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 7: “Sing Me a Song”

So after that slight detour to check in on Heath and Tara, it’s time to return to some multiple plots and see just what happens when Carl pays Negan a surprise visit at the Sanctuary. The comic fan in me cannot wait for this one.  Welcome to “Sing Me a Song.”

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The episode begins with Michonne on the road as she again comes across the burned mattresses.  Doing her best impression of Omar from The Wire, she whistles “The Farmer and the Dell,” and soon puts down two approaching walkers.  Setting down the radio and her katana, she begins dragging one of the walkers away.

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Elsewhere, Rick and Aaron awaken just past 5:30.  Rick contemplates radioing into Michonne, but doesn’t.  As the two prepare to head out, they make a new discovery.

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On another part of the road, some Saviors talk of how something is still going, but it might be the end of them.  At least Negan is smart enough to not let that mess anywhere near them.  Fat Joey also apparently rigged the herdway.

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When the Saviors finally depart, they are unaware that Carl and Jesus are also on this truck.  While the drive continues, Jesus pours syrup onto the road in order to leave a trail, thinking that they’re close.  Jesus wants to bail and follow the rest of the way.  The trucks are slow enough, so he and Carl will be in the blind spot and can race behind the other cars.

However, only Jesus jumps out and is left on the road as Carl continues towards the Sanctuary.  As the truck approaches, Carl loads up one of the machine guns and overhears Negan’s voice.  One of the Saviors tells Negan that the redirect has been screwed up.  They’re on it now, but there’s still a mess.

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As the Saviors check the truck, Carl opens fire and manages to gun down a few of the Saviors.  He demands that the rest lower their weapons, saying that he only wants Negan. Negan indeed presents himself, calling Carl adorable, even though he scares the shit out of him.

Dwight tackles Carl and confiscates his knife, but Negan orders him to back off.  After all, it’s no way to treat a guest.  Negan is all ready to give Carl a tour of the place, and Carl eventually relents and takes Carl’s hand.  Negan tells Carl that, like Daryl, he’s lucky, as both of their lives and jobs would be tougher with just one hand or arm.

As Dwight takes Daryl instead, Negan laments that he’ll maybe have time to screw just one of his wives today.  As for what’s in store for Carl, two things: Carl can’t shatter the badass image that Negan has of him, so Carl can’t show any fear.  Second, Negan sure as shit isn’t about to ruin the surprise..

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Negan brings Carl inside the Sanctuary, where he greets a waiting crowd of Saviors.  He tells his followers that they have gone out into the world, fought the dead, and come back with some good shit.  That shit can be theirs if they work hard and play by the rules.  As such, everyone, regardless of points, gets fresh vegetables at dinner.  Negan tells Carl that this is a sign of respect, as the people are still kneeling.

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Back in Alexandria, Rosita and Eugene have the first of many arguments this episode, this one over whether to gather supplies for the Saviors or ways to fight back.  Spencer, though, believes the three should travel together, but Rosita says that she’s fine with Eugene.

Spencer can grovel to the Saviors all he wants, but he still believes this is all Rick’s fault. Even if Spencer can do better, Rosita isn’t so confident that he’s capable.  If Spencer wants to provide for the Saviors, he can, but he’ll do so alone.

You know, Spencer certainly has a way with women.  Those that don’t end up in harm’s way can’t get far enough away from him.

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Negan pops by his harem and tells Carl that the women won’t mind if he stares at their tits.  He shares a drink with Sherry and wants to know what happened with Amber and Mark, but Sherry says that’s none of Negan’s business.  Fair enough, but Negan wants to know if it’s true that Mark skipped out on redirect duty to be with Amber.  After all, there are rules for a reason and nothing matters if you’re dead.

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Sherry is with Negan because she gets that.  She admits that Amber made a mistake and wants Negan to go easy on her, but Negan reminds Sherry that he’s never hit any of the women.  True, but Sherry knows that there’s worse to Negan.  This tale is to be continued.

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Negan then goes to Amber, played by Autumn Dial, and tells her that he doesn’t want anyone in his harem that doesn’t want to be there.  If Amber wants to go back to Mark, she can, but what she can’t do is cheat on Negan.  There are other women who would love to take Amber’s place.  If Amber wants to return to Mark and her mother, Negan can put all three of them on the same job.

Though Negan accepts Amber’s apology, but Negan reminds Amber that she knows what’s coming next.  It’s all going to work out fine for Amber, though.  Negan then tells Sherry to go fetch Carson.  Negan knows that he’s an asshole, but Sherry still likes him anyway.

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Then Dwight and Daryl just as Negan is kissing Sherry.  Daryl, as the help, brings in a plate of food, which is sad to see, I will admit.  He demands to know why Carl is here, but that’s none of his business.  If Daryl isn’t careful, a toothpick will go through Carl’s good eye.  Negan then tells Dwight to fire up the furnace.  It’s time for a little déjà vu.

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Back on the road, Rick and Aaron approach a gate with only a day to find supplies.  They climb the gate, which warns approaching people that the only thing beyond the gate is trouble, and head off to find supplies.  You’d think that, based on Terminus, Rick would be more wary of areas with signs.

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Elsewhere, Spencer asks Gabriel if hating someone is a sin, and it’s not since it’s a thought.  Actions matter more in the end.  Spencer admits that he hates Rick.  He was a cop, but shouldn’t be in charge.  Deanna, though, served in Congress and brought out the good in people.  However, Rick did the same for Gabriel through his inspiration.  More than that, Rick, despite not being perfect, kept people together and alive.

And neither Deanna nor Reg’s deaths were Rick’s fault.  Before Spencer contemplates what would have happened if things went differently, Gabriel only looks towards the future. No point in speculating on ‘What ifs.’  But Spencer sees no future as long as Rick is in charge.  The only good thing that could happen is if Rick doesn’t make it back to Alexandria.  Gabriel then orders Spencer to stop the car.

He tells Spencer that what he’s saying doesn’t make him a sinner, but a tremendous shit.  For now.  It doesn’t have to be terminal, though.  Fuck yeah, Father Gabriel.  Anyway, Gabriel then gets out of the car and decides to walk back.  Spencer soon also exits the car and heads into the woods.  He soon finds a walker up in a tree with a compound bow nearby.

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Back at the Sanctuary, Negan brings Carl to his quarters and confirms that yes, all of those women are his wives.  After all, why settle for just one?  Negan wants to get to know Carl better, as he’s fascinated by this kid.  He figured a kid like Carl would mope around and cry about missing things like prom, but Carl instead went on a mission and killed two Saviors.  And Carl is smart enough to know that Negan won’t let this slide.

Negan then orders Carl to take off his bandage.  Carl refuses, but Negan reminds Carl that two of his men are dead.  This is punishment, and Carl probably doesn’t want to piss off Negan right now.

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Carl soon relents and removes his bandage, revealing the socket where his eye used to be.  It is indeed disgusting as shit, but Negan finds it glamorous, even if won’t get Carl a girlfriend anytime soon.  An impressed Negan wants to touch it, but Carl soon gets very upset by this.

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Negan pulls back and apologizes for hurting Carl’s feelings.  He was just fucking around.  Soon, there’s a knock at the door.  Fat Joseph returns Lucille to Negan, as he left her by the truck, which never happens.  Negan reclaims Lucille from Fat Joseph and asks if he treated Lucille kindly like a proper lady.

And that includes if he patted Lucille’s pussy like a lady, but Negan is just fucking with Fat Joseph.  After all, a baseball bat doesn’t have a pussy.  That’s just Anatomy 101.  This is what Rick should be teaching Carl.  Negan then asks Carl to sing him a song.  Carl can’t think of any, so Negan asks Carl what his parents used to sing or play for him.

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Eventually, Carl begins singing “You Are My Sunshine” while Negan takes random swings.  Negan loves it, as does Lucille- the one thing she loves more than bashing in brains.  When asked about his mother, Carl doesn’t answer, so Negan puts two and two together.  More than that, Carl admits that he was the one to put her down.  Negan then orders Carl to get up because the iron should be ready.

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Negan tells his Saviors that what’s about to happen is hard to watch.  He can’t ignore the rules and let it slide because, as the Saviors say, the rules keep us alive.  The Saviors provide security and bring civilization to the world, but they can’t do that without rules because the rules make it all work.  Negan knows that it’s not easy, but there’s always a cost.  Here, if you try to cut corners, then it’s the iron for you.

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Negan heads down and receives the red-hot iron from Dwight.  He apologizes in advance for what’s about to happen to Mark, played by Griffin Freeman, but it is what it is.  With that, he presses the iron to Mark’s face as Mark lets out a horrible scream.  When Negan removes the iron, Mark passes out from the extreme heat.  With the ritual done, Negan orders Daryl to clean up the mess and tells Dr. Carson to get to work.

But everything is cool.  Mark’s face should be a daily reminder to everyone that the rules matter.  Plus, Negan doesn’t want to do this again.  He then leaves with Carl in order to figure out what to do with him.

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In the woods, Spencer manages to secure a rope to the platform the walker is situated on and gets it loose enough for the compound bow to drop.  He retrieves it just as the walker drops, losing its arms in the process.  Spencer pick-pockets the walker and, among the items he finds, comes across a note.

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Eugene and Rosita arrive at the munitions factory, though Eugene has no desire to be here.  He refuses to help, even though he did initially agree to do so.  Since then, Eugene has considered other options and is wondering whether this option even makes sense.  He’s not trying to stop Rosita so much as slow her roll.  And Eugene is seeing clearly.  As Abraham said, the Saviors have numbers and a single bullet won’t do it.

Someone has to pay the price, and even if Rosita is willing, it’s still an uphill battle.  Rosita reminds Eugene that she owes both him and Abraham.  If there’s a price, she’ll pay it. She lashes out at Eugene, calling him a weak coward and saying that he’s only alive because people feel sorry for him.  So for once, he needs to do something useful and make her a goddamn bullet.

Rosita, you’re being a real cunt right now.

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We return to the Sanctuary where Dwight and Sherry again have a smoke.  Dwight tells Sherry not to beat herself up, as he figures that she sold out Mark and Amber.  Sherry says that isn’t what happened, but Dwight sees through her lie.

Sherry says that this deal with Negan was only meant to affect them, but Dwight believes that Sherry is just standing on someone else’s back.  The two could be spotted, but Dwight isn’t worried since they’re not doing anything.  Sherry agrees with that much.

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Negan still won’t let Carl wrap up his face because Negan isn’t done with him.  Carl demands to know why Negan hasn’t killed him, Rick, or Daryl yet.  Negan has plays for Daryl, saying that he’ll make a good soldier.  Rick is already gathering for Negan, but as for Carl, that remains to be seen.  It’s better and more fun for Negan to break him.  So Negan asks Carl what he should do with him, since he can’t release him.

He could do a number of terrible things, but Carl suggests that Negan jump out the window to save him the trouble of killing him.  If Negan was going to do anything, he would have done it.  Carl doesn’t even believe that Negan would kill him, and maybe Carl is right.  As Negan gathers Lucille, he tells Carl that they’re going for a ride.

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As the trucks leave the Sanctuary, Negan is unaware that Jesus is atop his truck.  Negan tells Daryl that he’s taking Carl home and orders Dwight to take Daryl back to his box.  Back to Easy Street it is.

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So while Daryl stews in his cell, he gets a key under his door and a note that tells him it’s time to go.

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On the road, a lone Savior happens upon a roadblock of corpses when she’s soon approached by Michonne, who orders her to lower her gun and knife.  She orders the woman to take her to Negan.

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And just where is Negan?  Well, he’s back in Alexandria with Carl as he pays Olivia a surprise visit.  He wants to speak with Rick, but he’s out scavenging and might not be back today, so Negan will wait.  Olivia tells Negan that Alexandria is low on supplies, particularly with food, but Negan takes one look at Olivia and figures can’t be the case for everyone.  This makes Olivia cry.  A dick comment, but it’s Negan, so I’ll allow it.

Negan apologizes for being rude and offers instead to fuck Olivia’s brains out if she agrees, and that gets Negan a slap in the face instead.  That just gets Negan 50 percent more into Olivia.  He orders Olivia to make him a drink.

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So Carl gives Negan the grand tour of the house as we get a montage.  He even gets to meet and picks up Judith.

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Rick and Aaron- you remember them, right?- happen upon a sign telling them about an armed person who has supplies and ammunition.  The only way for someone to have reached this point is that the person who wrote the sign must apparently be dead.  Indeed, Rick and Aaron find what looks a houseboat.

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Rosita thanks Eugene for her bullet and apologizes for what she said, though Eugene rejects it because he knows Rosita meant what she said.  As the two make their way back, they happen upon Spencer, who found a list of caches from a dead man with a plan.  However, Rick is going to do more than just hand this over to the Saviors..

Well, Spencer won’t have to wait long to deliver the goods, as he, Eugene, and Rosita find that Negan is already at Alexandria.

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In fact, Negan, Carl, and Judith sit on one of the porches and unwind.  Negan likes it so much that he’d like to stay, and knows that it’s probably stupid to leave Carl and Rick alive.  Maybe he should just bury kill and later bury them in the flower beds.  He says this while holding Judith, which is creepy as fuck.

Now I’m no professional or a doctor, Jim, but I’ll just come right out and say it: I fucking loved this episode.  The Walking Dead has been going through a tough period right now with the ratings.  Perhaps people are tired, maybe the bottle episodes have gotten on their nerves, maybe the entertainment factor has dried up for some.  I don’t know.

I’ll admit that the bottle episodes have been somewhat slower, but at the same time, they’ve allowed for some very good world building and character development.  Plus, when done well, like the excellent “Clear.”  I wouldn’t personally say any of the bottle episodes we’ve gotten have been as good as that, but I’ve enjoyed them nonetheless.  But I can understand some criticisms when people say they’d prefer multiple storylines.

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We sort of get that here, to a point, but I dug this episode not just for its fun factor, but as a fan of the comic book, this felt like a treat as we got to see a lot of comic moments come to life.  And we didn’t even spend the entire episode at the Sanctuary, so those wanting several plots to play out at once hopefully got what they wanted.

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As for me, having comic moments on screen was the real joy of this episode to me.  We got the iron ritual, we saw Negan’s harem, and Negan bonding with Carl.

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Actually, let’s start there, because some of the stuff with Carl was a bit weak.  I don’t blame the acting because I do think Chandler Riggs did a good job, but I have to wonder how these scenes would have played out if this Carl was as young as his comic counterpart was at this moment.

I sympathize with Carl because of the position he’s put himself into, but it didn’t feel as uncomfortable as it was originally because Carl, though a badass in both interpretations, was just a kid.  Here, he’s already been hardened through things like putting down his own mother.  If anything, I just wish that we had more scenes that allowed Carl to show his vulnerable side.

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Having said that, I’m not really complaining.  I like how Carl, despite crying in front of Negan, maintained his composure, not to maintain a front, but because he’s not intimidated by Negan.  Hell, he went as far as telling Negan to jump out of a window and questioned whether Negan would even follow through on killing him.  Carl is tempting fate, but I think he knows that Negan wouldn’t kill him at this moment if he hadn’t already.

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But as Negan indicated, it’s more fun to try and break him.  And given the shit that Carl saw this episode, I would agree.  Even though this is the second tour us viewers have had of the Sanctuary, there’s something different about seeing it with Carl as opposed to spending most of the time in Daryl’s cell.  Here, we saw more of the Saviors and their devotion to Negan.

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As he tells his followers, there are rules.  Break them and you get the iron, which was a pretty disturbing scene.  I had hoped that the show wouldn’t cut away when the iron made impact, but we did eventually see it, so I’m not angry.  It showed how strict a stickler is for the rules, but also the lengths he’ll go to make sure his disciples stay in line because, as he told them, he didn’t want to have to do this again.

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The strange thing is, as evil of a man that he is, we see that Negan has standards.  He reminds Sherry that he’s never hit any of his women.  He previously offered Dwight a chance to bed any woman as long as she said yes.  And he’s not forcing any of the women to stay with him, even though their lives are far better living with him than scavenging for points.

And we see his softer side not just with Carl, but in Alexandria.  He tried to apologize to Olivia after making fun of her weight, and though he got slapped for his troubles, we’ve seen how much Negan gets off on people fighting against him.

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Though I maintain that seeing him hold Judith while talking about how he would kill Rick and Carl is one of Negan’s creepier moments.  Hell, just seeing Negan hold Judith was still creepy as shit.  He’s like the demented dad who loves fucking with you, but there’s some small part of him that still cares about your feelings.

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Negan’s a guy you should hate, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance makes him as eccentric and likable as he is in the comic, even though you’re also rooting for his death at the same time as laughing with him.

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But enough about Negan, because I could talk about him all day.  There were plenty of other great character moments this episode.  I loved Gabriel calling out Spencer on his shit.  Not only was he right, but this shows how far Gabriel has come since his introduction and some of his time in Alexandria.  This is the same man who warned Deanna that Rick and his group are dangerous people.

Now, even though he’s maintaining his faith, he’s not afraid to call someone a tremendous shit.  He’s witnessed Rick’s ability as a leader and even though Rick has made some bad decisions, he’s also shown why he deserves to lead Alexandria.  Deanna was a good leader, sure, but she saw something in Rick, and Spencer should realize that.

But he still doesn’t acknowledge Rick’s leadership, so chances are he’s going to do or say something that could lead to disaster.  I say that not just as a fan of the comic book, but the fact that he thinks things would be better if Rick didn’t return to Alexandria shows that he’s plotting.

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Not sure what to make of what Michonne’s doing.  Like Sasha and Rosita, she wants her revenge against Negan and perhaps she’s heading right to him, but I assume this will play out more in the mid-season finale.  And at the same time, she’s being proactive in her mission, and she’s better at this than trying to be Alexandria’s resident sniper.

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As for Rick and Aaron, I wager they may come across some weapons and the two may grapple on whether to keep them for themselves or, as Spencer is doing, hand over their items to Negan.  It would be nice for them to have an extra stockpile of weapons on standby in case needed.  The area they found looked pretty isolated, so chances are they could even leave the arms there, take down the sign, and keep quiet about the spot.

There’s a lot I liked about this episode and I’m very anxious to see how this will all play out in the mid-season finale, especially with Negan back in Alexandria, but before wrapping up, I’ll just go through one negative I have.

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The one part of this episode that I wasn’t a fan of was Rosita, or rather, her attitude towards Eugene.  I get her rationale.  She wants her revenge not just for herself, but for Abraham as well, and she’s not going to let anything stop her, especially if it’s possible for Eugene to manufacture a bullet.  What I didn’t like was her calling Eugene a coward and saying that his survival is due to other people’s actions.

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Rosita is way out of line here.  Yes, Eugene isn’t as gung-ho as her, but ever since “No Way Out,” Eugene has stepped up and done a lot to help the survivors.  He bit Dwight right in the dick, giving Abraham the opening he needed to attack the Saviors, and in “Last Day on Earth,” he was the one who ended up taking the camper, even though he ended up getting his ass kicked by the Saviors.

My point is that this even though Eugene is no Abraham, he has made significant development and has proven that he’s a changed man.  And for Rosita to call him weak felt like a step backwards.  He’s just hesitant to taking on the Saviors, and that’s understandable.  He was there in the lineup right along with Rosita.  Who could blame him for not wanting to just jump into this bullet plan?

Otherwise, “Sing Me a Song” was a great episode that allowed us to spend significant time at the Sanctuary as Negan bonded and became great buddies with Carl.  As we head into the mid-season finale, there are a lot of pieces in place to make for hopefully a great episode: Jesus may be of help to Daryl at the Sanctuary, Michonne is on the warpath, and Negan has made another surprise visit to Alexandria.  No one is on Easy Street right now.

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.