Things are ramping up in Alexandria as we near the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead (TWD-minus one week). Tara came home without Heath to find out her girlfriend (Dr Denise) and best friend (Glenn) were murdered by the Saviors. The Alexandrians must toe-the-line in order to keep Negan from killing anyone else, especially Daryl, who is locked in a Savior cell and easy pickings. Everyone is too preoccupied to wonder where Carol and Morgan are even though they’ve been missing all season. Maggie and Sasha are hiding out at the Hilltop to stay close to Maggie’s OB-GYN. And no one knows that Carl ran off to the Sanctuary to kill Negan. Luckily for the one-eyed wonder, Jesus ended up hitching a ride in the same Savior truck and will hopefully provide some guidance.
So where do we go tonight? Will Rosita manage to find guns and ammo? Will Rick and Aaron find something “special” enough for Negan to protect their community for another week? Will Maggie hit Gregory again? Will Tara spill the beans about Oceanside? Will we get to see more Shiva? You know you want to see that tiger again.
We start out with Michonne visiting the burnt out corpses of Alexandria’s mattresses. It’s the Savior’s petty FU and it pisses her off. The fire inside her is building. Rick wakes up fondling his radio. She didn’t call. Why didn’t she call? Negan is screwing up a relationship the internet spent years fantasizing about. Like we needed another reason to hate him. Jesus decides it’s best to ditch the Savior truck before they reach the Sanctuary. He teaches Carl how to jump out of a moving vehicle. “It isn’t usually the fall that gets us. It’s trying to fight it.” Carl plays the “you go first” ploy and Jesus falls for it. Carl is doing this his way and his way is a shootout. He finds a gun in the truck and takes out some Saviors. It’s a bad plan. Dwight knocks him over before he gets Negan. Surprisingly, Negan isn’t mad. He loves Carl and his big balls. “Come on, kid. Let’s show you around.” Daryl, working the walker pit, is worried. He knows how Negan treats “guests.”
Negan gives Carl a glimpse into his life. Negan gives his troops an inspiring speech. See how they kneel for me? See how they adore me? Negan visits his harem of wives. See how beautiful they are? See how they love me? Negan confronts one of his wives about being seen with her former boyfriend. He threatens to send her back to her old life. She’s terrified so she tells him she loves him. See how they choose me? Dwight and Daryl show up. Negan makes a big scene of kissing Sherry in front of Dwight. See how they belong to me? Daryl asks Negan why Carl is there. Negan cannot suffer insubordination and immediately puts him in his place. See how they obey me? It’s as if he’s saying to Carl, “all of this could be yours…”
Spencer heads out with Father Gabriel. He asks the Father is it’s a sin to hate someone. “Thoughts are just thoughts. It’s our actions that matter in the end.” Spencer takes that as approval to go on his Rick tirade. Father Gabriel tries to reason with him but Spencer takes it too far. “Maybe the only good thing that could happen to us now is he never makes it back.” Father Gabriel gives him righteous side-eye and demands he stop the car. “What you’re saying doesn’t make you a sinner. But it does make you a tremendous shit.” With that, father Gabriel flounces out of the car and heads home on foot. Spencer heads into the forest. What is the douchelord up to now? He finds a walker he and Nicholas strung up in a tree. He pulls down his crossbow. Spencer’s re-arming.
Negan works on breaking Carl. He cycles through flattery, yelling, abuse. He has Carl remove his bandage and taunts him about his wound. When Carl cries Negan starts the cycle over. Then he demands a song, preferably one Carl’s mother used to sing to him. With Lucille pointed at his face, Carl starts singing “You Are My Sunshine.” Negan practices slicing the air with Lucille while Carl struggles through the song. Negan asks about Lori. When Carl admits he killed his mother Negan exclaims, “Damn. No wonder you’re a little serial killer in the making.”
Eugene thinks he and Rosita are going on a scavenging mission for Negan but she has other plans. Rosita has a bullet to make. She takes him to the abandoned workshop where he went with Abraham before everything fell apart. Eugene doesn’t want to be there. He doesn’t want to make a bullet. He wants to make a plan, with Rick, before they do anything. Rosita isn’t interested in logic. She harrases Eugene. She abuses him. She uses Abraham’s memory to guilt him into doing it. After she gets what she wants, she apologizes. He refuses to accept it. She’s gone too far. She’s losing her soul to anger.
Negan brings Carl to meet with his men. They all kneel, including Daryl. Negan has Carl hold Lucille while he takes care of business. The Savior that was sniffing around his wife needs to be punished. True, she was his girlfriend until Negan stole her away with threats and intimidation, but still… He’s going to get “the iron” and Dwight is going to help administer it. They burn his face with a red-hot iron while his friends and family watch. Negan announces that his face will be a reminder to everyone that rules matter. Sherry looks at Dwight, remembering his turn with “the iron.
Dwight and Sherry meet in the stairwell. They argue over who is doing worse deeds to survive. They both lose.
Alone again, Carl asks Negan why he hasn’t killed him, Rick or Daryl. Negan is still convinced Daryl is going to be a good soldier one day. Rick is already providing. And Carl is his future. “It’s more productive to break you. More fun, too.” Negan asks Carl how he should punish him for killing two of his men. Carl suggests he jump out the window to save him the trouble of killing him. Negan loves it. He decides to take his game back to Alexandria. Unbeknownst to them, they leave Jesus behind.
Rick and Aaron come across a gate with a big warning sign. They know they only have a day or two to find something “special” for Negan so they plow ahead, danger be damned. They find a houseboat in the middle of a walker infested lake. It’s now or never.
Michonne takes a Savior prisoner. “Take me to Negan,” she demands.
Daryl gets sent back to his cell. Someone slips a note under the door. It reads, “Go now.”
Negan finds Olivia at Rick’s house. Judith is nowhere to be seen so he doesn’t realize she’s babysitting. She complains that they’re running out of food and he fat shames her. She cries. To make it up to her, he asks if she’d like to have sex. She slaps him, hard. He leans in and growls, “I am about 50% more into you now.” He sends her off to make lemonade and tours the house. He squishes his toes into their thick carpet. He runs water out of their shiny taps. He plays darts in Carl’s room. And then he discovers Judith. He ends up on Rick’s veranda with Judith on his lap. He likes this life. “Maybe it is stupid keeping you and your dad alive…”
Next week: It’s the ninety-minute mid-season finale. The people of the Kingdom are worried. Daryl runs. Michonne looks for Negan. And Rick is scared.