Last week was a bit of a game changer for our Walking Dead crew. This week, they go on a mission to kill Negan’s Saviors.
Is it good?
Carol’s Cookie Cutter Life
Now that the Alexandrians know Carol was hiding her Sarah Conner persona behind a Susie Homemaker one, she’s free to be herself… which looks a lot like Susie Homemaker.
The episode opens with cheerful indie rock playing over a montage of Carol attempting to lead somewhat normal existence: Baking cookies, doing chores, flirting with Tobin (ugh), mingling with neighbors—it’s like the world’s most unhip Apple commercial.
Then Rick comes back from the Hilltop, complete with literal dark clouds rolling in behind him. He tells Carol that it’s time to start hunting and killing. She’s not pleased, but still agrees to be ready, because like Wolverine, she’s the best at what she does.
Before heading inside, Morgan starts blabbing to her about why she hasn’t told anyone that he tried to help one of the Wolves. He tries to twist her discretion into some type of statement on her humanity, but much like the viewing audience, Carol just wants him to shut up. Then she lays the last cookie she has left on Sam’s grave and departs.
(By the way, how cool would it have been if Sam’s undead hand burst up from the ground and grabbed the cookie? Okay, maybe not that cool, but it still would have been pretty funny.)
Sermon of Fire
Rick holds a town hall meeting in the church, where he tells everyone the plan (and reasons) for killing the Saviors. As expected, Morgan stands up and complains, which made Rick (and the viewing audience) tell him to shut up.
Those of us who read the comics know why attacking The Saviors head on might be a bad idea. But from Rick & Co.’s current position, it’s their best option for a number of reasons.
1. Tonight on Talking Dead, Chris Hardwick mentioned that he didn’t like how Rick and his crew were so willing to kill a group of people based on very little evidence of wrongdoing. At first glance, that seems like a good observation. Despite the show going to great lengths later on to portray them as bad people, Rick’s only interaction with The Saviors has been via proxy. You can’t just go killing people because some other people you just met say they’re bad (and try to kill someone because of it). But unless I missed Hardwick mentioning it, he seems to have forgotten that Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham already tangled with The Saviors once before. Their encounter with the Hilltop group would act as a confirmation of The Saviors potential danger rather than an introduction to it.
2. Waiting around for people to attack them never works out well. See: The Wolves.
3. They need supplies. They can get those supplies by taking care of what looks to be an inevitable threat.
4. It makes for better television.
Carol’s Count and Abraham’s Assholery
Unable to sleep that night, Carol takes out a little black notebook and updates her kill count (which seems like the type of thing you should do in the morning when your mind is fresh). Then she goes for a walk, stops to sit on the porch with Tobin, and kisses him.
As someone who ships Daryl + Carol pretty hard, this development made me quite angry. Judging by the reaction I saw on Twitter, a large segment of The Walking Dead fan base felt the same. I’m sure Tobin is a perfectly nice guy, but I kind of want him to die now.
Speaking of people I want to die, Abraham moved himself into that select group with what might have been the worst break up speech in history. It’s bad enough that’s he’s leaving a great girl like Rosita—who has been nothing but loyal and loving towards him—but his line about realizing she wasn’t the last woman on earth was brutal. And before any of you say she provoked Abraham’s anger, Rosita had every right to give him hell. After sharing what she thought was a strong relationship just a couple days ago, the dude starts packing his things and tries to leave with nothing a brush off goodbye. What a douche (although his dingleberry line was pretty great).
Meanwhile, Glenn begs Maggie not to go on the mission. Maggie smacks that suggestion down hard. You don’t mess with a pregnant woman when she’s made up her mind, Glenn.
The next day, Rick and his attack squad prepare for the assault. Glenn and Heath admit to each other that they’ve never killed a non-zombified human before (so you know that’s exactly what they’re going to have to do at some point later in the episode).
Later, they find some zombies whose heads look a little like Gregory—which is what The Saviors want in return for their Hilltop captive. When the best head still doesn’t resemble the Hilltop leader enough, Rick picks it up and pummels its nose a bit…which was immediately followed by an ad for Hardees biscuits. Ugh. Someone at the corporate office needs to talk to AMC about that.
Oh yeah, and one more thing. Before the commercial break, Andy (the Hilltop dude on the mission with them) claims that Rick might be worse than Negan. That hot take gave those of us who read the comics a good laugh.
Pre-dawn. Still dark.
Andy walks up to what appears to be an old broadcasting station. Negan’s guards act like complete assholes, just to make sure we know that they’re bad guys.
The also believe that the head is really Gregory. After accepting Andy’s gift, they pick up the head and use it as a puppet, just to make sure we know that they’re bad guys.
Are we convinced that they’re bad guys yet? Good, because Rick & Co. kill them and enter the compound to take out the rest. The group starts executing targets like a team of unshaven Navy Seals…except for Glenn and Heath, who agonize over having to kill a couple of sleeping Saviors. Fortunately, the first one Glenn kills has a photo collage over his bed of all the people he’s shot in the face (just to make sure we know that he’s a bad guy). Glenn cries while plunging a knife into the man’s head, but that’s probably because he knows the show’s writers have made him immortal and he’ll never experience the eternal slumber of death.
Meanwhile, Abraham the Ginger Douche brings his bad karma to the group and messes up an easy kill. The Savior pulls the fire alarm before dying, which causes all hell to break lose.
An awesome firefight ensues.
Back outside, Glenn and Carol guard the perimeter. Maggie hears the alarm and tries to go in, but Carol stops her and starts screaming that Maggie should quit trying to be a badass and act like a normal woman/mom. This seemed like a very un-Carol thing to do, but it’s easy to forget what happened to Sophia (her daughter) in Season 2. While that might seem like a long time ago in TV years, the wound would never heal for a mom—even one as hardened as Carol.
Back inside the compound, Glenn and Heath get pinned down. Fortunately, it’s inside the armory with guns that they already know how to fire without any prior training. The pair adds to their new kill counts substantially. One of the surviving Saviors almost gets them, but Jesus runs in and kills him just in time.
Outside, Gabriel looks like he is about to wuss out on killing one of The Saviors before quoting some Bible verses and blowing the dude’s head off.
Dang. Between that and his joke earlier in the episode (about wearing his priest clothes because they made for good night camouflage), Gabe’s actually starting to seem likable.
Dawn of the Dead
The attack is over, the sun has risen, and it appears Rick & Co. have won the day. Then one of The Saviors tears out of the compound on a motorcycle. Rosita shoots him down. Daryl and Rick run up to interrogate/kill him. It’s clear the man isn’t going to give any answers, but he doesn’t need to. His walkie starts squawking instead. On the other end is a woman who can see them from wherever she’s hiding. She demands that they put their weapons down or Maggie and Carol die.
Is it Good?
Maybe I’m just a big old meathead, but I thought the attack on Negan’s compound was awesome. Not only was it excellently staged/choreographed, but it was good seeing Rick’s plan (mostly) work, especially after the Alexandria Rock Slide Debacle.
Also, how weird is it that Gabriel is becoming likable and Abraham seems like total prick? And before you say that he and Sasha have some type of ‘warrior bond,’ I’d like to point out that Rosita was one of the best people on the Alexandria Hit Squad. I think the show wanted you to notice that, as well, hence the blood splatter on the camera they didn’t edit from one of her better kills.
The main character moments, however, came from Carol. (There was some other stuff with Tara being unable to tell Denise about her past, but Tara still annoys the crap out of me, so whatever). It was good to see that Carol isn’t all hard edges, especially after she killed Morgan’s Wolf a few episodes ago. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Carol was a mother who lost her child in one of the worst ways imaginable. Seeing Maggie pregnant and running straight into battle can’t be easy.
Of course, now they’re both in trouble. If you thought that little broadcast station and it’s battalion was all Negan had, then you and Rick’s crew are in for a rude awakening next week.