As ‘The Walking Dead’ makes its rounds checking in with one group of characters at a time, this week brings us back to the Hilltop to reassure us that, yes, Maggie has survived. It’s not all bad news during the apocalypse. In fact, Carl even goes on his first date!
Maggie wakes up in a bed with a man named Dr. Carson hovering over her. He tells her that she’s going to be fine and so is her baby, though he advises her that it would be best if she stayed at the Hilltop for the duration of her pregnancy so that he can treat her if she has further complications. Sasha shows Maggie that she dug graves for both Glenn and Abraham – which makes me question how she got the bodies there. Did she drag both corpses behind them when they walked? In any case, Sasha also gives Maggie the pocket watch she found in Glenn’s clothes. Maggie of course recognizes it as the watch her father gave Glenn. She leaves it on the grave site to mark it.
Sasha says that she intends to stay at the Hilltop with Maggie. However, the community’s dickhead leader, Gregory (Xander Berkeley), wants them to leave immediately. He doesn’t care what the doctor said. He fears that if the Saviors see them, they’ll know that the Hilltop colluded with Alexandria. When Jesus steps in and tries to talk some sense and compassion into him, Gregory threatens to kick him out too. He agrees to let them stay through the night, but he wants them out by morning.
That night, Maggie and Sasha are woken by the sound of loud music playing. Someone left a car parked in the middle of the Hilltop courtyard with its stereo blaring at full volume, and also left the gate open so that the noise will attract zombies to come in. Presumably, the Saviors are responsible, though the episode never explains how they got the gate open or the car inside.
When seemingly everyone from the Hilltop is paralyzed by fear and confusion, Sasha springs into action to try to stop the music from playing. Unfortunately, she finds that the car (an old AMC Gremlin) is not only locked, it’s been armored with steel cages welded over all the windows. She can’t get it open. Zombies swarm around her and she has to fight them off with just a knife. Maggie signals to Jesus, who leaps to assist Sasha with some sweet kung-fu moves.
As those two slowly take out a handful of zombies, Maggie saves the day by hopping in a big-ass tractor and crushing the Gremlin under its massive wheels. The music stops, and others are able to get the gate closed.
Gregory is thankful to Maggie and Sasha for saving his community, but not thankful enough to let them stay. He offers them a jar of fruit preserves for the road and tells them to get the hell out before the Saviors show up. Sadly, he’s too late. A bunch of trucks arrive demanding to be let in the gate. Gregory orders Jesus to hide the girls in a closet.
Because Rick and company wiped out the Saviors that usually harass the Hilltop, the ones who show up today are a new group led by Simon (Steven Ogg), one of Negan’s top lieutenants. He struts in, swinging his dick around as if he were Negan. The stunt with the car overnight was apparently a demonstration to show who’s in charge. Gregory plays dumb when Simon tells him that the other group of Saviors were killed, and insists that he’s a team player. Simon does a good job of intimidating him, enough so that Gregory wilts like a flower in his presence and attempts to give up Sasha and Maggie. He leads Simon to the closet where he believes they’re hiding, only to open it and find that Jesus moved his entire stash of Scotch in there. It’s first thing in the morning and Gregory is already a couple sheets to the wind, so the prospect of giving up all of his booze is particularly disheartening to him. Simon says that he hates Scotch, but he knows that Negan loves it, and he’s very pleased that he’ll be able to bring it back as a gift. He has one of his men take the box and load it onto the “Negan truck.” Before leaving, Simon puts on a show of making Gregory kneel before him in front of everyone.
As the Saviors pack up their trucks, Jesus puts his foot down and insists that Maggie and Sasha must be allowed to stay. If Gregory tries to throw them out again, Jesus will rat him out to the Saviors regarding his dealings with Alexandria. Maggie also decks Gregory for stealing Glenn’s watch from the grave. When Gregory and Maggie both leave the room, Sasha asks Jesus if he can find out where Negan lives. She tells him to keep this a secret, even from Maggie.
At Alexandria, Rick prepares to go on a supply run and to scavenge for things to offer the Saviors. Michonne declines to go with him, saying that she has something else she needs to do. Carl also refuses. He seems pretty upset with his father for giving in to Negan. (Also, notably, Carl is playing darts when talking to his father and misses the board entirely every throw. I expect that this is foreshadowing and his lack of depth perception or aim will be a critical failing later on.)
Carl spots Enid in the process of sneaking out over the wall again. She says that she’s going to the Hilltop to check on Maggie. She takes off on a bike, leaving Carl behind. However, when she later gets surrounded by zombies, Carl shows up in a car and runs a bunch of the zombies down, crashing in the process. (Carl is about as good a driver as his mother was.)
The two of them hike down the road, talking about how much they hate Negan. Carl stops when he finds a suitcase on the side of the road. Inside are two pairs of rollerskates. Carl is excited. The kids skate for a while, holding hands. It’s a sweet moment, but the whole time all I could think about was how impractical and foolish it was. What if they got attacked by zombies and didn’t have a clear path to skate away, or had to run off the road into the woods? How long would it take them to stop and take off the skates?
Fortunately, no more zombies are out today. The kids approach the Hilltop in time to see Simon and the Saviors packing up. Carl is disappointed that Negan isn’t present. He hoped that he’d get a chance to kill him. Enid kisses Carl (his first kiss, I assume) and asks him to come with her into the Hilltop, but he says that he needs to go back to Alexandria.
After it’s safe to come outdoors, Maggie finds Enid sitting at Glenn’s grave. She hugs the girl and passes Glenn’s watch on to her.
The last we see of Sasha, she’s smoking a cigar she had found in Abraham’s pocket and is sharpening a knife will ill intent in mind.
The episode ends with Jesus sneaking onto the back of the Savior truck designated for Negan’s swag. He opens a bottle of the Scotch and begins dumping it out onto the road when, suddenly, Carl reveals himself. He’s also searching for Negan.
Nothing good can come from Carl’s half-assed revenge plan. That’s going to end very badly for him. I don’t need to have read any of the comic books to figure that out.
Farm girl Maggie saving the Hilltop with her tractor driving skills is of course a triumphant moment meant to show that she’s going to be all right, even without Glenn. The message is perhaps a little heavy-handed, but Maggie is an endearing character and it’s nice to know that she’ll pull through.
Beyond that, the episode doesn’t really have much going on. I feel like, following the traumatic premiere, this season has mostly just been spinning its wheels ever since. If the show is building up to some sort of new confrontation, I wish it would do so with a little more urgency.