After a long winter break, the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead is really here! The first half of the season was undeniably rough. The Alexandrians lost everything: their friends, their power and their will to fight. But tonight is when they turn all of that around and start kicking some serious Savior butt. It won’t be easy. It won’t be pretty. But, as Michonne reminded Rick, if they do it together, they’ll succeed. So, without further ado, let’s get this revolution started!
Father Gabriel does midnight guard duty. He is lost in thought. After referencing his diary, he comes to a decision. He abandons his post, sneaking through the sleeping town to the storeroom. He frantically clears the shelves of all of their remaining food. He checks his notebook again to make sure he’s doing the right thing. It gives him the courage to take their cache of knives. He loads a car and drives out of town. Is he really deserting his friends? Stealing away in the dead of night with the last of their supplies? Or is he on a secret mission to save them? What is going on?
Rick and crew meet with Gregory at Hilltop. Gregory struts and sputters. Housing Maggie is the limit of his compassion and he refuses to help any further. Rick pleads but Gregory won’t listen. He will sacrifice as many lives as it takes to protect himself. When Maggie asks if he can spare any bodies he scoffs. “What are you going to do? Start a platoon of sorghum farmers?” No matter what they say, Gregory stands firm. They’re on their own. Enid calls them outside. They find a group of Gregory’s so-called sorghum farmers. Enid told them the plan and they’re willing to fight if Maggie says it’s worth it. The Alexandrians are relieved but they know they need more people. Jesus has a solution. “I think it’s time I introduce you to Ezekiel. King Ezekiel.”
Jesus brings them to the outskirts of the Kingdom. Rick and Daryl are wary. King Ezekiel? The Kingdom? They’re looking for an army, not a fairy tale. But Jesus is confident. Why can’t they get be both. Once inside, they find Morgan. Rick and Daryl pull him aside to ask about Carol. Morgan tells them she’s gone. He told her he’d respect her decision and that extends all the way to lying. The group meets King Ezekiel on his stage, with Shiva and Jerry by his side. Rick makes a melodramatic plea for help. He is able get into the theatricality of it all but Daryl is clearly uncomfortable. Michonne tells of their losses and Morgan learns about Glenn and Abraham’s deaths for the first time. Richard, King Ezekiel’s top soldier, encourages him to join Rick in the fight against the Saviors. He sees this as the perfect opportunity to regain their freedom. Ezekiel isn’t so sure. He asks Morgan for his opinion. Morgan may have killed a Savior to protect Carol but he still abhors fighting. And he doesn’t know Negan and what he’s capable of. He suggests they find a more peaceful solution.
Ezekiel informs them he needs time to think but Rick needs the last word on everything. He tells the story of a huge rock in a road. People tried to avoid it but it was the cause of many accidents. A little girl saw her family’s last cask of beer (and their only chance to feed themselves) fall to the ground and break. She cried and cried. She didn’t want to see anyone else harmed by the rock so she dug it out by hand. After she removed the rock, she found a bag of gold. The King had put the gold there for whoever dug the rock out. He knew they deserved a reward for doing what was right. King Ezekiel welcomes them to stay the night. “I shall deliver my decree in the morn.”
Morgan’s young mentee, Benjamin, tracks a walker in the woods. He runs up and it’s Carol, with a gun in his face. He warns her that King Ezekiel won’t stop checking on her. “He looks out for the people he cares about.” He returns home to find Ezekiel reciting MLK’s I Have A Dream speech to his younger brother. Benjamin tells him he saw Carol. The King acts like a teenage girl about it. Then Benjamin tells him he thinks they should help Rick. The Alexandrians are going to fight Negan with or without help. They shouldn’t have to do it alone. “My dad always said, if you’re asked to be a hero, be a hero.” Ezekiel is moved.
The next morning King Ezekiel brings Rick et al outside to see the Kingdom’s weapon training. He tells them many lost their lives because he sent had them fight walkers. Rick assures him this is different. “The dead don’t rule us.” But Ezekiel wants to protect his people so he turns Rick down. He offers to hide Daryl from the Saviors but nothing more. They turn to leave, with Daryl in the lead. He can’t wait to get away from the Kingdom and it’s crazy ruler. Sasha tells Rosita she knew this would happen. Rosita isn’t interested. “What the hell you telling me for? We both had sex with the same dead guy. It doesn’t make us friends.” Richard still wants to join Rick. He recognizes that by giving the Saviors supplies, they’re making them stronger and harder to beat. And he wants his freedom back. At the gates, Rick tells Daryl he has to stay. Not only will it keep him safe from the Saviors, but it will give him a chance to convince King Ezekiel to help. “Or stare him into submission. Whatever it takes.” Daryl gets it but he’s pissed. This may be Morgan’s dream community but it’s definitely not Daryl’s. Once again he’s separated from his friends.
On the way home, they come across a car blockade. Rick realizes they need to move them and then put them back so the Saviors won’t know they went through. Michonne searches through binoculars and sees a steel cable covered in explosives. It’s a walker trap but the Alexandrians see it as a great source of weaponry in their war against the Saviors. Rosita kicks into action, defusing the bomb. Over Jesus’ stolen Savior walkie they hear Negan call for a search party to Alexandria. Daryl is gone and they want him back. Rick knows they better be at Alexandria when the Saviors arrive so they grab the explosives in a hurry. Slowly but in a hurry. And then a walker herd arrives. It’s too big for a shoot out so they have to get creative. Michonne and Rick get in the cars attached to the steel wire and mow them down like they’re using a scythe. As they drive away, one of the bum sticks of dynamite that Rosita rejected blows the remaining walkers up. Rick’s adrenaline is racing and Michonne assures him, “We’re the ones who live.”
They arrive at Alexandria moments before Negan’s men. Rick pretends he thinks they’re there for more supplies. They’re not buying it. It can’t be a coincidence that Daryl went missing right after Carl showed up at the Sanctuary. They search Alexandria, trashing it along the way. In the storeroom, Rick is as shocked as they are that the shelves are bare. They don’t seem too upset that their search is fruitless but warn Rick that there is no statute of limitations when it comes to Daryl. “Keep that hatchet handy. You’re gonna need it if he turns up with you people. And it won’t turn out the way it did for your boy.”
As soon as they leave, Rick asks about the missing supplies. Tobin tells him Father Gabriel wasn’t at his post when he went to relieve him. “No one’s seen him since.” Rosita accuses him of stealing their food and running. Rick refuses to believe it. That’s not the Gabriel he knows. At his house, Rick finds his journal. He thinks the Father left it for them to find. He riffles through and comes across “boat” in big block letters. He shows it to Aaron. How would Father Gabriel know about the houseboat? They didn’t have a chance tell anyone.
Rick, Aaron, Michonne, Rosita and Tara return to the houseboat. They find footprints and track them into an abandoned work yard. They hear a noise and all at once they’re surrounded by armed people. Many, many armed people. They look around in fear and suddenly Rick smiles. Does he recognize someone or is he just happy to see so many potential fighters for his army? What is going on?
Next week: The woman in charge tells Rick, “We own your lives. Wanna buy them back?” King Ezekiel’s men get into a fight with the Saviors at a drop off. Daryl and the Kingdom’s Richard join forces. And Rick meets American Horror Story’s Addiction Demon.