Jesus shows the crew that the world is a much larger place than they first thought. Rick has to have ‘the talk’ with Carl about Michonne. The crew decided whether they should trust Jesus and follow him back to his camp to discuss trade. This episode could be pivotal to the group’s future so if you haven’t caught up yet, stop reading here. If you have watched last night’s episode and you would like to read and discuss, please continue. Spoilers in 5…4…3…2…1.
So after Jesus finds Rick and Michonne sleeping, he gives them room to get dressed and come downstairs to talk. Carl finds him roaming around the house, looking at the art work. At gunpoint, Jesus tells Carl that he is waiting for his mom and dad to get dressed so he can talk to them. Of course this confuses Carl but there isn’t time to think it through. At that time, ever member of Rick’s group busts through the door with weapons drawn and Jesus’s life most likely flashes before his eyes. Of course the whole group notices that Rick and Michonne exit the same bedroom, but no one says anything.
They take Jesus to the kitchen to discuss his purpose in making sure he made it back to Alexandria. Jesus informs them that he comes from a community similar to Alexandria, and that the community needs materials to survive. He explains that they trade with other communities and he believes the Alexandria can help out his community. He asks them to go with him to see for themselves.
The group heads off in the RV, reminiscent of the old days with Dale, heading toward the settlement that Jesus claims as his own. On the way to his home, they come across a car that has flipped and flipped recently. Jesus recognizes the car as own belonging to his people and asks the crew to stop and save them. After situations in the past like Woodbury and Terminus, the crew is reluctant to fall into another trap. Rick decides that the group will help out Jesus’s people, but he will be staying with Maggie outside and that if Maggie hears Rick whistle, she should shoot Jesus.
Once the crew enters the building they encounter the only walkers in the episode. With teamwork, they make short work of dispatching these walkers and discover three members of Jesus’s group. Abe finds the last member, Freddy, and mistakes him for a walker, almost ending his life. He is injured, so Rick’s group gets him to the RV. The injury happened in the car accident and not from walkers so the group isn’t concerned with him changing. While in the RV, Maggie and Glenn start a conversation with one of the survivors, Harlem, and discover that he was a doctor before the apocalypse and he specialized in pregnancy. He tells them to find him when they get back to the community so that he can make sure the baby is doing well. He also gives her some prenatal vitamins to take for her and the baby.
During all this, Abe has been unusually introspective. He keeps having flashback of conversations with Sasha, even while in bed with Rosita. He made his feeling for Sasha known back before the winter hiatus, but it didn’t look like anything was going to come from them. After doing their shift patrol, Sasha informs him the Eugene will be joining him from now one. After that, Abraham seems to keep getting lost in memories of conversations with her. Rosita, while in bed with Abe, gives him a necklace that she made out of a taillight from the fuel tanker truck. He even goes so far to tell her that she is near perfect, but continues to daydream about Sasha.
While in the RV, Abe decides to get some answers to apparently burning questions. Since Maggie is asleep, he asks, in true Abe fashion, why Glen would purposely try to bring a child into the world. Of course since he refers to it as ‘stirring the Bisquick’ and ‘making pancakes’ it takes Glen awhile to figure out what the hell he is talking about. Glen explains to him that it was something he and Maggie discussed and decided on together as a couple. Once again, Abe becomes introspective about his relationships.
The crew end up leaving the RV behind stuck in the mud and hiking the remaining distance to Jesus’s community known as Hilltop. After a small confrontation at the gates over Rick’s group keeping their weapons, Jesus talks everyone down and the group enters Hilltop. The community is more primitive than Alexandria, with the exception of the big brick house sitting in the middle. Barrington House was a history museum before the apocalypse so people were drawn to it after the world ended. The house itself affords the community security just by its placement and windows.
The group is introduced to Gregory, who is supposed to be the leader of the group. He is very rude to the group, making it clear that he doesn’t appreciate the group’s cleanliness. Rick tells Maggie that she is to clean up first and talk to Gregory because if she doesn’t, it could make the situation worse. Gregory is not overly friendly to the group, seemingly using the wrong names and being overly forward with Maggie. He doesn’t seem willing to work out an arrangement for trading.
The situation changes when Ethan and other members of the Hilltop community show up after leaving a drop with Negan. One of the members, Ethan, stabs Gregory in the stomach saying it was a message from Negan. The Hilltop community had a deal with Negan that they would provide half of all their supplies to Negan’s Saviors in exchange for Negan’s group not killing the members of Hilltop. Gregory survives the attack from Ethan, but it gives Rick’s group leverage that they didn’t have prior to Gregory’s injuries.
Rick and the crew decided that they are going to take on Negan and the Saviors to return one of Hilltop’s members, Craig, to Hilltop. Rick has Maggie talk to Gregory again once he is stabilized from the stab wound. She tells him that her group will go to Negan’s group and get Craig back in exchange for supplies, specifically food. Once he agrees, she explains to him that he will be giving her half of what they have up front, before they leave the community. He agrees because he doesn’t really have a choice in the matter.
The group loads up the supplies, including food, medical supplies, and a few members of Hilltop, including Jesus and the guy who has been delivering to Negan from the beginning. Before leaving Hilltop, Maggie and Glen get to see their baby through a sonogram that Dr. Harlem provides for them. The crew passes the sonogram picture around the RV. Abe seems to be the most thoughtful about it. He seems to have made some decisions about his life and the road it is headed down.
There was a great deal that happened in this episode, even if there wasn’t a great deal of action, read fight scenes. One things fans will all agree on, Rick cannot meet new people without making the worst possible impression. Seriously, does he have to end up with someone’s blood on him from every community? At least this time he used a knife instead of his teeth to cut the guy’s throat. He does seem to understand that he doesn’t make very good first impressions. He showed that understanding when he had Maggie talk to Gregory on the group’s behalf. While fans saw a bit of change in him last week with deciding to look for more survivors and to trust those in Alexandria, he seemed to revert back a bit this week to the crazy, bloodthirsty, Alpha male who cuts the throats of anyone threatening his people. It was also awesome and a little scary to see how fast Michonne will kick ass to protect Rick. Watching her put the woman on the ground for hitting Rick was totally cool. Don’t mess with her man bitch. While it can be argued that Michonne has always covered Rick’s back and saved his life more than fans can count, her protection seemed to reach a new level this episode. There is no doubt that her protective instincts will extend to Carl and Judith, fans have seen that in the past. The concern is, will these new protective instincts get her killed? Will she put Rick and the children first, at the cost of her own life? The mamma bear instinct typically works that way, but will her survivor instincts win out?
What the hell is with Abe? He is already sleeping with one woman and has been for some time, so why the sudden fascination with Sasha? Does he plan on playing them both, or is Rosita about to get a broken heart? She seems to genuinely care for him, so there is a good chance of a very dramatic situation developing between the three. Fans will remember the last love triangle on the show and it never works out. Did we see foreshadowing of Abraham’s death last night? The necklace seems to harken back to Andrea and her theft of a necklace for her sister. But if you remember, her sister turned walker due to an attack on the survivor camp before Andrea was able to give the necklace to her. Was this a way for the writers to say sorry Abe your days are numbered? It seems that every time someone makes decisions about their future, they don’t really have a future left, the exception of course being Maggie and Glen.
Next, what is Rick THINKING?!!??! Why would you attack a camp when you have very limited information and the information that you do have isn’t pretty. Daryl, Sasha an Abraham were told that it was normal for Negan’s men, aka the Saviors, to kill a member of the community to make a point. Just to make a point! Then, that information was reiterated in Hilltop when Jesus explains how they met Negan. Of course, there is the fact that Daryl and probably others, believe that Negan isn’t a real man, just a story that these Saviors have made up to scare survivor camps into providing essentials so the Saviors can survive. Graphic novel fans know differently and were most likely yelling at the TV not to be STUPID!!! One can’t help but feel that this is one of the worse decisions the group has made and that includes Terminus and Woodbury. As Maggie stated, this is going to cost the group and most fear the cost is going to be too high.
Overall the episode is leading up to a huge confrontation. Rick seemed to want to fight, either with Negan’s crew or those at Hilltop. During the episode it was almost visible in his thought process that he was considering forcibly taking over Hilltop like he did with Alexandria. Is Rick beyond redemption? Every week he heads down a darker path. One step forward, three steps back. Will Michonne keep him from going too far? Are her days numbered? One thing is for sure, heading into Negan’s camp is sure to be the death of more than a few of Rick’s crew.
“The Next Word” overall grade – A
‘The Walking Dead’ airs every Sunday at 9 PM EST on AMC
Check out a preview of next week’s episode “Not Tomorrow Yet”