So after all the action of the previous few episodes it’s now time to catch everyone’s breath and… well.. Stall. And remind us that some characters still exist, hence a little opening montage as we see everyone, have brief moments of grief and loss and messages being passed between the camps as each settlement updates the others on whats been happening
But overall Rick is insisting they’re winning and it’s time for the next step.
And that starts with some epicly ridiculous stupidity - Rick visiting the Junkyard people.
My gods can we even begin to address how much I loathe these people? How little they make sense? I mean what’s with this language? The apocalypse wasn’t even a decade ago, language simply does not degrade this quickly. It just doesn’t. And now they’re making scrap metal sculptures while naked. Rick tries to make a deal with them and threaten them with death if they don’t comply.
Why would you remotely trust the garbage people at this point? Really? Why not ignore them until after the Saviours are finished
Shocking no-one, Rick is imprisoned. He doesn’t look perturbed so I assume this is part of some really really weird plan and not as ridiculous as it looks. Please
Ok, time to remember Carl exists and to continue his unsteady character development. Carl manages to track down the man Rick drove off, Siddiq, to give him food and water and ask him what were once Rick’s prime questions before he decided to go kill happy on all enemies: How many Walkers have you killed? How many people? Why?
Siddiq has only killed one person, a mercy killing for the injured. He has killed 237 walkers - and he knows this because he actively hunts them. Not out of rage but because his mother suggested it would free their souls. He clearly deeply respects his parents and is very spiritual. While Carl is clear that respect for parents doesn’t mean obedience and if he respected his Siddiq would be dead now - instead he wants to lead Rick back to the light.
And almost die under a pile of zombies
Anyway the general theme is still finding the moral centre again with Carl adding a new dimension - not treating all strangers as enemies.
So to Hilltop where we have the centre of that conflict, the captured Saviours. Jesus is all about feeding them, treating them well and generally asking what is the actual point of fighting if they’re going to become this. And he sort of has a point - if they defeat the Saviours to become brutal dictators who murder helpless people then, yay Saviours #2? Of course Maggie also has good reason to be wary of them
To highlight this, because we don’t need subtlety and let’s hammer this point home, we have Good Saviour who thanks them for mercy and emphasises he was sort of a nice guy but no saint who thwarts Bad Saviour who wants to escape from the cage Maggie has built.
Gregory also finds himself in that cage because Maggie is Done with his shenanigans and after he kept trying to ingratiate himself to her as an advisor she followed his advice - and didn’t trust her enemy to run free. It’s vaguely possible she’s trying to use Gregory as a Saviour mole - but I am supremely dubious of the fact
Almost as dubiously - Maggie tells Jesus she’s not actually saving the Saviours but is keeping them in case she needs a hostage exchange and she’ll totally kill them if they’re not useful. Just to keep that moral conflict going and also to be just plain weird - yes we know Negan knows people are power because of the episode last week, but Maggie doesn’t know that. More, we know Negan relies on his image. Who expects Negan to ever agree to a hostage exchange? And do they even have people captured they need exchanging? Does Eugene count as a prisoner any more?
Anyway time to remember that Michonne and Rosita are actually characters! Michonne has decided she needs to see the Saviour’s compound - she needs to see their plan working. Which I get, after all they poured into it and worried over and risked she needs tangible proof it is actually happening. So she and Rosita go on a road trip, find some more Saviours and have some sword fighting, Rosita shoots someone with a rocket launcher (he declares she won’t do it. Yes yes she will) and the Saviours nearly escape with a truck covered in speakers (used to lure herds of zombies) but Rick and Tara just happen to be passing and solve that little problem
Why were they passing? Who even knows. It’s a coincidence on par with them getting the big gun after the Kingdom failed their attack
Tara and Darryl are definitely team kill them all - extending this even to Dwight. Which means we can expect a nuanced conflict over the future and morality to be full of lots of stupid as well. Yay. They want Michonne and Rosita to join them in “finishing” the Saviours. This will not end well
To the Kingdom where things are already not ending well - with Ezekiel moping and refusing to see anyone. People are obviously grieving and Ezekiel’s sense of self has been badly hit. Despite this - and despite him telling Jerry to leave - Jerry remains at his door. Guarding his king. His people still believe in him
Which is what Carol, after being followed by a small child who wants to fight, tries to convince him (and points to her big dramatic gesture of being ready to shoot off the lock being ruined by Jerry “it’s not locked!”)
Ezekiel is shaken. He asks who he was to make the choice for his people, to get so many killed. Carol says the obvious: he is their king. Ezekiel says he was just playing a part, even knowing he was playing with their lives, he kept playing, kept on smiling
Carol tries another tact and asks why he visited her - and he says she made him feel real, not a fiction. And Carol powerfully replies that he was real to her, not a fiction - and he’s real to the kingdom they need him. She points out how he inspired them (even her: and the tears in her eyes say just how much Ezekiel has reached her) and now more than ever they Kingdom needs him to help them grieve and move on.
She also urges him to basically fake it until you make it: if can’t be king then act, act like everything is normal until it is: like she does
And this is a powerful thing- because look at how much Carol has changed and how many hats she’s worn. From the abused wife, to the broken, grieving mother, to the ruthless force of death burning the sick and killing children, to the pleasant cookie baker of Alexandria, to the woman who collapsed under all the killing she’s done and then back to the fighter she is now
Which is the real Carol and which is the mask? What is she faking?
I’m also definitely here for an Ezekiel and Carol romance
I can take Ezekiel’s grief and pain - he deserves to have time to grieve; because on Walking Dead respectful grief as really only been Rick’s prerogative. But I also want to see him bounce back, a power, a leader, a third corner to the King, Widow, Rick triumverate. Let him grieve, then let him rise stronger than ever.
Also, Rick needs a label. It annoys me that he gets his name while the others are representational concepts. Even if it's ridiculously over the top like The General or The Guardian.