Things are really starting to pick up on The Walking Dead. Last episode, Negan took off with Eugene, leaving us all to wonder what horrifying music the poor guy will have to endure, not to mention the rest of the degradation commonly visited upon those under Negan’s “care.” This episode serves as the beginning of weaving together all the separate threads that previous episodes have left dangling in the wind.
The first real issue is Father Gabriel. It would appear that he’s making with the crazy again, taking off with food and supplies without so much as a warning. He did drop his bible on the floor of the pantry, however, so perhaps there’s a note or a clue.
In Alexandria, Rick and company go to meet with Gregory about a formal alliance against Negan, which of course the nutless wonder isn’t even remotely interested in. His overly sarcastic “RHETORICAL!!!” really just made me want to jump through the screen and slap the piss out of him. He’s called out as a coward by Jesus, and finally puts the kibosh on the whole meeting after Daryl speaks up. No one has any respect for him at this point, so why he’s still sucking air is beyond me. Or better yet, sew his mouth shut and force him to sit in a room full of the female survivors while they talk and he can’t even attempt to interrupt.
Moving on, it appears Enid has been recruiting from amongst the Hilltop community, and despite the fact that they’re pretty much just farmers, they’re willing to train and learn. The group takes off for the Kingdom, where Jesus introduces the group to King Ezekiel. Oddly enough, Rick and Carl are required to hand over their guns, but Michonne is allowed to keep her sword. Morgan is reunited with the group, and gives Rick the update on Carol—she was there but she left, so he kept his word that he wouldn’t rat her out. Daryl seems visibly upset that she’s gone, which leads me to wonder if they’re dropping the whole Carol/Daryl storyline.
The meeting between the survivors and Ezekiel does not go as one might hope, but Ezekiel listens to what is asked of him and fairly seeks counsel from those he trusts. Rick’s final plea to Ezekiel comes in the form of a story about a rock in the road, with the ultimate lesson of the story being that sometimes to achieve a higher goal, you have to be willing to do what no one else will do. Ezekiel tells him that he will give his answer the following morning.
The following morning, despite the different viewpoints he was given, Ezekiel decides against joining with the Alexandrians. His reasons, from his point of view, makes perfect sense, but I really feel it will come back to haunt him. He offers Daryl asylum since the Saviors don’t come within the walls of the Kingdom, and the offer is rejected. Morgan, ever the pacifist, leaves with the group. Sasha tries talking to Rosita, I suppose in an attempt to bond with her, and is shut down very quickly. Rick insists Daryl stay behind in the Kingdom, after Richard offers his assistance regardless of Ezekiel’s decision.
On the trip home, the group overhears Negan’s eulogy to Fat Joey via the radio Jesus took with him. They’re delayed by a line of cars, which they move only to discover that someone has rigged explosives. This is the spot referred to in a previous episode, the detail that cost Mark half of his face. The group sets about dismantling the explosives to take back to Alexandria. Unfortunately they take too long and are set upon by a herd of walkers. They continue working until the very last second, forcing the group to temporarily split up. Sasha and Jesus head for Hilltop on foot, while the remaining survivors move cars around to prevent the walkers from leaving the interstate. Rick and Michonne hotwire a couple of cars, which they then use to mow down countless walkers, scoring what I can only call the largest walker kill count to date. The two barely make it into the waiting vehicle afterwards, as the remaining walkers surrounded them. As they’re making their escape, they overhear Negan announcing that Daryl has gone missing, followed by the explosion behind them where the walkers set off the remaining explosives.
Back home in Alexandria, the vehicle with the explosives has been hidden, and the survivors have made it back just in time for an invasion by the Saviors who’ve come looking for Daryl. They unnecessarily trash everything, and of course come up empty in their search. Simon points out that the shelves of the pantry are bare, which brings us back to Gabriel’s disappearance. Once the Saviors are satisfied that Daryl is not being hidden in the town, they leave, and Rick is brought up to speed about Gabriel having gone missing. A search of the pantry turns up a bible and then a notebook, with just one word written on the last page, “BOAT.” Pretty sure it was Gabriel who had witnessed Rick and Aaron ransacking the boat awhile back, and now he intends to use the boat to hide things from the Saviors. Just in case.
Rick and company take off to go find Gabriel, and come across another group. It’s unclear who they are or what their motives may be. There’s quite a number of them, and they’re armed, if not completely terrifying. And as for Rick? He starts smiling, and it’s pretty clear that he sees the potential for allies in the fight against Negan right from the moment of contact. Me? I’m not so sure, these guys don’t look too friendly.