Last week, Hilltop found itself under siege from the Whisperers and their newest recruit, Negan. The episode ended with a bunch of main characters trapped between two walls: Alpha’s oncoming horde and the burning gates of Hilltop.
we get to see which actors’ contracts are ending who will make it out alive–or if Hilltop can even survive at all.
The episode opens with everyone inside the city gates, which I guess means they all made it inside without catching on fire despite being covered in tree sap.
You know what is still catching on fire, though? Alpha’s horde of walkers, which continues to trudge forward despite looking like an army of undead stunt doubles. This makes the Hilltop defense force’s job infinitely more difficult, especially when the raging inferno spreads into the town.
Lydia joins the fight over Mary’s objections, insisting that she can be an asset despite potentially being Alpha’s primary target. Elsewhere, Judith is hacking away at walkers like a pro when she manages to kill a Whisperer. For maybe the first time ever, Rick’s daughter looks like a scared little girl as she grapples with the reality of killing another living person. Meanwhile, Eugene notices that the room where his ham radio is has caught fire and takes off to try and save it.
As the walkers continue to advance on the retreating Hilltop residents, Yumiko draws back her bow to fire another arrow into the group and stops.
Magna is now part of the horde.
As the fires burn and walkers continue to advance, Carol’s defeated expression perfectly sums up how badly their forces (and their hearts) are being routed.
The next morning, Negan steps through a horde of dead walkers before coming across a maimed Hilltopper in agony. He smashes the dying man’s head in, which earns him a rebuke from Alpha for destroying a potential member of their now depleted horde.
When Negan asks why Alpha isn’t enjoying her victory more, she replies that it’s because she does not have everything she wants. Negan correctly guesses that the missing “thing” is Lydia, prompting Beta to admonish him that Alpha’s daughter is none of his concern while promising his crestfallen leader that he will find her.
After Alpha leaves, Beta sends Negan into the woods to herd walkers. As you might imagine, Negan is not pleased with this assignment.
After encountering his first walker, he messes with it for a bit before declaring “screw this” and killing it. Just as he’s about to tee up on a few more zombies, Negan (CONVENIENTLY) happens to see Lydia limping a few feet away. He takes off after her only to (CONVENIENTLY) cross paths with Aaron dragging an injured Hilltopper on a stretcher.
Aaron immediately commits himself to killing Negan, prompting the former leader of the Saviors to plead with him “not to do anything stupid” and that he “doesn’t understand.” Before Aaron can attack, however, a pack of walkers approach and force him to fall back to protect his injured comrade.
Negan stares Aaron down for a few seconds before continuing on his search for Lydia. He soon finds and subdues her, telling Alpha’s daughter that “This s**t is done.”
No Good Deed
Elsewhere, Alden and Kelly are making their way to the Hilltop rendezvous point (?) with Mary trailing a couple feet behind them and a crying Adam in Alden’s arms. Mary asks if she can help calm Adam down, earning her a harsh denial from Alden despite Kelly’s suggestion to let her try. He eventually relents and hands Adam over, which immediately calms the baby down.
Later, the group sits down for a rest, allowing them to bond a bit. Alden, who is clearly impressed with Mary’s care and demeanor toward Adam, asks about her sister. This leads Mary to confess how horribly she feels that her sibling is dead, making her appear even more vulnerable–and sympathetic–to her traveling companions. Unfortunately, the touching moment is cut short by a horde of walkers closing in. Things get even worse when that baby–who does not have Baby Judith’s superpower of being completely silent when zombies are present–starts crying again.
The group eventually finds shelter in an abandoned car, which Mary hurries them into before closing the door and screaming for the walkers to follow her. She leads them away and kills them, saving the rest of the group while also putting herself out in the open–and apparently right in the exact same location Beta was searching for her.
The behemoth Whisperer jabs a knife into Mary’s torso, proclaiming that she will now walk with the herd. Mary fights back, managing to tear a large piece of Beta’s mask off. He responds by digging his knife in further and killing her. As he sets Mary’s body by a tree and waits for her to reanimate, another Whisperer approaches, expressing astonishment that he recognizes who Beta is. He starts to say how he always thought his voice sounded familiar when Beta turns and slices his throat.
When Mary reanimates a few minutes later, she’s shot through the head by Alden, forcing Beta to flee into the woods.
Alive and In Pain
Carol fills her canteen while Eugene has a complete breakdown trying to fix his charred ham radio. Nearby, Yumiko sits with a very alive Magna, who says that she and Connie killed the Whisperers before crawling back into the cave and blending in with the horde (???). She goes on to explain that she and Connie were able to stay together for a while, but eventually got separated.
Carol watches the exchange with a mix of relief and shame before getting ready to depart so that they can make the rendezvous point before nightfall. Yumiko decides that this is the perfect time to chastise Carol for leaving Magna again despite it being the right course of action to stay alive. She also demands that Carol beg Magna for forgiveness. When Carol tries to explain that this course of action won’t do them any good, Yumiko responds by punching her in the face.
Magna tries to say that she doesn’t want Carol to be punished, which causes Yumiko to begin yelling at her. Magna responds by saying that Yumiko was right for kicking her out a while ago, which leads to the turbulent couple relenting and laughing over their struggles with each other.
Meanwhile, Carol goes to sit by herself. When a nearby zombie attempts to crawl up and bite her, she half-heartedly slaps it away a few times before finally deciding to kill it. When Eugene asks if she’s okay, Carol confesses in a round about way that her inability to kill Alpha–despite the harm she’s caused others in her quest to do so–has made her feel like a complete failure.
Eugene sits down and tells Carol about how heartbroken he is that he won’t be able to make his meeting with Stephanie. Carol, who hasn’t exactly been batting a thousand on making good choices, tells Eugene he should abandon his friends and go to her.
After he gets up to leave, Carol (CONVENIENTLY) notices Lydia’s bo staff laying on the ground nearby.
Daryl and Rosita lead a group of Hilltop survivors to the rendezvous point. The group includes Jerry and Nabila, who is understandably freaking out about her children.
They reach the rendezvous point (which turns out to be an abandoned shack in the woods) and find it empty except for a lone walker, turning Nabila’s worry into full blown panic. Unbeknownst to her, Earl, Judith, and the rest of the Hilltop children are hiding in the basement of another nearby shack.
After assuring Judith that Ezekiel and the rest of the adults would be there soon, Earl stumbles into another room and hammers a spike through a table. It quickly becomes apparent that he is suffering from a zombie bite and intends to kill himself. Before he can do that, however, Judith walks in with her sword drawn and a damning accusation: “You lied to us.”
Earl admits to his deception and asks Judith to watch over the children–and to keep them away from him if he somehow still turns. Judith leaves while Earl forces himself to slam his head down on the spike. After coming back in a few minutes later to check on him, Judith is grabbed by a zombified Earl (who apparently missed the spike).
Meanwhile, Daryl and Jerry go all the way back to the smoking ruins of Hilltop (?) and find Ezekiel just as he’s regaining consciousness and emerging from beneath a pile of rubble. After seeing Daryl and Jerry, he freaks out and says that Earl has the children.
They run to the second rendezvous point (?) and prepare themselves for the worst. When Daryl opens the door, however, he is greeted by all the Hilltop children as they flee outside. Once everyone is out, he goes inside and finds the dead body of Earl lying on the floor and Judith sitting nearby in a state of shock. He gently takes her sword, sits down, and puts his arm around her. I’ll have a lot of snarky things to say at the end of this review, but that was a genuinely touching moment.
Negan tells Alpha that he’s found and captured Lydia. As they walk to go kill her, Alpha tells Negan that she wants him to become a leader of the Whisperers. Negan responds by telling Alpha about how the death of his wife Lucille destroyed much of what made him human–and that he could tell she loved Lydia. Alpha replies that she has to kill Lydia because she loves her and wants to set her free.
As they make their way toward the shack where Alpha’s daughter is being held, the show intermittently cuts to scenes of Lydia desperately trying to untie herself from a chair. She succeeds just as Alpha reaches the door. When Lydia opens it, however, we see that she is in a completely different location.
Alpha is similarly surprised to see that her daughter is not there. When she turns around to ask why, Negan slits her throat and gives her one final kiss as she bleeds out.
Later, he puts Alpha’s zombified head in a bag and carries it into the woods, eventually dropping it at Carol’s feet.
For those of us who read The Walking Dead comic, we totally expected what Negan did to Alpha. What I’m pretty sure no one expected was for Negan and Carol to meet up afterward.
For starters, how the heck does everyone keep running into each other? I’m (almost) willing to believe that so many of the main characters were able to escape Hilltop as it burned to the ground while they were surrounded by walkers and Whisperers. But the way people kept crossing paths made me wonder if the entire episode was taking place on the same paintball field or something–especially when Carol just happened to find Lydia’s bo staff on the ground. Either everyone was traveling in an extremely small radius or this show managed to top itself on ridiculous coincidences.
Also, how the heck were Daryl and Jerry able to make it back to Hilltop after traveling all day, find Ezekiel just when he’s waking up under a pile of rubble, and then make it back to yet another random shack in the woods. Maybe Rendezvous Point #2 was much closer than Rendezvous Point #1, although that would seem like the type of information Earl would have shared with more people than just Ezekiel.
But back to Carol and Negan…was that meeting planned? How did he find her? Maybe we’ll get answers in the next episode, but I have a bad feeling it’ll just get glossed over.
Speaking of things I hope we learn next episode, it would be nice to see what Connie was up to, especially considering that Magna was somehow able to blend in with the horde despite not having a skin mask or caking herself in walker blood. I realize the scene with Negan playing with the walker was supposed to show how easy it is to fool them, but that still doesn’t explain why she didn’t try to do something before Hilltop was overrun. I’m not a huge Magna fan, but this is a woman who was willing to sacrifice herself back in the cave. Now she’s perfectly fine method acting as a zombie while her friends die.
It’s a shame this episode had so many ridiculous moments because the last third of it was actually pretty great. Negan’s scenes with Alpha finally went from comedic creepiness to a place that made you wonder just how far either character would move from (or toward) their humanity. Judith’s scenes with Earl and Daryl were a powerful reminder that no matter how tough she is, this is still a child who is going to have trouble processing some of the awful things this world forces her to do.
At least we know that the show is in for a huge shift next week now that Alpha is dead. Maybe that will be the kick in the pants in needs to get back on track…
….but I won’t be holding my breath.
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