By Transmute Jun
Previously, on The Walking Dead…
Carol and Morgan were living at/near The Kingdom, making friends with King Ezekiel. Maggie sent Jesus to find out where Negan lived. Carl snuck into The Sanctuary, where Negan took a strange liking to him. Negan brought Carl back to Alexandria, and while he was waiting for Rick, discovered Judith. Rick and Aaron were scavenging for Negan, and found a houseboat (presumably filled with supplies) in the middle of a lake filled with walkers. Michonne hijacked a pickup truck, forcing its driver to ‘take her to Negan’. Rosita convinced Eugene to make her a bullet. Spencer found a cache of food and brought it back to Alexandria, to give to Negan, only to discover that Negan was already there. At The Sanctuary, Daryl was slipped a mysterious note in his cell, telling him to ‘go now’.
Maggie is sitting at Glenn’s grave at The Hilltop. She mourns for a moment, then climbs to the top of the wall on watch. Gregory approaches her, using her correct name. It’s clear that Maggie earned Gregory’s respect when she smacked him, and that he now sees her as a serious rival. Gregory confirms this by telling Maggie that she and Sasha (He gets her name right too!) have been the subject of conversation; people like that they saved the town the other night. But Gregory thinks that Maggie shouldn’t let it go to her head. It’s clear to Maggie that this bothers Gregory, and she calls him on it. She then shames him into giving her an apple to eat, with another guard backing her up, due to her pregnancy (and therefore her need to eat) much to Gregory’s dismay.
Darryl sits in his cell, contemplating the note to ‘go now’. He decides to make his move, opening the door.
At Alexandria, Negan is shaving in Rick’s bathroom. He then makes a spaghetti dinner from scratch, forcing Carl to make biscuits, while Olivia makes lemonade (which had been delivered by Tara). Once dinner has been prepared, this dysfunctional family waits for Rick, but Rick and Aaron are trying to get the supplies on the houseboat, so they are not there. Pissed that Rick still hasn’t returned home, Negan starts to eat his spaghetti dinner. Sitting at the head of the table in Rick’s house, with Olivia, Judith and Carl present, Negan has definitely taken his place as ‘king of the castle’, and the message is not lost on those present.
At the front gates, the Saviors are looking over Spencer’s haul, and they’re impressed with what he’s brought back.
“You look like shit, which means you fought for this.” one of them says, impressed. He offers Spencer his hand, and they shake. A female Savior invites Spencer to The Sanctuary, offering to ‘buy him a sandwich’. She seems to be coming onto him, but then rounds on Eugene when she sees him looking at them.
“Do you like watching, Haircut?” she snarls.
“Yes.” Eugene replies automatically. I am hysterically laughing at this, because we know that Eugene does like to ‘watch’, as evidenced by his peeping at Abraham and Rosita in an earlier season. And Eugene has just enough of a literal personality to answer honestly.
The female Savior, not liking this answer, chases Eugene off.
Carol is in her house (the one with the connected graveyard, on the outskirts of The Kingdom). Morgan brings her fruit, but she has plenty of fresh produce already; it seems that King Ezekiel sends her a lot of vegetables as a token of his regard. Morgan is about to leave when Richard (King Ezekiel’s soldier) shows up, saying that he wants to talk to both of them.
At the lake, Rick and Aaron are paddling a leaky boat across to the houseboat, fighting off the walkers who swarm them. They make their way to a (not leaky) canoe filled with life jackets, reaching to jump into it as their boat sinks, but a walker hidden underneath the lifejackets leaps out. Rick kills it, but in the commotion, Aaron falls into the water. Fortunately, he dives down and swims away from the walkers, who are unable to follow him. This is a pretty smart move. The walkers may float, due to the buoyant nature of dead bodies, but they are unable to swim or maneuver in the water very well.
Finally, Rick and Aaron make it to the houseboat, collapsing in exhaustion atop the dead body of what is presumably its former owner. They loot the supplies within; the guy had everything, except he had run out of ammo. But there are guns and food aplenty. Aaron opens a chest, finding a note inside.
Congrats for winning, but you still lose. This cheerful message is accompanied by a sketch of a hand giving the middle finger. Aaron is amused, calling the owner of the houseboat a ‘sore loser’.
Rick and Aaron drive the houseboat back to shore and load everything into their truck, where Rick says that he knows people are upset that he is submitting to Negan. Aaron says that he understands, because he was there. It’s clear that the memory of Abraham’s and Glenn’s deaths are still very painful to both men, to the point where they don’t want to discuss the issue openly. It’s interesting to me that Aaron is the one who seems to be backing up Rick in his acquiescence to Negan’s rules. Everyone else is upset with Rick’s position on the matter, but Aaron not only understands, he seems to agree completely.
As the two men drive off, we see a strange pair of boots at the lake. Someone has been watching them. Suddenly, the note that was left in the boat has taken on a more ominous tone.
Meanwhile, Michonne is driving with the Savior woman in the hijacked truck, on the way to find Negan. The woman won’t talk to Michonne, which frustrates her. Michonne talks to herself, saying that she won’t kill Negan today, just find him.
“I’m gonna change how this ends for me. That’s why I’m out here alone.” she says. I’m not sure that explains everything to me, but it does explain Michonne’s state of mind. She can’t just sit back and let Rick do things: she needs to take this into her own hands. She understands Rick’s position, but unlike Aaron, she completely disagrees with it. She doesn’t like the way she will live under Negan’s thumb, and wants to change her own outlook. Since Rick won’t help her, she’s on her own. Her sense of loneliness is nearly tangible. This is something Michonne experienced before, after the prison fell. She was ready to head back out on her own again, but realized that she had changed, and now needed others to be with her. This led to her going back to find Rick and Carl. Yet now, she needs others, but does not have those others to rely upon, and it weighs on her.
At The Hilltop, Sasha has been given an apple pie by another person who is grateful for what she and Maggie did. Perhaps they heard about how Maggie shamed Gregory into giving her an apple, and presumed that it was her favorite! They might be right, for Maggie, hungry from her pregnancy, digs right in, using her fingers and a spatula, not even waiting for a plate. As she eats, Maggie starts talking about supplies the community needs, sounding like a leader, and goes to arrange a run to get them. When she has left, Enid confronts Sasha, asking why she lied about Jesus’ departure to Maggie, (Sasha had told Maggie that Jesus left later than he did). Sasha says that she has to go kill Negan, alone. She doesn’t want Maggie coming with her. I’m not sure how this relates to the timing of Jesus’ departure, but I’m willing to go with it. Enid protests that Sasha doesn’t have to go alone, but Sasha disagrees.
“We have to keep her safe.” Sasha says, referring to Maggie. Enid reluctantly agrees.
At Carol’s house, Richard wants Carol and Morgan to convince Ezekiel to make a move against the Saviors. They ask why, when things are ‘at peace’. It seems that Richard doesn’t trust the Saviors. Smart man, Richard.
“Things will go bad, and when they do, The Kingdom will fall.” he explains.
At Alexandria, Rosita is seeking guidance from Father Gabriel. She shows him the bullet, explaining that she will use it for Negan, and then she will die.
“Why do you have to die?” Gabriel asks.
“Because he has to.” Rosita responds.
“I agree, but why do you?” Gabriel asks. And now we have the priest saying that someone needs to die. Gabriel has had a reverse personality implant this season, that’s for certain!
“We’ll win, but we have to wait for the right moment… or create it, together. And you’re part of that ‘together’.” Gabriel tells her. This is actually good advice. Everyone is going off on their own to kill Negan, but they should have learned by now that they’re much stronger as a team. Even if Rick doesn’t agree with killing Negan, they need allies to be able to do it. It’s not a one person job.
Back at the Kingdom, Carol and Morgan turn Richard down, saying that they don’t want to break the peace. Carol just wants to be left alone and remain uninvolved, while Morgan doesn’t want to kill when it’s not necessary, because there is currently no war. This may seem outrageous to viewers, but remember that Carol and Morgan have no idea what happened in the showdown with Negan, or that it even took place. They don’t really have a reason to be ‘outraged’… yet.
In any case, Richard is angry at their refusal and leaves in a huff. Once he departs, Carol asks Morgan to tell everyone that she is gone, so that they will leave her alone.
Richard goes to a hidden camper in the woods, filled with supplies. He breaks down. He has clearly taken Carol’s and Morgan’s refusals very badly. There is obviously some deeper meaning to his need to fight the Saviors. I have to wonder if Negan killed people he loved.
At the Sanctuary, Daryl has left the living quarters and makes his way outside. But as he reaches the motorcycles, he runs into Fat Joey. Daryl brandishes a pipe he picked up as a weapon. Fat Joey offers to just let him go, but Daryl, enraged, snaps and bashes Fat Joey’s head in with his pipe, beating him bloody. Jesus arrives as Daryl is doing this, yet he doesn’t comment. It is implied that Jesus is the one who left Daryl the note, and was waiting for him. Jesus and Daryl escape the Sanctuary on a motorcycle, but before they go, Daryl sees Rick’s gun on (the now deceased) Fat Joey’s hip, and he takes it.
Spencer returns home, cleaning up himself and his home, then taking a bottle of alcohol and leaving. Rosita sees him walking down the street, asking if he has a hot date, and he explains that he is doing what his Mom would do; making nice with the Saviors to get close and hopefully stab them in the back later. He asks Rosita why they almost started something (referring to their night together after Abraham dumped her) and Rosita can’t really explain it, but doesn’t entirely push him away either. Spencer invites her to dinner later, and she seems amenable.
Spencer goes to Rick’s house, asking to see Negan. He introduces himself.
Rick returns to Alexandria, where the Saviors at the gate look through the stuff he has brought back. They find the note written by the houseboat owner, thinking it was meant for them. They turn on Aaron, beating him up. When Rick tries it intervene, they hold a gun to his head. Rick can only watch helplessly, in a scene that is reminiscent of the season opener.
On the road, the female Savior has driven Michonne to the top of a hill. Looking down, there are a lot of cars and people in the valley below. The woman tells Michonne that this is Negan; they are all Negan. Michonne can’t win. At the woman’s request, Michonne shoots her, then turns around and drives back to Alexandria.
Meanwhile, Negan and Spencer talk on Rick’s porch, drinking the alcohol Spencer brought. Negan says that all they need is a billiard table to make everything perfect. Spencer comments that the house across the street has one in their garage. But Negan says it’s too beautiful a day to be inside…. so naturally, they have it brought out into the street to play. The people of Alexandria come out to see this strange spectacle, watching from a distance, while Negan’s people guard their leader.
As Spencer and Negan play billiards, Spencer throws Rick under the bus, saying that Rick doesn’t have a history of playing well with others, and of killing others to gain power, such as what happened to Spencer’s family. Negan sees where this is going. He points out that Rick hates Negan, but he’s working for him anyway, getting supplies right now. But Spencer waited until Rick was gone to approach Negan, and wants Negan to kill Rick for him. The comparison is obvious.
Negan says that Spencer doesn’t have any guts, then stabs him in the abdomen with a knife, until his intestines spill out onto the street. Now Negan can see his guts, an he laughs at his own joke.
The people of Alexandria are horrified by the entire affair, gasping in terrified silence. Negan offers Lucille to them, for anyone who wants to ‘finish the job’. In response, Rosita pulls her gun out and shoots.
Unfortunately, she hits Lucille. Negan is furious, and one of his flunkies is on top of Rosita immediately, holding a knife to her throat. Negan realizes that the bullet Rosita used was a homemade job, and asks her who made it. Rosita says that she did, but Negan doesn’t believe her. Even when he threatens to mutilate her face, she sticks to her story. Negan tells his flunky to kill someone, and she turns and shoots Olivia in the eye, killing her. Horrified, Tara shouts that she made the bullet, but Eugene steps up (albeit while crying and covering his face with his hands) and admits that he did it. Rick and Aaron arrive on the scene just as Negan decides that he’s taking Eugene back with him. It’s evident that Negan wants to use Eugene’s skills for himself.
Negan tells Rick that he has to thank him, since Negan did him favors (killing Spencer and bringing Carl back and feeding him spaghetti). In his anger, Rick can barely speak, but tells Negan that his stuff is at the gate and that he should go. Negan does, taking Eugene, and saying that no matter what’s at the gate, it’s not enough, and Rick owes him. Rick watches as Negan leaves, and Spencer turns into a walker. Rick takes Spencer down with his knife. He now understands that even if he follows Negan’s rules, people are still going to die. It will never end. There is no life under Negan. Rick ‘owes’ Negan, but not in the way that Negan thinks.
Rick is still absorbing everything that has happened, alone in the cell that Morgan built. Michonne finds him, telling him that she saw the Saviors, and that there are way more of them than they had imagined. But they can still do this.
“We’re the ones who get things done. We’re the ones who live.” Michonne reminds Rick of his own words. “We can do this,” she insists, “but only if we do this.” She has realized that she can’t go it alone.
Rick says that he knows that now. They are finally on the same wavelength, and they cling to each other, kissing and bonding in their newly shared outlook. It was a terrible way for Rick to realize the right course of action, but between Aaron’s beating and Spencer’s death, he knows that Negan will keep on hurting the Alexandrians, no matter what. The only way out for them is to fight.
We come full circle, to Maggie, who is again mourning at Glenn’s grave before taking a shift on the wall. She sees something and smiles. It is Rick and others from Alexandria, walking up to the gate. Maggie greets them, and Rick tells her that she was right, that they have to get ready to fight.
Daryl and Jesus appear from around the corner of a building, and Rick runs to his bromance, embracing him. Daryl gives Rick his gun back, which clearly moves Rick. They head on into the main building together, as a united group, to confront Gregory.
In an after-credits scene, Father Gabriel is on watch at Alexandria overnight, but someone is watching through binoculars. The person jumps down from their hiding spot, and we see a pair of familiar boots; it is the person from the houseboat lake. It is evident that they will have an impact on the storyline when the season resumes.
This was an emotional episode, but ultimately a fulfilling one. While Rick’s reluctance to fight Negan is understandable, we can also see why he is forced to change his position, almost as if we can see the wheels turning in his head as he realizes that Negan’s ‘honor’ isn’t going to get the Alexandrians very far. On the flip side, Michonne and Rosita have realized that killing Negan isn’t quite as easy as they might have thought, and everyone now understands the need to come back together, to deal with this threat as a united front. This isn’t an instinctive reaction to Glenn’s and Abraham’s deaths. Rather, it is an intelligent decision made not in the heat of the moment, but after careful deliberation. It’s clear that alliances will have to be made, and that Rick will have to be the one to bring them all together.
But how will the person from the houseboat lake work into all of this? That remains to be seen.
For those who play the No Man’s Land mobile game, this week’s Season 7 Mission is of Jesus and Darryl returning to Alexandria, having to repair their motorcycle on the road while surrounded by walkers. Completing the mission unlocks Negan as a playable character in the game.
We hope that you have enjoyed the FoCC The Walking Dead episode recaps, and hope that you will join us when season 7 resumes in February, 2017. In the meantime, we hope that you will join the conversation on FoCC!