‘The Walking Dead’ goes Rickless this week as we check in to see what’s been going on at the Hilltop. The answer: Not much.
In a lengthy wordless montage, we open with Maggie training Hilltopians (Hilltoppers?) how to throw a knife and Sasha obsessively drawing maps of what Jesus told her about the Saviors’ Sanctuary compound. Then Rosita arrives to talk to Sasha in a repeat of the scene that closed the episode two weeks ago, and we realize that we’ve just spent five minutes not only watching nothing happen, but watching nothing that already happened a while ago and is done with.
Jesus has a talk with Maggie and reveals that he’s gay, which is important why…? When he figures out that Sasha is planning to leave and hunt down Negan, Jesus tries to convince her to stay. She’s already made up her mind and won’t listen to him. This whole conversation is rendered moot when the Saviors pay an unexpected visit to the Hilltop, forcing Sasha and Rosita to sneak out through a secret tunnel anyway.
Daryl and Maggie hide in a cellar. Enid attempts to distract a Savior from searching it. The creep ignores her and goes in, but gets distracted collecting food and doesn’t notice anyone inside.
Simon, the leader of this group of Saviors, tells Gregory that he’s come to collect Dr. Carson and bring him back to the Sanctuary. Wait, wasn’t Dr. Carson the guy who Negan threw in a furnace? No, that was the other Dr. Carson. This one (who’s been acting as Maggie’s OB/GYN) is his brother. He’s not exactly eager to leave, especially not when he learns that his brother is dead. So as not to leave the Hilltop high and dry without any medical solutions, Simon has his men drop off a crate filled with boxes of aspirin. Nice guy.
Gregory asks for a private word with Simon and expresses his concern that taking away the doctor will undermine his position, should someone (he doesn’t specify, but we know he’s talking about Maggie) want to usurp him. It’s a good thing Negan didn’t come on this trip, or he’d disembowel Gregory for being weak the way he did to Spencer. Simon isn’t quite so quick to murder. He tells Gregory to come see him if anyone ever threatens his leadership, and gives him a note which allegedly contains directions to the Sanctuary. Gregory doesn’t look at the note before Simon shoves it in his pocket, so we don’t know what’s really written on it.
The Saviors pack up and head out with Dr. Carson, leaving Daryl and Maggie behind. Before they come out of the cellar, the two of them have a good cry when Daryl apologizes for getting Glenn killed.
Daryl notices that Rosita and Sasha are missing and asks Jesus where they went. This will be important later.
Sasha and Rosita
The rest of the episode follows Sasha and Rosita on their way to the Sanctuary. They have some brief zombie-killing adventures stealing a car from an old used car lot, and some tension over Sasha wearing a necklace that Abraham gave to her (which Rosita had actually made for him). Despite having a common goal, they’re still not exactly friends.
They also disagree on the best way to take down Negan. Sasha wants to be cautious and snipe him from a building near the Sanctuary, but Rosita would rather charge into the place with guns blazing. This is a suicide mission for her, and she doesn’t want to risk a sniper shot missing the target.
Nevertheless, they take up a position in the building Sasha recommended in order to scope out the situation before making a move. While watching the Sanctuary’s courtyard, they see Eugene ordering Saviors around. They assume that he must be playing some kind of con.
For a while, there’s no sign of Negan, so the girls get to talking about old boyfriends and about Abraham. Eventually, they come to terms with their personal issues and agree to have each other’s backs.
When Simon returns to the Sanctuary with Dr. Carson, Negan comes out to the courtyard for a moment, but Sasha can’t get a clear shot. They listen in on a stolen walkie-talkie and hear Eugene not only giving orders regarding the building’s defense, but referring to himself as Chief Engineer and calling himself Negan (as is the Savior way). They decide that they have to go in and rescue him. If they take out Negan from afar, Eugene would surely be killed soon after.
That night, the girls sneak up to an undefended part of the Sanctuary fence that Eugene said he was going to come out to secure. When he and a Savior lackey step out of the building, they shoot the Savior and tell Eugene they’ve come to spring him. He hems and haws for a moment, then refuses their help and runs back inside. Sasha cuts an opening in the fence, but then locks it behind her so that Rosita can’t follow her in. She tells Rosita that she’s too important and Alexandria needs her. As Rosita yells at Sasha to let her in, they hear more Saviors coming. Sasha follows Eugene into the building and Rosita has no choice but to run away.
After she gets far enough away from the compound, Rosita stops to take a breath, furious at Sasha and disappointed that she doesn’t get to go out in a blaze of glory like she wanted. The episode ends as she looks up and sees a shadowy figure carrying a crossbow. Our first assumption is that this must be Daryl, who came out to find her and Sasha. However, let’s not forget that Dwight also carries a crossbow these days.
I don’t buy the idea that Eugene has really gone full Savior. I think he’s still playing an angle and will redeem himself later.
We’re getting close to the season finale, and I understand the necessity of having an episode that’s mostly set-up with no payoff. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating, especially given how uneven this whole season has been.