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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

rock-in-the-road-rick-smiles

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

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

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

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

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

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

hearts-still-beating-negan-shaves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hearts-still-beating-dining-with-negan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hearts-still-beating-negan-guts-spencer

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

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

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

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

hearts-still-beating-arat-kills-olivia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Rick now knows that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 7: “Sing Me a Song”

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

sing-me-a-song-michonne-drags-a-walker

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

sing-me-a-song-aaron-and-rick-prepare-to-head-out

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

sing-me-a-song-saviors-talk

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

sing-me-a-song-jesus-and-carl-on-the-truck-headed-for-the-sanctuary

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

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

sing-me-a-song-carl-kills-a-few-saviors-before-coming-face-to-face-with-negan

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

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

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-addresses-the-saviors-and-proclaims-that-everyone-gets-vegetables-at-dinner-tonight

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

sing-me-a-song-rosita-and-eugene-prepare-to-leave-alexandria-for-a-run

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

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

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-brings-carl-to-his-harem

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

sing-me-a-song-sherry-wants-negan-to-go-easy-on-amber

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

sing-me-a-song-amber-played-by-autumn-dial-speaks-witih-negan

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

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-receives-food-from-daryl

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

sing-me-a-song-rick-and-aaron-enter-dangerous-territory

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

sing-me-a-song-gabriel-and-spencer-discuss-ricks-leadership

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

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

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-tells-carl-to-remove-his-bandage

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

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

sing-me-a-song-carl-removes-his-bandage-for-negan

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

sing-me-a-song-fat-joseph-returns-lucille-to-negan

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

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

sing-me-a-song-carl-sings-you-are-my-sunshine-while-negan-takes-random-swings

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-speaks-to-the-saviors-before-the-iron-ritual

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

sing-me-a-song-mark-played-by-griffin-freeman-gets-the-iron

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

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

sing-me-a-song-spencer-pickpockets-a-walker

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

sing-me-a-song-rosita-and-eugene-about-to-argue

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

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

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

sing-me-a-song-sherry-and-dwight-have-a-smoke

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

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

sing-me-a-song-carl-bets-that-negan-wont-kill-him

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

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-tells-dwight-to-put-daryl-back-in-his-cell

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

sing-me-a-song-daryl-receives-a-note

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

sing-me-a-song-michonne-orders-a-savior-to-take-her-to-negan

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-calls-olivia-fat

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

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-holds-judith

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

sing-me-a-song-rick-and-aaron-read-a-sign

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

sing-me-a-song-spencer-shows-eugene-and-rosita-the-supplies-he-found

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

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-carl-and-judith-on-the-porch

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

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

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

sing-me-a-song-outside-the-sanctuary

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-demands-that-carl-start-singing

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

sing-me-a-song-carl-reveals-his-eye-socket

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

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

sing-me-a-song-carl-asks-negan-why-he-hasnt-killed-him-yet

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-and-carl-stand-before-the-saviors

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

sing-me-a-song-marks-face-burned-by-the-iron

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-reminds-amber-that-she-can-leave-him-anytime-she-wants-but-cant-cheat-on-him

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

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-holding-judith

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

sing-me-a-song-negan-surprised-that-olivia-is-crying

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

sing-me-a-song-gabriel-calls-spencer-a-tremendous-shit

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

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

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

sing-me-a-song-michonne-with-a-savior

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

sing-me-a-song-rick-and-aaron-find-a-lake-house

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

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

sing-me-a-song-rosita-attempts-to-apologize-to-eugene

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

sing-me-a-song-rosita-calls-eugene-a-coward

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

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

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

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

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

go-getters-carson-informs-maggie-of-her-condition

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

go-getters-sasha-takes-maggie-to-glenn-and-abrahams-graves

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

go-getters-jesus-joins-maggie-and-sasha-at-the-graves

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

go-getters-gregory-wants-maggie-and-sasha-to-leave-the-hilltop

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

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

go-getters-carl-doesnt-want-to-join-rick-and-aaron-on-a-supply-run

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

go-getters-carl-asks-michonne-why-she-didnt-go-with-rick-and-aaron

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

go-getters-enid-prepared-to-leave-alexandria-to-go-check-on-maggie-at-the-hilltop

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

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

go-getters-jesus-sasha-and-maggie-discuss-dealing-with-gregory

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

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

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

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

go-getters-enid-finds-carl-following-her-in-a-car-that-he-can-barely-drive

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

go-getters-sasha-sees-walkers-entering-the-hilltop

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

go-getters-maggie-mows-down-walkers-in-a-tractor

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

go-getters-carl-and-enid-talk-about-maggie

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

go-getters-jesus-tells-gregory-that-maggie-and-sasha-arent-leaving

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

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

go-getters-simon-and-saviors-arrive-at-the-hilltop

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

go-getters-enid-and-carl-skate

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

go-getters-simon-tells-gregory-that-they-need-to-talk

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

go-getters-simon-and-gregory-talk-about-the-arrangement-with-the-saviors

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

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

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

go-getters-gregory-gives-his-alcohol-to-simon

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

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

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

go-getters-carl-and-enid-arrive-at-the-hilltop

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

go-getters-gregory-angry-that-jesus-hid-sasha-and-gregory-in-his-closet

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

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

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

go-getters-jesus-sasha-and-maggie-watch-the-saviors-preparing-to-leave

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

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

go-getters-maggie-finds-enid-at-the-grave-site

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

go-getters-sasha-enid-and-maggie-have-a-moment

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

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

go-getters-jesus-finds-carl-in-the-truck-headed-for-the-sanctuary

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

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

go-getters-jesus-with-sasha-and-maggie-at-the-graves

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

go-getters-sasha-and-maggie-talk-with-gregory

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

go-getters-maggie-tells-two-hilltop-residents-to-close-the-gate

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

go-getters-jesus-tells-sasha-that-he-isnt-a-leader

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

go-getters-sasha-wants-jesus-to-find-out-where-negan-lives

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

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

go-getters-gregory-and-simon-talk

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

go-getters-gregory-kneels-before-simon

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

go-getters-gregory-lets-sasha-and-maggie-stay-the-night

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

glenn-tells-daryl-and-morales-that-their-comrades-are-buried-not-burned

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

go-getters-gregory-wants-a-moment-alone-with-sasha

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

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

go-getters-simon-orders-gregory-to-kneel

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

go-getters-simon-speaks-with-gregory

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

go-getters-carl-and-enid-about-to-kiss

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

go-getters-skating

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

go-getters-carl-and-enid-at-the-hilltop

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

wile-e-coyote-and-his-rocket-skates

Wait…

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

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

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

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 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 11: “Knots Untie”

So Jesus shows up after Rick and Michonne have their fun.  Not unusual at all.  And leave it to Rick Grimes to make a bloody impression on a first visit.

Knots Untie- Sasha and Abraham talk

The episode begins with Abraham sharing a tale with Sasha as the two return to the Safe Zone.  It’s a brave new world, though Abraham can’t imagine Maggie having a child in a world like this.  Though Sasha figures that it’s because the way things go that it can still happen.  Sasha won’t be seeing Abraham tomorrow because she’s starting a new shift at the watch post.  Eugene will be taking over Sasha’s patrol.  Huh. How about that.  The two part ways.

Knots Untie- Abraham and Rosita in bed

We then cut to Abraham waking up in bed with Rosita at his side, which is just beautiful.  He tells her about Eugene’s plan to patrol, and he’ll be teaching Rosita about chemistry.  Abraham feels you can’t teach chemistry.  Rosita gets out of bed and tosses Abraham a locket she made with a light from the fuel truck.  She felt Abraham’s neck looked a bit lonely.  Also, she then wants him to show her in the shower.

Knots Untie- Glenn speaks with Maggie

That evening, Glenn joins Maggie, who is working on building a garden, as rations are being stretched.  Maggie is a bit worried, but Glenn assures her that they’ll be fine.  They then spot Abraham rushing over to help Denise with something.

Knots Untie- Carl holds a gun to Jesus' head

Jesus, meanwhile, observes a painting on the wall when Carl suddenly puts a gun to his temple, demanding to know why he’s in the house.  He tells Carl that he’s just waiting for the two to get dressed when Rick appears, as do Daryl, Glenn, and Abraham.  Well, time to talk.

Knots Untie- Jesus explains how he escaped

When asked how he escaped, Jesus says that one guard can’t block two exits.  He checked out the arsenal and is impressed, but the provisions are low for the amount of people in the community.  Jesus knows that they got off to a bad start, but they’re on the same living side.  Rick and Daryl could have left him, but they didn’t.  Part of his job is finding other settlements to trade with.  He took the truck because his community needs things.

He thinks the communities can trade and his has started trading livestock.  Jesus admits that he was wrong about Rick and Daryl being bad people.  He offers to take them to his community in a day so they can see for themselves.  When Maggie mentions that Jesus said more settlements, everyone realizes that their world is about to get a whole lot bigger.  Cue title sequence.

Knots Untie- Rick speaks with Carl before leaving

Denise gives Daryl a homemade oatcake, even though he’s likely to just pick up something on the road.  Literally.  He eventually takes it, as he reminds Denise of someone she knew.  Rick tells Carl that he isn’t sure, but if Jesus is being honest, this could be the start of everything.  He explains that he and Michonne just happened last night, and Carl is cool with that.  Carl doesn’t want to come on the trip, though, since someone should stay back to keep the place safe.

Knots Untie- Group finds an overturned vehicle

The group hits the road, Jack, with Abraham asking Glenn if, while he poured the Bisquick, he was trying to make pancakes.  Yes.  Abraham is skeptical that someone would try to bring a child into a world like this, but Glenn assures him that he and Maggie want to build something.

Ahead, the group finds a recent crash and Jesus recognizes the vehicle from his own group.  Rick warns Jesus that this will end badly for him if this ends up being a trap.  The group checks the nearest building, with Rick handcuffing Jesus and leaving him with Maggie.  Inside, they make quick work of the walkers inside, but also a few others who know Jesus.  Abraham damn nearly kills a man who I guess he thought was a walker.

Knots Untie- Harlan, played by R. Keith Harris, offers to help Glenn and Maggie

Back on the road, Harlan, played by R. Keith Harris, thanks Glenn for saving his life.  When Glenn then asks Harlan if he has any prenatal vitamins, Harlan replies that he doesn’t, but he was an obstetrician, so he can still be of help.

Knots Untie- Jesus checks on Freddie, played by Brett Gentile

Jesus checks on Freddie, played by Brett Gentile, but he’s still in shock over almost being choked to death by Abraham.  His wife died before this all happened and he came pretty close to seeing her again.  Abraham seeks to take in all of this.

Knots Untie- Group arrives at the Hilltop

The trip comes to a halt when the motor home winds up stuck in the mud, but luckily, the group has arrived at Jesus’ community: The Hilltop.  Jesus orders the men on the watch post to open the gates.  Rather than have Gregory come out, Jesus lets Rick and his folks keep their guns- they ran out of ammo months ago, which explains the spears- despite the fact that they’re newcomers.  He trusts them, so now it’s Rick’s turn to trust him.

Knots Untie- Jesus shows off Barrington House

Most of the residents came from FEMA camps.  Jesus explains that the main house used to be a living museum.  The windows let people see for miles, which works well for security, and rooms have been converted into living spaces.

Knots Untie- Enter Gregory, played by Xander Berkeley

We’re then introduced to Gregory, played by Xander Berkeley, who keeps the trains running on times.  He’s willing to talk, but wants Rick’s group to get cleaned up first, as it’s hard to keep the place clean.  Gregory is a dick to dirty people.  Rick wants Maggie to talk to him first, as he figures that he shouldn’t.

Knots Untie- Gregory speaks with Maggie

While Abraham talks with Daryl about whether he ever thought about settling down, Maggie, or as Gregory calls her, Natalie, is first to speak with the Hilltop leader.  He says that he came to this place once, but never figured this particular house would be his.  It’s like it was waiting for him the entire time.  He thanks Maggie for returning the community’s doctor.

The community has been here since the start, but Maggie wants to know how it’s survived.  Gregory, though, wants to know how the Safe Zone sustains itself.  Maggie then asks if he has enough to trade.  As Alexandria’s food situation is dire, Gregory gets blunt and tells Maggie that Alexandria doesn’t have shit.  He won’t give away things for free, so he offers the group to work for their share.

Maggie doesn’t warm to Gregory’s sweet talk and gets blunt that the communities will help each other.  It doesn’t help Gregory’s case that the Hilltop is low on ammunition.  Gregory assures Natalie that they’re doing just fine.

Knots Untie- Jesus speaks with the group when other members return

Jesus talks with Rick and Daryl, saying that Gregory wants the best thing possible, but so does Rick’s group.  And they’ve come all this way, so they won’t walk away empty-handed.  Jesus assures them that this will be handled and he’ll make Gregory understand, with time.  Michonne is first to agree that Jesus be given time to work out this situation.

Knots Untie- Ethan, played by Justin Kucsulain, tells Gregory about the failed deal with Negan

A man comes in, saying that they’re back.  One man, Ethan, played by Justin Kucsulain, states that the others are dead because of Negan.  The deal wasn’t enough and Craig is still being held hostage.  Craig will be returned once a message is delivered.

Knots Untie- Ethan about to kill Rick

He stabs Gregory and Rick springs into action as a fight breaks out between the two sides.  Just as Michonne readies her sword, Ethan is soon down when Rick puts his blade deep into his throat.

Knots Untie- Rick's what

Everyone is brought to stunned silence, with Rick not sure why everyone’s looking at him like a threat.  Another damn fight almost breaks out, with Jesus getting in the middle of it, declaring Ethan to being a coward who instigated the fight.  He tells Rick to lower his gun, saying that he’s done enough.  Things aren’t as simple as they seem.  Daryl checks on Abraham, who was almost choked to death.  As he gets up, he doesn’t notice that he’s forgotten Rosita’s necklace.

Knots Untie- Jesus tells Rick and others about Negan and the Saviors

Jesus explains that Dr. Carson was able to patch up Gregory.  Things like this don’t happen a lot.  Rick asks who this Negan is, and Jesus explains the situation: Negan is the leader of a group called The Saviors, who showed up after The Hilltop walls went up.  Negan made a lot of threats and demands. He even killed a 16-year-old resident in front of everyone to make them understand right off the bat.  Huh.  No one knows how many people Negan has in his army.

Gregory isn’t good at confrontation.  Jesus wouldn’t have picked him as leader, but people like him.  Gregory agreed that half of the community’s supplies would go to the Saviors in exchange for them not attacking the Hilltop.  Daryl and Abraham, familiar with the name Negan, explain that they met and took care of some Saviors.  They offer to help take down this Negan fellow in exchange for food, medicine, and one of them cows, as Daryl puts it.

Knots Untie- Maggie negotiates with an injured Gregory

The group knows that their aid will cost them something.  Gregory wants to talk, but just to Maggie.  In his quarters, he wonders how this group can take care of Negan.  Maggie assures him that they can save the Hilltop’s captured members.  Maggie still wants supplies, but Gregory maintains that he has leverage.

Valid, but Maggie says that if the Hilltop keeps giving half of what they have, they won’t have much very soon.  Without fighters, they’ll be defenseless.  So now Maggie has leverage as well.  Deal.  However, Maggie wants something else.

Knots Untie- Rick tells Andy that he's coming with the group to help them learn about Negan's compound

So Rick’s group gets some supplies for the road.  Rick tells one man, Andy, played by Jeremy Palko, that they’ll bring back Craig, but need to know everything about Negan’s compound, so he’s coming with them.  Jesus will also be joining, as his knives are still at the Safe Zone.  Rick asks Michonne if she’s up for this.  It will be a fight, but Rick is confident that they’ll win this.

Knots Untie- Harlan performs an ultrasound on Maggie

Inside, Harlan performs an ultrasound on Maggie and shows both her and Glenn the fetus.  It’s a fetus.  What do you expect?

Knots Untie- Glenn shows off the ultrasound picture

Rick’s group departs from the Hilltop, with Glenn showing everyone the sonogram photo.  Show-off.  Abraham is at least impressed.

So “Knots Untie” continues to expand the world to our characters with Jesus bringing them to the Hilltop.  I like the pace at which the show is moving.  I didn’t think we’d see the Hilltop so soon after meeting Jesus, but it’s not an issue.

Knots Untie- Near empty Hilltop

Good to see other communities, but my only issue with the Hilltop is that it doesn’t look populated.  Think Asgard in the first Thor film: a sprawling civilization where it appears all of the residents are away on holiday.  Maybe some are off on runs and I’m sure we’ll see more people soon, but for its first appearance, the Hilltop, for a community that’s been around for so long, looks less inhabited than the Alexandria Safe Zone.

Knots Untie- Ethan delivers a message to Gregory

But we get a good indication that the residents aren’t the most confident.  Gregory comes off as a smarmy leader and while he’s not willing to stand up to Negan, he has everything he needs to barter with Rick.  After all, what good are ammunition and guns if you don’t have any food to feed your residents?  Gregory knows this and uses it to his advantage to try and force the group into servitude.

Knots Untie- Group talk

He’s never met someone like these people, though, as right off the bat, they’re more than willing to start a confrontation.  They’re also willing to show their cards to make sure they don’t leave empty handed.

Knots Untie- Maggie barters with Gregory

And I like seeing Maggie slowly grow into a position of leadership.  Based off her experiences with the group, Hershel’s teachings, and working with Deanna, she’s more than capable of leading a negotiation.  She does a good job turning the tables on Gregory and explaining that giving away half your supplies will soon leave you dry.  So it makes sense to trade with people who have the firepower and willpower to go up against any threat.

Knots Untie- Rick points his gun at Jesus

Trust Rick Grimes and company to escalate a fight.  Yes, that was started by Ethan, but only Rick could show up in new territory and end up covered in blood on the first day.  That’s how you make an impression.  Not a good one, mind you, but people will remember that.  And Andrew Lincoln’s delivery of that nonchalant “What?” after killing Ethan was great.

Knots Untie- Daryl wants food, medicine, and one of them cows

Consider what these people have endured.  Whether the likes of the Governor, the Hunters, wave after wave of walkers, including the biggest brawl against the roamers yet, and the friends and family they’ve lost, it goes without saying that Rick and company have seen some serious shit.  And after what Daryl did to that small group of Saviors on the road, to them, this mystery Negan fellow is just another obstacle.

Yes, they’re no strangers to confrontation, but you’ve gotta wonder whether they’re being overconfident.  After all, they never expected the Governor to decapitate Hershel, the Hunters to cut off Bob’s leg, or even Beth getting shot in the head.  Granted, Beth’s death was an accident, but it was still unexpected and almost led to another shootout.

Knots Untie- Rick asks Jesus who Negan is

So though Rick and company have faced and overcome every challenge in their way.  Despite the losses, they’ve come this far and Rick now stands as leader of the Alexandria Safe Zone.  Even if Negan is a roadblock, they’re sure he can be killed with ease.  Is this naiveté?  We’ll find out, but at the very least, it’s nice to see the group step up, as they would, and offer assistance in exchange for good.

In a way, they’re not much different from the Saviors in that they’re taking some of the Hilltop’s supplies, and right off the bat- something even Negan didn’t do.  But they’re not trying to kill community members- minus Ethan, anyway- so much as help them and maybe make them more confident, as was the case in Alexandria.

Knots Untie- Abraham and Sasha talk

Between all of this negotiation and learning about Negan, we get some character moments as well.  Continuing from “Always Accountable,” this episode built upon the relationship between Sasha and Abraham.  While I can’t get a sense of how she’s bonding with others since her unhinged behavior last season, Abraham has forced his way into her life and it’s helped better them both.

Knots Untie- Abraham looks at the sonogram photo

While Sasha is opening up again, Abraham is considering the possibility of starting a family- a daunting task in this world.  Maggie and Glenn are resolute in their decision, while Rick and Carl are doing everything they can to ensure a good life for Judith, but Abraham is still in the process of wondering whether it’s worthwhile to settle down and have a child.

Knots Untie- Rosita gives Abraham a gift

What’s worse is that he’s torn between two women.  I wouldn’t see this is an issue because I would choose Rosita in a heartbeat, but it’s interesting that Abraham would even allow himself to get as close to Sasha as he has, given how long he’s had this relationship with Rosita.  I’m sure The Walking Dead is smart enough to avoid any sort of love triangle nonsense.

Knots Untie- Abraham is at ease

All this character building surrounding Abraham feels like the show is setting him up for something.  Could be a change, could be an injury, or any number of scenarios, but you don’t put this much focus on a character by accident, so keep an eye on Abraham.

“Knots Untie” was another good episode.  It expanded the world by introducing us to the Hilltop and its residents, including the shifty leader in Gregory, gave us more information about Negan, and set up our main characters in what’s building towards a confrontation with the Saviors.  Will this be another obstacle they can overcome with ease or are they underestimating Negan?  We’ll see.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Next World- Rick and Daryl find food and supplies

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

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

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

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

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

The Next World- Michonne and Spencer in the woods

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

The Next World- Enid's useless map

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

The Next World- Daryl and Rick find the vending machine

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

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

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

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

The Next World- Jesus holds off Rick and Daryl

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

The Next World- Jesus knocked off of the truck

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

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

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

The Next World- Truck goes into the water

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

The Next World- Spencer asks why Michonne is following him

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

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

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

The Next World- Spencer and Michonne lay Deanna to rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Next World- Rick and Daryl robbed blind

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

The Next World- Rick is finally listening to reason

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

The Next World- Daryl is pessimistic about trusting people

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

The Next World- Tom Payne as Jesus

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

The Next World- Jesus tied up

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

The Next World- Jesus introduces himself to Rick and Daryl

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

The Next World- Daryl and Rick are done with Jesus

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

The Next World- Rick and Michonne talk about their day

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

Claimed- Rick and Michonne make plans

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Next World- Michonne follows Spencer

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

The Next World- Enid wants to kill Deanna

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

The Next World- Denise doesn't like pop

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

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