My heart sank when I sat down to watch ‘The Walking Dead’ this week and saw that my DVR had recorded a two-hour episode. Fortunately, it was just a ratings stunt and the last hour was actually an unrelated preview for AMC’s new series ‘The Terror’. I don’t think I could take two hours of this show in one sitting right now.
This is a Negan-free episode, so we’ll need to wait a little longer to find out what Jadis is going to do with the rotten bastard. In the meantime, the hour is devoted to Simon leading a group of Saviors in an attack on the Hilltop. Contrary to Negan’s original orders, Simon is very eager to murder everyone there.
When the Saviors arrive at the gates, Maggie gets on a walkie-talkie and threatens to kill the 38 hostages unless Simon turns around. Unconcerned about that, Simon says “Screw them” and orders the assault to begin. Daryl immediately comes out of nowhere on his motorcycles and shoots at the Saviors with a machine gun, apparently hitting no one. As he turns to return to the Hilltop, the gate is left open long enough for the Saviors to charge in, which seems like an incredibly stupid mistake but may have been deliberate. Later, another character will commend Maggie for saving the gate; she may have been trying to lure the Saviors through in a controlled manner so they wouldn’t smash the gate. Which still seems like a stupid plan, if you ask me.
Whatever the case, the situation quickly gets out of hand with lots of running around and shooting. The scene takes place at night, and is so dark and chaotic that it’s difficult to tell what’s happening beyond a general sense that a bunch of people are shooting at a bunch of other people, and despite previous talk of an ammunition shortage everybody seems to have an unlimited supply of bullets. The Saviors also brought a bunch of gore-tipped arrows and prove to be incredible archers.
At some point, Dwight feels pressured to join the fight or risk raising Simon’s suspicion. He fires an arrow and hits Tara in the arm.
When the Hilltoppers shoot out all the lights on the Saviors’ trucks, the scene gets very quiet all of a sudden. In the moment of eerie calm, Simon leads all of the Saviors into an open clearing where they stand around begging to be shot. Eventually, Maggie’s people do open fire again, and completely miss hitting Simon or anyone else important. At that moment, Rick then returns and comes at the Saviors from behind. He blows a bunch of Saviors away, and when he runs out of ammo, he hatchets a bunch more. Finally, Simon orders a retreat and the Savior trucks drive away.
Come morning, the Hilltop begins a cleanup effort. Damage gets repaired. The dead get buried. The injured get patched up. Tara is fine, with just a minor flesh wound. Daryl is super-pissy about Dwight, but Tara still has sympathy for him. Carol’s boyfriend Tobin took a stabbing to the gut but appears stabilized.
Little psycho Henry, who was itching to kill some Saviors and was disappointed when Ezekiel and Carol made him stay inside during the attack, steals a gun when nobody is looking.
All the wounded are brought into the main house to sleep through the night, and it’s at this point we remember that the Saviors’ weapons were doused in zombie gore. Tobin is the first to go. He dies in his sleep and turns, then bites some people around him. Nobody else wakes up or notices this happening. Before you know it, a horde of newly turned Walkers are roaming around freely through the Hilltop, biting new victims left and right.
Henry sneaks over to the cage holding the Savior prisoners and talks to Gregory. He demands to know which of the Saviors killed his brother. Apparently, he didn’t buy Morgan’s story that the already-dead Gavin did it. For absolutely no reason at all, the moron kid unlocks the gate and goes inside, waving the gun around. He could even more easily have just stayed outside and shot whoever he wanted through the fence.
Of course, precisely at this moment people in the Hilltop start noticing the Walkers. Henry is distracted by the sound of screaming, and the asshole Savior named Jared grabs the gun. All the Saviors then flood out of the cell.
The Walker outbreak is eventually suppressed. Carol finds Tobin turned and has to put him down herself. Rick puts the pieces together and deduces that the Savior weapons were infected. This sounds like really bad news for Tara, who’s nursing a wound on her shoulder, but she doesn’t look sick so far.
About half the Savior prisoners escaped from the Hilltop, but the other half chose to stay because they like Maggie better than Negan. Carol goes looking for Henry and can’t find him anywhere. Thoughout the episode, Morgan is haunted by visions of Gavin telling him, “You know what it is.” I presume that the “it” is the fact that Henry is a psychopath. That’s an awfully strange way to phrase it, though.
Superficially, this episode is moderately more interesting than the past few, but it doesn’t really amount to much. The run-and-gun stuff is confusing and grows boring quickly. Many of the characters make truly idiotic decisions. I get that Henry is a kid, and kids are dumb, but the part where he opens the cell is painfully stupid and simply bad writing.
Even if the Saviors’ weapons hadn’t been tainted, it was a very foolish move to put all the wounded in one location with no one looking over them. Any one of them could have died and turned just from their injuries, causing the same outcome. Honestly, Tobin was probably a goner regardless.
I’m not worried about Tara. A fan theory has it that Dwight didn’t coat his arrows in gore and hit her arm on purpose. Even if that’s not right, what’s the difference? The series recently showed us with Gabriel that a couple of random antibiotics will knock the zombie fever out of even a direly sick person within minutes. No, that’s not how antibiotics actually work. And yes, that does flatly contradict years of previous storytelling on this show, which told us that once a person had the zombie fever nothing could save them. That’s just one of the many reasons this infection storyline feels half-assed.