Michael Cudlitz in "The Walking Dead."
Gene Page/AMC Michael Cudlitz in "The Walking Dead."

Previously...

The dang church tower collapsed, bringing down the security wall with it, and Alexandria became overrun with zombies (but not people). The Ricketeers began their escape using the old "douse yourself in zombie guts" method, but whether they'll make it to safety remains unclear.

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Let's Kick Things Off With A Bang

But before we go back to Alexandria, we have to check in on Abraham, Sasha, and Daryl, who run afoul of a group of heavily-armed bikers who work for a man named Negan, who seems to be some sort of hoarding dictator, since his men are so preoccupied with stripping our heroes of their possessions. Presumably, these guys are from the same group as the Hunters in "Always Accountable." The bikers' chatty leader seems prepared to kill both Abraham and Sasha, until Daryl remembers they've got a friggin' rocket launcher and sends the whole gang to their fiery graves. It's definitely a fist-pump moment.

Most Embarrassing Death

Hoo, boy. After the exciting opening, the episode drops like a stone for its middle portion, with Rick's undercover zombie excursion being the nadir. The cliffhanger at the end of the half-season was that Rick and the others could make it through the zombie horde, provided little Sam Anderson managed to keep his shit together. And he does, for a time, but finally loses it when he sees a zombie that seems to be around his age. He stops moving, whimpers softly a couple of times, and then zombies swarm him. Considering the rest of the team was whispering for him to get moving at about the same volume, his immediate mauling seems much more like the cruel hand of the writers room than the cruel hand of fate.

Of course, Sam dying means Jessie starts screaming, which means some more zombies swarm her, and she's gone, too. I say "some" more zombies because the horde is very slow to react to all the noise the group kicks up once Sam dies. Ron, who reasonably figures he doesn't have anything left to lose at this point, tries to shoot Rick, but gets stabbed from behind by Michonne. He does get one shot off, though, putting out Carl's right eye, so some measure of revenge is had. Even after a flipping gunshot in their midst, the zombies hardly react, so Rick scoops up Carl and makes a break for it with Michonne.

It's possible you could argue that the "we're covered in zombie guts" business keeps the zombies from zeroing in on the Ricketeers, even with all the noise, but Sam got killed for one whimper so it's not much of a case. "The Walking Dead" has regularly played fast and loose with its zombie "rules," but what happens with the Andersons might just take the cake for implausibility. Considering how much screen time the Anderson clan has had since the Ricketeers arrived in Alexandria, their death seems like an afterthought. It leaves you wondering what the point of it all was.

Achievement In Grossness

We see an emaciated zombie with his intestines hanging out, which the camera makes sure to linger on.

A walker on "The Walking Dead."
Gene Page/AMC A walker on "The Walking Dead."

A Shred of Humanity

Dr. Denise is still being held hostage by the remaining Wolf (Lone Wolf!), and he tells her that he's eager to make her change like he did. In their attempt to get away, Lone Wolf takes a zombie bite meant for Denise, and wonders aloud why he would do that. Good question! Maybe Morgan's decency is contagious. Denise agrees to get Lone Wolf to the infirmary to save his life, but Carol guns him down from a nearby balcony. Obviously, we were meant to see that the Lone Wolf really could change, and Morgan's way has merit, but this sub-plot was too rushed  to really land. Still, Carol and Morgan as opposite ends of the morality spectrum remains an intriguing idea.

Current Glenn Status

That goofball nearly gets himself killed again while distracting the zombies while Enid saves Maggie, but fortunately Abraham, Sasha, and their machine guns show up to save the day. Be more careful, Glenn! You're going to be a dad! And even after all that "Is Glenn dead?" malarkey last season, we still don't get to see Glenn and Maggie's tearful reunion. Rip off! Let's hope the show doesn't go to the "Maggie and Glenn are separated" well again anytime soon.

Little Town, It's A Not-So-Quiet Village

Rick manages to get Carl to the infirmary, aka Everyone Else Manor, where Aaron, Spencer, and Heath have been hiding themselves. Rick drops Carl off and decides he wants a little payback for his sort-of girlfriend, so he races off to take on the horde by himself. Michonne and the others decide to back him up, and their display of heroism attracts the attention of the remaining Alexandrians. Everyone takes up arms and helps fight off the walkers, even noted cowards Eugene and Father Gabriel! The climactic montage of everyone madly swinging their weapons is more than a little cheesy, but it's still refreshing to see everyone working together after a season of inter-town sniping. At last the townspeople, (with an assist from Daryl and his rocket launcher), are able to finish off the zombies and save Alexandria. It's downright heart-warming.

Once the carnage is over, Rick tells a comatose Carl that he's seen the light and believes in the townspeople. He's willing to help make Deanna's dreams of expansion a reality. No more public executions at town meetings! He wants to show Carl this new world, and Carl responds by squeezing his hand. Everything's going to work out! I'm sure this Negan guy will turn out to be really nice!

Grade: C+


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