If you would like to read my review of the last season, click here.
Synopsis: Rick and his group, along with the Kingdom and Hilltop, band together to bring the fight to Negan and the Saviors. (IMDB)
Writer: Scott M. Gimple
Director: Greg Nicotero
Running Time: 44mins
Last season felt like a dragged out buildup to a showdown with the Saviors that ended up being overwhelming. This season promised to be a war and this episode started to set the stage for it, whether or not this will be dragged out or not like last season remains to be seen (I will not let myself be fooled again). This was still an exciting start to the season, albeit on an obviously different emotional level because it would be hard to top the start of last season.
Unlike the start of last season, everyone was together this time after reuniting for the battle in last season’s finale. Whether or not they will split up again also remains to be seen but with all the communities being introduced, it was time for action and this episode definitely did that. Things were not looking bleak, however, we all know that it’s going to take more than one episode to resolve this (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it took the whole season for that matter).
Trailers for this season have hinted at an older Rick and we got several glimpses of that in this episode. In moments of reflection, these glimpses appear to be dreams of his future and of a life he could have once this war is over if he were to prevail. This episode, for the most part, focused on the coalition of sorts between all the communities preparing for a battle with the Saviors. They armored their vehicles, the leaders made some rousing speeches, the road was being cleared, and a trap under the form of a Walker herd was being set.
The only other subplot which wasn’t really a subplot but rather a quick scene involved Carl finding a man claiming to be hungry during while he appeared to be on a run. Perhaps not liking Carl’s response, Rick shot over his head to scare him off. Before Rick and his small army set out, he left Carl and Michonne behind to guard Alexandria. Later on, Carl went back and left some food.
The fate of all the communities was at stake but Gabriel had to remind Rick that this wasn’t just about him. Maggie asked Rick for some leadership advice. At the Sanctuary, Rick and his army shot up the front entrance to try and draw Negan out and eventually did. Negan wasn’t willing to risk his people over a squabble with Rick but he thought Rick was doing it. Rick was willing to offer the Saviors their only chance to surrender and Negan simply laughed it off. Simon then pulled out Gregory to try and dissuade members of the Hilltop to stand down, however, they rallied around Maggie.
Once nothing was going to happen, Rick and his army started shooting and Negan and his generals retreated inside. They shot out almost all the windows, however, when Rick noticed Negan try and sneak away, he became focused on trying to kill him. That wasn’t all they had planned as one of their vehicles was rigged with explosives so they used it to destroy their fences. The battle appeared to be over but Negan was still out there. Gabriel reminded him that it wasn’t about him and that they had to go. He then ran into Gregory who was happy to see him and he took Gabriel’s truck and left him amongst the chaos.
Another Kingdom-led group moved on to try and overtake another Savior stronghold which used to be a research facility. Meanwhile, Gabriel, still at the Sanctuary and overrun by Walkers, hid in a portable and found Negan inside. Elsewhere, because of Rick’s dream of the future, Rick did not want to wait anymore. He believed if they started tomorrow right now, they won.
Overall, this was a great episode that didn’t quite match the emotion of last season’s premiere but was still exciting in its own right through all the preparation, seeing the characters together again, and the battle with the Saviors along with the cliffhanger. This was just a start so the payoff wasn’t quite there yet but it will be interesting to see where it goes which will hopefully not be the same as last season.