Airing Mondays at 9pm in the UK on FOX
Director: Greg Nicotero
Writers: Channing Powell and Corey Reed
Essential Plot Points:
- Negan and the Saviors head to Hilltop to attack and infect its people with tainted weapons. But Simon, who previously butchered the trash community, thinks nothing will scare them into submission.
- Rick ambushes Negan and forces him off the road, chasing him into a building to kill him. Simon allows the attack to happen, and follows up slowly with Dwight to find Negan.
- The Hilltop responds to a message from a new party suggesting a trade.
- Negan falls into the basement rather than be killed, and Rick follows. When Rick finds Lucille he sets the bat alight and Negan fights him (and a previously walled-off room of zombies) for it.
- Simon and Dwight call off the search for Negan and Simon tells the Saviors they need to wipe out Hilltop, not scare them.
- Negan awakes in a car. Jadis is driving.
There’s a conflict of ideologies this episode that raises it above recent outings. Having already gone well beyond Negan’s wishes when he wiped out the Scavengers, Simon is in full on rebellion mode when Negan suggests scaring Hilltop into submission. Having been a spectator of this world for so long now, Simon’s breakdown of the situation – as mercenary as it is – seems pretty spot on to us. The Hilltop, the Kingdom and Alexandria will never be ruled by fear. Given what he did to the trash community, Simon is now coming across as being even more ruthless than Negan himself.
Negan’s tactics do seem confusing at this point, showing that he clearly does believe in the “people are a resource” mantra he frequently spouts. If he didn’t, he would have put all his efforts into ending the Rick problem once and for all. Yet the field trip to the Hilltop to use chemical weapons (blades that have been slopped in zombie guts, making every cut a death sentence) seems unlikely to have the desired result. For starters, how are you going to convince people with guns to meet you in hand to hand combat? It’s like the opposite of “the Chicago way”, bringing a knife to a gun fight.
Meanwhile, Rick’s attempt to end the war by taking his shot at Negan is dramatic, even if the rules of TV mean it’s unlikely such a big, series-changing event would take place mid-season. Shame, as it’s got the very elements we want to see: Rick running out of bullets and pulling the hatchet Negan taunted him with on the night of Glenn and Abraham’s deaths. At least the dark place they find themselves stumbling around lets them talk in a way that would otherwise be impossible, even if it only becomes watchable with the addition of some flaming zombies.
And as the Scavengers have exited stage left, we make the acquaintance of the more progressive Georgie and her two sidekicks Hilda and Midge. It’s an odd introduction, even if it’s nice to see someone still feels the need to wear a suit to a business meeting, as Georgie must know from prior dealings with survivors that she risks having all her stuff stolen without anything being given in return. Still, somehow things turn out for the best, thanks mainly to Carl’s parting words, which continue to hang heavy over everyone.
There’s a theme to this trade, too. Last week, Negan was excited by Eugene’s mention of things getting medieval in combat. This week, we see the positive possibilities of medieval technology, coming from a group who seem much more focused on the future than by winning territory and resources through force. This is still The Walking Dead, however, so we’ll see what Georgie and her cohorts have to say when we see them next.
- Looking for his baseball bat in the dark, Negan picks up a metal bar, only to throw it away because it isn’t his beloved Lucille. That’s dedication for you.
- That’s a long time to spend in the dark, listening to two men bitch at each other.
- It seems as if new groups might also now follow the same rule as doctors in The Walking Dead: one in, one out. Perhaps this is so readers don’t get too confused (in the same way that Michonne has the only samurai sword now left in America, and Darryl has the only crossbow, because other people having those resources would be absurd, right? Right?).
No-one taunts like Negan taunts:
“Hey, prick, you are out of bullets. Come on up.”
Or gets as exasperated:
“I know you’re working through some shit, the worst kind of shit, but if you aren’t the most stubborn know-it-all prick I’ve ever crossed dicks with.”
Review by Matt Chapman