering them.

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That said, like “Last Day on Earth,” my issues with this episode have to do with the execution of the…well, executions.  Let’s start with picking Abraham.  I know that some people say they saw this coming based on Negan saying last season that the victim took it like a champ.  The theory turned out to be right, so good on them for figuring it out, and I will say that he wasn’t my pick.

In fact, based on conversations between him and Abraham, part of me thought that Eugene would have taken the hit. But then, the Saviors already roughed him up when they captured the camper, so maybe that took him out of the running.

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Had Abraham been the only victim, Negan still would have gotten his point across, and we aren’t given much time to process Abraham’s death.  Not just because there’s more to the scene, but because of Daryl’s interference, which led to the second death.

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And this is my problem: Glenn’s death, while comic-accurate, only seems to have happened because Daryl interfered.  In addition, Negan picking Glenn felt like an afterthought.  Not to mention it’s as if the show wanted to top the comic.  Negan only picked Glenn there, so how does the show surpass that?  Pick two for double the impact. But would Negan have done that had Daryl not tried to be the hero?  I don’t know.

But it rubbed me the wrong way that now it appears that Glenn’s death is not because Negan picked him at random, but because Daryl, unlike Rick, wanted to make a vain attempt to stop Negan.  That’s not necessary and it speaks to Negan’s restraint that he doesn’t have Dwight kill Daryl when he has the chance.

However, if we’re meant to grasp how much of a threat Negan is and how he has no mercy for the survivors, then he proved his point.  Glenn’s death felt like the emotional punch to the gut, but he’s the second to die.  We get more of the group’s reaction to him dying and there’s even a score in the background that plays against his demise.  Whereas with Abraham, it’s stark with no music.  We get the death as is and nothing more.

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So then why have both of these deaths place at the same time if the show is only focusing on one of them?  Sure, Glenn has been with us since the beginning and we know more about him than Abraham, but then why not have his death come first and then have Negan drive the point home by kicking the group when they’re doing and selecting a second person to die?  If the show was, without a doubt, going to have two deaths.

Last Day on Earth- Negan picks his victim, the cameraman

Or better yet, “Last Day on Earth” could have ended either with Abraham’s death or viewers seeing Negan pick him, rather than having the season end with a point of view shot.  Then, in-between Season 6 and 7, as we process who will die, assuming it will just be Abraham, the show throws a curveball by killing Glenn as well on the premiere, long after the multiple fakeouts where he ended up surviving.

The Walking Dead #100- Negan picks Glenn to die

See, here’s the the thing.  In the comic, Negan picking Glenn was a surprise because it did come out of nowhere.  Glenn hadn’t gone down the dark path that Rick walks and, as far as I know, no one predicted that he would get the bat.  After losing Abraham just a few issues before this, for an unassuming guy like Glenn to die was a major loss.

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But on the show, Glenn’s death comes due to Daryl’s actions, not because of Negan picking him at random.  And I don’t like that because, in a way, it kind of makes Daryl responsible for Glenn’s death.  Whether Daryl blames himself for what happened to Glenn remains to be seen, but I imagine it’s going to stick with him since he did prompt Negan to, as he said, shut that shit down, no exceptions.

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It didn’t help that the deaths kept cutting back and forth between Negan taking Rick with him to retrieve that damn axe.  We get that Rick is broken, but between going from the past to the present, not to mention those shots of Negan hitting everyone with the bat, broke up the flow a bit.

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Just have the two deaths play out in one long sequence.  Don’t make Rick have flashbacks or visions of everyone just to pad out the episode.  “Last Day on Earth” already didn’t need to be 90 minutes. This episode could have flowed better by having all of Rick and Negan’s moment take place at once after the deaths.

I don’t have a problem with nonlinear storytelling, but when this episode has to rebuild the momentum from Season 6, cutting from Rick and Negan to the murders was distracting at times.

And the dream sequence of everyone together at Alexandria was too heavy handed.  We know everything that’s going through the survivors’ minds just by Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan’s performances alone.  We don’t need a vision of what life for them could have been had things gone in a different direction for them.

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Oh, and it seems there are those who still felt that Rick would lose his right hand to Negan since the show’s version of the Governor didn’t follow through on the same actions as his comic counterpart.  But what works in the comics doesn’t translate to reality, and if Rick hasn’t lost his hand yet, I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

With all that said, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” is a good episode and return to The Walking Dead.  The pacing issues and decision of killing two victims keeps me from enjoying the episode as much as I would like, but the acting, brutality, and leaving the survivors in an absolute low state made for an enjoyable watch.  Who knows?  I may grow to love it on repeat viewings.

And now that Negan has made his demands, I am very anxious to see how the group progresses from here and how this tragedy pushes them to strike back.  What becomes of Daryl and will he blame himself for Glenn’s death?  Does Rick have a plan yet to fight back against Negan?  If it wasn’t for a few issues, this would be a fantastic start for the season.  But these issues are enough to make it more good instead of great.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 6, Episode 12: “Not Tomorrow Yet”

Time to bring the fight right to the Saviors’ doorstep as Rick and company decide to go on the offensive in a surprise attack on the still unseen Negan.  Another strong entry for the season with equal parts action and character moments, this is “Not Tomorrow Yet.”

Not Tomorrow Yet- Carol cooks up some cookies

The episode begins with Carol collecting items from the collection and still having time to kill walkers in-between gardening.  And she ruins her good white shirt in the process.  Anyway, Carol gets back to cooking and delivers treats to the residents, keeping up that nice lady routine.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Tobin tastes one of Carol's cookies

She soon visits Tobin and tells him that he deserves some beet and acorn cookies.  After tasting one, at Carol’s insistence, Tobin concludes that it may be the best beet and acorn cookie that he’s ever eaten, and he’s not fucking with Carol on that one.

When the others return, Rick tells Aaron and Sasha that Olivia needs to run an inventory check and he wants everyone to assemble in the church for a meeting in an hour.  A fight is coming.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Morgan speaks with Carol

Morgan approaches Carol, saying it’s been a few weeks since their confrontation.  He asks why she didn’t tell Rick about what happened, but Carol instructed Rosita, Tara, and Eugene to keep quiet.  She wants to move past it.  Morgan counters that Carol doesn’t need to carry around the guilt of not telling people.  Also, there’s a cookie at Sam Anderson’s grave.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Group meeting on attacking the Saviors

At the group meeting, Rick explains Maggie’s deal with the Hilltop and how Alexandria will receive supplies in exchange for Rick’s folks helping deal with the Saviors.  And they have to win not just for themselves, but for the people of the Hilltop.  However, this needs to be a group decision.

Rick opens the floor for objections and Morgan asks whether they can beat the Saviors.  Rick is confident that they can, based on what they have learned as a group.  Morgan says offer the Saviors a choice to talk, but Rick says that the Saviors won’t compromise.  More than that, he doesn’t want to give up an advantage, despite Morgan saying that there’s possibility with life.

While Morgan believes that no one is trapped, Rick knows that their enemies will always come back, so they should be stopped before they have a chance to kill.  Aaron is the next to speak up, saying that what happened in the community will not happen again.  So it’s settled.  No one shies from this decision.  Not everyone has to kill, but for those who don’t, they have to accept it.

That evening, Carol makes a note in her journal and totals the number killed to 18.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Maggie tells Glenn that she'll be coming on the mission

Maggie, meanwhile, tells Glenn that someone needs to keep watch on the perimeter.  She could do that, as it’d be safer, but she’ll be joining Rick and the others on this mission, as she made the deal with Gregory.  This part wasn’t her idea, but she acknowledges leading everyone into this.  She has to come.  That’s a bit of a stretch, Maggie, but sure.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Carol and Tobin smoke

Carol, lighting up a cigarette, chats with Tobin who is worried about tomorrow.  He’s not going, but knows that Carol is and how she’s able to do things that terrify him.  In his mind, her strength gives her the ability to do the scary stuff few would want.  That’s what a good mother does.  The two soon kiss.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Abraham leaves Rosita

Abraham breaks up with Rosita because he’s an idiot.  And even though dingleberries are brown, Rosita won’t let Abraham leave until he gives an answer.  His response?  He thought at first that Rosita was the last woman on Earth when he first met her, but she’s not.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Tara tells Denise that she loves her

Following this, we get a scene with Denise and Tara- who is obscured by a big ass plate because the writers and directors aren’t subtle about hiding Alana Masterson’s pregnancy. Whatever.  Anyway, Tara admits that she loves Denise and just wanted to say it.  Denise will say it once Tara returns.  Tara offers Denise a chance to come with, but as Denise is the only doctor, she has to stay.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Andy describes the layout of a Saviors compound

As best as he can, Andy describes the layout of the Saviors’ compound, but he’s unsure whether the facility has an armory.  It’s nothing but guesses, but the group has worked well with less, so the plan is a go for tonight.  That will be an issues since guards won’t be asleep, but if the Saviors want Gregory’s head, Rick will give it to them.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Gabriel makes a joke to Rick

Next day, the group hits the road, Jack, and begins scouring the land.  Even Gabriel is out to help and promises Rick that he won’t go anywhere.  Rick asks why Gabriel is still wearing a collar, and his answer is that it’s part of who he is.  Plus, it would be harder to be spotted in the dark.  Clock it: Father Gabriel just told a joke.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Rosita is still pissed at Morgan and tells Carol as much

But not everyone is in a jovial mood.  Rosita, still bitter, lets Carol know how pissed she is with Morgan trying to talk everyone out of this attack, as he might not know what the hell he’s talking about.  She’s damn insulted since he still saved that Wolf, but Carol defends Morgan, saying that he just doesn’t want to kill.  True as that is, Rosita says that killing just happens.  No shit.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Glenn and Heath talk about killing

In the woods, Glenn and Heath take care of walkers.  Easy as that is, both acknowledge that they’ve never had to kill people yet.  Glenn asks Heath if he’s ever seen something where, afterwards, he didn’t want to sleep because he could see it when he closed his eyes.  Both have seen such horrors and killing someone could be worse than that.  So yes, Glenn is nervous.  They get to work hacking away the walker.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Rick goes over the plan

Rick assembles the group and tells them go get a look of how many people are at the compound.  They’ll go in a couple of hours before dawn, when the guards will presumably be tired.  Jesus will be kept in the shadows to avoid detection.  Everyone will roll out at midnight.

However, Carol asks Rick why Maggie is on this mission.  He tells her that Maggie is guarding the perimeter of her own volition.  Though as many people as possible will be needed to converge on the armory, Carol elects to stay since Maggie a. shouldn’t be out here, and b. shouldn’t out here alone. made a choice to stay out here, but Carol doesn’t want her out there alone in the first place.

So the group has potential substitutes for Gregory’s head. The nose, as Jesus points out, has a different shape, so Rick punches it a few times.  Cover story is that Gregory broke Andy’s hand.  Though Andy is still afraid of the Saviors, he sees that they have nothing on Rick Grimes.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Andy shows Gregory's 'head' to two Saviors

That night, Andy arrives in a car and announces that the dark deed is done.  He steps out and reveals Gregory’s head to two Saviors who inspect it.  One of the Saviors agrees to then bring out the Hilltop resident.  Once he heads in, though, Daryl soon approaches and kills the other Savior as the rest of the group rushes inside.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Glenn and Heath find two sleeping Saviors

When the other Savior returns, Michonne kills him and the others enter the compound.  What starts now is a very dark ambush with Rick and the others murdering the Saviors in their sleep.  Glenn soon murders one of the others, though he doesn’t feel good about it.  He forces himself to kill the one man that Heath hesitated to murder.  They also notice several photos of bashed-in heads.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Tara asks Gabriel if he's still a priest

Outside, Tara asks Gabriel if he’s still a priest.  He is, despite being taught about guns and other weapons. Tara admits that she lied to Denise, who caught Tara thinking about something, so she said that she loved her.  What Tara didn’t reveal is that she’s done something like this current mission and didn’t like it.  That said, Tara still loves Denise, so she knows why she’s fighting.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Savior finds Sasha and Abraham

Back inside, Sasha and Abraham find a locked door.  A man walks out and engages the two in battle long enough to pull the alarm.  Carol and Maggie hear said alarm.  Though both can help, Carol insists that Maggie stay, saying that she’s supposed to be someone else.  At the compound, Tara wants the Hilltop folks back so the deal is still intact.  Andy and the other resident leave as Jesus heads in, confident that he won’t be spotted.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Heath and Glenn take fire

Inside, the group tear through as many henchmen as possible.  The shooting dies down after Glenn and Heath open fire from behind a locked door.  They open the door and find a pile of bodies.  One henchmen almost opens fire, but Jesus finishes him off.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Gabriel says a final prayer

Outside, Father Gabriel finds one henchman sprawled out on the ground.  The henchman says that Gabriel is just as dead as him.  Gabriel quotes John 14:1 before putting the man down.  Amen.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Morgan builds

Back in Alexandria, meanwhile, Morgan is hard at work.  At the compound, some of the group remains.  Heath especially is ready to leave.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Group realizes that they're being watched

Michonne just wonders which one of these men was Negan, if he was even there.  Suddenly, everyone spots a Savior rushing out of the compound on a motorcycle.  Rosita manages to shoot him off of the vehicle and Daryl begins to beat the hell out of the man, demanding to know where he got the motorcycle.

Though the man invites death, there will be no murder today, as someone announces via walkie-talkie that everyone should lower their weapons.  Why?  Because the voices on the radio want to talk and are in possession of Carol and Maggie.  Well, shit.

Another well-paced episode, but “Not Tomorrow Yet” was quite dark in its second half.  As Rick pointed out, the group has learned a lot, so rather than sit on their thumbs and wait, they’re bringing the attack to the enemy first.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Carol watches as Tobin tastes her cookies

But before getting there, let’s talk about Carol.  Melissa McBride is still excellent at portraying this cold hearted killer who hides hear darkness behind a façade of being a loving mother with a killer shot.  She’s still playing both roles, but her talks with Maggie, Tobin, and Morgan made me think.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Carol speaks in Morgan's defense

Carol has gone to some dark places and it’s affected her psyche.  She hasn’t allowed it to break her spirit, but like the Wolves’ attack on Alexandria and after killing Lizzie, she gives herself time to grieve.  Things like leaving a cookie at Sam’s grave and having fun talk with Tobin illustrate how protective she is of the people around her, but let her drop her defenses for a moment and be herself.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Carol's list

I found her list interesting, as it looks to be Carol’s way of keeping track of the people she’s killed.  Unlike Glenn, Carol acknowledges that you have to cross that line to protect the people close to you, even when that means killing humans.  But like Daryl said before, they ain’t ashes.  And all that fire burning within can’t consume them.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Carol tells Maggie that she should be someone else

What also struck me as noteworthy was Carol telling Maggie that she should be someone else.  She expresses concern multiple times over Maggie being on this mission instead of staying back at the Safe Zone.

Though Maggie can make her own decisions, even if this isn’t a particularly smart one, Carol doesn’t want Maggie to act like she’s a killer or be in the field when she’s not needed.  Now that Maggie is prepared to give birth, I get the feeling that Carol wants Maggie to focus on that instead of fighting.

But to my recollection, Maggie has never taken that sort of approach with Rick when it comes to Judith.  Different circumstances, yes: Maggie hasn’t given birth yet and Rick always makes sure to have someone take care of Judith.  Perhaps she’s feeling regret for not keeping a better watch of people in the group?  It’s an odd place for Carol to be in right now, but we can tell that she’s conflicted.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Morgan sees possibility in keeping the Saviors alive

In fact, the whole episode centered on conflicting approaches to this assault.  Morgan still believes that, despite the horrible things that come from leaving bad people alive, all life is precious.  Until forced to, he refuses to take a life, and even then, he still also feels remorse for what he’s done.

However, the main group has become hardened by what they’ve seen and don’t want to take any chances.  It’s a far cry from Dale’s warning back in Season Two about what the group would become if they murdered someone based on what they might do.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Rick argues with Morgan on how to deal with the Saviors

Here, Rick chooses to go on the offensive and while he has no problem killing someone while they sleep, it’s still a gruesome sight to watch him and others murder people in their sleep.  Safe to say that the Saviors are not good people, so their deaths aren’t exactly unwarranted from Rick’s point of view.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Glenn murders a sleeping Savior

That said, I like that we got to see how these actions affected the likes of Heath and Glenn, both of whom have never had to kill the living before.  It’s necessary to prevent further killings, but that doesn’t mean someone like Glenn or Heath have to like what they’re doing.  And there’s clear disgust on both of their faces to indicate this is a turning point for them.  At least Glenn went the extra route and prevented Heath from having to get his hands dirty.

But they still both opened fire on the Saviors while locked in that one room, so their hands aren’t completely clean.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Glenn and Heath open fire

The shootout itself was very tense and made me wonder what, if anything, would go wrong.  By episode’s end, Rick and pals managed to walk out of that facility unscathed.  Their point was to send a message and they did just that, but they’ve gotta know that they’re inviting trouble.

Negan is a threat, but Rick only knows about him based on what Jesus has said.  He still doesn’t have firsthand experience of what he can do, which, in my mind, makes his inevitable retaliation a big deal, even though we don’t know what will happen.

Confrontation is nothing new to these people, yes, but to murder people in their sleep to neutralize a threat is as stupid as it is smart because it gives Negan even more of an incentive to kill off someone from the group.

More immediate is the capture of Carol and Maggie.  I’m curious how it happened, but at the same time I welcome it because it proved that Rick’s plans aren’t foolproof.  Plus, they can’t just walk away now because two key members are held captive.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Abraham breaks it off with Rosita

Abraham has horrible timing.  I’ll say again, I don’t get why you would turn down a pretty young thing like Rosita, but at least he’s putting out there that he can’t see a future with himself and Rosita.

Not Tomorrow Yet- Tara reacts to Rick's declaration to kill the Saviors

While I’m not a major fan of Tara’s character, one thing I did like was her subtle reaction to Rick talking about killing the Saviors.  Tara worked with the Governor.  She knows what it’s like when a madman declares war on a group of people and wants to murder them in cold blood.  Now, Rick isn’t the Governor, but I like how Rick’s words conjured up this memory in Tara, showing that while she’s moved past that, she still can’t ignore her past mistake.

“Not Tomorrow Yet” was a fast, intense episode that put Rick’s group on the offensive as they brought the unexpected fight to the Saviors.  They dropped a lot of bodies, which is sure to displease Negan, but sent a message that they are willing to fight and defend their communities.  It had some equally good character moments and with this surprise attack, the show continues to ramp up my excitement for Negan’s debut.  Now to save Carol and Maggie, first.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 6, Episode 10: “The Next World”

Have you ever imagined The Walking Dead as a comedy?  Not in the same vein as the Bad Lip Reading interpretations, but an episode where there was genuine humor throughout without feeling contrived for the sake of getting a laugh.

“The Next World” could be the show’s funniest episode yet, but it’s not just a break for comedy.  It advances the plot with Rick and Daryl going on a supply run and meeting a brand new character on the way.  A character that proves craftier than expected.

The Next World- Michonne in a robe, Carl with an eyepatch

The episode begins with Rick, Carl, and Michonne getting ready for the day.  Carl, now sporting an eyepatch, is out of toothpaste for Michonne to borrow.  She asks if Rick can procure some spearmint and baking soda when he’s out on his run.  She should just make a list while she’s at it.

The Next World- Denise describes to Daryl what she needs on the run

Daryl also has a list and runs it by Denise, who just needs any available medical supplies and, if possible, back some pop.  Yes, because Denise is from Ohio, she says ‘pop.’  Though Denise isn’t a fan, Tara apparently talked about it in her sleep, and since she and Heath are going on a two-week run, some pop would be a nice surprise.  Denise and Tara appear to be a couple now.  So that’s a thing.

The Next World- Rick plays music and Daryl doesn't like it

Eugene then gives Daryl and Rick a list of agricultural supplies to help with the food situation.  Daryl and Rick then leave the Safe Zone to do everyone’s shopping.  On the road, Rick says that this is the day for them to catch up and maybe find more people.  He then inserts a CD, against Daryl’s wishes, as it draws walkers away from home.  Fair enough, but still a dick move.

Back at the Safe Zone, Michonne takes her spot atop the wall and keeps a look out when she spots Spencer heading into the woods.  She soon follows him.

The Next World- Maggie asks Enid where she's been

Maggie inquires where Enid has been as of recent.  Everyone has been working to get the place back together, but Enid just disappears.  Enid claims she didn’t go anywhere.  Maggie reminds Enid that she helped Glenn get home and saved her atop that guard post, so maybe there are better places she can be besides nowhere.  Like somewhere.

The Next World- Rick and Daryl find food and supplies

Back on the road, Rick and Daryl arrive at a small warehouse.  They open the door and find nothing inside, but when they check the truck inside, they do find the motherlode of food and supplies.  Well, law of averages.

The Next World- Paul Rovia, AKA Jesus, played by Tom Payne, runs into Rick and Daryl

Now riding in the truck, the two stop at a gas station.  The two attempt to turn over a vending machine, but it doesn’t budge.  They then chain it to the truck and manage to overturn it.  Given that it’s filled with soda and candy, it might not be worth the trouble.  However, the two are then ambushed by a man who makes no attempt to be stealthy.

The man explains that he was running from 10 or so roamers half a mile back.  He then asks Daryl and Rick the two if they have a camp, which they deny.  Okay.  The man introduces himself as Paul Rovia, played by Tom Payne, but his friends call him Jesus.  He advises them to be ready for the new world.

Rick prepares to ask the prerequisite questions, but Jesus runs off, warning the two to avoid the incoming walkers.  He and Daryl two plan to trail him and see if he’s really alone, but they’re distracted by gunshots that turn out to just be firecrackers.  Not only that, but Jesus swiped Rick’s keys and made off with the truck.  Well, shit.

The Next World- Michonne and Spencer in the woods

In the woods, Michonne takes Spencer’s job of killing the walker he wanted.  He wonders if she thought he couldn’t get it, but keep in mind that Michonne does have a sword.  Spencer explains that he walks after his shifts, but Michonne is the first one to notice.  As for the shovel, Spencer refuses to explain.  Michonne mentions that Deanna said she had to figure out what she wanted.  She hasn’t yet, but she’s working up to it.

The Next World- Enid's useless map

Elsewhere in the woods, Enid shows Carl a wet map that’s of little use now, so the two keep walking.  Enid figures the map is still useful and shows that they’re not alone.  So why are the two out there?  Well, because they’re kids, but Enid doesn’t seem as enthused as Carl.

The Next World- Daryl and Rick find the vending machine

Rick and Daryl continue their marathon to find the truck that wasn’t theirs, and they do manage to find the vending machine.  Daryl at least manages to snag a few cans of pop.  Rick says that, like Denise, there are still people they don’t know who may prove to be trustworthy, but not this Jesus guy.  Different circumstances, don’t you think, Rick?  Denise was already in Alexandria.  You just got there.

The Next World- Carl reads a comic book while Enid looks at a map

So what else do kids do?  They read comic books and eat snacks, as Enid and Carl do.  Well, Carl is reading a comic.  Enid is still trying to make something out of her map.  The two hear a noise that turns out to just be Spencer and Michonne on their separate walk.  Carl returns to his comic book while Enid says that she doesn’t want to come outside of the walls anymore.  The two then leave.

They spot a walker and Carl manages to get its attention.  While Enid tries to kill it, Carl urges her to go home, as she did say she didn’t want to be out there.  Carl knocks the walker down, but he does not kill it.  It’s worth noting that we don’t see the walker’s face at this moment.

The Next World- Jesus holds off Rick and Daryl

Rick and Daryl continue following the tire tracks and soon find Jesus working on the truck.  The two ambush him from the woods, but he puts up a hell of a fight.  However, the law of averages still means two is better than one, so the two eventually overpower him.  After Rick gets the keys, he ties Jesus up in loose knots.  Jesus claims to not be a bad guy and just wants to talk, but no dice.  The two pack up and drive off, leaving Jesus on the road.

The Next World- Jesus knocked off of the truck

So Rick again elects to play music, declaring this to be the day.  Rick, don’t tempt fate.  The two pull over and spot a barn, but upon hearing some noise, Daryl thinks that Jesus is on the roof.  Indeed, when Rick slams on the brakes, Jesus rolls off the truck and hits the ground.  He’s nimble, I’ll say that.

The Next World- Jesus prepares to shoot the walker behind Daryl

The two give chase, with Daryl hopping out of the truck to chase him on foot.  Rick is soon forced to leave the van and takes care of a few walkers.  Jesus attempts to swipe the van again, and even saves Daryl’s life when he kills a walker creeping up behind Daryl.  Noble, but he did it with Daryl’s gun, so Daryl punches him for that.

The Next World- Truck goes into the water

But bad news bears: the truck wheels backwards into the water, the door managing to clock Jesus on the head.  Rick doesn’t want to leave Jesus behind, as he did help Daryl.  It also doesn’t help that Jesus never pulled a weapon on Daryl.

The Next World- Spencer asks why Michonne is following him

Spencer asks why Michonne is still following him.  His family is dead and he doesn’t want to return to his home right now, but Michonne still has a life.  Before he can think of that, he needs to try to take care of something, first.  Michonne offers to help.  They soon spot Carl leading the walker he spotted earlier.

The Next World- Spencer and Michonne come across a reanimated Deanna

That’s when we finally see her: a reanimated Deanna, who somehow managed to get out of the Safe Zone, even though we saw everyone killing walkers left and right during “No Way Out,” but whatever.  Michonne holds Deanna tight while Spencer, after a long pause, puts his mother out of her misery.  He tells Michonen that this is why he was out in the woods.

The Next World- Spencer and Michonne lay Deanna to rest

Spencer finally lays his mother to rest.  She left him a note that said he still knew his way.  Spencer maintains that he never knew his way.  Michonne counters that he did since he loved his family and he still has a home.  Spencer, though, believes that his family is gone.

The Next World- Rick and Daryl bring Jesus back with them

Now in a new vehicle, Rick, Daryl, and a restrained Jesus head back to Alexandria.  Daryl says that he would have left Jesus, but Rick disagrees.  He’s finally listening to what everyone told him.

The Next World- Michonne wants to know why Carl didn't kill Deanna

That evening, Carl shows Judith some star constellations so she can find her way home if she ever gets lost.  Michonne soon joins and tells Carl that she saw what he did with Deanna.  He should have left or killed her and it was stupid for him to be out there when he didn’t have to be.

Carl disagrees, saying that Michonne wouldn’t have left her.  Plus, he’s adamant that he would not have killed Deanna.  In his eyes, it should have been someone who loved her.  Hell, Carl admits that he would have done the same for Michonne.  That’s true love.

Rick, Daryl, and Jesus arrive at the Alexandria Safe Zone.  Daryl says that he’s been thinking about what Rick said about not looking for people anymore.  He now agrees, but Rick has changed his tune and admits that he was wrong.  How often do you hear that from Rick Grimes?

The Next World- Rick and Daryl bring Jesus to the infirmary

They bring Jesus to the infirmary, though Daryl maintains that Jesus isn’t staying.  They leave him with a note and glass of water, with them electing to go out again on a run tomorrow.  Even when they acknowledge that going out today was a stupid idea.

The Next World- Michonne shows Judith to Rick on the monitor

Michonne shows Rick that Judith has been practicing rolling in her sleep.  Rick isn’t ready yet to talk about his crazy day.  He’d rather turn his brain off for a moment.  Same with Michonne, but at least she didn’t find a guy.  Rick then pulls out some spearmint that he swiped, since the toothpaste is at the bottom of a lake.  All on account of Michonne’s dental hygiene.

The Next World- Rick kisses Michonne and discovers his love for chocolate

The two then lock hands.  And since Jessie is gone, I suppose it makes sense for Rick to dip into the chocolate.

The Next World- Jesus wakes up Rick and Michonne to talk

Next morning, Jesus wakes up a nude Rick and Michonne to talk.  How rude.  Though it’s cool that Rick and Michonne sleep with their weapons right next to them.

It’s a testament to the writing quality of The Walking Dead that, coming off the residents battling a massive walker herd, we can have a light-hearted, even funny episode where the humor doesn’t feel forced.  And what’s more, this episode brings us up to speed with some characters while still expanding the world with the introduction of Jesus and the prospect of a larger world beyond Alexandria.

The Next World- Rick and Daryl robbed blind

But sticking with the humor, The Walking Dead is hardly known for its comedy.  What humor we get comes from the situations and not the show forcing comic relief.  And, in my opinion, the characters could do with a less stressful day like this one.  Well, with the exception of Spencer, but more on that later.

The Next World- Rick is finally listening to reason

It’s interesting to see Rick’s philosophy change as the series continues and more people are added to the community.  After Morgan joined, Rick told Daryl that he didn’t feel anyone needed to go out on runs to find people.  Now, having seen what the Alexandria residents can do, he’s more optimistic about finding the good in people.  Cautious, but optimistic.  I wager a big part of that has to do with Denise saving Carl’s life.

The Next World- Daryl is pessimistic about trusting people

Daryl, on the other hand, despite seeing the good in people, is more pessimistic about trusting strangers.  He’s already had his trusty crossbow swiped, but now Jesus comes along and makes both him and Rick look like idiots by getting the best of them more than once.  Though, at the end of the day, Jesus did save Daryl’s life by shooting the walker.

The Next World- Tom Payne as Jesus

If I can talk about Jesus for a moment, Tom Payne makes a very good impression in his debut.  Jesus is crafty and a sly talker, but he also backs it up with great physicality.  Rick and Daryl, whether together or on their own, can put up a hell of a fight, but Jesus makes quick work of them like they were nothing.  It’s an impressive debut and good way to show that Jesus can’t just be overpowered with ease.

The Next World- Jesus tied up

His intentions, as of now, are unknown.  Like Aaron, you want to keep up your guard with a stranger, but as Rick pointed out, Jesus didn’t have a weapon on him and he killed the walker that almost bit Daryl.  Granted, he did steal the truck and vending machine, so he’s a dick for that, but damn it if he wasn’t fun to watch.

The Next World- Jesus introduces himself to Rick and Daryl

Really, I find Jesus to be a breath of fresh air.  He’s funny, crafty, and can handle himself just fine.  His words about the new world indicate that there’s a larger group out there than Rick and others would have believed.

The Next World- Daryl and Rick are done with Jesus

Rick and Daryl’s day was a comedy of errors.  Whether it was Rick playing music in the car, the chase on the Benny Hill farm, Rick swerving the car so Jesus would swerve on Daryl, or Rick and Daryl shooting the walker after Jesus claimed they had no ammunition, their adventure was a nice, fun break from the more tense filled supply runs.  And of course they would agree to go on another run, despite their misadventures.

The Next World- Rick and Michonne talk about their day

At the end of the day, Rick at least got to come home to take a dip into the chocolate pool.  Rick and Michonne is an interesting decision.  Looking back, this has been building for some time.

Claimed- Rick and Michonne make plans

I think back to when Rick, Carl, and Michonne were on the road to Terminus.  Michonne formed a close bond with Carl that’s built over time as she talked about her past before the outbreak.  She’s already been his surrogate mother for some time and showed great concern for him after his injury during “All Out War.”

So, from a narrative perspective, I think the seeds had been set for the two to develop a relationship.  Like Rick’s current relationship with Andrea in the comics, Michonne is a longstanding character who has been there for Rick after he lost people close to him.  With Jessie out of the picture, I could see Rick gravitating to Michonne.

The Next World- Carl says he would kill Michonne if she turned

And what’s better, Carl shows just how much he cares for Michonne when he explains why he wouldn’t be the one to kill Deanna, but he would kill Michonne if she turned.  Amy, Sophia, Merle, and so on, there are many examples of characters we’ve watched be taken by walkers and reanimate.  To Carl, it’s a personal thing.  His own mother asked him to kill her, so I would bet that Lori’s final words have influenced him since then.

The Next World- Spencer feels that Michonne can't help him

That’s what Spencer has been trying to build himself up to face.  Like Nicholas, Spencer still strikes me as a bit of a coward.  He was the only one of the folks in the infirmary who didn’t want to go out and face the walkers.  But he’s had a strong, if not combative, relationship with his mother, and you can see on his face that he’s struggling with having to end her.

The Next World- Michonne follows Spencer

Both Spencer and Michonne are searching for a sense of purpose in light of Deanna’s plans for a larger community.  But while Michonne finds herself becoming more involved, Spencer is now adrift without a place that he can call home now that his family is gone.

The Next World- Enid wants to kill Deanna

Same goes for Enid, who appears to have lost the desire to go outside the walls.  Her conversations with Carl and Maggie are brief, but enough to indicate that she’s also going through a change.

The Next World- Denise doesn't like pop

The only other thing worth noting, since we don’t see many characters, is that Denise and Tara are an official thing now.  Again, that’s a thing, so I hope it gives Tara more of a personality.  I rag on Tara a lot, but it’s because I still feel the show hasn’t given her much to do.  The most noteworthy thing she’s done as of recent was give Rick the finger, which was still awesome.

“The Next World” was a chance for the characters to exhale after facing a large threat to their community.  Granted, the time skip jumps over things like Carl’s recovery or how Rick has dealt with losing Jessie.  However, the introduction of Jesus, the amount of genuine humor, the character relationship growth, and prospect of a larger world made this an enjoyable watch.