Last night's episode of The Walking Dead had more of a familiar feel to it, as a number of our (anti)heroes fell back into their comfort zones and began doing what they do best—in stark contrast to the relentless dread and misery they (and we, the viewers) experienced throughout the entire first half of the season. Rick is wheeling and dealing (hopefully in a more measured way than aggro-Alpha-Rick from last season), Maggie (and the Hilltop) has had enough of Gregory's shit, and the Alexandrians are ready to fight back.
Will this renewed sense of hope and winds of rebellion end up spelling disaster for our heroes? Probably. But until then…
From displays of dominance to faction elimination, a look at which characters saw their prospects rise this week
Pritpaul Bains: Rick
Everyone's favorite ex-cop is back in his element—taking charge, planning countermeasures, and fighting an uphill battle trying to convince those around him that his plan is what's best for everyone. Will he succeed? Of course he will. We just hope it doesn't take the show a full seven episodes (or more) to get to that point.
Aside: Why was Rick so happy to be apprehended at the end of this episode? It might be as simple as the fact that he was heartened to meet another group not named the Saviors that was armed to the teeth.
Adam Wagner: King Ezekiel
After Liaison Jesus sets up a meeting between Rick and Ezekiel (somehow forgetting to mention the freaking TIGER), the king shows every reason why he's royalty. He’s strong and stern yet shows he’s open to listening. He’s wise and generous but makes sure his people are top priority. He’s thoughtful and contemplative but doesn’t just immediately jump on the Grimes train. And he’s got a tiger.
Just because we’ve been following Rick and Co. through 6 ½ seasons doesn’t mean Ezekiel has to. Sure, he’s bound to change his mind, but right now he is doing what he feels is best for his people. Or maybe he’s convinced but wants the opportunity to explain their deal with the Saviors to his people first. Either way, I’m just hoping the tiger gets its chance to roooaarr-or-or-or-or-or-ooh-ah-orrr.
Joe Brosnan: Rosita
As if I needed any more proof that I would be completely useless in a zombie apocalypse, there was Rosita barely batting an eye when confronted with the task of disarming a bomb while an enormous herd of walkers barreled down on her. That, along with her badass looking face scar and her complete shutdown of her Eskimo Sister Sasha firmly cements Rosita as this episode’s riser.
From poor decisions to lost lives, a look at which characters lost ground this week.
JB: Joey, née Skinny
A goddamn tragedy indeed. An identity is an awful thing to lose, and with Fat Joey’s passing a few episodes ago, the unfortunate truth is that Skinny Joey no longer requires a qualifier prefacing his name. Joey just doesn’t have the same ring to it. That Negan sure knows how to eulogize—and steal the episode without even appearing on screen.
Our man doesn't seem to know it yet, but he's already been usurped by Maggie as the leader of the Hilltop. To what lengths will TWD's resident cowering bootlicker go to keep what little power he thinks he has left? Any way you hang it, this dynamic is definitely leading to a betrayal down the road.
Related: “walking ballsack” is my new favorite go-to insult.
No crossbow, no motorcycle, no winged-jacket—with only good looks to go on, I’m not sure Daryl is going to stare anyone into submission. Daryl can’t seem to catch a break this season. Let’s hope he finds his place in the Kingdom and doesn’t just stand there at the door waiting for Rick to come back like a dog. I mean, he’s already munched a few dog-food sandwiches—what’s next?
A tribute to the late, great Hershel Greene, this section searches for the best displays of humanity amidst chaos this week.
Each camp seemed to have at least one member who had a lot to lose yet knew the stakes. But that scene with Aaron and his husband was a tough one to swallow. They all have a tough decision to make about fighting the Saviors, but looking in the face of your scared and worried loved one as they plead you not to risk your life makes the decision that much harder. Watching Aaron struggle with that scene made his decision to fight that much more honorable.
JB: Momma Grimes
That has to be the first time Rick mentions either of his parents, right? The usually stoic Rick shows a moment of vulnerability, telling King Ezekiel a heartwarming story of what it means to put in hard work simply for the betterment of other people. Clearly, Ezekiel didn’t give a shit, but it was endearing nonetheless. Momma Grimes would be proud.
He’s still just a naive little kid, especially in this world, but you have to respect his earnestness. “There aren't a lot of us left. We've got to look out for each other.” If those are the values the Kingdom instills in its citizens, there may yet be some hope left in this world.
- Not enough Random Ominous Boots this episode. DISAPPOINTED. (PB)
- Ha! Classic Jerry. (AW)
- I unabashedly love the Kingdom and I don't care what any of you say. (PB)
- With Daryl staying behind at the Kingdom, it’s only a matter of time until he bumps into Carol. (JB)
- “Try to talk to him … or stare him into submission, whatever it takes.” Redneck glower power, activate! (PB)
- I hope every time we see Ezekiel, Daryl is off in the background just mean mugging him into submission. (JB)
- Simon may be turning into my favorite big bad of the season. Yes, One-Note Negan included (and it kills me to say that, as I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan). (PB)
- Simon is to Rick as Dwight is to Daryl? (AW)
- With how many clichés Simon spouts from his mustachioed mouth, I can’t believe he hasn’t started a demand with “Simon says.” (AW)
- Technically, all those walkers that Rick and Michonne cut in half are still alive, right? Watch out Negan—a bunch of crawling torsos are coming for you. (JB)
- I'll say this for Gabriel: his character arc has taken viewers in a lot of different directions over the past few seasons (albeit mostly places that have left us pining for his grisly demise). He's gotten moderately more interesting over the last season, though. What's his endgame here? And, more importantly, how in the blue hell is he reading the Bible outside in the middle of the night? (PB)
Zombie Kill of the Week
The razor-wire car clothesline is one of the coolest walker-kill setpieces this show has ever done.