After last week’s somewhat light-hearted episode, this week’s episode of The Walking Dead takes a decidedly more ominous tone. Is it good?
The episode opens with Sasha and Abraham returning from a patrol. They’re laughing, smiling, and giving off all types of ‘we like each other’ chemistry. Then Sasha informs Abraham that she’s switching to a different patrol shift, meaning they won’t be working together/flirting anymore.
Abraham seems pretty bummed about the news, but his mood is quickly improved via waking up in bed next to Rosita. In addition to the good loving, she also gives him a necklace she made out of a shattered break light. It should be a sweet moment, but the Ginger Bear can’t seem to get Sasha out of his head or heart.
Later, Carl wakes up to discover Jesus wandering his house. After a brief stand off, he and a large part of the Alexandria leadership get to learn that Rick and Michonne just hooked up…and that Richonne were just getting dressed before a parlay with Jesus.
Once everyone is clothed, Jesus tells them about his community, dubbed The Hilltop. They have plenty of stuff that Alexandria needs (food and medical supplies), but lack much of what Alexandria has in spades (weapons, bullets, and badassery). Jesus also tells them that any fish or bread they have can be easily multiplied, ensuring that everyone will have fish sandwiches until the end of time.
Just kidding about that last part. But he does propose a trade, which the group tentatively agrees to consider.
Birds, Bees, and Pancakes
Before leaving to visit the Hilltop, Rick checks in with Carl, who is totally cool with Richonne. Then everyone gets in the RV…except Carol, who really seems like the exact type of person you’d want on a mission like this.
Once they get on the road, Abraham has a very frank discussion with Glenn about whether or not having a baby in this world is a good idea. In addition to some great one-liners (like “pouring the Bisquick”) it also provides us with confirmation that Maggie and Glenn were in fact planning on having a child, something that Abraham isn’t quite able to comprehend or accept.
Later, they happen upon a one-car wreck (which seems to happen a lot in the post zombie apocalypse world). For purposes of dramatic tension and plot convenience, the survivors of the accident end up being more Hilltop residents, one of whom is an obstetrician. This immediately endears them to Glenn and Maggie.
Further up the road, Rick proves that all the good motorists on earth have perished by getting the RV stuck in a mud pit. Fortunately, he did this just a few feet away from their destination…The Hilltop…which doesn’t actually appear to be located on a hill.
Donald Trump without the hair
After a somewhat tense standoff at the city gates (the Hilltoppers have spears to combat Rick & Co. guns), Jesus gets everyone to calm down. He also lets Rick & Co. keep their weapons, further increasing his level of trust with the main cast.
Once inside, we’re treated to some really nice sounding bluegrass music along with a small but thriving farming community centered around a beautiful mansion. Inside said mansion lives Gregory, who immediately goes about establishing himself as both the leader of the Hilltop community and a colossal douchebag.
Sensing an uncontrollable urge to bash Gregory’s face in, Rick sends Maggie to negotiate for supplies in his place. Gregory talks down to her, calls her the wrong name, and refuses to make a deal. Jesus promises Rick he’ll fix things, but before he can, a small group of Hilltoppers enters the town with some bad news: Their negotiations with a man named Negan (remember him?) have failed. Now one of them (Craig) has been taken hostage. Negan also has a message for Gregory, which he delivers via Craig’s brother (Ethan) stabbing Gregory in the stomach.
As expected, Rick & Co. kick the Hilltoppers’ asses, but not before they scream out some exposition about how Ethan had to kill Gregory or his brother would die. Rick responds to this by stabbing Ethan in the neck—although to be fair, Ethan was trying to choke him to death.
Meanwhile, another Hilltopper is choking Abraham as well. The lack of oxygen causes him to have an epiphany that he likes Sasha better than Rosita. After Daryl saves his life (via an awesome arm break), he leaves the necklace Rosita gave him on the ground—just in case things weren’t clear enough for you.
Once Jesus gets everyone calmed down (and convinces them that Ethan had it coming) he explains that Negan and his crew, The Saviors, take half of everything The Hilltop produces. If they ever come up light, they get punished. As you might imagine, Rick & Co. have a problem with this. Maggie thinks a fight with The Saviors will ‘cost them something’ (FORESHADOWING), but Daryl thinks they sound a bunch of pompous jerks that deserve a good (and lethal) beating.
Quick Aside: NO, DARYL! NO NO NO!
Please tell me I’m not the only one worried that Daryl is going to take the place of Negan’s first victim in the comic book. That death, which occurred in issue #100, firmly established Negan as one of the worst villains imaginable. Since Glenn is apparently immortal…and Daryl isn’t in the comics…and everyone loves Daryl…ugh.
That’s my prediction. Daryl meets Lucille before the season is over. I hope I’m wrong.
The Art of the Deal
Maggie goes to negotiate with a now wounded Gregory. He tries to play hardball again, but the incident outside proved that they need help. She and the others from Alexandria are hardened and well-armed warriors. They can take care of this Negan problem for good—if The Hilltop gives them the supplies they need. In full. And up front.
Before they head out, Rick asks one of the Hilltop extras to join them because he ‘knows the compound.’ The poor guy might as well put on a red shirt.
As they drive off, everyone passes around an ultrasound Maggie and Glenn got of their gestating baby. It’s a sweet and hopeful moment, which also makes it absolutely terrifying.
Maybe Glenn really will be the one who dies.
I like Abraham and Sasha. I also like Abraham and Rosita. Why can’t Abraham and Sasha just be close friends? I get that they’re both badass warrior types, but it’s not like Rosita’s a pushover or anything, either. The only real knock against her being with Abraham is that we haven’t seen as much of their time and history together, which is still more than he’s had with Sasha.
The Sasha/Abraham pairing could end up being pretty interesting, though. Most relationships in The Walking Dead end when one of the people involved dies. This time, it would be a good old fashion “It’s not you, it’s me” break up followed by a close quarter recoupling. Rosita’s probably not going to take that too well.
The best part of this episode, however, was getting to see a new community of people—especially one that is so different than what we’ve seen before. It was a little hard at first to believe that a group as ‘soft’ as the Hilltoppers could survive, but they’re probably protected by Negan and The Saviors the same way the mafia ‘protects’ its businesses. I also like how the legend of Negan is being built up at the same time that our heroes seem to finally be getting control over their lives. There’s hope (Maggie and Glenn’s baby), love (Rick and Michonne), new beginnings (Abraham…maybe)—all with a shadow of something terrible lurking towards them.
By the way, am I the only one who is wondering what happened to The Wolves? Or why they said those things about having to attack Alexandria? Could that be the work of Negan, too?
Probably is. Either way, it looks like we’re headed for war. Alexandria vs. The Saviors. Sasha vs. Rosita. I’m not sure which is scarier.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!