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Interpersonal Conflicts And Loss Plague Rick's Crew In S08.E03 Of The Walking Dead

Rick's plan to take down Negan was going great, and then all of a sudden, it wasn't.

Ready for more jumbled-up, "All Out War" action? Badly executed Rick Grimes plans? Ambushes aplenty? You've come to the right place!

We open at one of the plot threads where we left off last time: Ezekiel and his Kingdom troops are in the woods having just realized that the guy they were after got word to the Saviors that an attack is coming. Ezekiel holds out the walkie-talkie conveying that information and bellows, "They are coming for us! Coming for us at this very moment!" Try not to shit your pants, everyone. Ezekiel says that these rogues and cutthroats are bent on their pitiless destruction. Yeah, dude, we got that from like the last two seasons of head bashings. "And yet I smile!" Ezekiel says. Smiling. There's a weird fade out at that moment, and we cut to a wide shot of the woods with the group walking past the camera. Then we fade again and come right back to Ezekiel pointing: "And yet Carol smiles!" Indeed, she is smiling. It's not a grin or anything, but she's definitely bemused. Jerry, looking as confused as I am at the moment, asks, "Why, boss?" But before Ezekiel can answer, another fade-out. We're back to Ezekiel and the troops walking again, but now the camera is tracking along. Suddenly, they hear several whistles. Ezekiel and his troops raise their arms as a bunch of rag-tag people with guns run right up and confront them. And yet you smile? Fade-out to the woods conversation.

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Carol says that the others have the numbers, but Ezekiel and Co. have a strategy. "Yes we do!" says Ezekiel. And another fade. It turns out getting caught flat-footed in the woods was just a fake-out. A second group of Ezkiel's folks, including Carol and Jerry, pop up from behind some brush and mow down the enemies. Ezekiel's group takes a knee, draws weapons, and joins in the firefight. Despite battling an entire armed group, not a single one of Ezekiel's soldiers is even nicked. Another fade and we continue Ezekiel's speech, where he pledges that if they stick to the plan and their training, they won't lose a single one of their ranks, putting a hand on Carol's shoulder as he says this last bit. Fade to the aftermath of the firefight: now he's gloating. "Not one!" he says to Carol. She does seem impressed. "We move onward!" he says, as Shiva enters the frame. Shiva growls in Tiger: "Roll the opening credits."

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We come back to Morales, the guy who knows Rick from back in the Atlanta days, and who now has him at gunpoint. He forces Rick to put his weapons down, and marvels that he's Rick From Alexandria. We actually call him "Rick With The Terrible Plans" or "Sweaty Rick" or "Shut The Fuck Up, Rick," but I guess Rick From Alexandria works as a nickname, too. Rick tries to get him to back off by saying that the fight is outside and it's just Rick in the building. But Morales knows how important Rick is: "I guess we're not the same guys we used to be, huh? Because you're a monster." Yes! "Rick The Monster"! That's the one I was forgetting. Morales says he's under orders not to kill Rick, "The Widow," or "The King." Elvis? Morales asks what Rick is looking for, but doesn't really give him a chance to respond, and then says that what's left of his people are coming, so it doesn't matter anyway. He says they'll get him to Negan or they won't, but either way, "well, settle your shit, Peaches." "Peaches"? Really? This is AMC; you could probably go for a bleeped f-bomb or call him a "shithead," at least. Even a lesser fruit, like maybe, "You goddamn papaya." Look, I'm just here to help, Morales. We gente.

Remember all those guns that were being fired outside The Sanctuary in the last episode? It's been a week and they're still firing! (All right, maybe not a week in show time, but that's still way too many bullets. Bullets be precious.) Tobin appears in the scene, but there's no indication that he was seriously injured by a gunshot, other than a tiny blood stain on his shirt. Maybe Tobin is unbreakable?

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Someone yells out an announcement to the Saviors that they're to fall back on the boss's orders. They turn and start shooting at undead instead of at Rick's troops in order to clear a path back into the compound.

Just outside that firing zone, Aaron is helping a wounded Eric get to a giant tree to sit for a spell. Aaron helps him get his jacket off, and sees that there's an exit wound, as evidenced by a mass of blood on the back of his shirt. Eric nods, shakily. "That's good," they both agree. You know what would be really good? Not getting shot. Aaron says that they need to get him to the doctor in The Kingdom. Then he gets emotional, apologizing for what's happened. "Were you the one who shot me?" Eric jokes. To be honest, the way Aaron was firing his gun, I would not be surprised by that. Aaron starts to cry a little as they both grab on tightly to each other's necks or shirt collars. He's sorry he pulled Eric into a fight he didn't want to fight. "Until I did," Eric manages, completing his master's thesis in Dying A Noble Gay Death In A Piece Of Pop Entertainment. But he's not dead yet. Eric urges Aaron to leave him and go back to the battle. "Don't be an idiot," he tells Aaron. "They need you." Aaron doesn't want to believe that, and frankly I don't believe it, but Eric is making a convincing case.

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"I love you. You know I'm right," Eric says. Aaron finally nods. They bump foreheads. Aaron holds Eric's face in his hands and they kiss at the foot of the tree with the sun backlighting them. It's a lovely shot.

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But it's all too brief, because Aaron has to go. He hesitates, but Eric growls at him, "Stand your ass up, get back to the fight, and you win this thing!" Sad music throbs as Aaron says he will. They will. "I love you," Aaron tells him. "I always had a hunch," Eric says. I know there's a ton of characters on this show, but it's a shame we never really got to know Eric as much more than Aaron's boyfriend. Aaron finally heads out, leaving Eric to sit at the tree and wait. Ugh, are those ants? You left me in a fucking ant pile!? Aaron, come back!

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There's a convoy of Rick's folks and the prisoners they're taking as Jesus and Tara head back to The Hilltop. Tara sits on the bed of a truck carrying three dead bodies, including the guy who grabbed Jesus and stepped on the prenatal pills. Tara mimes taking her pistol and shooting one of the 35 or 40 prisoners walking behind. A rando on the truck with Tara says that Maggie will know what to do with them. "She will," Tara agrees. "Because she knows what they did." In the walking line, Jared, the guy with long hair who recognized Morgan, is whistling and annoying the shit out of him.

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Morgan scowls as Jesus says they're close to their destination, and that a decision has been made. "Nothing's been decided," Morgan says. He warns Jesus that these people are still dangerous. Jesus tries to explain that no matter what they've done, these prisoners are still people, and they don't execute prisoners. Morgan does not seem at all convinced.

Rick is asking Morales if his family is with him. Morales lowers his gun a little. "We never made it to Birmingham," he tells Rick. At least his family didn't. Rick says he's sorry, but Morales isn't buying it. Rick tells him that Lori, Shane, Andrea, and Glenn all died. He reveals that Negan was the one who brained Glenn in front of him and his pregnant wife. "He had a wife, in this?" Morales asks, refusing to believe that dating can still happen without Bumble or eHarmony. Rick tells Morales that Glenn's wife is The Widow. Rick asks if Morales is Negan, too. Morales raises his gun back up and says that he lost his mind after his family died, and the Saviors found him. So yeah, he's Negan. He's had to be. Rick tries to put on airs like he's better than Morales, but he's reminded, "We're two assholes who'll do whatever we have to just to keep going." Sounds about right! Morales says they're the same, only he's the one holding the gun. If it were Rick, he speculates, his brains would be all over the floor. Rick tries to deny it, but he doesn't do a very good job. Rick would have killed this guy. It's obvious. Morales says that all their old friends are dead, and "Officer Friendly" died right along with them. There's a shadow behind Morales, and just as Rick says, "No!," Daryl has already fired a bolt into the man's head. He drops. "You good?" Daryl asks, casually. Rick is stunned.

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Rick tries to explain who that was, but Daryl already knows. "It doesn't matter. Not one little bit," he explains, as he retrieves his crossbow bolt. Daryl asks whether Rick found the guns. He says no, and that they need to get out. But they hear a sound indicating that it may not be possible. "They're here," Rick says, and leads us into a commercial break.

Prisoner walk. Jared the Savior is trying to make small talk with Morgan. He says there's something different around him, and finally figures it out: Morgan's body armor is small. He figures out that Morgan is wearing body armor that formerly belonged to Benjamin, the kid who was killed from The Kingdom. At that, Morgan loses his cool and points his gun at Jared. Everybody stops, and just at that moment, a bunch of walkers start rolling down a hill. Literally rolling. Morgan has to push back a tenacious walker as more come streaming down the hill, hilariously.

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One of the prisoners gets chomped in the head.

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Those with weapons fire them at the zombies, but Jared and those he's tied to decide to make a break for it. About ten of them disappear into the woods as Morgan gives chase. Some of the tied-up men fall, allowing Morgan to catch up. Morgan ruthlessly shoots the line's leader in the head, and everyone else surrenders. Just as Morgan shoots again, the gun is pushed aside. Jesus has ruined his shot. Morgan pivots his gun, but Jesus disarms him easily. Dianne and some of the others show up to get things under control. Morgan is fucking fed up: he asks if Jesus thought the prisoners would just come back and change. "It doesn't change!" he yells. "It never changes! Once you turn...." Jesus says they'll find another way. Another cheek, even! Morgan thinks Maggie will want them all dead. Furthermore, Morgan thinks they're all the same; they're no different than the Saviors. Jesus tries to explain that once the war is over, they're going to have to find a way to co-exist. There's going to have to be peace. Jesus puts a hand on his shoulder. Morgan takes a beat and then roughly pushes Jesus off. Fight! Morgan swings his stick, but Jesus easily evades it and kicks him in the chest.

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Jesus backs away like, "Are we seriously doing this?" Morgan is serious. He swings his bo staff full force, and it's so hard, it results in a blackout and some commercials.

Ezekiel is in extreme close-up, and he's smiling. His troops follow through the woods. Then, he's standing next to a bunch of dead bodies, telling his comrades that they'll go on to hit a compound guarded by three soldiers. Cut immediately to three soldiers being snipered and falling off their rooftop. Ezekiel's crew easily take over the place. Then we're back to Ezekiel still talking, laying out the plan for how each victory will propel them into the next one. Nice plan if you can make that work! It apparently does, at least one more time: Ezekiel's group pops out of hiding and takes out a big group of Saviors who are running through an industrial area.

Rick and Daryl are rushing down hallways of the broken-down building they were trying to search, and now they're being fired upon. "Dammit!" Rick yells, because it's just rude. Shots are being fired from both ends of the hallway as Rick and Daryl try to return fire and duck behind doorways. Hey, I wonder how that sleeping baby is doing right now. Daryl manages to take down one of the guys in the hallway while Rick fires the other way. His rifle runs out of ammo, so he switches to a pistol. Are you sure these big guns are worth it, guys?

Back in the woods, Jesus is kicking the crap out of Morgan. Jesus is trying to be calm, and suggests that Morgan is having a little trouble. Morgan, bewildered, paces around for a second, and then comes back at Jesus with his battle stick. Jesus easily dodges and punches back. Morgan's getting frustrated. "You wanna stop now?" Jesus asks. Morgan gives him a look. "Maybe not?" Jesus suggests. Morgan comes at him full speed and finally gets a hit in, poking Jesus in the stomach with the stick. Morgan whacks him again, but then Jesus is able to grab the stick and kick back. Morgan trips him up, but Jesus quickly gets back on his feet. Jesus swings and finally brings Morgan down. Morgan gets up again, but is starting to look defeated.

More shooting with Rick and Daryl. "Hey!" Daryl announces to Rick. "I'm out." Uh oh. Sure you want to say that out loud? Rick notices a fire extinguisher hanging on the wall.

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Rick gives Daryl a three-count and shoots the extinguisher, causing the hallway fill up with cloud-like chemicals. The two manage to make it out of the hallway, pushing some guys aside even though those guys had guns. Rick hears a familiar voice call out. "Aaron!" he yells. "We're by the elevator!" Hey, Aaron! How's your boyfriend doing? Is he all right? We were just talking about him, what a cool guy-- Oh you don't want to talk about it right now, that's cool, that's cool.

Jesus and Morgan are still fighting, but it's getting progressively sloppier as they roll around the ground and keep trading blows. Have you ever seen a drunk guy fight a guy who is stone-cold sober, but getting tired of trying to contain the other guy's drunk-brute energy? It's a lot like that. Jesus finally kicks Morgan so hard in the chest is makes him frustrated enough to stop. "Is it over, Morgan?" Jesus asks. He hands over Morgan's stick, which Morgan immediately uses to stick it right up to his neck.

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Bad move, Jesus! Tara, Dianne, and the others arrive at that moment, just in time to have missed the most unnecessary fight in Walking Dead history. Jesus asks again if it's over. Morgan looks around, confused. "What?" he asks. Jesus is so concerned right now, you guys. As if he doesn't have enough stuff to worry about. "I'm not right," Morgan says, finally. "I know that, I'm not right. But that doesn't make me wrong." Jesus looks at him like, "You pathetic, sad motherfucker." Tara thinks Morgan is right, even though nobody, especially Jesus, asked her. Morgan walks off, past the dead prisoner he shot earlier.

Enid's at The Hilltop watchtower and spots someone arriving. It's Gregory, knocking at the gate and demanding to be let in; he's holding his arm and yells, "I need help!" He keeps banging as he has to wait a comedically long time before the gate opens just a crack. Gregory thinks it might need oil, but it's Maggie standing there, glaring. She asks what he's doing with Gabriel's car -- where's Gabriel? "I don't know who that is," says Gregory. That I believe. He lies, unconvincingly, that the car was just there. Maggie asks what he's doing there. He says this is home and that he lives there. He built it and, he says that unlike some people, he didn't just show up. "Shut your damn mouth," Maggie snaps.

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Enid, standing in the background, looks like she's just about to break character and laugh, but she pulls it together. Maggie's pissed that Gregory tried to sell everybody out to the Saviors.

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Gregory, who is sticking his head through the gap in the gate and bugging his eyes out, tap dances around that, saying he was working for sanity and peace; he claims he was trying to save lives. Maggie yells that they were fighting for a better life. Gregory claims that Negan made him threaten to throw families out of The Hilltop. He stammers that he was trying to engage in good-faith diplomacy. Gregory, still very funny, says that someone not preoccupied with vengeance might find that heroic. Maggie's not buying it: she says Gregory went there to warn Negan; that's what Gregory told Cal when he dragged him there, and why Cal left. "Cal is delusional," Gregory scoffs. "What the hell?" says Cal, the guy with spiky hair, as he pops his head up above the gate. Cal gives Gregory the finger, which looks even better when you do it with fingerless gloves.

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More comedy as Cal reminds Gregory that he ate a little girl's sorghum pancakes. Gregory says he didn't do any harm to Maggie's cause. She starts to walk away before Gregory relents and whines that he was just scared and didn't want to be complicit in the attack. He didn't think Maggie could win, but now he sees that the Saviors can't be reasoned with. Gregory says he was wrong: he made a mistake, and he's sorry. Maggie squints at the dirt and thinks hard as Gregory keeps talking and talking; finally, Maggie tells Cal to let Gregory in. As Gregory walks through the gates, Enid asks why Maggie is doing this. "Because I don't want to kill him," Maggie tells her. "Not yet, anyway." Just then, Cal notices that another group is arriving. Yep, it's Jesus and all the prisoners.

We cut to just moments later as the group is assembled outside and Gregory is already giving orders, yelling that there's no way they can let these people into The Hilltop. "They are monsters!" he yells, looking like a sweaty monster himself. Maggie tells Gregory to get lost. He continues. "GREGORY!" she growls. "Go!" He finally does. Tara admits that she's siding with Gregory on this one. Maggie reminds them that there are families and children nearby. Jesus suggests that they use two empty trailers to keep the prisoners locked up with round-the-clock guards until the fighting is over. Maggie is dubious. Jesus says they surrendered; they can't let the Saviors go and they can't kill them. "We can't," he emphasizes. It's almost like it's a commandment or something.

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The dead are rising and chomping outside The Sanctuary. But Daryl and his crew are taking them out one by one as they try to clear the space. Rick uses a Polaroid camera to take instant photos of the defeated space. Injured fighters are taken away by truck, and the remaining dead are covered up. Rick jots down a note on a legal pad, takes the paper, and folds it up.

Aaron returns to the spot where he left Eric. He finds a lot of blood on the tree, and a gun, but no Eric...until he spots undead Eric wandering away in the distance. Crying, Aaron follows. A friend tries to help, but Aaron can't manage to keep walking. "He's dead. Eric's dead," he says. "I can't just let him--" The friend says it's not Eric, and leads Aaron away.

Aaron is sitting and thinking when he sees Rick emerge from one of the buildings holding a baby; Rick apparently did not forget about Baby Gracie after all. Rick is asking Tobin if he might take the baby back, but Aaron offers to do it instead. He says he can take her to The Hilltop, where she'll be safe. Rick hands over the baby after Aaron explains that he and Eric were planning to go there anyway to give Maggie an update. "Please," Aaron says, crying again. Rick tells Aaron that the baby's name is Gracie.

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Rick and Daryl are preparing to head out when they're suddenly fired upon. They both duck for cover. "Hey!" Rick calls. He knows the person shooting must be alone, and calls out that the herd is coming. He offers to make a deal: if they give up the information they need, they can have a car and just go. "Why should I trust you?" the person asks. Rick says he's giving his word. He starts to explain that a man's word must mean something. The shooter agrees and comes out from behind a tree. "What do you want to know?" the man asks. He gets asked about the 50-caliber gun. The poor guy, who's crouching and scared for his life, says the gun was moved to another outpost the day before. "Which one?" Rick asks. The guy says it was Gavin's, out west. The guy starts to relax and stands up straight and asks, "Can I go?"

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Daryl shoots the guy in the head. That would be a no. Daryl acts like nothing happened as Rick gives him a very serious look. Instead of having a philosophical discussion with Daryl, Rick just walks off.

In the field where Ezekiel's crew took out a whole platoon of Saviors, Ezekiel is smiling. He's informed that everybody is accounted for. "Not one!" he says to Carol. She suggests they sweep the compound. It's suggested that they should head-stab the dead people, since they might be there for a while. One of Ezekiel's troops gives him a searching look. "We or they," Ezekiel explains. "One or the other cannot be." Just then, Ezekiel notices something from a window in a building nearby.

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"Scatter! Now!" he screams. Bullets start to stream down, taking out a bunch of Ezekiel's people.

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"Noooo!" he cries as he's tackled by his own people trying to protect him. As they dive on him, blood shoots out from wounds all over them.

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We cut to black on those gunshots. And that's it for another old-school recap! Come back for more as we continue with this season of many bullets.

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