Rick prepares the group for an infiltration and extermination of Negan’s men in order to maintain trade relations with the people of Hilltop. Carol and Morgan are still at odds with each other and Abraham breaks up with Rosita citing that she’s not the only woman in the world. On their way, the group disguise a walker head to resemble gregory while Carol expresses her disapproval to Rick with bringing Maggie on the trip. That night, they storm the facility and lay waste to all members. After dawn, some of the members return home while the rest capture one more of Negan’s men. His radio reveals other allies of Negan who have captured Maggie and Carol, forcing Rick consider some kind of stand-off or surrender.
If there was ever an episode dedicated to Rick’s group getting everything done right with nearly no mishaps, this would be the one. With the exception of Maggie and Carol’s capture, Rick and crew decimated the opposition in stealth and in a blaze of fire. One element that they don’t shy away from is how much human against human collisions are going to be the focus for the remainder season. The character struggles played enough of a role to showcase the kinds of problems one would expect when dealing with murdering humans, but as even Father Gabriel understands, things must be done to preserve the group. Pretty decent episode at first look with solid gun play and a lot of knife stabbings that probably were best kept off camera.
Keeping the group centered on a common goal is what’s best for keeping Rick in a sane position. In fact, this is one of the few times he’s sought out a group vote based on the longevity of their town. Under more pressured circumstances, he’s usually the one to call the shots because his experience and willingness to handle the truly raw guilt of any backlash that comes afterward. The cohesive feel continues to ring true and I like how connected they are as Rick believes in it more than ever. How he handles Negan’s group moving forward will be a real test to that mental shift.
The infiltration was both an exercise in surgical strikes and in dealing with survival on the next level, killing humans. And the crux of it is that these humans have only “appeared” to be evil. I know we know that they really are, but I always kept thinking that if Glenn busted into a room and found a family in there, he’d have blown the lid off the entire operation. While it felt a little too coordinated it was important to show Rick’s group winning enough before the world truly comes crashing down, and it will when Negan enters the fray.
The background subplot here was Carol’s continued support of the town and her silent struggle with letting her guard down, something she’s finally done with Tobin who is seeking a relationship with her. If it wasn’t for her leaving a cookie for Sam, I’d say she wasn’t leaving a well enough mark on the show as a character I don’t mind seeing perish. Her values conflict with Morgan who I believe is more of a sympathetic character and it’s hard to ideally choose a side except the one who wants the least violence because humans who refuse to kill are essentially trying to hold onto the old world. Carol is no longer in that mind set, but truthfully I don’t find her and Morgan’s issues to be a topic worth exploring. There’s a resonant nature of motherhood still faintly represented in Carol and it’s manifesting more now that she sees Maggie as the next person to undergo that change. Where I’m failing to connect with is her overall state of mind. I don’t honestly know if she’s going to snap or always do the right thing when things get very crazy in the near future and that kind of uncertainty doesn’t lean toward favoritism on these characters.
The entire infiltration segment, but more so when Glenn and Heath unloaded their guns through the door. It was both lightly comical and rich with fury. And the exclamation point was Jesus killing one of the men and commenting on the world they live in. There three mixtures of personalities here on a scale of “hate killing” “Do what I have to” and “The enemy must be taken out.” While I can’t imagine Jesus enjoying what he does, I see him as not putting any emotional chains toward the goal he sets out to do. Great small moment between the three and the gunplay was outstanding.
A bit tough to single out one person in this team effort, but I’d say the MVP goes to Rick. He applied the voting process and is really trying to listen to the people he’s leading. And the plan made was carried out flawlessly with the exception of Maggie remaining and one person left alive to try and escape. As of now, there have been no casualties on Rick’s side and that’s a difficult thing to manage considering how many we’ve lost up until now. That’s not to say we won’t see them in the immediate future, but for now, Rick’s plan was damn near perfect.
Abraham is somewhat of a silly character to me at this point. He constantly in a midlife crises and changes his mind on what he wants every few episodes. I’ll give him credit, his explanation for breaking up with Rosita was one of the most clever and honest lines he could have said without trying to break the poor girl’s heart, and he didn’t even have to say who he was interested in. Still, he’s silly, and that head-band is proof enough alone.
It’s weird how we know Negan won’t appear until the finale but there’s still 4 episodes left to cover with Negan’s forces. What I’m hoping is Rick and his crew quickly realize how large and spread out Negan’s group really is. I can’t expect it to be in the thousands or anything ridiculous like that, but a few hundred wouldn’t be pushing it. Okay, maybe it would. Just one hundred then.
Every sleeping enemy that was knifed was done off camera. I kept thinking there’d be some kind of knee-jerk struggle or something that made these kills less easy in nature, but I suppose that’s just not how it always works. It was more about looking into the eyes of the Glenn and Rick who did the deed that made more effect than with the killing strikes themselves. Glenn had the worst of it though and you could see it in his eyes as plain as day.
I can’t say my mind’s made up with Gabriel, but at least he appears to be on the up and up with the crew and is genuinely making an effort to be that contribution he spoke of earlier. I don’t think you can just wash away the kind of crazy he was displaying earlier on in the seasons but the effort to change is there and I appreciate it and feel he’s a on his way to becoming a stable member of the group.
7 out of 10. Even though there was conflict, this tale was quick to show how cunning and precise Rick and the gang can get when set to the task. The opposition was there at the end, but by that point it was a slam dunk considering how unprepared they were for such a killing force. Carol’s issues are apparent as Maggie is growing into her role and though they dispute on how Maggie would continue while with child, at least she’s decisive. Very well directed shoot-outs and there was enough innuendo to give the team information that Negan isn’t so easily defeated as the place they ransacked was likely just an outpost and hardly represented his main force or location. And I swear I saw that same zombie with the ribs before. Do they reuse the same actors? Can’t see why not. The cliffhanger promises to continue Negan’s presence on the show and I do believe we’ve seen Rick’s last battle won before things go south fast. Thanks for reading. We’ll see you next weekend.
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