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Rick Fires Up The Troops For All-Out War On The Walking Dead

The Season 8 premiere forgoes bloat while opening up some intriguing possibilities with Multiple Ricks.

Well, hello there! Thank you for joining me for this special, text-enhanced recap of the Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead, and thank goodness it's not a double episode with Mountains of Negan-ing because, you guys, I'm forty-two years old now and my cardiovascular system can only withstand so much. Maybe if there were some gay superheroes thrown in the mix, but a CGI tiger and lots of latex zombie makeup roasting in the Atlanta sun? No thank you! Let's proceed to the carnage and the biting and the Ricktatorshippening of it all, shall we?

When last we left our heroes, they had been brutalized by a really sick (yet strangely magnetic and funny) leader named Negan. It all got hyped up so much that AMC began hyperventilating, producing "All Out War" posters like this one:

AMC

Jesus, calm the fuck down, AMC. This isn't a Star Wars reboot, it's a basic cable show lumbering into its eighth season of television. I say that with all due respect.

We open on a very Scott S. Gimple "What the fuck is happening?" montage of seemingly random images spliced together, from a sad and sweaty-looking Rick closing his eyes as light reflects on his face to a wooden cane to a colorful bouquet of flowers, to an alarm clock that reads 8:21. This is all shown in total silence. You can be forgiven for screaming "The sound isn't working! What the fuck, AMC, my surround sounds are not surrounding! Fix your broken shit, you goddamn-- oh, I think I hear some ambient sound now, this is very artistic, well done, Mr. Gimple, I applaud your taste." More near-silent imagery, including Rick looking out at the sun, then standing sorrowfully in front of some fresh graves. We see a wide exterior shot of The Hilltop and the first real sound we hear is some metal being forged and foreboding music telling us Some Shit's 'Bout To Go Down. A bunch of our regulars, including Enid, Aaron, and Father Gabriel, are handling sheet metal. Maybe they're building a giant robot? A giant robot would improve this show by a factor of at least 10%. That's just science.

We cut to Dwight, who is on the ground doing some work at The Sanctuary when an arrow suddenly lands right next to him, hitting a motorcycle tire. Dwight looks around to see where the arrow came from. Now, who does he know that favors crossbows? It's truly a mystery.

Tara, wearing her bright orange plastic sunglasses and chewing on a Twizzler, is checking her watch and writing something down in a notebook. Carol, wearing some body armor, stands behind her. Hi, Carol! I missed you the most!

We cut to Rick, who just straight up starts giving a motivational speech without any warning. "When I first met him," he begins, "Jesus said that my world was gonna get a whole lot bigger." Jesus does that; he's The Christ, after all. Did he also say some stuff about lambs? Because that's a total Jesus move right there. Lambs this and peace be with you that. It's kind of his thing. We cut back to some or Rick's gang, including Jesus, watching patiently as Rick gets this out of his system. Jesus is thinking, "Want to tell them about how, when I found you, you were practically shitting your pants as you gazed upon my beanie and leather trench thinking I was coming to kill your family? That's what I remember most."

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We cut to a wider shot and see that Rick is standing on a truck bed alongside Ezekiel and Maggie for some sort of mini Monsters Of Post-Apocalyptic Leadership jam session that's probably going to take all day. No, no, we don't have to go secure our gates and protect our children and make more bullets; let's take about five hours and change to listen to some bellowed shit we already know because we've been living in it for the last three years. Tell us something we don't know, Rick, I dare you. It's also disturbing that Rick is holding an assault rifle in his hand as he talks, as if he plans to shoot anyone who interrupts. Rick says they found this new world and each other and it's theirs by right. (The animals waiting for humans to die out would beg to differ.) He does a turn on the back of the truck to face the audience on the other side because Rick totally gets the concept of theater in the round. "It's arrs bah RIGHT!" Rick spits, getting all foamy in the mouth.

Meanwhile, Dwight is opening up his arrow-courier message, and we can see from how transparent the paper is from behind that it reads "Tomorrow" in giant letters that anyone watching Dwight from half a mile away with binoculars could easily read. Dwight, wide-eyed, thinks, "That's when the sun is supposed to come out!" Then he gets to responding to Annie or whomever might have written to him. He probably writes, "I have an opening between 12:30 and 2 PM, unless Negan calls a dick-size-comparison meeting and those take forever, with the tape measuring and the fluffing and the--" before running out of space to write.

We see Tara and Carol watching from over a highway overpass, but we can't see what they're looking at. They smile and duck down behind the overpass barrier as if they're waiting for something to happen. This episode is coy af.

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Rick is still talking about taking their rightful place in the world and ending the people who take and abuse others, and even Sarah Huckabee Sanders is like, "I don't think they're buying this. Wrap it up, Rick." Maggie squints at Rick, regretting letting him go first. Rick says they won't have shame or celebrate what they've done: "There's only one person who has to die, and I will kill him myself, I will. I will." I'm praying for someone among the survivors to yell, "You said that like six months ago -- shit or get off the pot, Rick!," but nobody does so I have to yell it at my screen, all alone.

Dwight wraps up his note, rolls it around the arrow, walks over to the zombie-laden Sanctuary fence, and inconspicuously shoots the arrow with a crossbow. Or as inconspicuous as you can be firing a crossbow at any time, which is not at all. We see Daryl Dixon, grimy as ever, standing near a wooden pallet where the arrow lands, although four inches over and it would have hit him in the shoulder. There's gotta be a better way to text, guys. Daryl reads the message like, "Unicorn emoji, eggplant emoji, heart-eyes smiley face, what the fuck is this?" Dwight walks away while we're shown a super close-up of that walker's ripped-open face because what show did you think you were watching?

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Carol and Tara are sitting together. Tara writes down the time, 10:28, as Carol looks a little worried. We can hear walkers snarling nearby.

Rick -- who's sweaty because he's been talking so long his beard actually looks longer -- says they'll make the world bigger together. "Together," Ezekiel adds, taking over for Rick, who needs to go drink some Gatorade after giving a three-hour speech. Ezekiel immediately launches into Proscenium Arch Voice, invoking "The Bard" while all the non-Kingdom residents are like, "Oh, please, not this shit again." "For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother!" Ezekiel bellows, putting a hand on Rick's shoulder for emphasis, as if he really wants Rick to shed some blood, and a lot of it. "Or she today, my sister," he says, going to Maggie, who finally smiles after having to stand there and grimace through Rick's bullshit.

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Shiva the Tiger growls. She's sitting chained on the bed of a pickup truck, which might be the most American thing in this episode. Maggie launches into her spiel about how they've practiced, and that the plan goes beyond that day and may lead to some uncertain times. She says that if they can keep their faith in each other, "the future is ours." And if this were a school assembly, that's when the homemade puppets would come out to warn you about the dangers of cocaine and PCP, which are both powders, but do very different things to a puppet or child! "The world is ours," Maggie says, looking over meaningfully at Rick, but he's staring off at an empty field, all, "Were you talking? Because my speech was 100 times better and 1,000 times longer and when women talk I start thinking about lawn care." Rick stares meaningfully at the ground as the sun forms a halo on the back of his head, and I've officially lost track of what any of this means, symbolism-wise.

We go back to Tara and Carol, but this time it's an overhead shot, and as we pan out and rotate, we see that there are hundreds of walkers strolling under the overpass. Weirdly, they mostly stay in the lines of the road; none of them walk in the grass in between the two separated lanes. It's like when you draw a box on the floor and a cat sits in it, maybe.

We cut back to that shot of Rick standing in front of some graves; he looks up at the sky, then back down at the ground. We cut to a close-up of the cane handle again. Then the flowers. The alarm clock. We see Rick out of focus, lying on a bed next to those flowers. Then we cut to a front view of his head on a pillow and his beard really is longer, and not just from the speech he gave.

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Rick's hair and beard are grayer, and the beard is long enough to reach his neck as if Ezekiel recruited him to be Santa in the winter season play. Rick is waking up. We cut to the shot of Rick's red-rimmed, closed eyes from what seems to be a whole different period of time. As Rick's weary eyes open, we go to the opening credits.

We escape Rick montage hell and come to a white van approaching on a road with several overturned vehicles. The van has a big red eagle painted on the side, and I can confirm that it is totally boss, dude. Carl gets out of the driver's seat, goes behind the van, and carries out a metal gas can. He wanders with it to an area with lots of cars and small bikes sitting among overgrown weeds. All the dead people in cars look mummified.

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Carl reaches a gas station, but is caught off guard when he hears someone speak. The person, a man, says hi, and that he's all right despite having a microwave thrown at him. Carl's drawn his gun as he tries to find the source of the sound. The person keeps talking and talking, invoking some wisdom from his mother about helping the traveler and how that's everything. That's everything that's going to get you shot, Mr. Traveler! Carl removes his hat and puts it on the ground as he lies down to peek under a car to get a better view. The guy quotes The Quran by way of his mom: "May my mercy prevail over my wrath." Carl spots what he thinks are the guy's legs as he's crawling. The guy says he hasn't eaten in a few days and isn't even sure Carl is real. Carl runs around the car and confronts the man, who puts his arms up. The man says he'll leave, and that he was just looking for some food. There's a gunshot, but it's not from Carl's weapon. We see Rick run into the scene and shoot up into the air, chasing the guy off. Carl and Rick have a back-and-forth about the guy. Rick thinks Carl should be glad he shot into the air and not into the guy. "He could have been one of them," Rick says. You better not mean "a Muslim," Rick. "A spy?" Carl asks. Rick holsters his gun and repeats that he shot above the guy's head. "If he isn't one of them, I hope he makes it," Rick says. But Rick's definitely not looking to help or recruit the guy. Carl, whose voice has dropped another two octaves in between seasons, says that's not gonna be enough. "Enough what?" Rick asks. "Hope," Carl answers. Rick sees the undead version of a young girl, not unlike the one from the show's pilot, approach, and grabs his hatchet to go end her.

Someone has "PLATFORM/TREE DAWSON HWY 11" on a handwritten "LOOKOUTS" to-do list, and we cut immediately to a lookout up in a tall platform in a tree. Down below is a single walker trying unsuccessfully to reach the person. We stay on this for a few seconds until a sniper shot takes out the lookout, and he falls to the ground below. Then the walker goes after him, eating the belly first because that's Flavor Country. The person with the checklist crosses off "Platform/Tree." Next is a "NEIGHBORHOOD." A guy smoking on the roof of a car is yanked away. We see Daryl enter the frame, apparently smoking the dude's still-lit cigarette, and looking over a pistol he just took from the unlucky guy. On the top of the gun are notches, about 43 of them. He'll never get to 44. Next on the list is "PAZE INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH." We go where a man is standing outside the research building. A spear suddenly protrudes from his chest. Morgan is revealed behind him as the man drops. Morgan steps forward to give the guy another poke, this time in the head. "PAZE" gets crossed out.

We go to Rick, who is looking very intensely at the list. He's all twitchy, like he's trying hard to calm down and get himself centered. Gabriel comes by where Rick is standing on a lookout platform to tell him everyone's ready. "Are you?" Gabriel asks him. Rick points out that it was one person who started all this. "It always starts with one person," says Gabriel. Thanks, Father Math Problem.

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Gabriel points out that this whole town started with one person, too. "This isn't about me," Rick says. I think he was talking about Reg -- you know, the guy who built Alexandria before you got there? "No," Gabriel says, "it isn't. You made it like that." Rick likes it when someone doesn't call him a megalomaniac. He puts a hand on Gabriel's shoulder.

We cut to a digital watch that now reads 7:49 AM on Thursday, earlier than when Tara said it was 10:28. Tara and Carol are waiting on a road, and Morgan is with them. Daryl approaches on his bike. Morgan, for his part, just sits and stares at the blood at the end of his spear. Yes, we know, Morgan. This goes against all your principles. Save it for the season finale.

Outside Rick's house, Judith -- who is a lot bigger and has longer hair -- is sitting and drawing with chalk. Rick kneels and kisses her head. He's not done giving out affection, either: he plants a smooch on Michonne as well. Carl approaches as his dad and Michonne are making out. That's not strange at all, Carl. Rick removes Carl's hat and gives him a big old dad bear hug. "Come 'ere," he says. "This is the end of it." Yup. The season premiere is the end of it, as we all know. Rick gets in the passenger side of a truck and it takes off, followed by a bunch of cars, each with a tall panel of rusty sheet metal attached to the side. These look like the jankiest Gobots I've ever seen.

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They pass by Rosita, who sits on a porch with her chest bandaged, looking pretty bitter about not being part of the convoy. We go back to Carl, who tells Michonne he knows she wanted to go with them. He did, too. "Everything hurts," she says, channeling Michael Stipe. She offers to help defend the place, because according to her, "it's your show." Why's it Carl's show all of a sudden? Can't this be Michonne and Sidekick, not the other way around? Carl scoffs, just like me, but Michonne insists that he'll see. He has one eye. Good one, Michonne.

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We cut to a truly gross zombie, another one with half his face dropped like some sort of CHUD, chained to a post while a guy standing watch is suddenly run up on and stabbed by Rick. Wouldn't a gun with a silencer or an arrow to the head have been a lot safer? The guy lies on the ground gurgling while Rick searches through his stuff. "What are you up to, Rick?" the man asks, as if he's not bleeding out. While Rick searches and finds nothing useful, the man says he's seen Rick beg before and he'll beg again. "Your boy's gonna die," he taunts. Rick crosses out "OVERGROWN ROAD HOUSE" from the to-do list and cuts loose the cord on the zombie, which quickly makes a meal of the already-stabbed guard. Rick signals the vehicles already coming up the road that the coast is clear, while twangy music plays.

Convoy! The Rusty Sheet Metal Gang arrives at a meeting location full of school buses and lots of people standing around having conversations. There are Alexandria folks, Hilltoppers, and Kingdom guards in their body armor as well as folks including Jesus, Ezekiel, and Maggie. The camera drifts through the field catching only the relevant bits of conversation as these different groups meet. Dianne from The Kingdom tells a guy she's got his back. "Really? You just met me," he comments "We all just met each other," she tells him. Does this guy not understand what "ally" means? Aaron walks up to his boyfriend Eric and asks, in surprise, if he's praying. "Better late than never," Eric says. These are all like bad deleted scenes from Saving Private Ryan. Jerry offers Enid some sternum body armor. She says she's going back with Maggie, but he offers her the armor anyway. "Dude," he insists. All right, Hurley from Lost.

At the center of it all are Rick, Maggie, Ezekiel, Jesus, and Gabriel. Maggie informs the group that she got The Hilltop involved in all this, so she has to be back there when it starts. Maggie -- who still doesn't yet have the slightest baby bump -- says it's so she can keep fighting through the second trimester. Maggie asks if Rick has thought about what things will be like when the fight is over -- what that will look like. He says he has and he can't wait. "One more fight," she promises. Ezekiel says he heard The Hilltop lost its obstetrician. He offers his own doctor to Maggie if she wants to come to The Kingdom. "We'll get ours back," Jesus promises. He looks at Maggie for a really long time as if he's casting a Jesus spell in his mind. Gabriel looks worried, and he should be, because Ezekiel is about to launch into some kingly speechifying about reshaping this world. "For your child and the children to come," he promises. "So let's get started." Jeez, I thought you'd never ask! Let's do this shit! But no, Rick has more platitudes to dish out before the action can start. He sidles up closer to Maggie and quietly says, "The Hilltop's lucky to have you." Maggie says Rick showed her how to be someone to follow...into a terrible plan that gets a bunch of people killed? Rick puts a hand on her shoulder and says that's good because after this, he's following her. Dude, let her have some maternity leave, at least! Maggie looks more worried than triumphant about what Rick's telling her.

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7:50 AM. Tara, still with a Twizzler in her mouth, says, "Here we go." She starts counting down from 10 as Morgan, Carol, and Daryl join her, standing ready for whatever's coming. She gets to zero and nothing happens. "Shit," she mutters. Daryl points and grunts, "There!" to something everybody can plainly see: a bunch of fucking zombies rounding the corner. Thanks, Eagle Eyes, you saved us the trouble of bringing a set of binoculars! "Close enough," Tara says and they all hop to, heading out in the opposite direction of the coming undead mass. Daryl rides his motorcycle and they leave behind an SUV in the middle of the road. The soundtrack teasingly tick-tocks for about ten seconds until the SUV explodes in a massive fireball.

Gene Page / AMC

Negan's yard of dead guards. A row of cars leaves the compound, presumably to go see why everyone has gone radio silent. Over a walkie-talkie, a woman is telling Dwight she wants some bang-bang, some scream-scream, and some blood. Is there a nearby drive-thru that has all that? Dwight, looking out into the distance, says maybe she'll get lucky.

Down the road in a town area, Tara and her crew have set out a metal tripwire across a street. "How close are we?" Carol asks. "Close," Daryl says. Eagle Eyes and superhuman sense of proximity! What would we do without you, Daryl?

Back at Negan's, Dwight looks up at some armed guards standing at the rooftop. He walks out of frame just as they're both shot by a sniper.

With the guards taken out, Rick's crew of janky-ass sheet-metal cars arrives. All the chained walkers in the yard reach out feebly toward them. What happened to the metal armor Eugene was planning for them? I don't see any metalheads out there. Everybody gets out of the cars and raises their guns high. Maggie gives a signal and they all start firing, including Rick with his revolver. They all fire three shots simultaneously, which given the bullet situation in the apocalypse seems like two shots too many. Rick holds his other gun, a rifle, and points it at the ground as they wait.

A door finally opens and Negan emerges. He's wearing his leather jacket and carrying Lucille. If this really is about taking out one person, why doesn't the same sniper who shot the guards just headshot Negan right now? Wouldn't that save a lot of lives? "Shit, I'm sorry!" Negan bellows, as Simon and Dwight follow him outside, "I was in a meeting!" The music, which has been working overtime to make a not-very-tense scene feel a lot tenser, comes to a crescendo as Negan grins.

We flash forward, maybe, to Rick's incredibly red-rimmed eyes. He looks up, sweaty and sad, at a stained-glass sign nearby.

Abrupt cut to a whole separate scene, that shot of Rick lying out of focus in a bed with a bouquet of flowers next to him. Rick, gray and big-bearded, squints at the alarm clock in disbelief, then drags his ass out of bed. Rick walks into his living room, where Michonne is sitting with a cup of coffee. He's wearing a robe and walks with a limp, using the cane we saw earlier. He tells Michonne she turned off the alarm. She grins and says they can get along without Rick for one morning. Carl strides into the shot saying, "We're all playing hooky." He references the thumping-beat song that's playing, Weird Al's "Another One Rides The Bus." Wow, that's a deep cut, Carl.

Back to the standoff with Negan. More members of his crew are outside now, including Eugene. Negan belittles Rick's "little mudflaps" and says he sees no reason for them to start throwing lead at each other. Negan says he cares about his people and won't march them into fire just to play a game of "my dick is bigger than yours": "It is. We both know it," Negan says, because he can never let a decent dig go without embellishment. Negan says he won't get his people killed just to prove that kind of point, as Rick is about to. So, he asks, what can he do for Rick? Rick starts calling each of Negan's people out by name, including Gavin and Simon, but stumbles on the name "Regina." (Not the Canadian Regina.) Eugene starts to speak, but Rick interrupts him: "I know who you are." Yeah, Rick, we're all on the same page here; this isn't a mixer. Rick says that the five of them, sans Negan, and the Saviors inside can surrender now, and nobody has to die. He says that offer won't exist any other time. Eugene hilariously puts a hand on his forehead as if he's coming down with a fever. I think he's got the vapors.

Back at Tara's camp, the group notices a lone walker heading toward the tripwire. Morgan goes after it to make sure it doesn't set off their trap.

Negan says that Rick's got a pretty good offer, but he wants to know what happens to him. Rick says he already told him twice what's going to happen. Negan says he knows, but Rick doesn't. "You have no idea the shit that's about to go down," Negan promises. He asks whether Rick really has the numbers for this fight. "Ya don't," Negan suggests. He tells Simon to go do something. Simon returns with sneaky-ass Gregory from The Hilltop. Maggie and Jesus exchange a look. "Of course that's where he went," Jesus says.

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Gregory, trying to look dignified in his sweaty suit and suspenders, announces that The Hilltop stands with The Saviors. Gregory announces that anyone who takes up arms against Negan's camp will no longer be welcome at The Hilltop, which he calls a colony, which is a little weird. "Your families will be thrown out and left to fend for themselves," he says at Negan's prompting. Gregory tells them to go home. Maggie tells her Hilltop friends to do what they need to do. Jesus says that all he has back there are some books and a lobster bib, which isn't germane to the people who have families back there to worry about, but thanks for chiming in, Jesus. Nobody leaves. Negan calls out, "Go back to separating wheat and shit or whatever the hell it is you do." Ha, not untrue. Maggie calls back to say that nobody's leaving. Gregory starts to talk, but Jesus shouts over him, "The Hilltop stands with Maggie!"

Back to Tripwire Alley. Morgan runs up and head-spears the walker that was about to run into the wire. He spots a line of cars coming and runs back for cover.

Over at Negan's, Simon is blowing up at Gregory, saying he's very disappointed. He keeps pushing on Gregory until he's near the edge of the stairs leading down from where Negan and his group have been standing. Simon gives him a shove, and Gregory falls down the stairs.

As Morgan hides behind a Dumpster at the other scene, Savior cars and motorcycles approach. They hit the tripwire and explode.

Rick, not that far away, sees the smoke rising in the sky from that explosion. All of Rick's folks nod at each other. Oh my God, a Rick plan that is working? We don't even know what to do with that! Negan suggests that shit must be going down. Rick prompts Negan's lieutenants to make a decision. Gavin asks if they can just take a time out, and Rick tells him, no, this has to happen right now: "This is the only way." Negan, who's been in good humor until now, suddenly looks pissed. Then he smiles again. Rick decides to do a countdown from 10 and makes a big production out of it. But at 7, he grabs his assault rifle and starts firing. Cut to commercials.

Negan and his people scramble inside, and nobody gets hit from all the guns firing, which suggests that Rick and his people are aiming high and just taking out windows to scare them. They're wasting so many bullets that it's genuinely stressing me out. They just keep firing and firing long past the time when they made their point. This building has a lot of damn windows.

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Back at Tripwire, Virginia, Carol, Daryl, and Morgan take a moment to look at the fiery cars just as the undead herd rounds the corner into town. "Pleasure doing business with you," Tara says. She and Morgan get into a station wagon as he tells Carol, "Beat 'em." Carol gives Daryl a really tight hug and tells him to be careful. He suggests that this will be fun. Carol insists that it won't be, so Daryl says it's still better than letting things be. Carol agrees with that and walks to another waiting car. Daryl checks his pistol for bullets. Yup. That's where they go.

We cut back and forth between the gun firing at Negan's and Daryl drinking some water and then riding his motorcycle away just as the walkers are about to overtake him. He drives away, leading the herd, and shoots his gun at a box on the side of the road. It explodes as he passes. He keeps doing that, although he seems to be going way faster than the zombies could ever go to catch up. Yet, somehow, they're still right behind him.

At Negan's, Rick and the gang start moving their vehicles into place.

Daryl spots a walker near one of his exploding traps and shoots it, blowing the zombie up. It's pretty smooth.

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Gabriel gives Rick a signal that the RV is ready for something. It rolls toward the Savior fence. Rick pushes a button on a detonator and the RV explodes. Everything goes to white from the explosion. Someone got very explosion-happy scripting this episode!

We hear some scattered gunshots and return to the scene as Negan, dragging a hurt leg, is trying to get away from the platform. We pass by some gruesome still-moving undead body parts. Negan hides behind an exploded Dumpster, and Rick spots him and fires his gun, trying to get a clean shot. The action slows down and the audio puts on an echo effect. Rick thinks he's so close to killing Negan, but Gabriel comes and tries to pull him back, warning, "We have to leave now!" Rick brushes Gabriel's hand aside, but Gabriel reminds him, "It's not about you, right?" Rick comes out of his rage and nods, but can't resist firing a few useless shots into the air. He produces a Polaroid camera and snaps a photo of the carnage, for the old-man scrapbook I hope he'll be putting together one day. "This was the time I didn't kill Negan," he'll write under it. Gabriel keeps firing shots as we see the zombie herd approaching. Rick climbs into a truck and drives away. Gabriel gets into a car and is about to do the same, but he spots an injured Gregory calling for help nearby. Gabriel mutters, "Shit!" and looks around to see how close the walkers are getting. Very close. This is very unwise. He gets out of the car and goes to Gregory. Gabriel tells him to be patient; they just have to pick their moment. Gregory thanks him. "Thank God," Gabriel advises. "Sure! Whatever," says Gregory. I love this weasel-man. Gregory gets freaked out by all the gunfire and ignores Gabriel's advice to stay put. He scampers off as Gabriel calls after him and takes the car, leaving Gabriel behind. And this is why you should never help anybody with anything!

Instead of staying put and waiting to defend Alexandria, Carl has wandered off back to the gas station from earlier. He opens up a big backpack and lays out a few cans of food, plus a note that reads, "Sorry." As gentle music plays, Carl walks away. The man Rick shot at earlier watches him go from some bushes.

As everybody starts gathering back, Ezekiel runs into Carol, whom we only see from behind. He gives her a small nod and a huge smile. (Cue Marvin Gaye music.)

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Rick and Daryl are in the woods. Rick checks his watch. He tells Daryl about what happened when Gabriel stopped to get him as he was trying to shoot Negan. "This isn't about me," Rick says again in case we didn't hear that already a bunch of times. Daryl whistles for everybody to head out, and a group of survivors all climb back into their cars.

At the research facility with the huge communication dishes, Morgan and Tara are with Dianne from The Kingdom. Morgan asks if she can use arrows to take out guards from this far back. Dianne says she wouldn't bet on it.

We cut to a guard next to a steel gate who gets a bolt right in the head. Daryl and Rick run up and push through those gates with Carol and Ezekiel's group coming in from another side, I'm guessing. Someone behind a car lobs a smoke grenade toward them.

Back at Negan's, a snarling zombie head lies on the ground as the undead herd overtakes the place. Gabriel is desperately trying to find shelter. He climbs up to an unlocked trailer and manages to get inside. It's dark. "I hope you're wearing your shittin' pants right now," a voice says. It's Negan. "What?" Gabriel responds. "Because you are about to shit your pants," Negan says, approaching. He grins. Gabriel gulps.

Outside, the undead are surrounding the trailer and we get the prototypical Walking Dead crane shot of the camera pulling back into the sky to show us how fucked these characters are. Of course, it's a lot less effective when we've seen characters such as Glenn escape from just such an impossible situation. The camera keeps pulling back to show just how many ant-like creatures are roaming The Sanctuary's grounds.

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We're back in the flash forward reality or dream that Rick inhabits as an older man. Judith appears: she's maybe about four or five years old, so this isn't that dramatic a time jump as Rick's beard might suggest. She cries, "Daddy!" and runs to give him a hug. She says they made a big owl for the party. "People are taking this festival extremely seriously," Michonne informs him. Rick goes outside to check out this giant owl. In the haze of outside, the town appears to be thriving and safe, with the owl in front of a nicely built house.

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We cut immediately to Rick's red, crying eyes. "My mercy...prevails," he whispers, "over my wrath."

We cut again to Rick on the truck bed giving his speech, presumably before the attack on Negan's compound. "I don't want to wait for it anymore," he says. He steps down to address his friends more directly, telling them that if they start right now, tomorrow, with everything they've endured, no matter what comes next, they've won. "We've already won!" he bellows as the music swells. Everyone cries, "Yeah!" as Rick raises a fist. You've won...what, exactly? More death? Maybe save the victory speech for once you know how many people are going to die from this, Rick.

The episode ends on a cut to black, with the words, "In Memory of John Bernecker," the stuntman who died on the set of the show this year, and "In Memory of George Romero," the man who of course started this whole genre in the first place.

And that's it! Thanks for taking this old-school-recap trip with me for this season premiere. Catch you around, folks!

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