Essential Plot Points:
- Simon’s Saviors arrive at the Hilltop to exterminate the residents, rather than scare them into servitude by infecting them with zombie blood. But the Hilltop has a warning system in place and defend themselves.
- Anyone cut by weapons or shot by arrows infected by zombie blood dies in the night and turns. Those zombies attack the remaining Hilltop residents.
- In a dumb attempt to identify his brother’s killer, Henry opens the pen and allows the prisoners to escape.
With Negan out of the way for the time being following last week’s nonsense of a cliffhanger, the all-out war we were promised this season makes a welcome return. And as Doctor Who might say, the Hilltop is protected. It helps the defenders that Simon hasn’t really thought through his tactics, beyond the basics of: storm gates, kill everyone. Luckily for him, Negan’s sneaky biological weapons come into play and turn an embarrassing defeat into something closer to a draw. Of course, if the Hilltop’s army hadn’t been training at the Stormtrooper academy for firearms, given their awful hit rate when an enemy force is bang in their sights, he wouldn’t be alive to celebrate plucking victory from the jaws of defeat.
If you’re new to The Walking Dead, or you needed any further proof that shipping is bad in this series, it’s heartbreaking to see Carol and Tobin’s chat – just in time for the zombie blood to kick in and work its magic. There’s only one winner in a fight between zombie Tobin and Carol. The only upside is that while it also looks bad for the injured Tara, we can’t help thinking Dwight did double duty when he shot her in the shoulder with an arrow: saving her from being shot and killed by Simon; and hitting her with a blood-free arrow so she won’t be infected.
The oddest conversation of the episode is had by Morgan, who appears to be going proper crazy again – Rick talking to Laurie on the phone crazy – as he chats with Gavin’s ghost. However, the most illuminating is Maggie’s admission that she hoped to annoy Negan enough to lure him into a trap, so she could kill him. It comes back to bite hard on her conscience when the Hilltop praise her and compare her leadership to Gregory, who was “out for himself”.
Speaking of which, as much as we love Xander Berkeley’s weasily portrayal of Gregory, he’s now coming across as a turd that just won’t flush, and probably should have been put out of his misery well before this point.
- Tired of watching morally grey people kill really bad people in a show that’s supposed to be about zombies? The biological weapons are a hell of a lot of more effective than any of Negan’s other plans since the war started, and actually see the zombie threat brought to the fore once more.
- For once we’re on board with the rule of two for doctors on The Walking Dead. Because the Hilltop’s current physician was a massive douche.
- No-one has discussed bullets as a resource for a while, even as people talk about food rationing and turning off the generators to save gas. But there still seem to be enough to fire off in wild uncontrolled bursts as the Saviors attack Hilltop.
- Henry’s insistence that he wants to kill the man who killed his brother is a blatant plot device to have him open the locked cell for the captured Saviors. Because bullets go pretty easily through barbed wire with such massive gaps.
Carol on the war:
“Winning just means we get tomorrow. Maybe just one more night. Maybe just one more morning. After that, no guarantees.”
Simon, like Trump, prefers people who weren’t captured:
“This is highly regrettable but the Saviors you’re in possession of there are damaged goods. They’ve got themselves into their own pickle. And this organisation prizes those who a) avoid capture and b) figure out their own shit when said outcome eventuates.”
Review by Matt Chapman