Spoiler Alert. Yes, it’s a recap and review. So yes, there will be spoilers. Read at your own risk.
We got Negan. And even though Negan got away, which we all expected, using the basic zombie-evading tactic that SHOULD be used all the time but is NEVER used (the “slather self in zombie guts” move), which felt like a cop out, it gave us an episode as good as, if not even better than, last week’s episode.
Through a combination of flashbacks (okay this season does need to cool it with the flashbacks), Savior board meetings (which would be boring if it weren’t the first time we got to see how things operate for the Saviors), and Negan/Gabriel chats (which…were actually pretty good!) we finally got to see a more nuanced view of the big bad guys, while setting up the rest of the season quite nicely.
Oh also, Daryl and Rick have a big fight, which really didn’t need to be in this episode, even if it’s gonna set up the inevitable Civil War between the two fan favorites. Just kidding– dads tolerate Rick, they’re on Team Daryl for life. This part seemed really unnecessary in this episode, especially since the episode was about 10 minutes longer than any other episode this season.
Now most of the episode is split between Negan’s escape, and his inner circle trying to determine who betrayed them. Eugene is the most obvious and annoying suspect (he eventually figures Dwight is responsible), and when the workers in the Saviors’ compound begin to riot, the inner circle do not handle it well. The only reason the Saviors don’t immediately crumble into chaos is the arrival of Negan and Gabriel, who had just staged their own pretty impressive battle through a sea of undead.
So the episode ends with a few important set ups for episodes to come.
Eugene figures it out about Dwight, but so far is keeping it to himself. Rick sees a helicopter, which, what? Sorry, we should emphasize that more. RICK SEES A HELICOPTER, WHICH, WHAT? And Gabriel randomly goes from “totally fine” to “um…is he..dying?” before offering the last line of the episode, which involves him telling Eugene that they need to free Maggie’s doctor from the Saviors. All of that adds up to the first time since season 6 we’ve had back-to-back episodes that warrant a Dad Grade: A
Unnecessary Philosophy Rating: 7/10
This episode has a LOT of talking, especially about what motivates Negan, but it’s actually largely engaging. Hearing that Negan views people as resources makes sense, and the scenes between him and Gabriel are more often than not pretty riveting. So that philosophy is pretty good. But Rick and Daryl fighting over the same “let’s not kill the bad guys, they might not be THAT bad” that we saw from some of this season’s lesser offerings amps up the points here.
Zombie Gore Rating: 3/10
Despite Gabriel and Negan using zombie guts to get away, not a lot of gore here. You have Negan killing one zombie that gets through the trailer, and the rest only comes from a brief (but intense) fight scene between Gabriel and Negan as the zombies see through their “disguise.”
General Gore Rating: 2/10
Last week’s truck driver who got stabbed in the stomach got to bleed out and die, but this was not a violent episode.
Any “Oh Hell Yeah!” Moments?
Okay, so Daryl choking out Rick (classic form there, Daryl, good job, boy) followed immediately by an exploding truck was the one good thing our Rick and Daryl fight gave us. And when Gabriel and Negan fight their way through a zombie hoard, well that’s always fun.
What Comes Next?
Gregory HAS to die, right? They’re building it up so much. Either way, it seems that this next week will be split between the Hilltop and the Saviors. We’re going to see the Saviors regroup, some losses from the good guys, and Rick and Daryl’s infighting will definitely continue to blossom. Sorry Rick, we’re rooting for Daryl on this one. We’ll see you next week!