If you would like to read our review of last season, click here.
Synopsis: Rick and his group make a risky run into Washington, D.C. to search for artifacts they will need to build the civilization he and Carl envisioned. (IMDB)
Writer: Angela Kang
Director: Greg Nicotero
Running Time: 58mins
Airs: Sundays at 9pm on AMC (Canada/United States)
I had to disappear at the end of last season but I’ll just say that the series stumbled by the end of last season as it has done countless times in the past by building up and then underwhelming. Yes, Rick and Maggie will be leaving at some point during the first half of the season though the presence of a new showrunner will breathe some life into a series that has arguably run its course, now entering its ninth season. It’s understandable to have low expectations considering the last few seasons so this better be worth it. However, it will take more than just the first episode to subvert expectation though it would be a good start.
The episode started with a rebuilt community after a time jump. Rick, Michonne, and Judith are a happy family. Everybody are working together Rick and Michonne headed to Washington D.C with a group of pretty much everyone to search for supplies. The group split up in what appeared to be the Smithsonian. Gabriel has embraced his blindness. Anne (Jadis) had a lead about seeds being kept there. They also found a carriage and a canoe that they tried to get out all while they were standing on a glass floor with plenty of walkers below. Of course it wouldn’t happen without incident as Ezekiel fell through the glass floor, only to be saved much to Carol’s delight. On their way back, Ezekiel proposed to Carol who wasn’t interested primarily for practicality reasons.
A bridge collapse forced the group to change their plans which included navigating the muddier terrain. A new though insignificant character with an affinity for horses decided to try and save the horses while the group was under attack and his insignificance caused him to get attacked. The group tended to him the best they could but he didn’t make it. The young man was a Hilltop resident so Maggie (who has now given birth) talked to his distraught parents who lost faith in Maggie and her leadership. As a result, Maggie was not invited to the funeral which was attended by the rest of the Hilltop. Gregory used the funeral and the grieving family as a power grab.
The rest of the group tended to the Sanctuary where there was still a Negan supporter in their midst because of a message written on one the walls. Daryl apparently was the de facto leader of the Sanctuary, however, he wasn’t interested in the position or staying within its walls. Rick wanted to make it work there but it wasn’t working. Daryl was losing faith. He missed the small group they had, however, things were different now with the group split up and Daryl wasn’t comfortable with that. Daryl and Carol had a moment where Daryl shared how happy he was for Carol for having the corny Ezekiel. She offered to take Daryl’s place at the Sanctuary perhaps in response to Ezekiel’s proposal. He was ultimately fine with it.
Rick and Michonne got into bed together to talk about their days and the Negan message. Michonne suggested some sort of agreement or charter between all the colonies to try and curb any negative sentiment. At the Hilltop, Gregory continued to play some sort of passive aggressive mind game with Maggie before leading her to a trap using the ruse of someone defacing Glenn’s grave. Maggie ultimately fought off her attacker who was the dead man’s father. She then confronted Gregory who finally tried to do something against Maggie himself but he still failed and was somehow still spared.
Rick, Michonne, and Daryl visited the Hilltop where Rick tried to convince Maggie to visit Alexandria but she couldn’t. Rick also needed more help from the Hilltop as they were the best off. She wanted to make sure she got what the Hilltop deserved and she had little interest in helping the Sanctuary. Maggie was taking a charge in a way that she hadn’t quite done yet. This power trip continued with the very public execution of Gregory. She made it clear that this was not going to be a trend.
Overall, this was a good episode that again started to put all the characters in new positions while also possibly plant the seeds for Rick’s demise with dissention from Daryl and Maggie. The Smithsonian sequence was thrilling and Maggie’s rise along with Gregory’s demise were thrilling to watch. Though Rick’s path may be more clear cut for now, it will be interesting to see where Maggie’s will go for the first half of the season. The balance between action and drama was good and we’ve only just gotten a glimpse of the rebuilt community but this is definitely a good start to the season. This series always has good starts, however, maybe the new showrunner will mean that this can continue. It will be exciting to see where it all goes and hopefully it won’t lead to disappointment as the last few seasons all have done.