Be warned! This review will cover aspects of the episode. Spoilers will lurk like groaning walkers..
After last week's overlong, excruciating visit to Alexandria with added Negan, we only briefly check in with Rick and the rest as he heads out on a supply run – got to keep those Saviours sweet, we suppose. There's more with Carl and Enid, but we'll cover that later in the review.
Most of the episode is spent in Hilltop, where Maggie and Sasha have sought sanctuary as Maggie recovers from a nasty scare with the baby. It would've been a little much, even for this depressing and extra-violent season, to kill off Glenn's unborn child a few episodes after Glenn himself took a bat to the head. Also a relief was having a few scenes that didn't revolve around the Saviours terrorising others, though that still featured later. But even without a strutting psychopath, Maggie, Sasha and Jesus – hey, Jesus! – still had to suffer the seemingly forgetful and cowardly whims of Gregory, the man that the Hilltoppers apparently still let stay in charge. Xander Berkeley has always been able to deliver on the slimeballs, and Gregory's a good example of one, ever looking out for his own skin and resorting to stealing the pocket watch that Maggie had laid on Glenn's grave, one given to him by her father, Hershel. The swine! No wonder Maggie ends up slugging him, before reminding him that her name is Maggie, not "Marsha". Some good material for Lauren Cohan here, as Maggie comes more and more into herself, seemingly energised by the death of her husband. Less satisfying is the apparent lack of any security on the Hilltop community's main gate.
Yes, the show has established that they're a lot more peaceful and essentially cowed by the Saviours, but does no one notice the bad guys lighting fires and somehow getting a car - an empty car – in without more of an alarm? At least it was the spur for more Maggie Takes Charge action and a fun action scene that saw Jesus show off more martial arts skills and a tractor used to take out both Walkers and the noisy car.
Of course, once the Saviours themselves – here overseen by Negan deputy Simon, played by Steven Ogg – show up, we're back to business as usual for this season for a few minutes as a tough guy walks around bullying others. At least he has a slightly different style to his boss, which is something. Naturally, Gregory is ready to give Sasha and Maggie up in an instant, but thank god for Jesus, who has stashed them elsewhere in a spirit-not-letter-of-the-law act of disobedience. Given all his behaviour previously and especially here, we can't imagine Gregory being too long for this world, and we doubt anyone will mourn him. Hitting our logic problem alarm: if the Saviours were ordered to take half of everything as usual, why did no one check that closet? Story convenience?
Aside from the adventures at Hilltop, there's more with Carl and Enid, who are starting to draw ever closer. And, er, going roller skating in the middle of the zombie apocalypse, apparently. Leaving aside the fact that they luckily discover two pairs of skates that seem to fit them exactly, doesn't wobbling along on skates seem like the best way to get yourself killed if you encounter a group of walkers? "Sorry... Could you just hold off on trying to bite me while I untie these laces?" Even before that, we have Enid setting off on her own (we know she's sneaky, but security must be as bad at Alexandria as it is at Hilltop) and Carl following... Though as she insightfully points out, he was more likely headed out on a revenge mission. Still, partly thanks to the whole one working eye situation and his desperation to finish off the walker, it seems Carl's driving skills are not quite up to standard. And does it feel right to waste one of Alexandria's few precious vehicles to take out one or two walkers? Even if it did save the life of the girl Carl has a crush on. Young Mr. Grimes also has the seemingly suicidal notion that he's going to be the one to take Negan down. Good luck, pal.
And talking of good luck, Jesus will also need some, stowing away at the end on one of the Saviours' trucks so he can track down where Negan's base is located. He, at least, we can see making it. Carl... We're not so sure about. Yes, we doubt Rick's kid is destined to die (yet), but if he does manage to make it all the way into the Sanctuary, that'll feel awfully convenient.
All in all, it was a mixed episode, but more tolerable than the near-endless Negan Calling storyline of last week. Hilltop's evolving, and it appears set for some new leadership, so that feels like another piece of the plot puzzle falling into place for how Rick and co. might finally rid themselves of the bat-man.
THe Big Questions
Have we heard Glenn's last name on the show before?
Not that we recall – feel free to correct us if we're wrong on this – but he's been credited on the official Walking Dead site as Glenn Rhee for a while now. We suppose it makes more dramatic sense for Maggie to just announce it.
What was the music played in the car sent into Hilltop?
That would be Finlandia, by Jean Sibelius. Who says the Saviours have no appreciation for culture?
Why do fans call Simon "Trevor"?
Because actor Steven Ogg is well known for his work as teh psychotic Trevor Phillips in Grand Theft Auto V.
Read this season's previous reviews below...
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC in the States and Mondays at 9pm on Fox.