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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Rick now knows that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 4: “Service”

So you’ve lost two of your friends to a madman with a bat, you’re given a week to prepare him an offering, and even though everything may not be in preparation for his arrival, he decides to give you a surprise by strolling right up to your doorstep early because he loves you so much.

If the weak residents of the Alexandria Safe Zone have already had rude awakenings about life outside the walls before, they’re in for a real nightmare when Negan arrives.  Welcome to “Service.”

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The episode begins in Alexandria as Michonne awakens before Rick does.  As she’s ready for the day, with her sword on her back, she retrieves a sniper rifle from the fireplace.  No one ever thinks to check the fireplace.  She stuffs the gun inside a bag and exits without saying a word to Rick, who watches her leave.

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Michonne then stakes a post at an abandoned truck in the middle of an empty field and waits.

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While Rick cares to Judith, Rosita and Spencer return to Alexandria and ask Eugene to open the gate so they can find things for their offering.  Eugene, though, is busy working on a radio and isn’t into joining them.  He’s repairing the radio for the Saviors- that’s his part.  However, no one will be leaving anytime soon.

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The sound of many approaching vehicles gets their attention.  From the other side, Negan marches up and bangs on the gates of the Alexandria Safe Zone, demanding entrance.  Spencer isn’t familiar with Negan, but then Rick arrives.  He’s hesitant to open the gate at first since Negan has arrived earlier than expected, but Negan just missed Rick.  Negan then makes quick work of an approaching walker for the sport of it.

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As the Saviors unload, with Daryl in tow, Negan says that what he did was service.  Despite Spencer not knowing him, Negan killed a walker that could have killed him.  As Negan enters, he hands Lucille over to Rick and walks right into the Alexandria Safe Zone.  He calls it an embarrassment of riches and tells Rick that there will be plenty to offer.  Also, Negan doesn’t allow Rick to speak with Daryl.  Same for the others as well.

In addition, Rick doesn’t decide what the Saviors take- that’s up to Negan.  One of the female Saviors, Arat, played by Elizabeth Ludlow, calls the others into action and they make their way into the area to search the houses and keep the process moving.  The residents seem stunned, but are unable to act.  Rick then begins showing Negan around the zone.

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Dwight relieves Rosita and Spencer of their firearms, both on them and in the vehicle they planned to use for travel.  With that settled, he has a job for Rosita- find Daryl’s bike.  It’s not there, but if that’s the case, Rosita must know where it is.  Dwight then, for some reason, also relieves Rosita of her hat.  Now she’s good to go.  To pour salt in the wound, Dwight even empties out Rosita’s water.  Best not to take long.

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Back in the field that time forgot, Michonne spots an approaching walker, but misses with every shot that she takes.  So she takes out her sword and does this the old fashioned way.  Could’ve saved yourself a lot of bullets, Michonne.  She later heads into the woods and finds a dead deer on the ground.

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As the Saviors get to work taking what they want, Negan tells Rick that he and his people are indeed reasonable people.  One Savior gives Negan the video camera containing Deanna’s video interviews.  Negan finds it hard to believe that Rick had such a beard and never would have messed with that man.  As he turns the camera on Rick, Negan says that the Rick on that interview isn’t the Rick that stands before him.

Negan then asks about Maggie.  That gets under Rick’s skin, but he has to be careful how he looks at Negan.  Widows like Maggie are special.  Right after the husbands go, they are empty inside, but not for long.

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Then Gabriel out of nowhere, who asks Negan if he wants to pay his respects.  Negan asks if Maggie didn’t make it, and Gabriel confirms that the worst happened.  To prove it, he even takes Negan to the cemetery, where he sees three new graves.  A shame, as Negan would have asked Maggie to come back with him, despite what he did to Glenn.  Then a gunshot rings out.

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Carl holds a gun to some Saviors who are taking all of the medicine instead of half.  When Negan arrives, Carl tells him that he needs to leave before he finds out how dangerous everyone is.  Negan isn’t about to let Rick help his son.  In fact, he likes Carl and tells him that half is what he says it is.  He asks Carl if he wants him to prove how serious he is. Again.  With that, Carl lowers the firearm.

This reminds Negan that Rick has a lot of guns, and given how Rick took a lot of guns from Negan’s outpost, this must mean that Rick has even more guns.  And as Carl’s outburst has shown, Negan can’t allow that.  Those guns all belong to Negan.

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So Rick brings Negan and a group of Saviors to Olivia, who takes them to the armory.  While the Saviors head with Olivia, Negan tells Rick that he’s not taking any food.  It’s slim pickings and if Rick starves to death, Negan won’t get anything, so for now, Alexandria gets to keep its food.  Rick is unsure how to respond, but all Negan wants is a thank you.  The two got off to a rough start, yes, but Rick forced Negan’s hand.

Negan knows the two started off on the wrong foot, but he’s reasonable as long as Rick cooperates.  He asks if Rick is cooperating, and Negan knows what it looks like, but he’s wondering if Rick may have some hidden firearms.  Rick says that they’re all indeed in the armory.

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On the road, Rosita and Spencer find Daryl’s motorcycle by the train tracks.  Spencer realizes that the Saviors outnumber the Alexandrian community and accepts that this is their way of life due to Rick’s actions.  Spencer believes that things might have been different and some people wouldn’t be dead if Rick rethought his actions.  Now, though, they have to learn to live with this.  Rosita, though, heads into the woods.

As the Saviors load the guns, Negan picks up one to find out if Rick has taken care of his guns…and finds out by firing into one of the windows.  Then another Savior brings out the rocket launcher- the same one that Daryl used to take out some Saviors on the road.

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Arat informs Negan that the group is short two firearms.  Rick acknowledges that some people left for a run and took the guns with them.  Olivia maintains that the inventory is correct, but  she’s still two handguns short.  To Negan, this means someone isn’t on board and he can’t have that.  He tells Olivia that he doesn’t like killing women.  Men, that’s no problem, but at the end of the day, this is Olivia’s problem.

Negan is going to work this out right now.  Olivia screwed up at keeping track of guns, and that shit is life and death.

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Later, in the church, Rick tells the community that he thought of hiding some guns since he did it before.  What if the Saviors found those guns, though?  Someone could die.  It doesn’t matter how many bullets the Alexandrians have because the Saviors will still win.  Hiding a few guns isn’t the answer.  No one has to like it, but the guns have to be given to the Saviors.  He then asks the group about the two missing guns.

If those guns aren’t found, Olivia will die.  One of the residents asks Rick why the Saviors care since two guns shouldn’t mean much to them.  Rick responds that most of the community didn’t see what Negan did to Glenn and Abraham.  They can look away or help solve this now.

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Eric asks what the way out is if they find the guns, but Rick says there is no way out.  And with that, he tells the group that he isn’t in charge- Negan is.  Eugene then notes that everyone isn’t present at the meeting.

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Back in the woods, Rosita tries to approach the walkers and stealthily take them out, but Spencer calls out to her, attracting the roamers.  Nonetheless, Rosita is able to take out the walkers because that’s how Rosita rolls.  She then finds a gun, but the clip is empty.  She knows that Negan will take all of the guns and isn’t afraid of Spencer ratting her out.  Unlike Spencer, Rosita doesn’t believe that this has to be her life.

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So Negan is enjoying some lemonade with Olivia at his side since she doesn’t really have a choice.  Rick searches Spencer’s home to find the missing guns, but just ends up making a damn mess.  Gabriel tells Rick that he feels that this will work out and that they will find the guns.  Rick doesn’t believe that there’s a way to beat this, but Gabriel has faith in Rick.  Things change.  After all, Rick and Gabriel weren’t always friends.

Rick doesn’t believe that Michonne has the guns, and he thanks Gabriel for the makeshift grave he made for Maggie.  Aaron tells Rick that he found nothing at Rosita’s spot.  Even still, they will keep looking for the guns.  As Aaron and Gabriel leave, Rick pulls up an air vent and, after finding a few items, pulls out two firearms.

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In a bit of an uncomfortable scene, another Savior relieves Enid of her balloons and tells her to say please if she really wants them.  When Enid complies, the Savior returns them.  Well, he drops them.  Carl doesn’t like this shit one bit, but Rick assures his son that the Saviors will be gone soon.

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Negan is pleased to have the two guns back.  He asks which resident held the guns and this matters very much since everyone needs to be on board.  If not, the two sides end up back at square one.

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The Saviors are soon ready to depart just as Spencer and Rosita return.  Rick asks Negan for a second, and Negan eventually grants it.  Rick heads over and meets with Michonne and tells her how Rick made him hold Lucille.  He then tells her that he needs the rifle and knows that she’s out there practicing.  Michonne refuses to give up her gun, but Rick isn’t about to lose anyone else.

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Michonne does concede as Rick hands over the rifle to Negan, who is glad that Rick gets the message.  Now that Negan knows he can follow the rules, Rick asks if Daryl can stay.  Negan isn’t sure.  He wants to see if Daryl can sway him.  Daryl, though, doesn’t speak.

Now Negan tells Rick to start trying harder because the Saviors will be back.  If Rick doesn’t have something interesting for the Saviors, someone is going to die.  And no more magic guns.  Negan is also glad that Michonne brought a deer.  Good to have a woman hand over food without expecting him to put out.

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Now that Dwight has Daryl’s motorcycle, he gives Rosita back her hat.  He hopes that Rosita can find a place to lay her head tonight.  When asked if she found anything else, Rosita responds that she only found Dwight’s dead friends.  Nothing else.

Dwight tells Daryl that he can have his motorcycle back if he just says the word.  Daryl, though, still doesn’t respond.  Well, nobody died.  Negan thinks that he and Rick will find his understanding.  He then asks Rick if he wants him to leave.  Rick thinks that would be good, so he thanks Negan.  Another walker approaches, so Negan takes it out with a candlestick.  Rick’s grip on Lucille tightens, but nothing comes of it.

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Before Negan leaves, he remembers Lucille.  Negan thanks Rick for being so accommodating.  Also, Negan tells Rick that he just slid his dick down Rick’s throat and Rick thanked him for it.  Very important to know.  With that, the Saviors depart.

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With the Saviors gone, Rick tells Spencer about the guns he took from his house since there were two missing.  Rick calls Spencer weak for hoarding guns and food, but he just got lucky.  Spencer counters that the group should have made a deal with the Saviors when they had a chance.

This doesn’t get to Rick until Spencer says Glenn and Abraham were lucky. This prompts Rick to warn Spencer that if he says any shit like that to him again, he’ll break Spencer’s jaw and knock out his teeth.

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Rosita is also pissed that Spencer had guns, but Spencer’s justification is that he doesn’t trust Rick.  He worried about him being in charge and admits that Rosita was right- this doesn’t have to be their way of life. As Spencer leaves, Rosita pulls out another gun hidden under one of the car’s wheels.

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With the mattresses gone, Rick fixes himself a makeshift bed.  Michonne tells Rick that the rifle was from the outpost and more guns could have been hidden, but she apparently didn’t hide anymore.  Hmm.  Michonne tells Rick that everything they’ve earned came from them fighting for it.  Rick doesn’t believe that they have the numbers, even with the Hilltop.

Rick’s plan is to play by the rules and have some sort of life.  He then brings up how Shane got Lori and Carl to safety after the outbreak started.  Since Lori and Shane believed Rick was dead, they got together.  Rick knows and accepts that Judith isn’t his, but he loves her as a daughter and will do what it takes to keep her alive.  He’ll die before she does and Rick hopes that’s a long time from now so Judith can learn how to survive.

This is how Rick lives now.  Michonne tells Rick that it’s not his fault when people die, but Rick says that sometimes it is.  He needs everyone to accept these terms or this won’t work.  As Michonne gets to work helping Rick with the mattress, she tells Rick that she’ll try.

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Sometime later, Michonne returns to the field and climbs atop the truck once again. However, something in the distance gets her attention.  Soon enough, she finds the smoldering remains of the now burned mattresses.

Okay, that’s just a dick move, Saviors.

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That evening, Rosita, after coming across a shell casing, comes to Eugene and asks him to make her a bullet.

“Strategy” is a good episode with a few minor issues I have that don’t hinder my enjoyment, but do stand out enough to be noticeable.  However, it was a change of pace to see the residents of Alexandria get a taste of what Rick’s group had to contend with on the road and comply with the Negan’s demands.

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As Negan said in the premiere, it’s a brand new beginning for everyone.  He and the Saviors swarm the Alexandria Safe Zone and hover over it like hawks for as long as they please and I was on edge at times to see how the residents would react, who might break, and how they would deal with this gang coming in and ransacking their homes.

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It didn’t help that Negan changes the terms by saying that he dictates what half is.  Again, I can watch Jeffrey Dean Morgan all day and never tire of his performance.  Negan strolls into Alexandria like he owns the place and gets off on degrading Rick to where he is now. Negan tests Rick, handing him the very instrument that was used to kill Glenn and Abraham, and gives Rick many opportunities to retaliate, knowing that Rick won’t.

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Despite how Negan strips Rick and Alexandria of what they have, the man is willing to barter.  He says often that he’s reasonable as long as everyone else cooperates, and that’s the case when he allows Rick to keep the food.  What good are servants if they’re starving, after all?  As we saw at the Kingdom, though the Saviors are bullies, they will work with people who bend to their power.

But there are times when I can’t help but wonder if the Saviors take it too far.  Sure, that’s part of the point, but things like that one Savior taking Enid’s balloons, Negan taking all of the guns instead of some, and burning the mattresses feels like the Saviors are doing this just to fuck with Alexandria.  And not only are they doing that, but they can do that and get away with it.

These are the kinds of actions that give people like Michonne and Rosita a reason to retaliate, not keep the community docile, because we’ve seen Negan let Alexandria keep their food.  I would imagine he’d be willing to let them keep at least a few guns, but he did say that he determines what half is, as if he’s more than happy to change his own rules.

It’s not that the Saviors need the guns, chairs, mattresses, or other supplies they take from Alexandria- it’s that they can take them and know that Rick Grimes isn’t in a position to lead another attack on the Saviors.  Negan refusing to hand over Daryl or talking about how he slid his dick down Rick’s throat- it’s all to taunt Rick, as if tempting him to fight back.

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But like “Last Day on Earth,” I find it refreshing to find Rick stopped right in his tracks. This was a man who thought he could get the jump on the Saviors and crush Negan, but he learned the hard way that wasn’t the case.

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Now he’s made to watch the community members look on helplessly as they’re stripped of what they own and he can’t do anything about it.  But he managed to fool Negan in regards to Maggie ‘supposed’ death, so if anything, Rick has that card up his sleeve since we know that Maggie intends to fight.

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One of the better examples of this was when Negan goes through Deanna’s interviews- a callback I liked.  The Rick on video openly admitted to killing and wasn’t ashamed about it. This Rick is left red-eyed, neutered, and can’t raise his voice in opposition because he won’t let anyone else die.  It’s maddening to see Rick in a vulnerable state and Andrew Lincoln’s performance sells how complacent Rick has become.

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Another callback I liked was how Rick’s attitude towards Negan circled back to his relationship with Lori and Shane.  He knows that Judith isn’t his child, but he’s willing to accept that because he wants her to have a chance at survival.  Her parentage doesn’t matter because right now, Rick is all she has.  And right now, this arrangement is all that Rick has.  He may not like it, but he’s not about to let someone else die due to his actions.

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While we’ve seen Rick as a man who is more than willing to let his rage fly, it’s interesting to see how him biting his tongue and holding back his rage ends up coming out towards others.  Granted, Spencer should have known better than to bring up Glenn and Abraham, but also, Rick telling Spencer to say ‘yes’ felt the same as Negan demanding that Rick say ‘thank you.’

Segueing off of Spencer to Alexandria as a whole, I’m curious just how much the community knows about their new way of life.  Rick’s speech to the residents felt like something he said for the first time and some seemed surprised and confused when the Saviors walk into the Safe Zone without confrontation.  But I imagine someone has to know what happened to Rick’s group when they were on the road.

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Spencer obviously knows something since he brings up Abraham and Glenn, and Gabriel knew enough to make the fake graves.  And while Negan arrived ahead of schedule, I thought, given how he only gave Rick a week, he would give Alexandria as much notice as possible.  But hey, two of their comrades were just beaten to death.  They may not want to discuss this matter.

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While Rick may be willing to keep his head down for now, that’s not the same for everyone else.  Carl shows no weakness in front of Negan, Michonne kept a rifle despite the risk, and Rosita are still willing to fight.  Rosita is hiding guns and will no doubt follow-up on Eugene’s plan to make bullets, which we first learned of when he and Abraham found the factory in “Twice As Far.” Also, hope we get follow-up on Michonne learning to shoot.

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By the way, after “The Cell” softened Dwight, he looked to be back as a regular hard-ass with him taunting and, for some reason, hitting on Rosita, but given how there’s clear animosity between him and Negan, it could all be a front.

So while the survivors may have lost a bit of their bite, they aren’t defeated altogether. “Service” showed the residents of Alexandria at a low point as Negan waltzed in, pulled down their pants, leave them in vulnerable state, and serviced them with his dick while they thanked him for it.  At the very least, he didn’t feed them Lucille.  While this episode didn’t need to be as long as it was, it was enjoyable and tense all the same.

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Oh, and someone let Enid out of the closet.  That’s good at least.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 6, Episode 15: “East”

I know that I should be focused on the episode as a whole, but I can’t get the ending out of my head.  This is “East.”

East- Carol and Tobin talk

The episode begins with Carol packing to leave when Tobin enters.  He’s got a bruise from a slip when trying to build a new guard tower, but Carol is tuning him out as he talks about the infirmary being quiet since Denise’s death.  She just stares and nods, as most people do during conversations.  She’s more worried about how Tara will feel when she learns about Denise.

East- Michonne and Rick share an apple

That evening, while Tobin sleeps, Carol slips out.  The next morning, as everyone goes about their routines, we get Rick and Michonne in bed as the two share an apple, noting that Jesus came through with his promise on food.  Rick wants to fool around since Judith isn’t up yet, but Michonne has plans.  Maggie asked her to put up more bins and watch points- for a potential attack- and she has a detailed schedule.

As Rick and Michonne note, you don’t want to piss off a pregnant woman.  Rick promises to end the Saviors when they come because the people of Alexandria are prepared for an attack.  The world is theirs and they know how to take it.  Everything they need is right inside the walls of Alexandria and Rick won’t lose any of it again.

East- Daryl prepares to leave the Safe Zone

So Maggie, Glenn, and Michonne go over hiding spots for guns when they spot Daryl leaving the safe zone.  He doesn’t give specifics on where he’s headed and leaves before anyone can stop him.  Because Rosita has an idea of where he’s headed, she joins Glenn, Maggie, and Michonne to follow him.  Abraham is left to cover her shift.

East- Rick, Tobin, and Morgan wonder when Carol left

Tobin then gives Rick the note that Carol left, but he’s unsure when she left or if she’s on foot.  No one saw anything, and if that wasn’t enough, one of the two new cars outside the Safe Zone is now missing.  Morgan and Rick also leave to join the search, with Rick telling the others to stay back and prepare for a fight.

East- A group of Saviors confront Carol

So Carol did indeed swipe one of the missing vehicles Tobin spoke of and spots a car heading in her direction.  The men in the passing car fire at her tires, forcing her to stop.  She exits and offers the car, but the men want information about where Carol is from and where she’s headed.  Carol says that she’s Nancy from Montclair, but she’s bounced around a lot and keeps moving.

The men know about the Alexandria Safe Zone and the cars with spikes through them, just like the one Carol is driving.  Turns out these men were on the way to the zone.  Carol, pulling another hyperventilating act, tells the men that it doesn’t have to be this way and no one doesn’t to get hurt.  Then bullets cut through the men like Swiss cheese.  Good thing Carol’s right hand doubles as a gun.

However, turns out that Carol missed one of the men, but she ends up skewering him with one of the spikes.  Another of the men still lives and lunges forward with his blade.

East- Enid offers to cover Maggie's shift

Maggie joins Enid in the food pantry, telling her that she’s taking an extra shift since so many people are gone.  Before Maggie can prepare her lunch, Enid offers to take said shift for a few hours so Maggie can rest.

East- Rick and Morgan talk about Carol

On the road, Morgan tells Rick that he didn’t have to come.  It’s a long shot, but Rick still wants to try.  Morgan asks about the attack on the Savior compound, which was West, while Carol went East.  Rick tells Morgan that he doesn’t know Carol, and while that’s true, Morgan has had time to do so.  Rick then asks why Morgan is doing this.

Morgan knows that he isn’t right because there is no right.  It’s the wrong that doesn’t pull you down.  Rick believes it hasn’t pulled him down, though, but Morgan thinks that it will because he knows Rick.

East- Rick and Morgan find some Saviors

The two soon happen upon the injured men in the road.  They spot Carol’s car and Rick stabs one of the injured men that he figures for Saviors.  Judging by the blood on the spike, Morgan assumes that Carol might have been hit.  Rick is proud of Carol for taking down four Saviors, but Morgan points to the fact that Carol still left.

Morgan spots a blood trail that leads into the field.  As the two head into the field, the remaining man emerges from the woods, picks up Carol’s rosary and, for reasons I can’t determine, follows the two into the woods.

East- Rosita, Glenn, and Michonne find Daryl and try to convince him to return

Rosita, Glenn, and Michonne arrive at the train tracks where Denise died and find Daryl’s motorcycle.  Rosita wants them to just let Daryl go after the Saviors so he can let out some steam, but Glenn thinks that Daryl is going to get himself killed.

Soon enough, they find Daryl, who shoots an arrow that almost hits Rosita.  He still blames himself for letting Dwight get the best of him.  Glenn tells Daryl to stop doing this for himself since Denise is dead.  They need to figure this out at home or things will go wrong out in the woods.  Despite Glenn’s talent for speeches, Daryl refuses to return.  Hell, Rosita ends up joining him.  The two groups go their separate ways.

East- Michonne and Glenn surrounded by Saviors

Glenn tells Michonne that the Saviors could be in Alexandria right now.  Despite this, with everything the group has endured together, it’s possible they could overcome this situation, too.  To Glenn, though, between the Hilltop and the Saviors, the world is bigger than everyone realized.  At the sound of a whistle, they spot Saviors, Dwight among them, surrounding them from every direction.

East- Morgan and Rick find a patch of blood

Morgan and Rick continue their search for Carol when they find a patch of blood in the grass.  Rick is out here because Carol is family, but Morgan has learned what happened at the prison and how Rick sent Carol away due to her killing Karen and David.

If that had happened today, though, Rick would have thanked Carol or killed Karen and David himself due to the disease.  However, Rick didn’t kill Carol.  And it’s due to Rick sending Carol away that she ended up saving him at Terminus.  In Morgan’s mind, people can come back.

East- Rick reminds Morgan that he doesn't take chances anymore

The two come upon a barn and find a man who is looking for his horse.  He tells them that they’re coming and runs off as several walkers approach.  Morgan and Rick make quick work of them.  Turns out that the spear Rick finds was from the Hilltop.  Rick thinks maybe the man was looking for Carol, or, as Morgan argues, he was looking for his horse.  Rick reiterates that he doesn’t take chances anymore.

Morgan then brings up the Wolf that attacked him on the road.  He reveals that he let him live and could have killed him, but all life is precious.  He put the Wolf in the cell in hopes that he could change.  And when the walls fell and the walkers entered, that Wolf saved Denise’s life, and Denise, in turn, ended up saving Carl.  It’s all a circle, but the fact is Morgan did what he did.  Morgan tells Rick to take the car home.

So Morgan chooses to find Carol on his own, but Rick tells him that he’ll come back.  If he doesn’t, though, Morgan doesn’t want Rick looking for him.  Rick offers his gun to Morgan and then, at last, tells him that Michonne did steal that protein bar.  Well, I guess that’s closure.

East- Abraham is ready to tear the world a new asshole

Rick returns to the Safe Zone and informs Abraham that Morgan is still out there.  Even still, Michonne hasn’t returned yet, too.  Both acknowledge that they’re afraid of going back to letting someone get close, but Abraham is much more ready to tear the world a brand new asshole.

East- Maggie's new haircut

Maggie summons Enid to give her a haircut because she has to keep going and doesn’t want anything getting in her way.  I don’t think Maggie’s hair ever got in her way, but whatever.  Anyway, this transformation is interrupted when Maggie feels a sharp pain in her stomach.

East- Dwight about to shoot Daryl

We return to the Saviors, who now have a bound and gagged Glenn and Michonne.  Daryl and Rosita stalk them from afar, but the Saviors, anticipating this, surprise Daryl and Rosita from behind.  Before Daryl can respond, Dwight fires and blood spatters on the screen like something out of a first-person shooter.

Well, that was an interesting ending.  “East” is an odd episode.  We’ve spent a good amount of time with the survivors taking a preemptive strike to Negan and the Saviors in order to prevent a war, though we know that the big man himself is set to make his counterattack soon.  The stakes have been raised and you’re just waiting for the survivors to receive their comeuppance.

East- Saviors capture Rosita and Daryl

I liked this episode, but it left me flat in a few places and I’ll start with that ending.  First off, credit where it’s due, as incompetent as the Saviors have been these past few episodes, it looks like they’ve learned to anticipate an attack.  Granted, Carol still killed a few on her own, but at least the Saviors were careful enough to leave Glenn and Michonne as bait in anticipation for Daryl and Rosita.

East- Dwight shoots Daryl

But what the hell was up with that ending?  Glenn has had enough close calls for me to not buy the fake-out of Dwight killing Daryl.  Truth be told, he probably didn’t kill him so much as just wound him, but why the blood-spattering on the screen like we jumped into a horror movie?  That just took me out of the episode, even though we were already at the end.  Why not just show the impact or Daryl hitting the ground and then cut to black?

East- Glenn tries to convince Daryl to stay

And I get Daryl going on the warpath, but going in gung-ho wound up getting him captured.  In his mind, he might have been thinking straight, but he didn’t have any actual plan outside of getting revenge on Dwight.  The odds and numbers were against him.

East- Morgan admits to Rick that he kept a Wolf alive

Elsewhere, we’ve got Morgan admitting to Rick what he did involving the one Wolf.  It’s nice for him to get that off of his chest, but Morgan hasn’t changed Rick’s mind yet and this speech didn’t do much for him, either.  And while the Wolf did save Denise, she wouldn’t have been in danger in the first place if the Wolf had been taken care of in the first place.

East- Rick learns that Morgan let one of the Wolves live

Also, I call bullshit on Rick saying that he now would have thanked Carol for killing Karen and David.  People can change their minds and the Rick back then isn’t the same Rick of now, but if that’s the case, why outright banish Carol?  He could have just delivered a stern warning since he was so confident that Karen and David might have lived, which goes against him saying he would have killed them himself.

East- Morgan tells Rick that people can change

Yes, the world has hardened Rick, and maybe it’s just me not being a fan of flip-flopping, but he spoke in Karen and David’s defense to the point that he chose to banish Carol from the group.  I would buy him saying that he’d have done things differently rather than saying he would have killed them himself.

And Rick still doesn’t take chances, but that’s my problem with Morgan admitting what he did with the Wolf- it didn’t do anything but just fill in Rick.  Given how Rick knows that Morgan let those other Wolves live, I doubt he would have done anything drastic here when he didn’t before.

East- Rick tells Morgan that Michonne took his protein bar

At the very least, I appreciate the moment of levity at the end where Rick tells Morgan that Michonne ate his protein bar.  It didn’t feel forced and was a nice way to break the tension.

East- Carol about to kill a batch of Saviors

Carol doesn’t seem too far gone just yet, but just like her interaction with Alicia, she doesn’t want to be put in a situation where she’s forced to kill.  There’s anguish and pain in her voice and all over her face when she tells the Saviors that no one has to get hurt.  She’s no pushover.  When it comes down to her or someone else, she’ll defend herself, but she hates having to kill.

Moving forward, though, a lot of the power players are now outside the Safe Zone and it makes me wonder who is going to end up meeting Negan.  Maggie seems safe since she’s got pregnancy problems right now- if that’s indeed what’s causing her pain- but Rick and Abraham look like they’re about to head out, you’ve got Morgan looking for Carol, then Daryl, Rosita, Michonne, and Glenn.

“East” wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.  It might be my least favorite episode of this second half of the season right now.  That might change on a second viewing, but Carol killing a handful of Saviors didn’t make up for everyone being scattered and putting themselves in the Saviors’ crosshairs right when they’re all needed to defend Alexandria.

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

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Carol cooks up some cookies

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

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

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

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Morgan speaks with Carol

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Group meeting on attacking the Saviors

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Carol and Tobin smoke

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Abraham leaves Rosita

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Tara tells Denise that she loves her

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

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

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Gabriel makes a joke to Rick

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

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

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Glenn and Heath talk about killing

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Rick goes over the plan

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

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

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

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

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Glenn and Heath find two sleeping Saviors

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

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

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Savior finds Sasha and Abraham

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Heath and Glenn take fire

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Gabriel says a final prayer

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Morgan builds

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

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

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

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

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Carol watches as Tobin tastes her cookies

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Carol speaks in Morgan's defense

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Carol's list

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Glenn murders a sleeping Savior

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

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Glenn and Heath open fire

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

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

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

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

Not Tomorrow Yet- Abraham breaks it off with Rosita

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

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

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

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

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 6, Episode 5: “Now”

After big battles, you usually learn a lesson.  The severity may depend on whether you won or lost.  Regardless, you want to at least walk away from a fight with something to show for it. Or, in the case of “Now” and our Alexandria residents, learn things that you should have already been aware of in the first place.

Now- Deanna surveys the damage

The episode begins in the aftermath of the battle in the Alexandria Safe Zone.  Deanna scales a ladder, looks at an inscription on the walls, and watches some of the citizens tend to the bodies.  All of a sudden, here comes Rick Grimes running fast with a swarm of walkers behind him.  Michonne and Maggie throw open the gates and Rick enters just as the swarm bangs at the gates behind him.

I’d say that didn’t last very long, but no one really expected that these people would catch a break.

Now- Rick tells the townspeople that the walls will hold together to keep out the walkers

So the walkers are at the walls and the community is worried.  Rick tells the people that they can indeed hear the walkers, and there are still enough to surround them.  Though the people may be scared and haven’t been through anything like this, Rick assures them that they’re safe for now.  The walls will hold together, but now it’s time for the community to do the same.  As for the others?  They’ll be back soon.  Sasha, Abraham, and Daryl are still leading the other walkers away from the zone.

Right now, it’s time to make the place as quiet as a graveyard.  Not the best metaphor, Rick.  And Francine insists that this is a graveyard.  Aaron backs up Rick.  He tells the people that the quarry broke open and those walkers were headed this way.  Rick’s plan to keep them away worked.  Aaron admits that he was out recruiting and wanted to scavenge, but Daryl wanted to keep looking.  They did what Aaron wanted and wound up in a track.  He admits that his pack was lost and used by the Wolves, so this was all his fault.

For now, Rick says that there will be more to talk about.  Deanna, though, walks off.

Now- Rick tells Jessie that killers are not to be buried within the community

Jessie returns home and drags the dead Wolf to the graveyard, where it soon rests with the other bodies.  She gets to digging, though Rick advises against that.  They don’t bury killers inside the walls.  So where, then?  Rick tells her to wait.

Now- Spencer tells the townspeople to stop taking supplies

Olivia is rationing supplies, and the townspeople aren’t fans of this plan.  But then, she’s only one person and the crowd pushes through to start taking supplies.  Spencer soon enters and tells them to stop, but they inform him to make sure the gate is closed.  He reminds them that the truck would be inside if it wasn’t for him.  Where was Bruce?  I mean, who is Bruce?  No really, who is this?  Spencer tells the people that starting with taking food will take them down a dark path.  It’s enough to make them see the error of their ways.  Speeches tend to have that effect.

Now- Aaron wants to help Maggie find Glenn

Aaron spots Maggie from afar, but the two exchange no words.  He goes to the walls and finds the townspeople inscribing the names of the dead on the walls.  Hell, Nicholas and Glenn’s names are even there, never mind that there are no bodies.  Haven’t these people ever watched television?  Anyway, Aaron follows Maggie to the armory.  She’s packing to go out and find Glenn.  He knows that she plans to open up a path and is waiting for dark.

But what happens if she drops a gun or twists an ankle?  Or if a walker slows her down and she has to deal with a herd?  Aaron won’t allow her to do this, but Maggie finally opens her mouth and says that he can’t stop her.  Okay, fine, but then Aaron will go and help her.  After all, he knows a safer way out.  I feel like if he’d led with that, Maggie would have talked a lot sooner.

Now- Deanna finds Spencer drinking

In her study, Deanna starts taking notes on a map of areas in the community.  She hears glass breaking and finds that Spencer has dropped a glass.  He’s close to intoxicated due to booze from the pantry, along with a few other items he stole.  He doesn’t call it stealing, though.  So yeah, the guy’s a giant hypocrite.  If everyone raided the pantry, then that would be the end of the food.  But one person, Spencer argues, no one would notice.  So why not him?  He did stop the truck, after all.

He admits that they were right.  They’ll all be dead soon.  He rages at Deanna, saying that she made them all this way.  They were never safe, but Deanna wanted them to dream.  What’s happened is all on her.  I’d say go home, Spencer, you’re drunk, but he’s already home.

Now- Ron and Carl talk about Enid

Carl meets up with Ron to see if he’s okay.  Ron, safe to say, is in a pissy mood.  He hasn’t seen Enid since he last saw her with Carl.  Now that she’s over the walls, Ron thinks that she’s dead.  He refuses to help Carl, who insists that finding Enid isn’t for him, but Enid…who is apparently now Ron’s girlfriend.  He told her to stop going over the walls because it’s dangerous, but not if you know what you’re doing.

Ron attempts to stop Carl, even going as far as threatening to tell Rick, who he knows will go after him, and others will go and eventually, someone will die.  This is one of the lamest fights ever, if I can even call it that.

Now- Denise and Tara talk

In the infirmary, Denise reads up on medical know-how because that’s her job.  You’d think all the time spent working with Edie Falco would teach her a thing or two.  She pushes a book aside just as Tara enters in a bit of a convenient moment.  Tara promises not to tell Denise that she’s being brave.  Scott hasn’t woken up yet.  Tara is here because her head hurts.  It’s a load of shit, but she’s just here to check up on Denise.  Denise thinks that Scott is going to die and she’s afraid of what’s going on inside that she can’t think about what’s happening out there.

Now, she just wants Scott to live, the roamers to go away, and for a doctor to show up at the gates so she can go back to reading War and Peace.  It’s not like she doesn’t feel the end of the world.

Now- Jessie stabs a walker

Jessie gets a surprise from a walker at one of the windows.  Judging from the walker’s attire, I’m guessing this was one of the citizens that recently turned.  Jessie pulls out her handy dandy knife, opens the door, and guts the walker right in its eye.  She could use a bit more thrust, I know that much.  She admits to others nearby that she didn’t want to see the way things are before. Not that she couldn’t, but she just didn’t want to.  But this is what life looks like now.  The people have to see and fight it.  If not, they’ll die.

You know, it shouldn’t take you until now to realize this, Jessie.

Now- Aaron shows Maggie a hidden sewer

Back to Maggie and Aaron.  Aaron has a secret passageway that leads to a sewer under the wall and, hopefully, past the walkers.  I’m going to assume that the sewer smells of poo gas.  Maggie is still going on her own, despite Aaron’s insistence to go with her.  He can’t watch more names go up on that wall, so another adventure we have.  If Glenn truly is dead, Maggie doesn’t want to be kept waiting.  She tells Aaron that it isn’t his fault, but he maintains that he’s part of the reason people are dead.  He has to live with that.

Now- Aaron saves Maggie

Now Aaron hasn’t been down here since the beginning.  The ladder has fallen since then.  They manage to pull it off, but then walkers crawl out of the water.  After a bit of false tension, Aaron manages to kill the walkers.  Maggie tells Aaron to go back to deal with his head wound, but again, he presses on with her.

Now- Ron tells Rick about Enid

Outside, Rick radios to Sasha, Abraham, and Daryl, but gets no response.  Ron joins him to say that Enid used to spend time over the walls.  He thinks that she went out there over the attacks and no one knows where she is…even if she knows how to take care of herself.  He then says that Carl wanted to try, but he stopped him.  Ron offers to stay up there as guard.  Also, he thought about what Rick said about everyone protecting themselves.  Rick, for whatever reason, gives Ron his gun and tells him to find his target.

Now- Denise asks Tara if it's the end of the world

Denise gets a bit of inspiration and goes to work on Scott’s wound.  She extracts some blood and his heart rate lowers.  A bit later, she joins Tara and, for whatever reason, kisses her.  It’s the end of the world, supposedly.  But as Tara said, being afraid sucks.  Well, I suppose the show has to give Tara something to do.

Now- Maggie tells Aaron to stop going forward because it's over

Back underground, Aaron and Maggie arrive at the gate.  Maggie insists that this is all over and they can’t keep going forward.  It doesn’t help that she raises her voice and draws some walkers to the gates.  She admits that if she was out there, she could have helped him.  If Glenn was alive, he would have shown her by now.  She doesn’t get to know why or how Glenn supposedly died.  Not now.  She and Aaron have to live with that.  Oh, and Maggie’s pregnant.  Surprise.

Now- Jessie won't bring Sam any cookies

Jessie won’t bring cookies upstairs and Sam won’t come down because nothing changed up there.  Well, Jessie is halfway up the stairs, so technically, she’s upstairs.  Even still, Sam won’t take the cookies.  Maybe she should just throw them at him.  She does concede and leave them at his door.

Now- Rick helps Deanna finish off a walker

That evening, Deanna replays Spencer’s words in her mind.  A reanimated Wolf comes her way, but she grabs the broken glass bottle and stabs the roamer over and over again.  Rick soon joins her and mentions that apparently Carol got one of the Wolves, but couldn’t find the body.  But then Deanna admits that she wants to live and the community to stay strong.  However, the zone doesn’t need her.  What they need, she says, is Rick.

She asks Rick if what she really wanted for the zone was pie in the sky and Rick responds that no, it wasn’t.

Now- Aaron and Maggie scrub Nicholas and Glenn's names from the wall

Aaron and Maggie have returned to the Safe Zone.  She heads to the wall and, as expected, takes Glenn’s name off of the list of deceased.  Aaron joins in and starts removing Nicholas’ name.  He tells her that when Glenn returns, that Aaron is a good enough name for a baby, depending on the spelling.

Now- Spencer relieves Rosita

Spencer heads to the top of the wall to relieve Rosita, as he elected to take Carol’s place.  Rosita never got a chance to say it, but admits that he did well with taking out the truck driver.  Spencer admits that he got lucky, but even still, he should keep doing what he’s doing.  She leaves as Spencer begins his watch.

Now- Rick and Jessie about to kiss

Jessie, meanwhile, is joined by Rick, who tells her that the wanted the bodies away from the graveyard because they don’t know if Glenn, Daryl, Sasha, Abraham are still alive.  He wanted those bodies gone, but he also needed to wait.  The walkers could still be out there for some time, but Jessie says that it already has been awhile.  There’s no moving past that.  Right here in this moment, though, this is what life looks like.  There has to be a future, Jessie pleads.  Is there more?

Well, a Rick Grimes kiss seems to confirm that yes, there is indeed more.

Now- Deanna bangs on the gate

Deanna heads to the gate and bangs on it.  Dunno whether she gets off on that or just wants to piss off the walkers, but there you go.  Also, there’s a crack in the wall.  Or it looks like it, anyway.  That or blood.  I dunno.

So after a bunch of fast-paced episodes and a Morgan-centric flashback-filled episode, “Now” focuses on the aftermath of the Wolves’ attack on the Safe Zone and bridging the gap between the folks within the zone and everyone on the outside.  It’s mixed, to say the least.  The Alexandria Safe Zone just suffered through losses due to a surprise attack, and things aren’t getting any better with the walkers knocking at their walls.

Ideally, this would be the time to assess what the people are going through in light of the assault on their homes.  It’s a chance to see if anyone has warmed to Rick’s methods of getting things done and people, after feeling secure and coddled for so long, need to start asserting themselves in this ugly world.

Now- Spencer shames the townspeople hoarding supplies

People can feel too complacent if they’re used to things being a certain way for so long, whether it’s living in one place for years, working the same job, and just going through the motions of life, over and over again.  As this show has demonstrated before, the comfortable can be shaken out of apathy and forced out of their comfort zone if something dramatic happens.  Something slips through the cracks- or through the walls- and turn everything upside down, forcing you to reassess your situation.

The second things go awry, everyone loses their minds.  They’ll start taking up arms, stockpiling food, becoming paranoid, pointing fingers- anything that they can use as an outlet to vent, they’ll take it.

Now- Denise and Olivia listen to Jessie talk about the world

So really, it wouldn’t be unexpected for the show to examine what the people of Alexandria think and feel after this attack, but I think the problem with “Now” is in execution.  It juggles dealing with multiple characters’ reactions in short bursts.  And while some character changes, like Deanna, feel a bit more significant, others come off as a little too synchronized, just so we can add some supposed depth to the Alexandria residents.

As we’ve known for some time, the Alexandria Safe Zone provides some security and stability, but it’s not 100 percent walker-proof.  Of course, the people inside know about walkers and the world beyond the walls, but some try to go back to the way things were and act like life is relatively fine.  Some are a bit smarter and aware than that, but not as experienced to the level of Rick and the others.

Now- Spencer blames Deanna for what has happened

Here, Spencer blames Deanna for all the bad things that have happened and the zone’s complacency, Jessie realizes what this life is and the need to fight against it, Denise gets inspiration to try and act like an actual doctor, the townspeople start stockpiling goods in case their days are numbered, and Deanna questions whether her visions for Alexandria were just pie-in-the-sky.  All within the span of one episode.

These conclusions and moments would have felt much more natural if they occurred as the season progressed instead of just in one episode because it’s too convenient for everyone to have this realization that life within the Safe Zone doesn’t guarantee safety.  They’ve had to banish people outside the walls and people like Heath have been on scouting missions for extended periods, so they know it’s dangerous to go alone- take this.  I mean, it’s dangerous outside the walls.

Why would the Wolves’ attack suddenly cause the people to change their minds about their safety?  This feels like the perfect time to have a town meeting or allow people to air out their grievances, not just people like Spencer.  Extreme as Rick is, as Aaron points out, his methods at least ensure some form of safety and protection.  Even Tobin, last season, said that Abraham was a better fit to lead the construction crew than him.

So these people know the good that these newcomers can bring, not just with their raw strength.  While I’m fine with the people of Alexandria being woken out of their slumber, I wish it didn’t all happen at once because I don’t buy that these people would all have these sudden revelations about their circumstances.  Obviously this isn’t their first encounter with roamers or even bad people.

Now- Francine says that the safe zone is a graveyard

Alexandria isn’t some bastion of hope. Like the prison or Woodbury, it’s a haven where people can feel secure, even though they know the walkers are always lurking out there.  The Safe Zone is no different, so I would think that these people would already be more alert and aware.

Forget- Jessie tells Rick about what others in Alexandria have lost

I think back to something Jessie said to Rick last season: life is better within the walls, but that doesn’t mean that everyone outside of Rick’s group hasn’t lost something or someone.  They’ve had their fair share of tragedy, but a lot those feelings disappeared.  So they know about the world beyond the walls and have just repressed all that negativity.  I don’t like that the show has the characters we spend time with all experience some form of change when they’ve experienced loss before.

Now- Deanna and Rick

Deanna, though, gets the most positive change, and thank goodness for that.  She already realized that Rick had a point about the people being too comfortable, but this was pretty much a full blown endorsement when she said that the people need him, not her.  In effect, Rick got what he wanted when he suggested that his crew just take Alexandria.  But Deanna sees what that has led to when Spencer calls her out for her rampant optimism.

Now- Deanna asks Rick if she was being too optimistic

So when Deanna stabs the random walker, it feels like a giant weight has been lifted off of her shoulders.  She refuses to be a victim any longer and instead of trying to pretend the roamers aren’t an issue, she bangs the fence in order to antagonize them.  She’s becoming bolder and given how long the residents have been complacent because of her pie-in-the-sky optimism, I can see her making this gradual change, given how she gave Rick the go-ahead to execute Pete.

Now- Spencer hates stealing

Spencer reminds me a bit of Nicholas.  He’s quickly warming to the methods of Rick’s group and understands that the stability within Alexandria won’t keep anyone alive when you’re on the other side of the wall.  He’s not a complete coward, as he does still steal supplies from the pantry, but his eyes have been opened.  I do think he came off a bit harsh towards Deanna since every resident is responsible for how they live in this new world, but it did help spur her into action.

Now- Denise kisses Tara

There’s not a lot to say about Denise since she doesn’t progress much further than the last time we saw her.  The new world is scary and she’s ill-equipped at saving people’s lives.  We know that.  And I guess because Tara is the only other character thus far that likes girls and the show needs to give her something to do, Denise kisses her.  Whatever.  It adds nothing to the plot, so I’m struggling to figure out why we even needed either of them in this episode since, as of yet, I don’t see what Tara brings to the group since her addition.

Now- Jessie talks about the way things are

Curiously, Jessie doesn’t seem all that concerned with Ron not being back home yet since he’s off having tidbits with Carl.  Like Spencer and Deanna, I’m glad she’s more assertive, but even she acknowledged before that everyone has had their fair share of tragedy, so even if she wants to give a little speech about this being the world everyone has to live in, we already know that she’s not blind to the outside world.  At the very least, she wasn’t timid about killing roamers.  And it looks as if she’s getting a shot at happiness through the kiss with Rick.

Now- Rick returns

Sticking with Rick for a moment, there’s the big question of his return.  When we last saw him, walkers approached the RV and he just realized that the intruders had made it to Alexandria.  Now, he’s not only escaped, but attracted enough of a swarm to lead back to the Safe Zone.  And even then, his talk to the residents seems only based on the walkers he attracted.

We don’t know if he’s aware of everything that happened and I don’t recall him having checking in on Carl or anyone else, so did someone bring him up to speed?  If so, his warning would feel more warranted if he knew what had happened in his absence.  But we don’t see that happen.  Given Rick’s overprotective nature, I’d think the first thing he would do is check on his son and daughter, or at least get an update from someone like Carol, who I don’t remember seeing, or Morgan, who somehow still managed to return to Alexandria faster than Rick.

Now- Maggie is pregnant

If there was any lingering feeling that Glenn was lost, the show wiped it away with Maggie’s pregnancy announcement.  Like Judith surviving the prison attack, we’re probably going to have a happy reunion down the line.  Not to mention Maggie wiping Glenn’s name from the deceased list, so now he has to return.

Now- Aaron hugs Maggie

I appreciate her scenes with Aaron because they helped get him out of his guilt that would have gotten him killed.  That and the scenes with the grotesque walkers, though lacking any real tension, was at lease ramped up to balance out the quieter moments of the episode.

“Now” feels like a transitional episode that helped change the hearts and minds of the Alexandria residents.  They’ve suffered losses and are now coming to grips with the reality of their situation within their walls.  While some character development was handled better than others, the episode suffered a bit because these residents ought to know better by now and it feels like there are missing moments, like Rick not asking what happened while he was gone.  Alexandria has  endured suffering and pain before, so a few Wolves shouldn’t be what ultimately shakes the community out of apathy.  And I’m just not invested in characters like Ron or Denise.

Again, the decision to have multiple characters see things in a new light, I feel, was a mistake because it feels like this is the event that will redefine their lives instead of anything prior, like the quarry incident Aaron spoke of early in the episode.  We didn’t see life in Alexandria prior to the arrival of Rick’s group, so maybe some of the people buried their grief deeper than I’m to believe.  Even still, you wish the people of Alexandria got with the program sooner than they do here.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 6, Episode 3: “Thank You”

Warning: beware of herds.  The Walking Dead continues with its parallel storylines as we pick up with Rick and company after they heard a loud, blaring horn coming from Alexandria.  This is “Thank You.”

Thank You- Annie falls as the group runs

The episode begins with a blaring horn.  Glenn rushes through the woods as fast as he can as Rick radios in to Tobin, who gives him no response.  Everyone’s on the move as Rick radios to Sasha and Abraham about what’s happening.  The horn, coming from the east, isn’t stopping.  Daryl tells Rick that they’ll need help, but Rick tells them to keep going.

Naturally, Annie’s ankle hurts.  Heath figures that the horn is coming from home.  One Alexandria resident is bitching, so I’m guessing that he’s about to die soon.  Everyone is done, but Michonne shuts him up and tells him to move.  I mean, really, the guy has no real reason to complain right now.  Rick has a new plan: he’ll come back, get the RV, and circle the walkers so he can lead them away.  Everyone else, get home.

Thank You- Rick speaks privately with Glenn and Michonne

He tells Glenn and Michonne to kill whatever they encounter…and he doesn’t want their help.  If the others can’t keep up, these two, at least, need to return.  Try to help the others if they’re in danger, sure, but if not, keep on going.  Unaware to the three, Heath overhears this.

Thank You- Someone gets bitten

Oh, and one guy went and got himself bitten.  Eh.  No real loss, really.  At least the horn eventually stops.  Rick checks the man’s gear before telling the others to get back safe.  He heads off.  So where is Morgan at this point?  Again, he wasn’t too far from them.

Glenn and Michonne lead their group through the woods, even though they have no idea what lays ahead.  These Alexandria folks are a bit too timid for my liking.  Glenn instructs the folks to not worry.  Whatever’s ahead, they have no choice but to keep moving.

Thank You- David after being bitten

Michonne, Heath, and Glenn start hacking through a small group of walkers.  The Alexandria folks?  They eventually join in and manage to put up a decent fight, save for Will, who accidentally shoots Scott in the leg before running off like a bitch.  Heath manages to save one of Scott before he’s bitten.  Oh, and David else gets bitten.  He knows what’s coming next…keep moving, right?

Thank You- Daryl goes on ahead

On the road, Daryl tells Sasha and Abraham that he’ll spin at the next intersection, which isn’t the plan.  Without him, though, Sasha admits that the walkers may stop them, even though there’s nothing stopping him from leaving.  He soon speeds off.

The group continues on through a seemingly clear patch of road.  Michonne looks at David’s walker bite.  It’s about what you’d expect.  Why isn’t this David dead yet?  He’s been married for three months.  Not his wife from before.  Not long after Aaron found David, who was on his own, the two found Betsy on the way back to the community.  She still saw him.  She became his first friend, then made him more- better than he used to be.  If David makes it back, he wants to tell her that meeting her in the middle of all this was worth it.

Thank You- Group arrives at a plaza

Glenn concedes that the group can find a spot to stop for a bit.  Not for long, though.  They arrive at an empty plaza and begin searching the cars for anything that can take them back.  Glenn tells Michonne that he needs to get back, but he won’t leave them alone.  Michonne believes that Rick knows what he’s doing.

Heath and Nicholas talk.  The people on Nicholas’ team who died weren’t afraid, even though Nicholas and Aiden didn’t know what they were doing.  Heath concludes that they need to keep moving.  Since Nicholas was the last person there, he can show them the way.  So we have two limping characters and one who has been bitten.  Remember that.  On the way, Nicholas finds a very familiar looking hat.

Thank You- Group finds walkers feasting on Will

He takes charge and leads the team when they happen upon a group of walkers feasting on Will.  The group falls back, but walkers are approaching.

Thank You- Group plans while taking refuge in a pet store

The group takes refuge in an abandoned pet store.  Walkers are currently blocking the way out of town.  Michonne figures that they need to be led out of town.  Not the best idea, Heath says, but at least Michonne is trying.  She’s not giving up.  Glenn has an idea.  If they can distract the herd by burning one of the buildings, they can’t make it back to the pet store.  Michonne opts to burn it, but Glenn decides to do it himself- this is his idea.  If he gets stuck, the others must keep moving.

Nicholas points out that there’s a reed store nearby with a lot of dry stuff.  He offers to draw up a map, but instead, Glenn orders him to lead the way.

Thank You- Rick on the run

Rick, meanwhile, is on the run.  He receives a transmission from Glenn on the group’s current position and Glenn’s plan to set a fire.  While the message does come through, Rick is too focused on cutting down any and all walkers in his path, even taking every weapon he can find.  However, he does end with a pretty bad cut on his left hand…

Thank You- Patching up the wounded

The Alexandria folks are patched up with just enough until they return the infirmary.  Annie and Scott want to be left behind since they’re slowing everyone down.  If it won’t be done now, it will be done eventually, but Heath insists on the group staying together.  They don’t leave people behind.  Not them, he adds, casting a glance at Michonne.

Thank You- Michonne and Daryl argue

She speaks to Heath alone and asks if he has a problem with her.  Heath claims that he’s just looking out for his people.  He heard what Rick said about how some of them wouldn’t make it and that they can’t keep up.  Even still, Glenn is out there risking his life.  Things will get worse, but in Michonne’s mind, the people of Alexandria haven’t survived like Rick and his group have.  Has he ever done something that shocked him?  Has he been covered in so much blood that he didn’t know if it was human or walker?  No?  Then he doesn’t know.

Well, that was an argument.

Thank You- Glenn tells Nicholas that he's a changed man

Nicholas and Glenn continue along as Nicholas talks about Will- he was only 19 and the team left him behind.  Glenn insists that Nicholas isn’t that man anymore.  After willing himself to do it, Nicholas kills the walker.  The two hear shots ringing out.  Thinking it’s coming from home, they head back.

Back in the pet shop, Michonne’s group also hears shots, but they remain in hiding for a bit.  Walkers begin heading in the direction of the gunfire.  Once the walkers are gone, the group will head for the feed store.

Thank You- Rick arrives at the RV

Rick is still a man on a mission and arrives at the wall marked by the orange balloons.  He enters the RV and drives off.

After reading David’s note to Betsy, Michonne insists that he’s getting home.  Well, she writes it on her arm, but the sentiment remains.  Some banging from the back gets their attention.  Michonne cuts through the walkers inside, which alerts the attention of the incoming herd heading their way.

Thank You- Annie's final stand

With no other choice, they open the doors and begin running from the oncoming herd.  Annie falls and manages to kill a few walkers before she’s devoured.  Busted up ankles will do that to you.

Thank You- Glenn and Nicholas surrounded

Nicholas and Glenn arrive at the store, but find it already burned to the ground.  Well, someone else was at least smart.  Walkers approach from both sides, forcing the two to find another way.  They arrive in an alley, but the fences are blocked by walkers.  Trapped, the two kill as many walkers as possible, but they’re severely outnumbered.

Thank You- Climbing the fence

Michonne’s group arrives at a fence.  Everyone manages to make it over except for David.  He’s slowly dragged back into the herd.  Luckily, Heath managed to kill the walkers holding onto Michonne’s leg.  Damn, David’s note doesn’t even make it through.

Glenn and Nicholas, still very much outmatched by the walker herd, make a stand on a dumpster.  Nicholas, seeing the death all around him, is snapped out of his funk by Glenn, but he thanks Glenn before shooting himself in the head.

Glenn is thrown into the herd as walkers begin to rip guts apart…

Thank You- Michonne, Scott, and Heath make their way through the water

So Michonne, Heath, and Scott managed to escape the herd, but he’s still falling and slowing them down.  They eventually reach a river.  So the show can have a callback, Heath looks at his reflection in the water and notices all the blood on his face.

Thank You- Rick radios in to the others

Rick, meanwhile, arrives at a spot and radios to Glenn, but gets no response.  Nothing from Toby, either.  He does hear from Daryl.  Won’t be long, now.  Rick will be headed towards Sasha and Abraham soon.  Rick overhears the gunfire.  They’ll have ignore it and hope that the people of Alexandria can take care of what’s happening.  What Rick and his group is doing, they’re doing for the community.

Thank You- Rick ambushed by Wolves

But then Rick is ambushed when Wolves enter the RV.  Daryl calls out for him, but gets no response.  But this is Rick Grimes.  He manages to kill both men.  He checks one of the men’s pockets and finds a tiny container of baby food.

Looking through the mirror, Rick spots others approaching.  He picks up the machine gun and fires at the wall.  Rick has X-Ray vision.

Daryl manages to meet up with Sasha and Abraham as the three keep moving forward to lead the massive herd behind them.

In typical TV and movie fashion, the RV will not start when Rick attempts to leave.  And walkers are slowly approaching his location.  Well, at least he’s not stuck in a tank.

With “Thank You,” we have another case of episodes running parallel to one another.  It picks up right where “First Time Again” ended, and then takes place at the same time as “JSS.”  Again, while unconnected episodes of The Walking Dead are fine and are more than capable of standing on their own, connecting these episodes make this feel like one long episode.

And it was just as heavy as the previous two, even more so because while the people back at Alexandria were able to ward off the Wolves, at great costs, the group on the outside has one problem lumped onto another with little time to breathe.  From a narrative point of view, it’s a good way to maintain suspense and tension throughout the episode.  Sure, we get those quiet moments like the discussions in the pet shop or Rick in the RV, but there is a constant threat because they still haven’t led the walkers to a safe enough point.

People have said this last season, but it’s a testament to how ill-prepared the people of Alexandria were for what lays beyond their no-longer safe walls.  They complain about death, waste precious ammunition, don’t stay aware of their surroundings, and overall just have no idea how hard the real world is.

Thank You- Rick says keep going

This is the kind of stuff that Rick and the rest of the group have dealing with all along, and they’ve paid for it.  Despite losing people very close to them, loved ones who they thought would make it to the end, they’ve kept on going forward because there’s no point in going back.  Even if the group has settled into Alexandria, they refuse to let themselves get weak because they’ve had to live in the middle of this harshness for so long.

It makes me wonder what’s keeping Rick’s group from just taking Alexandria now when they have the resources, power, and fearlessness.  At the same time, they still hold out hope that these people will learn.  They don’t have to become killers overnight, but they do need to wake up and start defending themselves.  It’s why Rick wanted them to learn how to take care of walkers.  Like the situation at Alexandria with the Wolves, the people will find themselves in a situation where they need to fight.  They can’t and shouldn’t expect someone like Rick Grimes to come in and rescue them.

Thank You- Heath and Michonne argue about survival

While there was a lot happening in this episode, Heath and Michonne’s argument was the most memorable moment for me and a pretty good exchange on its own.  It hits home at the major differences between our main characters and the people of Alexandria, but more than that, it highlighted just how much these people have been changed by the world around them.

Merle gone

Carl had to kill his mother, Carol watched her reanimated daughter executed, Daryl found Merle turned and made the impossible decision of having to kill him, Beth and Maggie watched their father decapitated right before their eyes- there are plenty of examples of these people walking down dark paths and can’t go back to their normal selves.  You need to adapt to this new world if you want to make it to the next day.

There are no rules in this world anymore.  And whenever there are, they change on a case-by-case basis.  It’s one thing to claim toughness in a harsh world, but that can change when you’re thrust in a situation where you have seconds to make a potentially impossible or life threatening decision before you’re killed.

Thank You- David talks about his wife

The problem with the people from Alexandria is that they aren’t moving fast enough.  They’re plagued by weakness and that’s going to keep them from surviving.  In this episode alone, we had four Alexandria residents fall to the walkers due to injuries and not being prepared for this world.  Some of the deaths are too telegraphed, though: if a character complains, they’re probably going to die.  We literally just had this happen with Carter and now we have someone else bitching about how hard it is.  And I don’t even know the guy’s name, so I care about him even less.

At least Annie knew her limp was holding everyone back and gave in, as opposed to further slowing them down.  And David, like Noah before him, had a moment to talk about his future.  You know how it goes with optimism.  Too much of it and you’re dead, mister.  And once your friends fall, like Rick said, you keep going forward.

Thank You- Daryl considers going to help Rick

Which is what made it all the more surprising that Daryl would consider going against Rick’s plan just to help him, but in the end, he decided to head back to Sasha and Abraham in the end.  These three haven’t been given much to do aside from lead the herd, and there’s only so much you can do when they have to drive slow, but hopefully they get something beyond this.

Thank You- Rick is afraid

Rick being ambushed by the Wolves was a surprise moment and helped this further emphasize the parallel storylines, as this means that the Wolves just retreated from Alexandria.  But this is also a slight negative.  Exactly where is Rick in the RV in proximity to the Safe Zone?  The Wolves had been battling for a while, so I assume that they’re not running at full speed.  And yet, they showed up at the RV not long after they were chased off by Morgan.  Yet they ambushed Rick like they were in peak condition.

So I suppose what I’m getting at is I wish we got a better sense of where everyone is in proximity to everyone else.  They’re surrounded by tons of threes, but they’re still able to be in pretty decent communication as opposed to just getting static.  They can’t be too far from home since Morgan made it back to the Safe Zone in no time, so what gives?

Thank You- Nicholas is afraid

Okay, so Nicholas and Glenn.  It’s not worth still harping over the fact that Nicholas got Noah killed.  We know it happened and it’s something that Nicholas will have to live with for the rest of his life.  But like everyone else, he can’t just dwell on the past.  He has to become a different person.  Credit where it’s due, Nicholas did show signs of changing.  He became more careful when it came to handling walkers and knew his way around when trying to lead his group to a safe location.

So does his final act of redemption come with his death?  He thanks Glenn, as if he’s grateful for Glenn waking him up and showing that, despite all the horrible things that he’s done, he could change.  Or was it a spur of the moment decision because he knew that the two of them were in an impossible scenario?

Thank You- Glenn and Nicholas overtaken by walkers

That image of Nicholas and Glenn surrounded by walkers on all sides was quite chilling and harkened back to the pilot with Rick stuck inside the tank with walkers on every side.  It’s a scenario where there’s literally no way out except being torn apart.  Nicholas chose suicide to prevent from being taken by the walkers first.  And he took Glenn, a staple character since we first heard his voice in the pilot, with him, killing off another member of the crew who has been with us from the first season.

But…are they both dead?

Thank You- Glenn covered in blood

I’m not one to jump onto theories or conspiracies so soon after an episode airs because I’m caught up in emotions and don’t want to believe it.  We’re not talking about Jon Snow here, but something feels…off here.  Glenn has been with us for a long time.  If he were to die, I don’t think it would be this way.  Having a character ripped apart by a swarm of walkers fits a character we don’t know, but most of the main characters, even people like Merle, have been given deaths that carried major significance.

Thank You- Glenn tells Michonne that he needs to get home

Glenn is quick and nimble.  He’s able to figure himself out of most situations he’s in, even when cornered.  Yeah, this was a massive swarm in a tight corridor, but let’s think back to “Conquer.”  Nicholas left Glenn to be devoured by a pile of walkers, but Glenn emerged from that impossible scenario just fine. We’re given no explanation as to how and that’s still a big question mark, but the point is he got out of that situation when he should have been killed.

Thank You- Glenn and Nicholas fall

Furthermore, I subscribe to theory that, more often than not, if a character dies, you need to see a body.  This isn’t always the case and I’ve gladly eaten my hat when proven wrong, but on this show, if a main character dies, we usually see it happen.  There are exceptions.  We didn’t watch Andrea shoot herself in the head, but she’d been bitten and knew what she had to do.  We still heard the gunshot on the other side of the door as Rick, Daryl, Michonne, and Tyreese listened.

And we didn’t see Carl shoot and kill Lori, but we heard it along with Maggie.  Also, the fact that she doesn’t emerge from the prison and, you know, Maggie performed a damn C-section on her- how much proof do you need?  And remember how Rick and Carl thought that Judith was dead, even though there was no proof she hadn’t been whisked from the prison?

Again, people, we’re not talking about Game of ThronesThe Walking Dead comic may be willing to cross certain lines, but the show isn’t that daring yet.  Impossible and crazy it sounds, I’d be willing to bet that Glenn makes it out of this alive.

It also doesn’t help that I just don’t feel this is Glenn’s time.  Yeah, part of that is being up to date on the comic and knowing what’s in store for Glenn, but given how he didn’t even have much of a final moment with Maggie, and how much this show loves to play up emotional moments before a character’s death- Bob rings a bell- I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Glenn.

I could be completely wrong here, but we’ll see.  And even with this in mind, “Thank You” was another very good episode that had the away team facing trouble on all sides and they’re not even done yet.  Glenn’s left up in the air, Sasha, Daryl, and Abraham are still leading the herd, and Rick is on his own with walkers right outside the RV.

The episode had great tension throughout and helped bring Heath up to speed with the horrors of this world.  I do with the location and timeline were a bit better defined and I wish this show didn’t have the cliché character that hurt their leg and is slowing everyone down shtick, but in this world, the strong survive.