Welcome back to another episode of The Walking Dead. The allied communities of Alexandria, the Hillside and the Kingdom, fed up with living under Negan’s thumb, have declared all out war. In last week’s season premiere, they launched the opening salvo by bringing the fight right to Negan’s doorstep. They offered the Saviors two choices: lay down their weapons and join the alliance or die. Some commenters were frustrated that they didn’t shoot Negan at their first opportunity but Rick has other plans. He believes there could be good people in the Sanctuary and he wants to give them a chance to free themselves. After all, only one person has to to die.
Tonight the fighting continues. Using a list provided by Dwight, factions of the allies hit all of the Savior outposts simultaneously. They are unified, organized and have the element of surprise on their side. Morgan is still shellshocked. He’s part of a group but on his own island. When his allies attempt to cover his back, he shrugs them off. “I don’t die.” His god complex will either make him invincible or lead to his death. Carol and King Ezekiel hit a snag: a bomb booby trap with a walker horde chaser. The distraction allows their target, a Savior lookout, to escape. Carol warns that if he reaches his outpost, their mission is over before it’s begun. King Ezekiel disagrees. Whether they find their man or not, they will succeed. His certainty galvanizes his people. His order to send Shiva after the lookout is just the cherry on top.
Morgan, Jesus and Tara shoot their way into their designated outpost. The fighting is intense. Morgan and three others are gunned down. Tara and Jesus come across a worker hiding in a closet. He begs for mercy. Tara is ready to take him out but Jesus stops her. They seem to be at cross purposes: Tara wants vengeance, Jesus wants converts. While they’re arguing, the worker grabs Jesus’ gun and takes him captive. In a position of power, his true Savior self appears. He has a tense stand-off with Tara. Luckily, he enjoys boastful diatribes as much as Negan, opening the door for Jesus to do his Jesus Ninja moves and take the gun back. Jesus leaves him trussed like a turkey and jumps back into the fray.
Carol and King Ezekiel search for the Savior lookout. Carol worries that they won’t be able take the outpost if they know they’re coming. King Ezekiel assures her they’re prepared either way. As the rest of the group wanders away, he breaks character long enough to whisper, “Fake it til you make it, baby.” His bravado feeds his troops. Their courage means they’ve already won, regardless of the final result. By the time they locate the lookout, backup has arrived. King Ezekiel tells the group to save their munitions. This is a job for Shiva and she handles it well. Then the walkie crackles. The outpost knows they’re there. But King Ezekiel refuses to retreat. They’ve already won.
The allies continue their raid, leaving Morgan and his team dead on the floor. Only Morgan doesn’t die. He makes his way through the outpost, shooting Saviors in between flashbacks and hallucinations. Tara and Jesus find a group of Saviors willing to surrender. Morgan stumbles into them, blinded and mad. He hears Rick’s voice telling him they must kill to protect. And then he sees the Savior that killed Benjamin. A switch flips. This man must die. But Jesus is relentless and talks him down. The goal is surrender. Only Negan has to die.
Aaron and Eric lead the charge against a large outpost. Many lives are lost, some allied but mostly Savior. Soon the fallen start turning. Guns aren’t the only weapons in this war. As their friends fall around them, Aaron shoots his way to Eric. Eric is so consumed with protecting the allies that he doesn’t even register he’s been hit. Aaron feels his world crumbling as he drags his love to safety. Now the battle is getting Eric help before it’s too late.
Rick and Daryl search for the Savior gun cache. If they seize it, the Saviors won’t have resources to fight the horde inside the Sanctuary walls. Daryl finds a cell with an abandoned dog food sandwich. He’s come so far but it’s still a part of him. Rick, on the other hand, finds a baby. Like Daryl’s sandwich, the baby reminds Rick why he’s fighting. He leaves her to her nap. He must find the munitions. That’s how he’ll keep all of the babies safe. Continuing his search, he’s taken unawares by a Savior. As he slowly turns around, he sees his captor is Morales from Atlanta. The last time they were face to face, Rick was headed to the CDC while Morales wanted to find family in Birmingham. He tries to reestablish a relationship but Morales is too far gone. He’s already called the Saviors. They’re on their way.
Next week: Conflict with the Saviors leads to unintended consequences for the Hilltop, the Kingdom, and Alexandria; morality proves tricky in wartime.