Whose Episode Is It?
Abraham gets some more time to contemplate his love triangle, since he still hasn’t broken up with Rosita. Maggie gets a chance to show off her leadership skills, which is a nice change of pace from just being worried about Glenn all the time. Oh, and Jesus takes most of the core Ricketeers to his settlement, The Hilltop.
Yet Another Human Faction
Carl finds Jesus chilling in his house and pulls a gun on him, demanding to know what he’s doing there. Jesus nonchalantly says, “I’m waiting for your mom and dad to get dressed,” which is just the best way to learn that your dad has a new special lady in his life. The Ricketeers assemble, and Jesus tells them that since Rick and Daryl let him live, he trusts them enough to show them The Hilltop. He also points out that The Hilltop trades with other settlements, and that the Ricketeers’ world “is about to get a whole lot bigger.” Well, hot damn! I hope they’re not jerks!
Man Is The True Monster
It turns out they’re jerks. In a regular human jerky way, not in a “we’re going to eat you” way like most of the people the Ricketeers encounter. It’s honestly a nice change of pace, and the expansion of “The Walking Dead’s” world this episode has some exciting story-telling possibilities. Jesus introduces the gang to Gregory, The Hilltop’s leader, played by Xander Berkley at his most condescending. Rick correctly assesses that he would punch Gregory in the face if he were stuck in a room with him for any length of time, so he asks Maggie to negotiate on behalf of Alexandria. This gives Maggie a chance to shine, and also shows that Rick’s willing to delegate, marking his change from the first half of the season.
The Hilltoppers are lacking in weapons (they’ve got spears instead of guns), but Alexandria is hurting for food, and Gregory knows he’s got the better bargaining position. He suggest some of the Ricketeers could come work for him, but Maggie’s not having it, so he freezes her out. That is, until a Hilltop patrol returns, saying they were attacked by Negan. Turns out Negan’s group, The Saviors, demands a regular tribute of half The Hilltop’s supplies, and the last drop was a little light. The patrol’s leader, Ethan, tells Gregory that Negan has his brother, and will give him back if Ethan delivers Gregory a message. No points for guessing that the message is a knife to the guts. A crazy brawl breaks out, and the Rick proves that he’s not to be messed with as he jabs a knife into Ethan’s neck. “What?” he says, as he stands soaked in blood in front of the gawking Hilltoppers. If Rick were this sassy when he was being an asshole to the Alexandrians, I might have been on board.
Daryl thinks Negan’s all talk, since the Hilltoppers haven’t seen many of Negan’s men, not to mention that Daryl blew a bunch of them up during their last encounter. The other Ricketeers seem to agree, so Maggie goes back to Gregory (who survived his assault) with a new deal: The Hilltop will give Alexandria a bunch of supplies in advance, and in exchange, the Ricketeers will kill Negan. It’s a solid cliffhanger, but it’s pretty obvious to the audience that the Ricketeers are underestimating Negan. The only one with reservations is Maggie, who thinks this deal is going to cost them.
Something for the ‘Shippers
As mentioned, Abraham is still with Rosita, but he has a regular patrol with Sasha, so he gets ample time to make moon eyes at her. That is, until Sasha tells him that she’s taking another guard position, and Eugene’s going to be her replacement. Meanwhile, Rosita suspects nothing, and even gives Abraham a nice necklace made from a broken brake light. At least this seems to be a genuine choice for Abraham, with neither side being demonized or abruptly eaten by zombies (*cough* Jessie *cough*). Abraham decides it’s time to shit or get off the pot, so he spends the episode bugging the other characters about their relationships, including wondering to Daryl how long Michonne and Rick have been “buggin’ umplies.” Seriously dude, get your mind out of Rick’s commodore. Abraham’s dialogue is often overly cornball, but this episode he goes all in on the purple prose. When he’s quizzing Glenn about whether he meant to get Maggie pregnant, he puts it like this: “When you were pouring the Bisquick, were you trying to make pancakes?” Glenn’s bafflement at this inquiry speaks for us all. Michael Cudlitz is doing what he can with Abraham, but the dialogue isn’t doing him any favors.
Most Obvious Metaphor
During Abraham’s brush with death in the brawl against the Hilltoppers, Abraham seems to finally decide who he’s going to choose. When Daryl helps him up, Rosita’s necklace remains on the ground, unnoticed. Sorry in advance, Rosita! But seriously, Abraham being all serene makes me genuinely worried for his short-term survival. Nothing raises a red flag on this show more than basic human happiness. Dark times are on the horizon.