It’s certainly been an emotional season of The Walking Dead so far. Last week we got to experience a little taste of life at the Savior’s sanctuary. Dwight was seemingly enjoying life as a big shot but we eventually discovered it was all a facade. Negan stole his wife and continually tested his allegiance, never giving the man a minute of respite. By the time Dwight claimed life under Negan was “better than being dead” we no longer believed him. Daryl, on the other hand, was locked up, fed dog food and tortured with loud, inane music day and night. Dwight was anxious to break him, both to make Negan happy and to justify his own decision to turn to the dark side. But Daryl refused to say the three little words that could change his circumstances: I am Negan. He refused to kneel.
Back at Alexandria, the folks who met Negan and Lucille are still shaken from the experience. Michonne stares longingly at the nails where her katana used to hang. Remember the halcyon days of a safe Alexandria? When she no longer needed the protection of her sword? Well, those days are over. With her katana strapped to her back and a gun in her bag, Michonne sneaks out the door. She may share Rick’s bed but she still has her secrets. She does sniper practice on walkers but she’s terrible at it. Shot after shot rings out without a single hit. She’s so good with the katana I never thought about how I’ve never seen her shoot a gun. Finally she gives up and uses her sword. On her way home she comes across a deer one of her stray bullets took out. She can shoot the innocent but not her targets. That doesn’t sit well with her.
Negan shows up at Alexandria early. He bangs on the gate with Lucille. “Little pig, little pig. Let me in!” He has a huge army with him, including Daryl in his prisoner garb. The sight of his condition makes Rick’s blood boil but he reins himself in. Negan hands him the blood-stained Lucille. He’ll carry the weapon that killed his friends and thank Negan for the honor if necessary. He learned his lesson. He’s willing to kneel in order to protect his loved ones.
The Saviors search Alexandria for goodies. When Rick points out that the agreement is Negan gets half their supplies, he shuts him down. “You don’t decide what we take. I do.” Dwight sends Rosita out to get Daryl’s bike. He wrecked the first bike he stole from Daryl so he’s ready for another. But first he takes her guns and water. “Don’t take too long…” What a dick. Negan struts around Alexandria while the Saviors empty all of the homes. He hammers Rick every chance he gets. It’s not enough that he broke him. He needs to rub his face in it. Rick’s fingers twitch around Lucille’s handle but he does nothing. Killing Negan won’t solve his problem (no matter how good it would feel). Negan asks about Maggie. Father Gabriel pops up and asks if he’d like to pay his respects. Negan practically jumps. “Ho-ly crap! You are creepy as shit.” For once I agree with Negan. They go to the graveyard and visit Maggie’s “grave.” Quick thinking on Father Gabriel’s part but Negan’s going to explode when he finds out (and he will find out).
Rosita and Spencer arrive at the train tracks where Daryl left his bike. Rosita is freaked out. The last time she was there led to her capture by the Saviors and that horrible night. Spencer goes on a tirade about how all of this is Rick’s fault. I expect her to punch him but she’s not even paying attention. She’s tracking walkers into the woods. Spencer calls her name and the walkers turn and notice her. What an idiot! Now she has to take them out. She moves around a tree, this way and that, and is able to get enough space to get them all safely. She’s a well trained killer. It’s a thing of beauty. One of the walkers is a Savior. She grabs his gun and spits on his corpse. She’s trying to rearm Alexandria, one walker at a time. Unfortunately, the gun is empty. She takes it anyway. It’s a start. Spencer starts whining about what will happen if the Saviors find her with a gun but she knows she has to prepare for a showdown. “This is not our life.”
A gunshot rings out in Alexandria. Negan looks at Rick with fire in his eyes. Someone’s going to pay for this. Carl is pointing his gun at a group of Saviors. Damn! Rick begs him to put it down. Instead, Carl threatens Negan. This is going to be bad. But Negan sees something in the future sociopath that he likes and lets him off with a warning. A warning and all their guns. While they’re loading the guns into their trucks they realize that two are missing from the inventory. Rick looks surprised and scared. He has no idea where those guns are. Since Olivia’s in charge of the armory, Negan decides he has to kill her. Rick gets all of Alexandria together and pleads with them for the missing weapons. He tries to clue in the people who haven’t seen Negan in action yet. “I’m not in charge anymore. Negan is. Now who has the guns?” Eugene points out that some people are missing from the meeting so they search their homes. Rick is about to give up when he finds Spencer’s hiding spot. It’s full of stolen food, booze and the two missing guns. What a douche. At least Olivia survives.
At the gates, Rick notices Michonne with the deer on her shoulders. He tells her he knows she has a rifle. He has to give it to Negan. She tries to argue but he’s not willing to risk losing anyone else. Negan gloats and struts. Rick knelt without being told. In exchange, he asks to keep Daryl at Alexandria. Negan gives Daryl a chance to plead his case but it’s only a test so Daryl stays mum. Negan leaves Rick with a warning that they’ll be back for more stuff soon. Or else. He takes the deer just to be an asshole. And he gets Rick to thank him for it. Kneel. Rick’s finger twitches on Lucille again but he does nothing. Kneel. Negan takes Lucille back and whispers to Rick, “In case you haven’t caught on, I just slipped my dick down your throat. And you thanked me for it.” KNEEL.
Rick makes a bed on the floor. He tells Michonne the Saviors took most of their mattresses. She doesn’t care about that. She wants to know why he’s not willing to fight. Rick says it’s all about numbers. Even with the Hilltop, they’d never survive. He just wants some kind of life. Michonne explodes. “What kind of life?” Rick tells her the story of Shane saving Lori and Carl after things turned. About how Shane and Lori got together. “I know Judith isn’t mine. I know it.” He loves her and considers her his daughter. But she isn’t. “I had to accept that. I did. So I could keep her alive.” He makes the correlation to what they’re going through now. “You have to accept this. All of us do. Or it won’t work.” Michonne grabs a blanket and helps him make the bed. “I’m gonna try.” Kneel.
Later, out hunting, Michonne sees a plume of smoke. She investigates. She finds a pile of mattresses the Saviors set on fire. Kneel.
Rosita finds a spent shell casing. She takes it to Eugene. “Make me a bullet.” Kneel?
Next week: Maggie is at Hilltop getting treatment. Gregory, their leader, complains that Rick promised to take care of Negan but all he did was put them more at risk. The Saviors search Hilltop. Will they find Maggie? Will they kill Gregory? Hmmm…