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.”

rock-in-the-road-gabriel-gases-up-a-car

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.

rock-in-the-road-gregory-refuses-to-help-rick-and-company-fight-negan

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.

rock-in-the-road-hilltop-members-willing-to-fight-with-ricks-group

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.

rock-in-the-road-jesus-introduces-ricks-group-to-richard-and-alvaro

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.

rock-in-the-road-morgan-tells-rick-and-daryl-about-what-happened-to-carol

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.

rock-in-the-road-rick-and-jesus-propose-the-kingdom-join-in-fighting-the-saviors

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.

rock-in-the-road-ezekiel-listens-to-rick-and-jesus-state-their-case

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.

rock-in-the-road-rick-talks-about-a-rock-in-the-road

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.

rock-in-the-road-benjamin-and-carol-run-into-each-other-in-the-woods

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.

rock-in-the-road-ezekiel-and-benjamin-discuss-ricks-plan-to-fight-the-saviors

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.

rock-in-the-road-ezekiel-tells-daryl-about-kingdom-residents-who-have-died-fighting-the-dead

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.

rock-in-the-road-sasha-and-rosita-talk

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?

rock-in-the-road-rick-tells-daryl-to-stay-at-the-kingdom-for-his-own-safety

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.

rock-in-the-road-group-disarms-the-explosives

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.

rock-in-the-road-walker-herd-approaches

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.

rock-in-the-road-mowing-down-walkers-with-two-cars-and-some-wire

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.

rock-in-the-road-simon-and-saviors-arrive-at-alexandria-to-find-daryl

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.

rock-in-the-road-aaron-tells-simon-that-its-hard-for-alexandria-to-find-supplies

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.

rock-in-the-road-rick-finds-gabriels-bible

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?

rock-in-the-road-eric-is-concerned-for-aarons-safety

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.

rock-in-the-road-surrounded-by-strangers-with-weapons

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.

rock-in-the-road-rick-asks-for-ezekiels-support-in-fighting-the-saviors

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.

rock-in-the-road-gregorys-rhetorical-question

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.

rock-in-the-road-ezekiel-is-concerned-for-the-safety-of-his-people

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.

rock-in-the-road-benjamin-tells-rick-that-the-kingdom-has-people-and-weapons

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.

rock-in-the-road-morgan-learns-what-happened-since-hes-been-away-at-the-kingdom

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.

rock-in-the-road-carol-tells-benjamin-to-keep-quiet

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.

rock-in-the-road-group-prepares-to-leave-the-kingdom

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.

rock-in-the-road-disarming-the-explosives

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.

rock-in-the-road-cutting-down-walkers

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.

rock-in-the-road-rosita-tells-morgan-about-who-the-saviors-have-killed

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.

hearts-still-beating-rosita-shoots-at-negan

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

rock-in-the-road-gabriel-goes-through-his-bible

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.

rock-in-the-road-rick-smiles

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 #162- “The Whisperer War: Part 6 of 6”

the-walking-dead-162-cover

Before jumping into issue #162, think back to the ending of All Out War: Negan had been taken down, the communities seemingly had a new ally with the reformed Dwight leading the Saviors, and for the first time in a long time, it appeared that the communities could be at ease without some looming threat outside of the occasional roamer.

Fast forward to today and the ending of The Whisperer War might be the end of The Whisperers trying to overtake the survivors, but they don’t have to do the heavy lifting anymore.  You saw the herd that Alpha showed Rick.  A string of small victories against The Whisperers is nothing when they still have a massive weapon to unleash.

the-walking-dead-162-negan-lays-lucille-to-rest

But we’ll get to that later.  We start off with Negan laying Lucille to rest…which is funny and somewhat tragic at the same time.  The Lucille that we’ve known since issue #100 has been a staple for so long, so to lose her is a huge deal for Negan.  It makes sense that he’d want to bury her.

At the same time, this is his chance to say goodbye to Lucille for real.  As “Here’s Negan” has shown us, Negan never got a chance to bury his actual wife, Lucille, so this is a way for him to pay his respects to his wife and the bat for which she’s named.  Serious of a moment as this is, I did get a laugh out of Negan hoping that Lucille is in Heaven getting her brains fucked out and in by someone special.

Who thinks that?

the-walking-dead-162-maggie-tells-william-that-she-plans-to-rebuild-the-hilltop

William and his entourage from the Kingdom finally arrive at what remains of the Hilltop. While it’s unfortunate they were too late, Maggie is correct to tell William that it’s not his fault.  Who could’ve predicted such an attack?  Like Maggie says, the Kingdom could’ve been hit.  There’s no telling how long it would take reinforcements from other communities to arrive.

But regardless of what’s happened, I like that William isn’t an unwilling leader.  He’s out on the frontlines and offering whatever services he can to Maggie.  But Maggie is already looking towards the future.  I don’t expect the Hilltop to be rebuilt overnight, and with both the Whisperers still out there and the time it would take to remake this community, even without interruption, I’m very curious to see what comes next for the Hilltop.

the-walking-dead-162-lydia-hates-what-the-whisperers-have-done-to-strangers

And it looks like Lydia is here to stay, despite how disturbed she is by what’s happened. As a Whisperer, she and her group would ravage a community and leave.  She never had to deal with the aftermath, but now she’s seeing firsthand what her people did and that bothers her.  She knows that she’s done terrible things to strangers who didn’t deserve it, and she feels that would make Carl hate her.

But this is Carl Grimes we’re talking about.  We can’t count the number of terrible things Rick’s merry band of survivors have done to get to where they are, whether their actions were warranted or unprovoked.  Carl knows what it’s like to commit atrocities, even if it’s just to survive, but the point of getting to where they are is to not live like that anymore. You remember where you came from and that makes you a better person.

It’s a nice way for the two to bond in the wake of what they’ve endured and shows that, despite where Lydia came from, she has more in common with Carl and his group than she knew.

the-walking-dead-162-andrea-and-rick-talk

This conversation is in stark contrast to what Rick and Andrea discuss, as they acknowledge that killing other human beings is their world now if they’re to survive.  While Carl talks of moving past those dark moments to be a better person, you’ve got these two accepting that this is their life and there may be no coming back from this.

By the way, the shooting system used to indicate who is arriving at Alexandria…I get why it’s useful, but it’s brought up here, used when Dwight and company arrive, but when Eugene arrives with the ammunition, someone just yells out that he’s there.  My question is do you need both?  The gunshots could just alert roamers much more than someone’s voice.  Just something on my mind while reading this.

the-walking-dead-162-dwight-tells-rick-about-battling-hundreds-of-whisperers

Anyway, Dwight and company return and it is a good feeling when the groups reunite, but the moment is short lived.  There’s this false sense of security with Dwight telling Rick what happened.  Beta nearly beaten to death, the plan to mix among the Whisperers…it all sounds like Dwight’s group took care of business no problem.

the-walking-dead-162-rick-tells-dwight-about-the-massive-roamer-herd

Therein lies the problem: Rick knows better because he’s seen it.  I’ve gotta wonder who else knows about the massive roamer herd that Alpha showed Rick.  I would assume that Lydia knows of it, but aside from her, does anyone else know that the Whisperers have a trump card with that herd?  Not that he would intentionally withhold it, but it would help to keep people aware of what the Whisperers may unleash down the road.

So even if the communities get comfortable after managing to thin out a hundred or so Whisperers and their roamer hordes, they’re always aware in the back of their mind that there’s an even bigger threat on the horizon that would take days to clear.

the-walking-dead-162-roamer-herd

And that’s just what’s heading their way.  Sweet merciful crap, that is a terrifying sight. Rick called the herd “a sea of the dead that roared like an ocean” and it’s an apt description.  The scope of this enormous herd, I feel, eclipses what Alexandria endured during No Way Out and it spells impending danger for the survivors.

the-walking-dead-162-beta-is-prepared-to-let-the-dead-finish-what-the-whisperers-have-started

What’s more, the Whisperers don’t have to lift a finger right now.  Their war is over, as Beta says, so now they can just leave the dead to finish what they’ve started.  The Whisperers can recuperate and heal while the roamers lay waste to Alexandria.  Plus, remember that the Saviors are still out there and waiting to make their comeback, so this conflict will no doubt continue well after this arc.

The Whisperer War is over, but the survivors are nowhere near done with fighting just yet.

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

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

hearts-still-beating-gregory-speaks-with-maggie

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

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

hearts-still-beating-negan-shaves

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

hearts-still-beating-tara-brings-olivia-some-lemonade

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

hearts-still-beating-daryl-makes-his-escape

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

hearts-still-beating-aaron-and-rick-find-a-boat-filled-with-bullet-holes

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

hearts-still-beating-dining-with-negan

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

hearts-still-beating-laura-played-by-lindsley-register-looks-over-spencers-supplies

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

hearts-still-beating-richard-needs-to-speak-with-morgan-and-carol

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

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

hearts-still-beating-rick-and-aaron-fight-off-walkers

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

hearts-still-beating-rick-and-aaron-find-guns-and-supplies

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

hearts-still-beating-daryl-eats-some-peanut-butter

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

hearts-still-beating-aaron-and-rick-load-up

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

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

hearts-still-beating-michonne-asks-isabelle-how-long-shes-been-with-negan

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

hearts-still-beating-sasha-maggie-and-enid-talk

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

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

hearts-still-beating-richard-needs-morgan-and-carol-to-help-persuade-ezekiel-into-fighting-the-saviors

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

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

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

hearts-still-beating-rosita-tells-gabriel-that-shes-ready-to-die-if-negan-is-killed-in-the-process

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

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

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

hearts-still-beating-carol-and-morgan-refuse-to-help-richard

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

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

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

hearts-still-beating-spencer-gets-dressed-up

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

hearts-still-beating-richard-falls-to-the-ground

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

hearts-still-beating-rosita-tells-spencer-that-she-used-him

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

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

hearts-still-beating-daryl-snags-a-motorcycle-after-killing-fat-joseph

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

hearts-still-beating-negan-tells-arat-to-let-spencer-pass

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

hearts-still-beating-isabelle-tells-michonne-to-turn-back

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

hearts-still-beating-saviors-get-rough-with-rick

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

hearts-still-beating-spencer-and-negan-play-pool

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

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

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

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

hearts-still-beating-negan-guts-spencer

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

hearts-still-beating-arat-hold-rosita-down-while-negan-decides-what-to-do-with-her

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

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

hearts-still-beating-arat-kills-olivia

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

hearts-still-beating-negan-tells-rick-that-he-did-him-a-favor-by-killing-spencer

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

hearts-still-beating-eugene-admits-that-he-made-the-bullet

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

hearts-still-beating-rick-and-michonne-talk-about-their-next-move

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

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

And Rick now knows that.

hearts-still-beating-reunion-at-the-hilltop

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

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

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

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

hearts-still-beating-sasha-tells-enid-not-to-talk-with-maggie-about-the-plan

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

hearts-still-beating-michonne-is-still-ready-to-fight

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

hearts-still-beating-rick-tells-maggie-that-he-understands-now

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

hearts-still-beating-rick-tells-negan-that-his-shit-is-waiting-for-him

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

hearts-still-beating-rick-and-aaron-talk-about-working-for-the-saviors

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

hearts-still-beating-richard-talks-about-ezekiels-first-encounter-with-the-saviors

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

hearts-still-beating-carol-wants-no-part-of-the-conflict

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

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

hearts-still-beating-spencer-dies-while-holding-his-guts

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

hearts-still-beating-negan-tells-spencer-that-he-has-no-guts

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

hearts-still-beating-rosita-shoots-at-negan

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

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

hearts-still-beating-rosita-cut-by-arat

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

hearts-still-beating-negan-asks-lucille-for-strength

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

hearts-still-beating-arat-about-to-kill-olivia

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

hearts-still-beating-rick-and-daryl-hug-it-out

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

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

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

A Look at The Walking Dead #161- “The Whisperer War: Part 5 of 6”

the-walking-dead-161-cover

It’s funny if you think about it: we’re at part five of the Whisperer War, yet by issue’s end, the war seems all but over…for at least one community.  The bulk of this issue dealt with the battle between the Whisperer and their roamer herd versus the Hilltop community, and damn it was an amazing sight to read.

This issue showcased just how much of a fight the Hilltop can put up when they band together, helped cement why Maggie is the true leader of this group, and left the community in a precarious position by issue’s end.

the-walking-dead-161-lydia-fights-off-walkers-and-whisperers

Speaking of cementing, this issue set in stone that Lydia has rejected the Whisperers for good.  She’s switched sides and now sees herself as one of the survivors that we’ve followed.  I mean, she blew one of the Whisperers straight to hell at the end of issue #160, so there’s no question about her allegiance, but it’s so satisfying that she’s ended up here, given what she’s endured.

We know that Alpha let random Whisperers rape Lydia, in addition to any other sort of trauma or abuse she endured while a Whisperer, and that alone was an incentive to get out.  If I had to guess, I think that there could be potential friction from neighboring communities if they learn that Lydia has chosen to stay with the Hilltop folks.

Hell, part of the reason Rick and Andrea had Lydia leave Alexandria was for her own safety, so hopefully feelings have cooled and people outside of the Hilltop are more receptive to Lydia.

the-walking-dead-161-sophia-saves-hershel-while-carl-goes-to-alert-residents-that-the-hilltop-is-under-attack

Something else I liked about the Hilltop attack was Carl, against Maggie’s wishes, going to alert other residents during the fire instead of escaping while Maggie, as leader, informed the others.  Carl tells Maggie not to argue with him and that she’s more important.  Even though Carl is still a kid and can be pretty ruthless at times, when the time calls for it, he’ll rise to the occasion and help during a crisis.

And this shows just how much he respects not merely as a friend, but as a leader.  And he’s right, in this moment, Maggie is more important.  What good is saving everyone else and protecting the Hilltop if the leader ends up dying in the process when they could have avoided that fate?  It’d be like if Rick died during “All Out War” for some careless error.

But here, Carl acknowledges that getting Maggie outside and to safety is the priority. Even though she’s more than capable of saving the residents, she needs to be outside and on the front lines in battle.  But Carl has also endured his fair share of trials during this and past conflicts, so he’s more than willing to risk his life as well if it means saving or informing other Hilltop residents.

the-walking-dead-161-aaron-saves-carl

For a second there, I thought Carl was going to…maybe not die, but come close to it. That fire got pretty damn close to him and were it not for Aaron also putting himself at risk to save Carl, things might have gone down different for him.

Outside of that, this was a damn impressive battle with some great artwork from Charlie Adlard that shows the scope of this clash and felt very similar to “No Way Out.”  Here, have a look.

the-walking-dead-161-hilltop-battle-rages-on

the-walking-dead-161-maggie-stands-victorious-as-the-hilltop-battle-ends

And this.  This, just wow.  Now this is a badass moment not just for Maggie, but for any character period.  It’s the kind of image that feels good enough to be blown up as a poster. Just the visual of this worn out, exhausted Maggie standing triumphant, Hershel at her side, the Hilltop residents standing tired, but triumphant, while their home burns in the background is a strong image.

They’re victorious, but they’ve now lost their home.  And not only are there still both roamers and Whisperers still out there roaming, as seen when Beta indicates that this is far from over, but they have to find a new location.  Given how many people are at the Hilltop, coupled with long-distance travel, moving from the Hilltop to a new residency will be challenging, more so if the group travels at night.

But then, what choice do they have right now?  They can’t just stay at the Hilltop not just because it’s burned, but they would leave themselves open to another assault if the remaining Whisperers try to launch another attack.  Either way, it’s great to see the Hilltop residents band together and force the Whisperers into retreat.  Their home is now lost as a result, but this is still a major win for the survivors.  For now.

the-walking-dead-161-magna-cuts-off-connies-hand-while-dwight-scolds-negan

Moving along to the other survivors, it looks like Connie was bitten off-panel.  Sucks, but hopefully Magna was able to sever the hand in time.  Like the Hilltop, it’s another case of a group having what looks like a success against the Whisperers, but not without a loss.

You’ve also got Dwight chastising Negan for losing Lucille, but can you really blame Negan for mourning his loss?  We’re talking about a fucking baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, but she has a special place in all of our hearts and some of our skulls.  It was a bit meta, I think, for Negan to tell Dwight that he didn’t understand how he felt, but us readers do, given the ongoing “Here’s Negan” backstory we’ve been getting.

the-walking-dead-161-eugene-talks-about-the-importance-of-the-bullets

We’ve got Eugene making his way in the middle of the night with his ammunition, saying that this is the good he can do.  It’s an interesting contrast to where Eugene is in the television series right now, where you’ve got Rosita saying that he’s a coward.  Here, he’s willingly putting himself in harm’s way by traveling at night instead of waiting until day because these bullets are what he contributes to the battle.

So here’s hoping Eugene doesn’t run into any trouble on the road.  I mean, if that happens, he does have a bunch of bullets he could use, but given how much can go wrong when traveling at night, he better watch his ass.

the-walking-dead-161-rick-and-andrea-discuss-the-saviors

Same with Rick and Andrea, who are all but ready for some normalcy in their lives.  I hope that Kirkman isn’t setting one of them up to be axed off because their conversations have been very warm, and there’s always the calm before the storm when it comes to Kirkman. We’ve had a fair share of big deaths and I hope that these two make it through, so maybe I’m just looking too deep into this.

the-walking-dead-166-sherry-tells-tara-about-her-plan-to-take-whats-left-from-rick-after-the-war-is-over

But at least they’re alert of the looming situation because we’re seeing that the war is not only far from over as far as the Whisperers are concerned, but Sherry is plotting a comeback for the Saviors.  Rick and company are fighting for their lives against the Whisperers.  Their resources are divided in several places and the Hilltop is now lost.

Soon, as Sherry points out, battling the Whisperers will leave the other communities tired and exhausted.  Never mind that there may be other Whisperers out there, but the Saviors would be in a prime position to attack once the Whisperers have drained the survivors of their fight.  Not that they’d be unable to fight against another attack, but they wouldn’t be at full strength.

And that’s the advantage in Sherry’s plan: why attack Rick now when his people are ready for anything?  Even though they already know about the Saviors’ plans, their priority is dealing with the Whisperers.  Sherry knows that Rick will triumph in the end.  Hell, that’s what she wants.  But if she’s leading the Saviors to a resurrection or to pick up where Negan left off, she’s in a prime position to do so.

And so that is the fifth part of the Whisperer War.  The Hilltop has won the battle, but not the war as their community is now in flames, so now they must seek new shelter. Meanwhile, the Kingdom is set to enter the battle, so keep an eye on them as well.  Hell, maybe they can provide support for the Hilltop folks now that they’re without a home.

The Whisperers have faced a setback, but with Beta still lurking and the Saviors planning a comeback, this battle is far from over.

A Look at The Walking Dead #160- “The Whisperer War: Part 4 of 6”

the-walking-dead-160-cover

From all accounts, Dwight’s plan should fail.  After all, in addition to being in Whisperer territory, he and the other survivors are infiltrating the roamer herd in order to thin out the Whisperers from within.  In addition, they wouldn’t be able to distinguish the roamers from the Whisperers unless they heard someone speak.  In addition to presumably never having done this before, this plan had the potential to fail.

the-walking-dead-160-michonne-kills-one-of-the-whisperers

But these survivors are more than capable of dealing with a disadvantage.  You’ve gotta wonder just how many Whisperers there are, given that it took one a second to recognize that Michonne was not a member of their group.  And it’s not like Michonne made an effort to conceal her dreads.

Any Whisperer behind her would have noticed that, not to mention her sword.  We’re so used to seeing the survivors pick off roamers at a distance or do what’s necessary to keep them at bay, but there have been instances where they have to get in up close, like in “No Way Out.”

the-walking-dead-160-dwight-doesnt-want-to-adapt-the-whisperers-strategy

But hey, the plan worked and it helped the group weed out the herd.  In addition, I liked Dwight’s conversation with Laura about wearing the roamer skins.  There’s a practical advantage to this, yes: by wearing the skins, you conceal yourself and are able to hide among and influence the massive herds.  It’s about as doable of a plan as covering yourself in roamer guts to mask your scent.

However, it’s still pretty fucked up when you consider, as Dwight says, that you’re still wearing the skin of what was once a human being.  The Whisperers already do some pretty depraved things and have an outdated stance on rape- they’re a primitive folk.  And that’s not the kind of mindset or group that Dwight wants to be a part of, even with all of the horrible things he did as a Savior.

Not that Laura was trying to persuade Dwight, because she wasn’t.  I think she just saw the practical advantages since, hey, it has worked for the Whisperers thus far.  But yeah, aside from that, it’s still a pretty fucked up thing to do.

the-walking-dead-160-tara-tells-heath-that-the-sanctuary-still-wont-help-fight-the-whisperers

Speaking of the Saviors, I expect them to resurface and cause more trouble soon.  That or they’ll be confronted for their non-confrontational stance during this war.  Tara came to kill Vincent, and Heath saw right through her bullshit guise about wanting to return the horse.  As we’ve seen in the past, the Saviors have numbers and would be a great contribution to the war effort, but right now, they’re staying on the sidelines.

It makes me curious how this will impact their relationship with the neighboring communities, more so because you have Saviors like Dwight and Negan trying to do some goodwill and contribute to help the survivors.  Either way, once this war is over, I feel like there’s another skirmish coming between the communities and the folks at the Sanctuary.

the-walking-dead-160-beta-recovers

By the way, I’m wondering if Beta may be a bit overconfident.  After all, he couldn’t have anticipated Negan getting the better of him or know about Dwight’s plan to also wear roamer skins in order to kill Whisperers.  We know that the Whisperers have a huge number of followers and roamer herds, so we will see if his confidence pays off.

the-walking-dead-160-maggie-tells-dante-that-shell-only-ever-love-glenn

Maggie’s admission to Dante felt very genuine and heartfelt for her character.  She likes Dante, yes, but her heart will always belong to Glenn.  If she entered another relationship, she doesn’t feel that it’d be fair to the other man because her mind would still be on Glenn. And she has a child now.  Part of Glenn will always be with her.

I like that this doesn’t end in an aggressive or confrontational manner, because that would have been the easy, cliche way to handle things.  Again, Maggie admits that she cares for Dante, but he’s not her husband and no man will be able to take Glenn’s place.  I like that. She’s not staying committed out of obligation, she’s doing it because she doesn’t have room in her heart for someone else.  Doing so would just be conflicting.

the-walking-dead-160-hilltop-under-attack

And speaking of conflicting, the attack on the Hilltop.  From images like the fiery arrows shooting out of the dark or Carl alerting the survivors that they’re under attack, it’s a well-drawn sequence of events from Charlie Adlard.

the-walking-dead-160-hilltop-defends-itself-against-the-whisperers

Like in “No Way Out,” it feels like an ongoing invasion that, as of now, looks to have no signs of stopping, given the massive herds of roamers that we’ve seen.  And with the gate coming down, this battle could rage on for an interminable amount of time.  I am very excited to see this fight continue.

the-walking-dead-160-lydia-kills-a-whisperer

Then we have Lydia making her stand.  She’s told Carl before how dangerous the Whisperers are, and while I don’t believe she knows what happened to Alpha, she has moved past them.  “The time of the Whisperers is over,” she says, and that is a great line to end the issue.  I want Lydia not only to prove her worth in battle, but to stick around for a long period of time.  It would be tragic for her to die in this war.

This was a great issue.  Dwight’s plan to break the Whisperers from within is working at the moment, but the waves of attacks continue as the Whisperers begin their attack on the Hilltop.  Can’t wait for part five.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 2: “The Well”

I imagine it’s hard for many to progress with and process The Walking Dead after watching Negan bash Glenn and Abraham to death.  But it’s time to put Rick and friends on hold so we can find out what happened with Carol and Morgan after “Last Day on Earth.”  And it involves a man and his tiger.

It makes sense in context.  This is “The Well.”

the-well-kingdom-members-escort-carol-and-morgan

The episode begins with Carol and Morgan being led by their two new companions.  As Morgan makes marks on the trees, Carol continues to rest on the carriage.  Soon, Morgan and the two armored men fend off walkers.  Carol, though, becomes frightened at the sight of walkers and heads for the woods.

the-well-kingdom-members-kill-walkers

As she passes a house, other folks arrive on horseback and eliminate the walkers with ease.  Carol, though, sees not walkers being killed, but humans.  Morgan continues to make markings on the way to guide a path for those who may follow behind.

the-well-morgan-wheels-carol-around-the-kingdom

Carol later awakens, now bandaged, and learns from Morgan that she’s been asleep for about two days.  Morgan takes her around this new community and tells her that they’ll be sticking around until they’re ready to leave, which could be at least a week.  As for this community?  Folks call it The Kingdom.  Carol worries if Morgan told the members about where they’re from, but Morgan wasn’t specific.

Anyway, Morgan is taking Carol to meet the group’s leader, who calls himself King Ezekiel.  As Morgan wheels Carol into an auditorium, we meet him.

the-well-king-ezekiel-played-by-khary-payton-and-his-tiger-shiva

Sitting on a throne with his tiger, named Shiva, at his side, is King Ezekiel, played by Khary Payton.  Ezekiel feels his tiger’s concern since neither of them have met Carol, but if she’s a friend of Morgan, then both are a friend of the realm.  Ezekiel formally introduces Carol to The Kingdom.

Carol remains silent.  Ezekiel senses her skepticism, so he asks what she thinks of the Kingdom.  Carol finds it all amazing, as she has no idea what the hell is going on in the most wonderful way.  Ezekiel encourages those who come to the community to enjoy it for as long as they like, as long as they contribute.

the-well-jerry-played-by-cooper-andrews-offers-carol-some-fruit

Drink from the well and replenish it in return.  Ezekiel’s right hand man, Jerry, played by Cooper Andrews, offers Carol some fruit, but she refuses.  Not even a pomegranate.

the-well-morgan-and-carol-debate-about-the-kingdom

But all Carol would like is some rest and a hairbrush.  With that, Morgan wheels Carol out.  Naturally, Carol is skeptical.  She calls the place make-believe and refuses to stay.  She’ll wait, and when Morgan isn’t there, she’ll leave.  And the decision isn’t up to him.  Morgan knows what he’s started, but he won’t let Carol die.  But to Carol, it doesn’t matter what Morgan does.

the-well-ezekiel-and-others-deal-with-walkers

Ezekiel brings Morgan along to accompany him and some Kingdom followers out for work. The group herds some pigs into a room with a tied-up walker, which Morgan finds problematic.  This is to fill the pigs up with rot.  The group takes care of some approaching walkers, with Ezekiel delivering the final blow since Benjamin, played by Logan Miller, can’t bring himself to do it.

They tell Morgan that the folks back home don’t need to know any of this, whether it’s pigs eating the dead or anything else.  As Morgan spots another caravan heading off, he’s only told that they’re going somewhere else.

Now there’s a reason that the pigs are feasting on a walker, but we’ll get to that later.

the-well-ezekiel-asks-morgan-to-train-benjamin

Ezekiel compliments Morgan’s skill with his staff and asks where he learned.  The two talk, with Ezekiel talking of pessimists and optimists.  The realist, though, looks look forward.  He thinks that Benjamin’s path needs adjustment since he’s not good with munitions or blades, so hopefully Morgan can train him.

Morgan tells Ezekiel that the man he shot to save Carol wasn’t killed by the staff.  True enough, but it has saved Morgan.  Ezekiel is confident that Benjamin will become a vital member of his court, but he needs to be trained and survive.  Morgan soon agrees.  The Kingdom is favored by Morgan’s presence, apparently.

the-well-carol-laughs-about-lunch-cobbler

As life in The Kingdom continues, Carol remains skeptical.  While Morgan trains Benjamin, Carol wheels herself around and grabs a blade.  Later, she talks with one of the community members about different kinds of cobblers.  Did you know that there’s lunch cobbler?  Carol still finds it all hilarious.  Lunch cobbler is hilarious.

the-well-benjamin-played-by-logan-miller-asks-morgan-about-his-philosophy

Benjamin asks Morgan about his philosophy book and asks if he can borrow it since he’s read every book in the community.  Ezekiel approaches and tells the two men to follow him for an important matter.

the-well-ezekiel-and-his-group-meet-with-a-pack-of-saviors

Ezekiel later tells Morgan that the secrets he keeps from the community are also burdens. And we learn just why the pigs feed on walkers, as the Kingdom folks are joined by a group of Saviors who are ready to pick up their eight, well fed hogs that totally didn’t just feast on a walker.  Ezekiel, you sly son of a bitch.

One of the Saviors picks a fight with one of the Kingdom members, Richard, played by Karl Makinen.  A fight breaks out, but Ezekiel orders his troops to lower their weapons. This is not how they act.  So the Savior gets in a few free shots at Richard.

But the leader of this small Savior group orders his man to stop, saying that the Kingdom has been good to the Saviors.  Ezekiel tells Richard that they will discuss this later.  The Saviors will be back in seven days for produce week.

If they don’t deliver, Richard will come first.  Morgan tells Ezekiel that the man he killed was also a Savior.  He then asks if he’s been brought to the Kingdom because he can kill Saviors again, but Ezekiel says that isn’t why he’s here.  In fact, it’s the opposite.

the-well-benjamin-tells-morgan-about-his-late-father

Later, Benjamin reminds a kid, Dutch, to clean his plate before he goes off for Movie Night. When Dutch leaves, Benjamin admits to Morgan that he doesn’t what he’s doing raising him.

Ezekiel was close with Benjamin’s father, who was one of the Kingdom’s best fighters.  One year ago, Ezekiel sent some members to clear out a building, but there wasn’t enough backup.  Eight men didn’t make it out, and Benjamin’s father was one of them.

But Ezekiel is much more careful now.  He told Benjamin that he’s keeping his deal with the Saviors quiet because he thinks that people will want to fight.  That’s a fight the Kingdom would lose and Ezekiel doesn’t want to lose any more people.  Morgan wonders if the community shouldn’t fight.  Benjamin asks about a hand-written inscription in the book- not written by him, though.

It’s not about what Morgan thinks, though.  People can set you in the right direction, but they can’t show you the way.  You have to figure that out for yourself.  Morgan thought that he had it, but he didn’t.  Sometimes, we change our minds, and right now, Morgan is fumbling.  Anyway, Morgan heads off to talk with Carol.

the-well-morgan-finds-carol-isnt-in-her-room

But when Morgan goes to check on Carol, he finds the room empty.

the-well-ezekiel-tells-carol-that-he-sees-through-her-innocent-act

That night, Carol picks some fruit when Ezekiel spots her.  He had the area re-purposed into a garden and it’s his favorite place in the Kingdom.  He’s glad that she’s seen the area before she chooses to leave.  Carol apologizes, but she feels that she’s no good here.  Ezekiel excuses Jerry, who overstays his welcome, and reminds Carol to not bullshit a bullshitter.

He sees right through Carol’s sweet and innocent act- it even worked on him for a bit.  She blends in and get people to trust her, and then she leaves, as if she wasn’t there.  It turns out that Carol’s guns in her pack belong to The Saviors.  Though she won her fight with them, she remains skeptical of the Kingdom, as she calls it and Ezekiel one big joke.  Outside is real.

Carol thought she could just be, but in her mind, Ezekiel is selling people a fairy tale.  Ezekiel takes a seat next to her and tells her that people want someone to follow.  It’s human nature that people want someone to make them feel safe.  If they see a man with a tiger, people star to tell stories about how he wrestled it into submission and turned it into his pet.

So yeah, Ezekiel became something larger than life.  Who was he to burst people’s bubble?  Next thing he knew, people treated him like royalty.  So Ezekiel gave the people someone to follow and faked it until he made it.  He was just a damn zookeeper.

One day, Shiva fell into a concrete moat and her leg was ripped open.  She would have bled out.  Ezekiel knew the risk, but he had to try, so he wrapped his shirt around her leg and saved her life.  After that, she never showed as much as a toot in his direction.  Keeping a tiger isn’t practical, though, yes.  Ezekiel has lost a lot, just like everyone else.

When the world went to shit, Shiva was one of the remaining animals at the zoo- trapped and alone, just like him.  She was the last thing in this world that Ezekiel loved and she protected him.  She ended up making him larger than life.  Ezekiel also used to act in community theater.  At the very least, Ezekiel is his real name.  But he does want Carol to keep all this to herself for the sake of the community…and a little bit for himself.

the-well-carol-hears-ezekiels-story

And yet, Carol doesn’t care.  Ezekiel can do what he wants, but she wants to leave.  As Carol leaves, Ezekiel apologizes for whatever shit she’s been through.  There’s far too much of it out there.  It can feel even worse when you’re alone.  The thing is, though, it’s not all bad.  It isn’t.  Life isn’t, and where there’s life, there’s hope, heroism, grace, and love.

Carol may be walking around lost, but Ezekiel found a way to deal with all the bad shit.  He embraced the contradiction and, yes, went overboard.   Carol could do the same- she could leave and not leave.  Crazy as Ezekiel sounds, he’s willing to help if Carol lets him.  Why does Ezekiel even care?  It makes him feel good.  He then offers Carol to help her if she is indeed leaving.

the-well-morgan-escorts-carol-to-the-house-by-the-kingdom

The next day, Morgan escorts Carol to a house just outside the walls of the Kingdom- the same house we saw earlier in the episode.  Morgan admits that the decision should have always been up to him and calls Carol his favorite person that he’s ever knocked out.  Well, that’s high praise.  The two bid each other a sort-of farewell.  As Morgan leaves, Carol enters the home and kills the walker.  She later buries it in the yard.

the-well-ezekiel-tells-carol-that-shes-gotta-try-the-pomegranate

Later, she tends to a fire when there’s a knock at the door.  It’s Ezekiel and Shiva, with Ezekiel insisting that Carol try one of the pomegranate.

Remember how, right after the very serious “No Way Out,” we got the fun and comedic adventures of “The Next World” where Rick and Daryl engaged in a comedy of errors while chasing down Jesus?  And how that episode ended with Jesus confronting Rick and Michonne, who were ready to fight him completely naked?

the-well-carol-doesnt-believe-in-ezekiel-or-the-kingdom

“The Well” is that kind of light-hearted fun in the aftermath of Negan showing Rick and the others that he means business.  It opens up the world of The Walking Dead and introduces viewers to another community, but reminded us of the seriousness of dealing with the Saviors.  It was fun when it needed to be, but also serious when the situations called for it.

the-well-morgan-sits-at-carols-bedside

We aren’t given a clear indication of when this episode takes place compared to the previous one, but given the timeline of “Last Day on Earth,” I’m thinking that Carol and Morgan must arrive and spend their first day at the Kingdom around the same time that Rick and company are captured by Negan.  That’s my best guess, anyway.

the-well-savior-leader-acknowledges-that-the-kingdom-has-been-good-to-them

In addition, the presence of Saviors could either be other members that came from the Sanctuary, or these could be part of the group that captured the survivors.  They could have just gone to the Kingdom after leaving Rick’s group.  Even if not spelled out, it’s an interesting juxtaposition to have Morgan and Carol living in this supposedly carefree community while their friends have been brought to a low point by Negan.

the-well-ezekiel-talks-with-one-of-the-saviors

And even though he himself is not here, Negan’s presence is still felt by Saviors arriving to collect their tribute.  On the Saviors for a second, they seem to have established some kind of rapport with the Kingdom to the point that the leader of the group tries to avoid a fight.  Little do they know that they’re being fed poisoned pigs, which, I’ll admit, is a pretty damn clever plan, even if it doesn’t work in the short or long term.

the-well-carol-finds-the-kingdom-to-be-make-believe

I’ll get to the inhabitants of the Kingdom in a second, but as for Carol, I’m mixed on her at the moment.  I like that she keeps up the innocent act so she can, as Ezekiel pointed out, blend in, and it shows how wary she remains of something that looks too good to be true. Given what the group has seen and endured from other communities so far, I can’t say that I blame her.

But while Alexandria felt like a safe haven, the Kingdom is too good to be real.  A thriving, seemingly carefree community ruled by a man with a tiger?  Lunch cobbler?  A choir? Yeah, it does smell like bullshit.  Unlike Rick, though, Carol doesn’t just come off as antagonistic or go up and punch a stranger in the face.  She is, in fact, the alert Mama Bear, and despite her condition, she doesn’t drop her defenses.

the-well-carol-prepared-to-leave-the-kingdom

By episode’s end, she seems to have warmed to Ezekiel after he gets straight with her, but this is where I don’t know what to expect from Carol.  At the start, she still appears out of it.  I can’t tell whether she’s snapped out of her desire to die or if she’s still against killing.  At least, killing the living, since she took care of the walker in the home.  But is she back to normal or still hiding something?  Time will tell.

the-well-morgan-tells-benjamin-that-hes-still-trying-to-find-his-way

Morgan has come a long way since Eastman’s teachings due to spending time with Carol. He doesn’t want to kill, but realizes more than ever that when put in a dangerous situation, he may not have a choice.  As the world continues to change, so does he, and hopefully this means he’s becoming someone more willing to kill instead of neutralize when he’s threatened.  His outlook on life is changing for the better when it comes to survival.

the-well-morgan-wonders-why-the-pigs-are-feeding-on-a-walker

While Eastman showed Morgan a better direction, he’s been finding the way himself, and I believe that he’s learned from his mistakes.  Him letting the Wolves escape is what led to them almost killing Rick.  And allowing the Wolf leader led to him taking Denise hostage. But when put in a situation where Carol almost died, Morgan made the ultimate choice. His staff has saved his life many times, but it was the gun that saved Carol’s.

the-well-morgan-tells-ezekiel-that-the-stick-didnt-save-carols-life

I think Morgan connects more with the people of the Kingdom than the folks in Alexandria. Under Rick’s rule, the people of Alexandria must be ready to fight. But the people of the Kingdom, while they may have a desire to fight, don’t necessarily want to, more so if the odds are high that they would lose.  I look forward to seeing how Morgan will mentor Benjamin.

the-well-morgan-and-benjamin-train

The Kingdom itself is what the Alexandria Safe Zone wishes it could be.  Even if unprepared, the inhabitants are ready to fight.  More than that, they’re well aware of the dangers from both walkers and other people like the Saviors.  And while Deanna was interested in community building, Ezekiel, though putting on an act, gives off the vibe of a capable leader willing to lead his people into battle.

the-well-ezekiel-speaks-with-carol

And chalk this up to The Walking Dead once again nailing a casting.  Khary Payton makes a great first impression as Ezekiel.  He walks and speaks with an air of confidence, but not arrogance.  He participates in hunts and dealings with other communities, can handle himself when dealing with walkers, and has given the people of the Kingdom someone they can trust.

the-well-ezekiel-knows-carol-is-faking

He’s active in training his followers and is very welcoming to Carol and Morgan, but despite how kind he appears, Ezekiel is no fool.  And I like how he sees right through Carol’s bullshit.  This isn’t a role that Ezekiel wanted.  But when an urban legend gets out of hand, in a world where hope seems lost, what choice is there but to embrace the fantasy and restore optimism to survivors?

the-well-ezekiel-tells-carol-that-she-can-leave-and-still-stay

Hearing Ezekiel’s backstory helps humanize and makes him very relatable because, just like Carol, he’s wearing a mask.  Behind that bravado and tiger is a man who was just a zookeeper and community theater actor.  He didn’t tame Shiva- just loved her.  And while this humanizes Ezekiel, it also allows him to gain some of Carol’s trust, as she was ready to walk away from the Kingdom.

the-well-carol-finds-ezekiel-at-her-door

I don’t know yet where the show will take these two.  Is the show setting them up for a relationship of sorts?  It’s too soon to tell, but since Michonne is currently with Rick, it doesn’t look like she’ll follow her comic counterpart and enter a relationship with Ezekiel. At least, not yet.  Again, there’s not much to go off of yet, but there seems to be something there

“The Well” is solid, light-hearted episode that opens up the world of The Walking Dead even more through the introduction of Ezekiel and the Kingdom, progressed Morgan and Carol’s character development, and showed that despite the likes of the Saviors terrorizing and antagonizing other communities, the Kingdom is a sign that there’s still hope in the world.  Ezekiel had a strong debut and I can’t wait to see more of him.

A Look at The Walking Dead #159- “The Whisperer War: Part 3 of 6”

the-walking-dead-159-cover

You can always count on Robert Kirkman to find a way to surprise or shock you when reading The Walking Dead.  And that’s the case here with the third installment of The Whisperer War.  It’s a great read with plenty of good character moments, with Dwight in particular stepping up as a leader in this war.

the-walking-dead-159-negan-versus-beta

But before getting there, Negan versus Beta.  Unlike Alpha, I would expect Beta to stay around much longer than her, but there’s no question that Beta lost this battle to Negan.  It helps that Negan was more than ready to kill and even if there are some who still hate Negan for the terrible things that he’s done, he’s proving himself a useful ally here.

the-walking-dead-159-dwight-tosses-lucille-to-negan

And seeing Dwight toss Lucille to Negan was a great sight that made it feel like a true reunion.  And let’s be honest, it is.  Given how long Negan has been without her, and how he did tell Dwight that he’d get her back, this was the reunion we wanted and got as Negan laid waste to Beta.

the-walking-dead-159-lucille-breaks

But then, she breaks.  You know, let’s take a step backwards, because this is a pretty clever move.  As the ongoing story progresses, we’re also getting Negan’s backstory in the “Here’s Negan” mini-series.  As of recent, we learned about the origin of Lucille’s name, and just when Negan reclaims her, she’s gone.

Now I’m wondering just how damn sturdy Lucille is.  Negan had her for quite awhile and we know she’s been used to smack across roamers and humans alike.  That she survived for this long is proof of her durability.  And yes, Negan’s rage may be exaggerated because at the end of the day, we’re talking about a bat wrapped in barbed wire, but damn it if it doesn’t sting nonetheless.

Hell, Lucille isn’t even technically a character, but I feel like I lost something with her breaking.  Now Negan could always make a similar weapon or a new one altogether, but whatever he does, it’s the end of an era here with Lucille’s death.  Godspeed, Lucille.  Yes, you took Glenn from us, but you remained in our hearts.

the-walking-dead-159-dwights-plan

Okay, moving on, so the team manages to keep the Whisperers at bay for awhile, but once more roamers arrive, Dwight steps up and decides to divide and conquer.  I’ve said it before and will no doubt say it again, but Dwight has ended up proving Rick right.  He didn’t want the leadership position, but Rick gave it anyway.  Now that he has it, he’s proving to be an effective strategist.

the-walking-dead-159-roamers-arrive

And it’s a good plan as well.  No way should this small band be expected to take on that many roamers and potential Whisperers, so why not divide them up?  This gives them more time to weed out as many roamers as possible, but also formulate a plan to keep the oncoming herd from reaching one of the communities.

the-walking-dead-159-lydia-doesnt-love-carl

Like the Hilltop, which is how I’ll segue over there.  Oh, Carl.  Poor, young Carl.  Lydia comes along and takes his virginity, and sometime after that, she says that she doesn’t love him, despite appreciating all he’s done- not to mention defending her.  So after all that, Lydia puts Carl right in the friend zone.

But, to be fair, Lydia has a good point about the difference between Carl’s group and the Whisperers.  The Whisperers just exist for nothing more than to survive and kill for their leader.  Carl and company, though, they want to rebuild society.  They want to make civilization what it was before the world went to hell.  To the Whisperers, they’re already in hell.

So, in a way, those emotions make Carl’s group seem weak.  And I gotta give Carl credit for making a stand, thinking that Lydia was talking to him out of fear.  He really is his father’s son, refusing to be swayed by a scary premonition.  But even a badass like Carl can’t be with Lydia forever, so she breaks it off.  Of course, they can probably still fuck, but Lydia tells Carl that he shouldn’t think that it’s love.

Zoned!  But at the very least, this could open the door for Sophia to make a move.

the-walking-dead-159-william-threatens-zachary

Okay, I’m finished.  Moving onto the Kingdom for a second, damn this was a great scene.  So much got across in so little panel time, but William showed some serious fortitude here.  Zachary questioned his leadership and strength, but William is more than capable of leading.  Plus, despite his loyalty to Rick, he’s looking at the bigger picture.

If the Whisperers overwhelm and kill those sent out to fight them, of course they’ll start heading for the communities.  And William will be damned if he puts his people in danger or sit on the sidelines while other people risk their lives.  So as we see here, anyone who questions William’s leadership better be prepared to defend themselves.

the-walking-dead-159-groups-in-alexandria

We get snippets of life at Alexandria, with Rick still taking a backseat approach while Dwight leads the team in the field.  It is unfortunate and inconvenient that there’s no way to be in contact with them because now Rick has no way of what’s going on with the others. And that could end up being a huge problem with where we end up by the of the issue.

the-walking-dead-159-capturing-a-whisperer

the-walking-dead-159-dwight-dresses-up-as-a-whisperer

And that’s with Dwight’s group dressing up as the Whisperers.  It’s a good idea that could draw away some of the herds and kill Whisperers at the same time, but there’s a problem. Again, with Rick unaware of what’s happening, suppose Dwight’s group runs into someone from one of the communities that isn’t aware of his plan.  They could just see an approaching Whisperer and open fire, like on the show when Andrea shot Daryl.

So now we just wait and see what becomes of this plan, but all in all, a great issue.  We bid farewell to Lucille, Carl gets zoned by Lydia, and Dwight puts his plan into action to take down the Whisperers from within.  Meanwhile, keep an eye on the Saviors, who are trying to still stop Vincent.  They could still prove to be a thorn in Rick’s side if they don’t cooperate.

Still, though, great read.