“They’re coming for us,” says King Ezekiel (Khary Payton). “And yet I smile. And yet Carol (Melissa McBride) smiles.”
The refreshing optimism from Ezekiel opens up this week’s installment of “The Walking Dead,” as he and his army quickly gain the upper-hand against their Savior attackers and proceed to their targeted destination. Unfortunately, this aura of positivity and defiance is short-lived—like all things remotely positive in this show—because the rest of the episode is marked by disagreement and death.
Still held at gunpoint by Morales (Juan Gabriel Pareja), Rick (Andrew Lincoln) attempts to appeal to his friend-turned-foe by asking about his family—who unfortunately didn’t survive their attempt to make it to Birmingham in the first season. After this emotional appeal doesn’t work, Rick lays out all of the crimes of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and asks Morales if he’s Negan too. Morales unsurprisingly answers “Yeah, I’m Negan,” after explaining that the Saviors saved him—no pun intended.
Yet another account of the Saviors being beacons of hope for individuals struggling to survive in the walker-infested world makes you wonder just how right Rick is in pursuing this war. Yes, Negan has done unspeakable things to these survivors, but these actions were in retaliation against Rick for killing dozens of his own men. Who’s really the villain here?
Before Morales can say anything else, Daryl (Norman Reedus) appears behind him—crossbow in hand—and executes him. Rick begins to tell him who he just killed, but Daryl is unphased and tells him the guns they’re looking for aren’t there.
Meanwhile, the attack outside the outpost rages on—with the Saviors quickly losing momentum—as Aaron (Ross Marquand) tends to Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson) after he was shot in the stomach at the end of the last episode. The tearful lovers say their goodbyes as the wound proves fatal. The tenderness between the duo was heartbreaking yet frustrating, as the show barely touched on their relationship since the introduction of the characters in season five.
Morgan (Lennie James), Jesus (Tom Payne) and Tara (Alanna Masterson) are still at odds concerning what to do with their Savior captors following their successful conquest of an outpost. Following a walker attack, Morgan is once again tempted to kill Benjamin’s (Logan Miller) murderer and is stopped by Jesus. Instead of capitulating to his moral compass this time, Morgan attacks him—and loses. He exclaims that he can’t be a part of it any longer and saunters off.
At the Hilltop, Enid (Katelyn Nacon) spots Gregory (Xander Berkley) in Father Gabriel’s (Seth Gilliam) car. After lying to Maggie (Lauren Cohan) about where he acquired his new whip, Gregory attempts to plead to her sense of mercy and is let back into the community.
Shortly after, Jesus and Tara arrive with their prisoners. Maggie—more willing to let Gregory in than the captured Saviors—eventually agrees to keep them locked up with a constant guard.
Aaron returns to the spot where he said his tearful goodbyes to Eric, but his lover is nowhere to be found. After walking outside the compound, he sees Eric among a heard of walkers and attempts to follow him, but is stopped by Scott (Kenric Green). Rick appears with the infant from the previous episode and the grief-stricken Aaron offers to take her back to the Hilltop.
After surviving an intense shootout, Rick and Daryl find themselves under fire again once everyone leaves the compound, but this time it’s just one Savior.
Rick makes a deal with their lone attacker: tell them where the machine guns were moved to and he can leave with a car. When the Savior asks why he should trust him, Rick says he gives him his word—one of the only things of value left in this society. The Savior tells him that the guns were moved to Gavin’s outpost in the west and is promptly killed by Daryl—to the shock of Rick.
Meanwhile, Ezekiel and Carol make it to the chemical plant and are able to seemingly overtake it. Carol reminds him they need to do a sweep of the compound and leaves the group to do so. Ezekiel spots a sniper inside the plant and screams at his men to scatter. Suddenly, gunshots ring out and many of the men are taken out as the screen cuts to black.
Frank Darabont’s “The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC. The next episode in the current eighth season is “Some Guy,” which airs on Nov. 12, focuses on Carol struggling to save the lives of her Kingdom counterparts against the forces inside the compound.