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 #163: “Conquered”

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The Whisperer War arc is over.  But the long-lasting effects of the Whisperers and their massive herd are still being felt with the massive heard unleashed on the Alexandria Safe Zone residents.  Beta and the remaining Whisperers don’t even need to engage Rick and company right now.  The roamer herd will do the work for them.

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There’s no time to breathe or blink in this issue.  Right from the start, Rick and gang are mounting an offensive to stop this oncoming rush of the dead.  That by itself is an uphill task, and this herd eclipses what the residents had to deal with back in “No Way Out.” There, the numbers were huge, sure, the survivors could contain and gradually thin out the swarm of roamers.  Not so much here.

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So of course we’re gonna be concerned about anyone going out to try and take this threat head-on, but I love the fact that Andrea, Eugene, Dwight, Michonne, and Jesus- did I miss anyone?- are going to the herd to try and split it apart.

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It’s not a bad idea in theory, but in execution, even though it’s the best this group can offer right now.  And this squad does figure out early on that there’s almost no way to lead this many roamers away from Alexandria, especially when the herd is headed in a straight line.  It would take precious time that this group doesn’t have when the herd is already within striking distance of Alexandria.

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With that in mind, I like the idea of divide and conquer.  Every little bit lessens the impact the herd will have on the Safe Zone, and if anything, this lets Michonne and Jesus be the badasses we know them for as they get to work cutting down a few roamers at a time.

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It hacks away at the herd even further and gives this group an opportunity to eliminate some of the roamers instead of just leading them away.  I’m still concerned for this group, though.  Eugene was exhausted last time, but he tells Rick that he’s ready for this battle. And I’m hoping the energy Michonne and Jesus are exerting while cutting down roamers doesn’t inhibit their ability to escape.

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Now let’s get to the Safe Zone itself.  There’s some great tension and fantastic imagery here.  Between Cliff Rathburn, Stefano Gaudiano, Charlie Adlard, we get some good visuals of the herd pressing towards Alexandria.  It’s much more claustrophobic, I feel, than the herd in “No Way Out” just due the size and volume of the herd ready to break down the gates.

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But Alexandria has defenses to keep the roamers at bay, and while it’s good that Alexandria has spikes to impale roamers, I wish the residents here took a page from the Saviors.  Remember, roamers are kept in place in traps right outside the Sanctuary, and that particular scent of the dead keeps away other roamers.

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Enough about that, though.  Let’s talk about Negan and his rallying call.  Here’s a guy who has brought terror to the Alexandrian residents, but now, after proving to Rick that he wants to change and going as far as killing Alpha, there’s no fucking way Negan will sit out a battle.  I wager they would have rallied behind Rick and stabbed the walkers anyway, but Negan gave them that extra push.

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And the look on Rick’s face right he implores the residents to “Listen to the man” is beautiful.  Thinking back on what these two have been through and done to each other, it’s a new development for them.  Even if Rick hates Negan for what he’s done, he did go to Negan for advice on convincing the residents to crush the Whisperers, and Negan had many opportunities to screw over Rick and leave, but he hasn’t.

Perhaps he’s changed.  Maybe he could turn over a new leaf.  As much as we want to hate Negan for what he’s done, the man has shown that he has a calmer side, as we saw with how he treats his wives, apologizing to Carl after making him cry, or how he bonded with Alpha…before he killed her, anyway.  Point is, in this one moment, Negan, not Rick is the one who led the charge.  And rather than shirk away, the people listened.

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Obviously it wasn’t enough, but it was one of two things I didn’t think I’d see from Negan. The second came from Negan rescuing Rick.  Again, he saved Rick.  This is the same guy who is responsible for breaking Rick’s leg in the first place and now he’s goddamn saving his life.  That is just great.  And I love how in-character it is, as Negan still says “You’re a hard fucking man to please, Rick Grimes.”

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And watching this all from the outside are the Saviors, who are still in wait to pick up the pieces once the herd is done with Alexandria.  What I wonder is how long the Saviors will keep up this stand.  I’m sure Sherry is a competent leader, but she’s not Negan.  And do the Saviors want to risk losing more of their numbers by escalating another battle between them and the other communities?

That’s not to say the Saviors, like the remaining Whisperers, couldn’t just slip into the background and reappear at an inconvenient time for the survivors.  Hell, the reason the Saviors aren’t striking out at Rick now is because they’re letting the Whisperers wear him down.  Whether they’ll have a similar impact to when they were led by Negan, we shall see.

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“Conquered” was a good read and over pretty quickly, now that I think about it.  But it was a fun one nonetheless and with the herd breaking into Alexandria, Rick’s group is now separated from Andrea’s as they continue to combat the sea of roamers.  Negan stepping up and not just helping, but saving Negan’s life was a surprise, but after all he’s done to prove he’s changed, it felt earned.

And now, these two enemies have no choice but to join together and deal with a mutual threat.  Complimented by some great artwork, issue #163 was an enjoyable issue.  And hey, for only 25 cents this time around, you can’t go wrong with this one.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 5: “Go Getters”

Right, so last time we were at the Hilltop, Rick killed one of the members and acted like he hadn’t done a damn thing.  Well, things have changed now.  As Maggie and Sasha have finally arrived at the Hilltop, the two become more direct in their confrontations with Gregory and their plan to strike back at Negan.  But not before an unexpected visit from the Saviors.  This is “Go Getters.”

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The episode begins with Maggie awakening at the Hilltop.  Carson informs Maggie of her condition, detached placenta and such, and trauma she endured, but despite that, she didn’t lose the baby.  Carson advises her to take it easy for a few days so she can recuperate.  Maggie asks Carson to repeat everything he said.  God, Maggie, start listening.

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She’s soon released and reunites with Sasha, who takes her to the grave sites of both Abraham and Glenn.  Sasha hands Maggie the pocket watch that was in Glenn’s pocket.  Maggie then rests her father’s watch where her husband now rests.  Sasha feels that everything is wrong now, but to Maggie, not everything has gone to shit.  Given Carson’s instructions, Sasha insists that the two of them stay.

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Jesus approaches and places flowers on the graves.  Blue flowers apparently inspire strength, and green mean release.  Gregory joins the two and asks whether the rest of their group eliminated Negan, but it was just the folks at the outpost.  He wants Sasha and Maggie gone and isn’t going by Carson’s instructions.  Also, Gregory informs Sasha and Maggie that the dead at the Hilltop are burned, not buried.  Keep that in mind.

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Gregory tells Jesus that he’s recuperating just like anyone else is.  Stab wounds can make you do that.  Maggie promised that her group could take care of the Saviors, but the Hilltop is still at risk.  If the outpost was attacked, Negan may think it was Gregory’s idea.

But if Maggie and Sasha leave, then Gregory has plausible deniability.  He concedes that the two can stay the night and leave in the morning.  And though Jesus wants to talk about this later, Gregory won’t have that.  So it’s settled, but not to Sasha.  And Maggie’s pregnancy isn’t Gregory’s problem- it’s Maggie’s problem.  Well, shit.

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Over at the Alexandria Safe Zone, Rick wants Carl to come with him on a supply run for the Saviors, but Carl still doesn’t like this arrangement.  He’ll stay behind to take care of Judith.  As Aaron heads downstairs, Rick gives Michonne a walkie-talkie and tells her that he’s headed north.  The two have a goodbye kiss before Rick departs.

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Carl later asks why Michonne didn’t join Rick, but she has to figure out how the community can do this, if possible.  Carl doesn’t see a way and thinks that his father is wrong about this deal.  Even still, Michonne doesn’t know.  She cautions Carl to change his bandage and be nice to Olivia.  What the hell did Carl do to Olivia?

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He heads outside and finds Enid preparing to scale the walls again, as she’s planning to see Maggie at the Hilltop.  Enid assures Carl that she will be fine, and has better aim than Carl.  Enid, don’t be a dick.

Carl tells Enid that he won’t be saving her anymore.  He claims that he did as much in the armory.  Plus, not sorry about what he had to see on the road, either.  Enid then heads over the wall.

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Jesus helps Sasha set up in her room, but she wants him to get Gregory to change his mind.  She asks Jesus why he isn’t in charge, but he doesn’t see himself as a leader.  The people need Jesus there.  If it was just Gregory, things would be worse.  Sasha offers to scavenge for the Hilltop as long as Jesus can keep Maggie safe.

Jesus doesn’t want that, though, so Sasha asks what he wants the Hilltop to be.  Jesus responds that he just tries to help, so Sasha says that he may need to start doing more. He then pulls out Abraham’s necklace that he dropped in the dirt during in “Knots Untie.”  You remember that fight, right?

He gives it to Sasha just as Maggie arrives and tells Jesus that she won’t be around much longer.  Jesus promises that he’ll do what he can to help.  When Maggie asks Jesus why the dead are burned, Jesus says that it’s just to keep going.  Their memories remain in the people who are still alive.

Sasha suggests that the two of them stay.  After all, Gregory is an idiot and coward.  True as that is, Maggie suggests that they sleep it over so their minds will be clearer in the morning.

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So Enid finds a bike and spots a walker approaching her.  It’s soon decimated by an approaching car that quickly crashes into a post.  The driver backs up and slams the walker into a wall.  Turns out that it’s Carl, who tells Enid that he likes to drive.  I don’t see how.  He’s a worse driver than Lori.

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That evening, Maggie and Sasha hear whistles, music playing, and spot fires across the Hilltop.  With the windows locked, Sasha slips out on top of the trailer just in time to spot walkers streaming into the Hilltop.  Maggie alerts Jesus that Sasha needs backup, as well as tells two Hilltop residents to close the gates.  Sasha approaches the source of the music: a locked car.

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Then, the badass she is, Maggie enters the battle with a tractor that she uses to mow down walkers because that’s how Maggie rolls.  While Jesus and Maggie continue taking care of walkers, Maggie backs the tractor over the car and stops the music.

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The next day, Carl and Enid, now on foot, talk about killing for the ones they love.  Carl counters that it’s not for them and he apologizes for locking her in the armory.  Enid is still concerned about Maggie.

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Jesus tells Gregory that he won’t turn away Maggie and Sasha, but Gregory maintains that he’s in charge.  However, if Jesus says the word, he can have the Hilltop and all the shit that’s happened with the Saviors.  Then Sasha and Maggie enter just as Gregory informs the two that they can leave and take Jesus with them.

Sasha offers to leave, but Maggie stays in exchange for what happened last night.  She asks Gregory what can be done to make this right.  For that to work, Gregory wants to meet one-on-one with Sasha, and Maggie gets the wrong impression about that.

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The conversation is interrupted by the sound of a truck arriving.  While Jesus puts Maggie and Sasha into hiding, Gregory watches as Simon leads a large group of Saviors into the Hilltop as they converge on the mansion.

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Back on the road, Carl finds a backpack that actually contains two pairs of roller skates that miraculously fit both him and Enid.  Now what are fucking odds of that?  The two join hands and skate down the road like something out of a 1980s movie.

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The Saviors enter the mansion with Simon surveying the place.  He tells Gregory that the two of them need to talk in his study.  See, Simon wants to see Gregory’s painting.  He then brings up that the Saviors that Gregory used to deal with have been removed from play, hence the need to talk.

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In the study, Simon does indeed admire the painting.  Gregory received last night’s message loud and clear, assuming that the Saviors were just showing who is in charge.  Simon, though, is transfixed on the painting, seeing it as management by example.  Simon figures that people in the Hilltop probably forget what the corpses look and smell like.  He offered to kill the walkers, but Gregory already cleaned up the mess.  Simon likes that.

But Gregory says that the Hilltop picked up skills from the Saviors.  He’s a team player, which is why the people chose him.  But Simon brings up the other people who apparently got spoiled dealing with Gregory.  Gregory is surprised to learn that these other Saviors are, in fact, extremely dead.  And the people who killed them work for the Saviors now.  They’re real go-getters.  Roll credits.

Gregory wants Simon to tell Negan that he understands the benefits in crossing the aisle, but Simon sees no reason for that.  Right now, Simon is Gregory’s Negan.  It means a lot that Gregory sees what the Saviors can offer.  It’s why he’s still alive and others aren’t.  Simon asks if there’s anything else he should be aware of, and Gregory eventually says that there is.

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So he takes Simon to a closet to reveal…alcohol.  Unfortunately, Simon hates scotch- it tastes like ashtrays and window cleaner to him.  How he knows what those taste like, I don’t know.  Anyway, Simon is a gin man.  Negan will love it, though, and Simon will say that it’s from him, so he takes the whole damn box of booze.

Simon thanks Gregory for the gesture, and he then tells the Saviors to go through and only take half of what’s needed.  Also, Simon is taking the painting.

Then Simon has one last task for Gregory: he wants him to kneel.  And Gregory does just that.  Simon gets down to his level and tells Gregory to remember his solid kneel for next time.  As the Saviors get to work, Jesus stares down the Hilltop leader with disgust.

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Back to Carl and Enid, it turns out that the two have made it to the Hilltop in record time.  Carl wants Enid to come with her since, hell, they both want to kill the Saviors.  It would be for them, but Enid says that it wouldn’t be for Abraham, Maggie, or Glenn.  Carl is doing this for himself.  However Carl does it would still matter to Enid.  Enid begs Carl to return with her, but he refuses.  And she knows that she can’t stop him.

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Gregory is livid that Maggie and Sasha were hidden in his closet, not the hallway closet. He maintains that the Saviors attempting to kill him was a misunderstanding.  At last, Jesus puts his foot down: Sasha and Maggie are staying.

Jesus won’t be in charge, it’s just that Gregory won’t be.  That or the public can learn of the deal with Alexandria and Gregory’s plausible deniability.  Jesus, Maggie, and Sasha are staying so they can be one big, happy, and dysfunctional family.  Gregory says that he will keep things going.

If the Hilltop plays nice, the Saviors will play nice.  And that’s when Maggie slugs Gregory before taking Hershel’s watch, which he took because he felt a fine watch didn’t need to be outdoors and left in the rain.  Going forward, though, Maggie wants to be called by her proper name: Maggie Rhee.

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Later, Jesus tells the two that when he arrived at the Hilltop, Gregory was already in charge.  He didn’t like how Gregory operated, but couldn’t imagine anyone else in his place.  Now, he can.  Who?  Well, more on that later.  He apologizes for not talking to Maggie sooner and promises to make it up to her.  Also, the gates are finally closed.  Sasha tells Jesus that if he wants to make it up to her, find out where Negan lives.

With one of the trucks going back to Negan’s stronghold, Jesus may be able to do that.  Sasha asks if Jesus can keep this between them, and neither she nor Jesus like the sound of that.

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Maggie goes out and finds Enid at the gravesite, which now includes some green balloons.  Okay, did Enid scale the Hilltop walls or just walk right through the gates?

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Whatever.  Anyway, Maggie tells Enid that she couldn’t stand by and watch walkers invade the Hilltop.  It wasn’t hard or her first time.  She ran over this guy’s Camaro- Maggie is a dick to Camaros.  Then Sasha enters the trailer and learns that Enid came, alone, to help.  She asks about the balloons, but ultimately sees nothing wrong with them.  Plus, there was nothing marking the graves.  Maggie then gives Hershel’s watch to Enid.

After all, she doesn’t need anything to remember him by because they have each other.  Maggie then prays over the dinner, even though Jesus isn’t in their presence.  How rude.

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Meanwhile, the Saviors load up and leave the Hilltop, unaware that they have new travel companions in both Jesus and Carl.

Well, we were bound to end up here sooner or later.  While we’ve dealt with Alexandria, the Sanctuary, and the Kingdom in previous episodes, “Go Getters” lets us catch up with Maggie and Sasha in the aftermath of Negan killing Abraham and Glenn.  It’s not a complete bottle episode, mind you, as we do cut to the Alexandria Safe Zone for a bit, in addition to Carl and Enid’s adventures on the road.

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But for the most part, this was our chance to see how Maggie and Sasha have been, and I love every second of it.  Unlike Rick trying to make the most of Negan’s terms for now, right from the gate, we see that Sasha and Maggie are ready to fight.  Their bond, strengthened by the people they’ve lost, has elevated them to start calling the shots at the Hilltop.

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Yes, Maggie was the one who brokered the deal with Gregory, and in addition to Rick saying that his group has never had trouble with confrontation, she’s seen the consequences of her confidence.  But even with that and her pregnancy problems, Maggie is not going to sit on the sidelines and be a bystander.

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In addition to taking Glenn’s name, Maggie is rising as a leader at the Hilltop.  When the colony comes under attack, she springs into action and gives orders to the Hilltop members, who were just watching the walkers, to defend the community.  Despite her condition, she gets into a fucking tractor and crushes both walkers and the car to get rid of the sound.  Regardless of being hindered, Maggie still has a voice.

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And it helps that she and Sasha push Jesus to step up and become more outspoken. Even if Jesus does believe that he can’t be a leader, he’s vital support.  He can hold his own in a fight, we’ve seen how nimble he is, and he sees Gregory for the coward that he is.  I sort of see Jesus as a person who could lead, but might not want that responsibility.  As an adviser, maybe, but he has no desire to be in charge.

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But that’s not good enough for Sasha and Maggie because they’ve seen what he brings to the table as far as support.  So it’s great that the three of them have banded together to bring about a change at the Hilltop.

This extends to their plan of gathering information about Negan.  While Rick is trying to avoid pushing Negan’s buttons again for now, Sasha and Maggie are already brewing for war and have taken the first step towards that by asking Jesus to find out where Negan lives.  Even though Rick doesn’t want anyone else to die, Maggie and Sasha are being more proactive by learning whatever they can about Negan.

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They’re willing to fight back against him, unlike Gregory, who would rather keep his head in the sand to save his own ass.  I love how Xander Berkeley is handling Gregory, as he’s ripped right from the comics and brought to the life in a great way.  He’s mean, slimy, and doesn’t seem to have an ounce of integrity- proven when he tries to sell out Maggie and Sasha or when he takes the pocket watch.

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He kneels to the Saviors because he’s unwilling to fight.  He would prefer to stay fed and protected as long as he doesn’t piss off his oppressors, even though that paints him as a weakling.  He blames the Hilltop’s problems on Rick, Maggie, and their negotiation, as he refuses to take responsibility and lead the community.

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And I get the sense that he’s not interested in paying respect to the dead.  In addition to taking Hershel’s watch, he doesn’t dwell on the memories of those lost.  He prefers to burn them and move on rather than honor them with a proper burial.  Now this is a callback that I love.

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Remember back in Season One when Glenn told Daryl and Morales that they don’t burn their friends and comrades, but bury them instead?  This really shows the disconnect between the survivors we know versus Gregory.  Back then, they chose to honor the people they knew by giving them the burial that they deserved. Sure, Maggie wasn’t around back then, but I imagine she feels similar.

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But not Gregory.  He’s the opposite and would sooner burn the dead members of his community and deal with the next obstacle instead of giving the Hilltop a way to remember their fallen.

Not that there’s any sort of mandate on how to dispose of the dead, mind you, and Jesus does tell Maggie and Sasha that the living will preserve the memories of the dead. That’s acceptable, sure, but a burial still helps honor them as well.  And with Maggie passing Hershel’s watch to Enid, she acknowledges that she doesn’t need anything to remember Glenn by because she has friends who will no doubt remember him.

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As far as the Saviors go, I’m curious how much, if at all, the group as a whole know about the Hilltop’s involvement or the arrangement with Rick to deliver Gregory’s head to the outpost Saviors.  I say ‘as a whole’ because based on what Simon says, it seems like the Hilltop only dealt with the Saviors at said outpost.  With them dead and Simon taking charge, I will be very interested to see if the remaining Saviors know of the deal.

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And this is another casting I’m loving, by the way.  Steven Ogg is great as Simon.  In addition to being charismatic in the role, Ogg still manages to make Simon come off as intimidating.  Despite how cheerful and funny Simon can be, he’s just as scary, as we see in his exchanges with Gregory.

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The one part of this episode I wasn’t a big fan of was the subplot involving Carl and Enid. Perhaps it’s the writing or some of the chemistry between Chandler Riggs and Katelyn Nacon, but some of the interactions between Carl and Enid felt…odd and awkward.  I suppose that’s the point since they’re still kids, and it’s nice to see the two bond, but you could have trimmed some of this down.

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And you know, a big part of that has to do with the skating sequence.  Seriously, the stars aligned in their fucking favor that they found not one, but two pairs of skates that fit them no problem.  That’s not convenient- that’s just dumb.

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Adding to that, they find the Hilltop in no time without any issues.  They didn’t even have to skate away from walkers.  Carl didn’t go to the Hilltop in “Knots Untie” and I’m guessing that Enid has never been there, yet the two arrive there before the episode even ends. I suppose the roller skates were outfitted with rockets.

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Wait…

But that’s my only real gripe with the episode.  Otherwise, I loved it.  Great acting and character development, a well done action sequence at the Hilltop that allowed Jesus to kick ass and Maggie to show how time on a farm will make you handy with a tractor when dealing with walkers.

At the same time, “Go Getters” also allowed for smaller, more intimate moments, such as Rick and Michonne’s farewell and the reunion between Enid, Sasha, and Maggie.  Lauren Cohan continues to do a great job as Maggie and I’m happy that we’re watching Maggie rise in leadership at the Hilltop.

Going forward, though, we’re getting a clear divide between our protagonists.  Rick is playing a long term game with Negan, but Maggie and Sasha are ready to take the fight to him.  With both Jesus and Carl headed to the Sanctuary to gather information- or in Carl’s case, to kill- Negan is in for a surprise.

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.

the-day-will-come-when-you-wont-be-abraham-after-the-first-hit

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 Finale: “Last Day on Earth”

So the sixth season of The Walking Dead comes to a conclusion as Rick and company head to the Hilltop to get help for Maggie, but also contend with the Saviors.  However, while they’ve never had a confrontation, Negan’s official introduction puts a halt to their plans.  It also puts a major halt on any momentum you might have had as the season finale builds to a high point before ending on a disappointing conclusion.

Last Day on Earth- Morgan finds a horse

The episode begins with Morgan traversing the woods in his search for Carol.  He finds a sign that reads ‘You Are Alive’ and, near that sign, a horse that’s practically waiting for him.  Morgan tells the horse that it’s alive.  At the same time, we spot the Savior from last time, still walking with Carol’s rosary.  He continues following footprints that lead into the grassy fields.

Last Day on Earth- Carl and Enid talk

Meanwhile, Carl loads up, telling Enid to stay back and protect the Safe Zone.  Enid wants to go to the Hilltop, but Carl tells her that the Saviors are dangerous, based on what they’ve done to the others.  He won’t let that happen to Enid.  She asks if Carl wants to run into the Saviors.  Carl eventually tells Enid to grab some pistols from the closet.  And that’s when he locks her in the closet.

Enid asks Carl what happens if he doesn’t come back.  Carl tells her to just survive somehow.

Last Day on Earth- Rick and gang about to leave Alexandria

Rick, Abraham, Sasha, and Eugene load up the RV to head out and take on the Saviors.  Rick tries to talk Eugene out of it, but he’s not staying.  Rick doesn’t want Aaron to join, but Aaron is adamant.  He’s even willing to take multiple punches in the face.  Gabriel informs Rick that there are 24 hour watches to protect the Safe Zone while others are away.  If there’s an emergency, Gabriel’s first priority will be Judith.

Then Gabriel asks if Rick is comfortable leaving him in charge.  To that, Rick answers yes.  Spencer tells Rick that if the Saviors show up, if it’s not too late, try and make a deal.  Rick tells them to wait because he may have a deal of his own.

Last Day on Earth- Steven Ogg and a group of Saviors find a survivor

Back in the woods, a group of Saviors catch up to the running man. They explain that they made an example of the man’s friends and it could have stopped there, but the people didn’t stop.  They wanted to fight, so this is how it has to be.  The men beat the hell out of the downed man.

Last Day on Earth- Morgan finds Carol

Morgan and his new travel companion stop at a building, where they find Carol resting.  She didn’t want him to come, but since this is Morgan, he was never going to listen.  He inspects her wound- she’s bleeding badly.

Last Day on Earth- Steven Ogg and Saviors wait on the road

The Saviors, meanwhile, drag the runaway man to the road.  The presumed leader of the group, played by Steven Ogg, is ready to make an example of this man.

Last Day on Earth- Rick speaks to Maggie while on the RV

Elsewhere on the road, Rick and company travel in the RV.  Rick checks on Maggie and tells her that they’ll get to the Hilltop to make things better for her.  Maggie asks how he knows, but Rick tells her that everything they’ve done was by acting as a group.  They’re still here.  Things have happened because it’s worked out when it’s all of them.  When they work together, they can do anything.  Oh Rick, you have no idea.

Last Day on Earth- Morgan patches up Carol

Morgan patches up Carol, but she still needs stitches and antibiotics to make sure she doesn’t get an infection.  It will get dark in a few hours, so Morgan plans to survey the land and make sure it’s safe.  At dawn, they’ll head out to get help.

Last Day on Earth- RV group runs into a small pack of Saviors

The RV then stops when it runs into the blockade of Saviors on the road.  They walk out as Rick explains that the groups can make a deal.  Steven Ogg agrees, in exchange for everything, but one of the survivors has to die.  Rick tells them that the deal won’t work.  In fact, he was going to ask for their stuff, but he won’t have to kill any more Saviors.

One of the Saviors walks forward and sprays the downed man.  The Saviors reiterate that they don’t negotiate.  Rick and his folks fall back, but he asks the Saviors if they want to make today their last day on earth.  That’s a good thing to bring up.  Think about it: what if it’s the last day on Earth for Rick or someone he loves?  Rick should be nice to his people because anything could happen.  Be kind to each other.

Rick advises the Saviors to do the same.  The RV backs up for the moment.

Last Day on Earth- Eugene comes up with an alternate route

After a brief glimpse at obscure light, we return to the RV group.  Carl watches a walker approaching in the distance and asks Aaron why he didn’t stay in Alexandria.  Aaron owes Maggie.  Carl says that he’s out here because he owes them.  Eugene goes over the map for a visible route.  Shelton would work, even though it’s a longer trip.

Last Day on Earth- Carol wants Morgan to leave her

Morgan tells Carol that Rick also came looking for her- damn near everyone did.  He assures her that they’ll be back by the time they are.  Carol doesn’t see herself returning just like that.  She knows people care about her, and she cares, but that’s why she can’t be there.  Morgan counters that she has to, but Carol says that, after everything that’s happened, there are people that she’ll kill for.

But if you can’t or won’t kill, then you have to get away from them.  You can’t have both, and Morgan of all people should know that.  Morgan still believes that everything in life is worth a damn and won’t just let Carol die, but she tells him that it’s not his decision.  She then points a gun and pleads for him to leave.  If he cares about anyone, there is a price to pay.  Carol can’t do that anymore.

Last Day on Earth- RV group runs into another group of Saviors

Back on the road, Abraham asks Sasha if they can do something as big as what Glenn and Maggie did, because to him, that’s living.  Abraham believes that now he can.  Just so Sasha knows.  With a call of bitch-nuts, the RV runs into yet another group of Saviors.  Carl wants to end this right now, but Rick disagrees.  He can tell that the Saviors have been waiting.  The Saviors fire into the air as the RV heads in the opposite direction.

Last Day on Earth- Morgan cuts down a hanged walker

So Morgan heads out and finds a walker strung up in a nearby tower.  Though the walker is of no immediate threat, Morgan climbs the tower, stabs the walker, and then cuts it down.  He then enters another building and calls out for Carol, but gets no response.  He saddles up and rides off in pursuit.

Last Day on Earth- RV group finds chained walkers blocking their path

The RV team is down to half a tank of gas.  Sasha notes that the Saviors they just saw weren’t the same, but still Saviors.  Rick is still confident that they’ll get Maggie to the Hilltop, but the RV comes to a stop when they come upon chained walkers blocking their path.  The chains even go through their bodies.  Now that takes work.  They find that various walkers are wearing clothes belonging to Michonne and Daryl.

Last Day on Earth- RV finds an even larger group of Saviors

Bullets rain from all directions, but the group clears the walker blockade and continues their journey.  As Rick inspects the hair from one of the walkers, he tells the others that the Saviors want them in this direction.  Eugene is certain they can get back on track, but Aaron informs Rick that Maggie’s temperature is rising.  If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s an even larger group of Saviors blocking the road.  Rick advises Abraham to back up.

Morgan continues searching for Carol when he stops to inspect a walker.  Next to it, he finds the rosary.

Last Day on Earth- Savior finds Carol

Carol, meanwhile, is surprised by a walker, but she ends up pulling off its skin long enough to stab it in the head.  But then the Savior from the road surprises her from behind.  Rather than kill her, because that would make sense, he tells her that she’s going to lay there and he’s going to watch her die, just like his friends on the road.  He then shoots Carol in her shoulder for a good start.

Last Day on Earth- Rick checks on Maggie

Rick checks on Maggie, promising that they’ll arrive at the Hilltop safely.  More than that, she and her baby will be just fine.  Maggie believes in Rick.

Last Day on Earth- Morgan finds the Savior about to kill Carol

Back to the Savior and Carol, who smiles and is ready to die.  There’s nothing wrong with her anymore.  Why the Saviors hasn’t just shot Carol in the head is still beyond me, but he settles for shooting her in the leg.  He tells her that she hasn’t suffered, and Carol agrees.  With that, the Savior walks away while Carol rants that people decide when to die.  You don’t get to walk away.

Then Morgan arrives and orders the Savior to lower his gun.  He tells the Savior that he can survive this.  Before the Savior can fire, Morgan unloads on the man, killing him.  Carol still pleads for Morgan to leave her, but Morgan insists that she’ll come back from this.  Then two men in armor, one on a horse, approach.  Morgan reports that he found their horse.  Time to get some help.

Last Day on Earth- Rick and gang find another barricade

The RV group, now on foot, finds a barricade, indicating, as Abraham puts it, that they’re in shit creek with their mouths wide open.  Then the injured man from before is tossed over the overpass while hanging from a chain.  Rick advises Aaron not to fire since they’ll need the bullets for later.  So they leave the man to struggle and die.

Fire breaks out on the barricade.  Steven Ogg’s voice rings out, telling the group to leave because it’s going to get hot soon.  The team retreats to the RV and once again falls back.  With Maggie still in need of a doctor, there are two more potential routes.  Eugene doesn’t think the Saviors are waiting on them, but the RV itself.

Last Day on Earth- Eugene gives Rick the how to on making bullets

As night falls, Rick instructs Eugene to take the now gassed-up RV.  In return, Eugene gives Rick a recipe for How to Build Bullets 101.  Fair exchange.  Rick tells Eugene that they’re glad to have him here.  Eugene then asks Abraham why he never let him drive the truck.  Abraham never thought he could do it, but he was wrong.  Eugene is and always was a survivor, but no one knew it.

Last Day on Earth- Group goes on foot while carrying Maggie

So Rick, Carl, Sasha, Abraham, and Aaron, with Maggie resting in a cot, head on foot while Eugene fires up the RV and goes in another direction.  Maggie pleads for Aaron to let her walk, but he won’t.  Carl agrees with what Rick said before- they can do anything, just as they have before, and they will again.  What happened to Denise, Carl won’t let that happen again.

Last Day on Earth- Saviors surround the survivors

But then they hear a familiar whistle.  With no way to tell where it’s coming from, the group starts running through the woods at full speed until lights hit them dead on.  They end up in an open area, surrounded by Saviors all around them.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the Saviors managed to capture Eugene and the RV as well.

Steven Ogg is glad the survivors made it to where they’re going.  He demands they group hand over their weapons.  He then orders Maggie be lowered and everyone get on their knees.  It takes a moment, but Rick and the others soon drop to the ground.  Rick looks absolutely petrified.

Dwight enters the scene and opens a van, where we see Daryl, Michonne, Rosita, and Glenn, who are also placed on their knees.  With an audience ready, Steven Ogg then knocks on the RV so we can meet the head honcho of the Saviors.

Last Day on Earth- Negan, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, makes his first appearance

Out steps Negan, played by The Comedian himself, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.  He asks if anyone is pissing their pants yet, because they’re getting close.  Gonna be pee-pee pants city real soon.  He introduces himself to Rick, and doesn’t find it cool that Rick killed so many of his men.

Rick has no idea how not cool that shit is, but Negan brings him up to speed while also swearing that Rick will regret crossing him in a few minutes.  Whatever Rick does, you don’t mess with the new world order.  Even if Rick is stupid, he can understand that you hand over your shit or Negan will kill him.

Today was career day.  A lot was invested so the survivors would know Negan.  Rick has shit and he’ll give it to Negan.  That’s his job.  That’s a nasty pill to swallow, but swallow it he will.  Negan notes that Rick built something.  He thought he was safe, but word is out that he is, in fact, not safe.  In fact, Rick is pegged if he doesn’t do what Negan does.  If half of his stuff is too much, he can steal until it evens out.

This is the new way of life.  The more Rick fights back, the harder it will be.  So when the Saviors knocks on your door, they will walk right in because they own the place.  He asks Rick if he understands, but gets no response.  This wasn’t all going to happen without a punishment.  Negan doesn’t want to kill anyone.  In fact, he wants people to work for him, but that can’t happen if they’re dead.

However, a lot of Saviors died, and for that, someone has to pay.  How?  Negan will beat the holy hell out of them with his awesome, barbed-wire wrapped bat: Lucille.  But now to find out who gets the honor.

Last Day on Earth- Negan speaks to Carl

Negan walks down the line, but stops at Carl, recognizing that he has a lot of their guns.  He offers to put a disheveled Maggie out of her misery.  Glenn tries to intervene, but Dwight stops him.  Negan doesn’t want that kind of outburst again.  Negan sees that Rick doesn’t know what’s going to happen, which could explain his fear.  He also sees that Carl is Rick’s son.  When Rick lashes out, Negan threatens to kill the future serial killer.

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

But Negan simply cannot decide, so he’s got an idea.  Eenie-meenie-minie-mo.  He goes down the line and finally lands on a victim.  We don’t see who it is, but Negan lines up Lucille and bashes the victim over and over again as the sixth season of The Walking Dead comes to a close.

Well, that was most definitely an ending.

Last Day on Earth- Abraham and Rick spot a large group of Saviors

Okay, I could rant about my issues with this finale, but I’ll start with the positive aspects.  First off, I think the tension and atmosphere with the RV group was well done and kept building as the episode progressed.  Yes, it was repetitive to see the RV back up over and over again, but heading into a scenario where the survivors were bound to be captured, it was interesting to see them in a situation where they couldn’t predict the outcome.

Last Day on Earth- Rick has words with the Saviors

Much of this circles back to the group’s overconfidence, and it’s easy to see why.  Rick and company have come up against and kept the Saviors at bay in every single encounter.  Denise was an unfortunate casualty, but otherwise, they’ve wiped out the opposition with no problem.  As Rick said to Jesus, the group has never had a problem with confrontation.

So to them, this would be like the Governor or Terminus: a challenging obstacle, but nothing they couldn’t overcome.  It helped that the world has trained them for this and the Saviors, up until now, have been disorganized and incompetent, so it’s easy to see why, for once, Rick’s group wanted to take the safe option of avoiding confrontation.

Last Day on Earth- Maggie rests

And it was nice to see Rick make Maggie the priority.  He could have put his group in multiple firefights that they might have won, but that would just prolong Maggie’s suffering and drag out an already long episode.

Last Day on Earth- Morgan receives help

On that note, to go slightly off-topic, this episode did not need to be 90 minutes.  Carol and Morgan’s subplot, which felt drawn out to ridiculous lengths, felt like filler until the very end because Carol was resolute in her decision to leave.  Morgan had a bit of development with his decision to kill a human, but he was forced to do so if he was going to protect Carol.

Last Day on Earth- Carol shot in the shoulder

But even that felt drawn out because the Savior didn’t just do the practical thing and shoot Carol in the head.  No, he has to draw out her suffering by shooting her in the arm and leg.  But why do this?  Carol killed a handful of Saviors, so this guy watching her suffer doesn’t do anything for him except give him enough time to gloat so Morgan can find him.

Last Day on Earth- Savior won't kill Carol for some reason

That’s one of those bad tropes where the villain has the protagonist cornered and could kill them at any second, but instead, they have a conversation.  Am I suddenly watching a James Bond film or The Walking Dead?  And now both Carol and Morgan are in the company of newcomers from the Kingdom.

Last Day on Earth- Planning an alternate route

You could have condensed this subplot to a few scenes to devote more time to the group on the road.  More conversations with Rick and Maggie, more about Carl and Aaron talking about why they came on the journey, more of Eugene frantically trying to come up with a new plan each time the Saviors blocked the path.  Make this feel like a do or die scenario.

Because until the end, what we got was the RV team making detour after detour and being antagonized by the Saviors.  They were frustrated, but kept finding alternate solutions.  When they were forced to split into two groups and head on foot with Maggie still weak, the group had reached a point of desperation.  Not enough to break them because, like past situations, they were confident that nothing could stop them.

Last Day on Earth- On your knees

But then they ran right into a trap.  I’ll say this about the final few moments of this episode: while I have my reservations about the finale, I think the tension when the group wound up caught was perfect.  I was as tense as they were the entire time and, for once, we saw fear on all of their faces.

Last Day on Earth- Ready to meet Negan

The fear that they couldn’t talk or shoot their way out of this situation.  The fear that Maggie wouldn’t get the help she needed in time.  The fear that maybe, for all the Saviors’ threats and demands, this time someone would pay for the amount of people Rick and his group have killed.  And the fear that Rick, for all his thinking, underestimated this boogeyman named Negan.

Last Day on Earth- Rick filled with fear

While the acting on The Walking Dead is normally very strong, Andrew Lincoln in particular sold his performance as Rick not by what he says, but his facial expressions.  Aside from Carl getting shot in “No Way Out,” I can’t remember a time recently where Rick looked so helpless.  He was confident that he could handle the Saviors, but now he’s on his knees, unarmed, and without a prayer.  I saw not a confident leader, but a man trembling in fear.

Last Day on Earth- Negan can't decide who to kill

But then Negan shows up with something to…prove.  Not to fear since we don’t see the result, more on that later, but to prove that he and his Saviors will make due on their promises.  First off, credit where it’s due: Jeffrey Dean Morgan is great in his introduction as Negan.  He’s smug, carries a huge presence, and is both humorous, yet threatening at the same time.

Last Day on Earth- Negan demands to know who is the group leader

When Negan finally appears, Jeffrey Dean Morgan commands the scene.  It left me on the edge of my seat how the show would handle adapting this character to the screen and, for the most part, the show succeeded.  Negan’s dialogue is, at times, point for point, ripped out of issue #100 as he makes both threats and jokes.  Up until now, Negan has existed as a ghost, but I was just tense at the thought of how he would retaliate.

Last Day on Earth- Negan has no answer for Rick

Rick sees Negan as an obstacle, but Negan views Rick as a business partner.  You don’t just up and kill your partners.  You barter, you negotiate, and you establish the new world order in society.  Negan doesn’t want to kill anyone because, in his mind, they work for him.  And judging from him sizing up Rick, Negan takes pleasure in people resisting his reign.  All the more satisfying to pummel them into compliance.

Last Day on Earth- Rick meets Lucille

So going into this moment where one of the characters will be beaten to death is a big deal.  Not only are these most of our main survivors, these are a lot of our power players and heavy hitters.  Well, less so with Aaron, but he did get the survivors to Alexandria, so there’s that.  For Negan to pick one of them at random and kill them in front of the others should hold a lot of weight and be a moment that leaves us as shellshocked as Rick.

Last Day on Earth- Negan thinks that Maggie looks shitty

Should.  Heavy emphasis on that because, at the end of the day, we’re left with a massive tease that left me more disappointed than anything else.  I’m not angry or confused because it’s not the first time that The Walking Dead has baited viewers.  Manufactured is the word.  Coupled with the many commercial breaks, the finale led us along to this confrontation with Negan, but then we’re left dangling as Negan beat the cameraman to death.

But why take such a copout?  There’s no need to build such suspense for Negan’s first appearance, put the survivors in actual peril, draw things out in a 90 minute finale, give us Maggie’s weakening state, and then not show Negan’s victim.  That brings the episode’s drive to a screeching halt and it dilutes the finale of its tension.

Last Day on Earth- Negan smiles

For a character like Negan and for a comic moment as iconic as this, and for all the talk the cast and people involved with this show talked about the emotional turmoil of this episode, to end like this isn’t suspenseful.

Last Day on Earth- Glenn and Lucille

It’s taking the easy way out instead of leaving audiences as distressed as the characters would be.  Let us live out this horror with them by showing us who Negan dies.  Don’t do it from a first person perspective and try to justify this as setting up the next season.  It knocks the wind out of you and ruins an otherwise well-directed and tense final moment.

Last Day on Earth- Negan has to pick someone

The unfortunate thing is that this is going to be what people talk about between now and Season 7.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance as Negan was great, though I’m surprised we still didn’t get as much as a single F-bomb, especially after The People vs. OJ Simpson has used it, at the time of writing this, four times on FX.  No.  For better or worse, people are going to remember the cliffhanger ending.

Because it’s the last moment of the season and just ends without a clear resolution, that’s what viewers, writers, and everyone that watches the show will remember.  Me personally, I do not like having a cliffhanger end the season on this note, but my opinion amounts to nothing.  For such a strong season and buildup to Negan’s first appearance, this left a bad taste in my mouth by the time the credits rolled.

Last Day on Earth- Negan meets Rick's group

Would I have liked the season to end with us seeing Negan’s victim and watching the group crumble at one of their lowest moments?  Absolutely, as morbid as that sounds.  I think it would have worked for both comic fans and solidified to TV only viewers that Negan is a real threat, proving that by having one of the main characters killed.  Plus, we’d know the group’s incentive to launch a counterattack after losing one of their own.

I’m not going to spend time speculating on who it might have been, who to rule out, and what impact this could have on Season 7 because I’m still going to tune in, but the final moment of this finale has left me hollow.  Not knowing the identity of the person picked is a cheap way to string viewers along, never mind the backlash I’m sure this move will generate.  But as of now, this finale dropped the ball.

Is “Last Day on Earth” a bad episode?  Of course not.  The tension was high, Jeffrey Dean Morgan made a good first impression as Negan, and we saw Rick Grimes at a low moment in his task of eliminating the Saviors.  I’d argue that the last 15 or so minutes were some of the tensest moments on the show thus far as it fills you with dread about the survivors’ fates.  And despite my irritation, I plan to be around for Season 7.

However, the unnecessary 90 minute runtime, some slow moments, and the cliffhanger diluted what could have been a strong outing for Season 6.  In a season of high points, fake-out deaths, and surprise moments, this was a letdown.  Instead of getting Something to Fear, we got Something to Frustrate.  It’s a weak ending to an otherwise good season.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 6, Episode 14: “Twice As Far”

Well, that was a surprise.  Not that it happened, mind you, but the timing and the target threw me for a loop.  You want that in a show like The Walking Dead, though it should be noted again that if we’re spending a good amount of time with a character who normally doesn’t get that much attention, keep an eye out.

Okay, I’m finished.

Twice As Far- Rick asks Morgan why he's building a prison

The episode begins in what could be a tribute to Groundhog Day in Alexandria as the citizens go about their daily routines.  Morgan is putting the finishing touches on his jail cell when Rick arrives and asks Morgan why.  Morgan responds that it will give the citizens some choices for next time.  As Meredith takes inventory, we go about another daily routine.  Carol still has the crucifix from the previous episode, even.  Rosita heads out, leaving Spencer in bed.

Twice As Far- Carol and Daryl talk

Daryl eyes the figurines he swiped from Dwight when Carol joins him, glad that he got his bike back.  She asks him about the people he saved in the burned forest.  Carol isn’t upset him saving them because that’s who he is, but Daryl wishes that he had killed them.  He then asks Carol about the people who took her and Maggie hostage and what they did.  But she responds that they didn’t do anything.

While Eugene and Abraham head out for a run, Rosita tries to cut short Spencer’s small talk and dinner invitation.  In fact, she wants to know what the hell they’re doing.  Rosita soon relents and agrees to dinner.

Twice As Far- Denise tells Daryl and Rosita about a store that may have drugs

Soon after, Denise informs Rosita and Daryl about Edison’s Apothecary and Boutique: a gift shop in a strip mall that may also have drugs.  There’s no guarantee of any drugs still being there, but Denise just wants to be sure.  As in she wants to also go outside the walls.

It helps that Daryl and Rosita don’t have anything to do right now. Now Denise has spent next to no time out there, and while she may be able to identify the meds, Rosita is against her joining.

Denise may know how to use a machete and have seen roamers up close, but she’s inexperienced.  When she offers to go alone, Daryl and Rosita have little option but to play babysitter.  I imagine this isn’t how they envisioned spending their day.

Twice As Far- Denise, Rosita, and Daryl on the road

On the road, Denise gives Daryl front seat tips about driving stick when the three eventually reach a fallen tree in the road.  Daryl and Rosita head out and begin removing the debris while Denise watches from the safety of the truck.  The three go on foot, with Daryl and Denise going through the woods while Rosita follows the train tracks.  Given the group’s history with train tracks, I’m not against Daryl’s decision to follow the road.

Twice As Far- Abraham asks Eugene about his new appearance

Back to Abraham and Eugene, who make small talk on their run.  Abraham is curious about Eugene’s recent change in appearance.  For Eugene, like any RPG or electronic, the key to survival is allowing oneself to be shaped by the assigned environment.

In doing so, you acquire a broad range of skills, allowing you to flip the script and use said skills to shape the environment for maximum longevity.  Right now, Eugene is in Stage Two as a survivor

Twice As Far- Rosita, Daryl, and Denise find the store

Daryl and Denise catch up to Rosita and the three find a rundown strip mall.  They head for the Edison store, with Daryl telling Denise to stay back while he and Rosita head in.

Twice As Far- Abraham saves Eugene from a walker

At the same time, Abraham and Eugene also enter a building with a lot of machinery.  Abraham is lost on why the two are here, but Eugene tells him that they’re going to manufacture bullets here.  This has been on his mind for some time.  Abraham is skeptical, but with a thorough scrubbing and some lead, Eugene is certain he can do this here.  That is some damn fine thinking outside of the box.

Eugene wants to inform Rick and Olivia, but before this, he runs into some trouble with a walker that’s got some melted steel encased on its head.  Abraham ends up taking it out, even though Eugene claims he had full control of the situation.  Abraham tells Eugene that he needs to learn fast if he’s serious about surviving in this world.

In addition, Abraham believes that Eugene’s skillset lies with ghosting hostilities and making bullets. However, Eugene believes that Abraham has outlived his usefulness to him.  With that, Abraham heads off since his services are no longer required.  So Eugene can find his own way home.

Twice As Far- Denise makes too much noise in the shop

Rosita, Daryl, and Denise enter the abandoned store and examine every nook and cranny of the shop.  Daryl soon finds the pharmacy.  While he and Rosita go for everything in sight, they hear a noise that they believe is coming from just one walker.  They go back to packing, but Denise arms herself and heads inside.  Inside, she finds an abandoned playroom and a walker that’s not worth the trouble.  “Hush” is scrawled on the walls.

She rushes out, making a shit ton of noise in the process, so she ends up waiting outside. Daryl and Rosita soon join her, and while Daryl says that she did a good job finding this place, Rosita reiterates that Denise wasn’t ready for this.

On the walk back, Denise tells Daryl that her brother, Dennis, was older than her by a few minutes.  Nothing scared him.  He was brave, but also angry.  A dangerous combination.  Sounds a lot like Merle.  Daryl elects to walk the train tracks since, as Denise said, it’s faster.

Twice As Far- Denise eventually takes down a walker

Denise checks a nearby car that is holding both a walker and cooler.  She wants it, though there’s no guarantee of anything inside, but Daryl and Rosita say it’s not worth it.  True as this is, Denise opens the car door and gets the cooler, but the walker falls on top of her.  Before Rosita and Daryl can save her, Denise stabs the walker in the head.  And then she vomits on her glasses.  And what’s in the cooler?  Pop, including a can of Orange Crush.

Twice As Far- Denise defends her stupid actions

Daryl is beyond pissed because Denise could have died, but Denise’s rationale is that you take chances to survive.  This was a big moment for her because she’s got training in this shit.  She asked Daryl to come because he’s brave, and Rosita because she’s afraid.  More than that, they give her hope that she can as strong as them.

She could’ve told Tara that she loved her, but she was afraid.  That was stupid- not facing her shit.  But Daryl and Rosita aren’t even trying.

Twice As Far- Denise takes an arrow to the eye

Denise’s rant is interrupted when, out of nowhere, a bolt goes straight through her right eye.  She falls to the ground just as a group of Saviors emerge from the woods.  Among them, a slightly scarred Dwight, who has Eugene as a captive.  Dwight is, of course, glad to see his old pal.  The Saviors disarm Dwight and Rosita, with Daryl regretting that he didn’t kill Dwight.  So who brought this on who?

Twice As Far- Dwight has Eugene as a captive

Dwight laments that Denise wasn’t the one he was aiming for, but he’s still getting used to the crossbow.  He tells Rosita and Daryl that they’ll be letting him and the other Saviors into Alexandria so they can take whatever and whomever they want or they’ll kill Eugene.  Dwight doesn’t want it to come to that.  Eugene gives up Abraham’s location, saying that he deserves to die more than them.

Twice As Far- Eugene takes Dwight's dick in his mouth

Eugene makes his move by biting Dwight in the crotch.  Abraham springs into action as he, Daryl, and Rosita open fire on the Saviors and approaching walkers.  The remaining Saviors fall back, but Daryl does manage to retrieve his crossbow.  The three take Eugene back with them while Denise’s lifeless body rests on the train tracks.

Twice As Far- Abraham apologizes for questioning Eugene's skill

Back in Alexandria, Eugene will live to see another day due to a bullet just grazing him.  He tells Abraham that he was just looking for a moment.  Abraham apologizes for questioning Eugene’s skills.  It helps that Eugene knows how to bite a dick, and Abraham means that with the utmost respect.

Twice As Far- Abraham speaks with Sasha

Abraham meets with Sasha to tell her that they both have choices.  It could be 30 years for them both in Alexandria, but that’s still too short.  Sasha invites him inside.

Twice As Far- Daryl and Carol bury Denise

Daryl and Carol, meanwhile, bury Denise’s body.  Well, Daryl digs, with Carol admitting that he was right about what he said earlier.

We then overhear Carol’s narration in a letter to Tobin as she ends her relationship with him.  There’s everything they need to live within the walls, but what they want, other people want, too.  If they survive this threat, there will be another.  She loves everyone, but she won’t kill for them.  Rick sent her away, but she wound up staying.

Now, she can’t love anymore because she can’t kill for anyone, so she’s going, like she always should have.  Also, don’t come after her.  Morgan watches the now empty porch swing drift in the wind as the episode comes to a close.

Well, that happened.  “Twice As Far” was a good episode.  It advanced the plot for several characters, gave us development for Abraham, Eugene, and Denise, put the survivors in another conflict with the Saviors, and pushes up closer to Negan’s first appearance.

Twice As Far- Saviors confront Daryl and Rosita

With two episodes left and Negan yet to appear, it was a given that a character would be meeting their end.  Not just because of Negan’s reputation, but to tip the scales and make things a bit more balanced.  As is, once again, our survivors found themselves in a confrontation with the Saviors and, for the most part, came out on top.  Yes, they lost Denise, but they still ended up forcing the Saviors to retreat.

Twice As Far- Denise rants to Daryl and Rosita

But not without a major loss.  Like Bob before her, the second we started learning more about Denise and her becoming more outspoken, it was a red flag.  Unlike Aaron or Heath, Denise hasn’t spent a lot of time outside the walls, so this was a big change for her to prove her worth to herself and Daryl and Rosita.  It allowed her to vent.  We dug a bit into her past as well, with her upbringing having similarities with Daryl’s.

Twice As Far- Denise stabs a walker

Like other Alexandria residents, Denise looked up to the new survivors because they have next to no fear of walkers or living outside of a safe zone.  That’s what they’ve known for so long, but Denise had the advantage of being sheltered in Alexandria.  For Daryl and Rosita, taking a chance on a supply run is nothing to them at all.  Denise, though, lacked experience to survive for long, but given the chance, she proved she could eventually hold her own.

Twice As Far- Denise still talking with an arrow in her eye

And then she dies.  In addition to Eugene biting Dwight’s crotch- more on that in a minute- I didn’t expect the show to adapt the death by crossbow to the eye.  Or, at least, I didn’t expect it to be Denise.  I still thought it would have been Abraham, given the time we spent with him and Eugene, but then boom, Denise takes a bolt to the eye.  Like the comic, it was a gruesome sight to watch her try and keep talking despite the mortal wound.

The 100- Lexa

Brief-aside on Denise’s death.  People apparently are taking issue with this because Denise is a lesbian and, based off what happened on The 100, is another case of television shows killing off a gay character.  First off, no.  Second, no.  Denise was the doctor.  Her sexuality was not her defining character trait.

And really, anyone can die on this show.  Not sure why I’m making this point because it’s not like I’ve got any sort of audience.

No Way Out- Carl gets shot through the eye

Then there’s the argument that Carl managed to survive his eye injury, but Denise did not.  Here’s the difference: once Carl had been shot, Rick and Michonne immediately abandoned their escape plan and rushed to the infirmary so Denise could save his life.  Here, Denise is the doctor, so who else has the medical expertise to save her life?  In addition, the group wasn’t in the Safe Zone, so there was no immediate way to save her.

Twice As Far- Rosita is apparently alone

Another side-note, why does Denise think that Rosita is alone?  The two don’t seem like the closest of friends, and Rosita has been out with the others to ambush the Saviors. The breakup with Abraham hasn’t been that long, so how would Denise infer this? Though I guess an argument could be made that Spencer is just a rebound.

Twice As Far- Eugene has a plan to stockpile bullets

Anyway, then you’ve got Eugene, who the show is setting up in a great way when it comes to his plan of manufacturing bullets.  This could end up having a big payoff, but I’ll leave it at that for now without getting into comic territory.  Eugene’s arc has also been about proving himself, which he’s had to do even more after admitting that he lied.  He aided the others during “No Way Out,” so he has what it takes to survive.

Twice As Far- Eugene about to take in Dwight's dick

So it’s refreshing to see him change his appearance and demeanor for the sake of adaptation.  The world is changing and bullets are valuable, so he’s showing how he can be of use to stockpile ammunition.  And he’s a quick thinker for biting Dwight in the crotch.  He allowed Abraham, Rosita, and Daryl a moment to take care of the Saviors and proved to Abraham that he has valuable skills.  Even if they involve his mouth and a man’s dick.

Twice As Far- Carol watches Daryl dig

As for Carol, it feels like we’re missing something.  It’s not unlike her to just vanish without a trace.  And I get the feeling that her talks with Daryl confirmed what she experienced in “The Same Boat,” but maybe a short conversation with Rick or someone else would have been nice instead of just having her explanation spelled out through a letter and closing narration.

“Twice As Far” put our survivors in another winning battle against the Saviors, but that came with a price in Denise’s death before Tara could admit her feelings for her.  It gave Abraham and Eugene a bit of growth as both made bold steps to adapt in the ever-changing world.  Not everything worked, as Carol’s decision to leave felt a bit odd, but with two episodes left, here’s hoping we get an explanation of where she’s headed next.

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.