The Walking Dead’s Rick would probably have had an easier time convincing people to French-kiss a walker than band together against the Saviors. But, newly refired up, he nonetheless spent most of the AMC drama’s midseason premiere going from community to community to pitch the idea of a rebellion. Did it work? Eh… keep reading. At this point, the most accurate answer would seem to be yes, no and… maybe?
‘I WANNA THANK ALL OF YOU FOR NOT BEING HERE TODAY’ | After a prologue in which Gabriel cleaned out Alexandria’s cupboards, gassed up a car and left the community in his rear-view mirror (with a secret passenger in tow), “Rock in the Road” really got underway at the Hilltop, where Gregory informed Rick not only that their previous secret agreement was “null and void” but also that “you owe me for taking in [your] refugees.” (Never mind that those same “refugees” — Maggie and Sasha — had only recently saved the community!) In rare form — I’d have sworn he was afraid we forgot over the break what a d-bag he is — the Hilltop’s spineless leader called Rick Ricky and Maggie Margaret, and scoffed at the notion that the Saviors would be toppled by “a platoon of sorghum farmers.” However, after Gregory declared the matter “outside of my purview” and dismissed the gang, Enid revealed that she’d recruited about a dozen Hilltop denizens to join Rick’s army. (So that’s what was going on in that mysterious photo that AMC released ahead of the episode.)
‘LET’S CHANGE THE WORLD, YOUR MAJESTY’ | Off that little bit of good news — emphasis on the little, but hey, it was a start — Rick was anxious to get back to Alexandria before the Saviors realized that Daryl was missing and came looking for him. Not to worry, said Jesus. He’d swiped a long-distance walkie-talkie, so they could listen in and find out exactly when the jig was up. In the meantime, he’d take his pals to meet King Ezekiel. (“King?” Rick couldn’t help but ask.) At the Kingdom, Tara spotted Morgan, who revealed to Rick that yes, he had found Carol — and had shot a man to save her life. (“I had to.”) But, Morgan added, after Carol had recovered from her injuries, she’d departed once again. (Of note: He didn’t admit that, when she’d departed, she’d resettled within walking distance.) During the Alexandrians’ subsequent audience with His Highness, Ezekiel was ticked off that Jesus had blabbed about the secret Kingdom/Saviors pact and asked Morgan what he thought about teaming up to defeat Negan.
‘IF YOU’RE ASKED TO BE THE HERO, BE A HERO’ | Though Morgan had killed to save Carol, he crushed Rick by arguing that, if at all possible, a war with the Saviors should be avoided. Maybe if they just captured Negan? Undecided — but let’s be real, decided — Ezekiel promised to “deliver my decree in the morn.” Later that afternoon, Benjamin — stealthy as a falling tree — ran into Carol in the woods and offered her some of the spare food and water that he always carried in case he met anyone. The reason? There aren’t many people left, so they should help each other. That evening, Benjamin told Ezekiel that that was the same reason the Kingdom should join forces with Alexandria. Unfortunately for Rick, the king — remembering the high price that was paid for the Kingdom — refused to take the risk. He did at least offer Daryl sanctuary, since the Saviors never set foot within the community’s walls. On the group’s way out, Sasha told Rosita that she’d predicted Ezekiel would say no. “What the hell you telling me for?” Rosita shot back. “We both had sex with the same dead guy. That doesn’t make us friends.” (Snap.) Before reluctantly parting with Daryl, Rick reminded him that hiding out was the smart play. And besides, if he remained in the Kingdom, he could talk to Ezekiel — “or stare him into submission, whatever it takes.”
‘WE’RE THE ONES WHO’LL LIVE’ | Rick & Co. were headed home listening over the walkie-talkie to Negan’s “eulogy” for Fat Joey (whose demise had tragically made Skinny Joey pointless) when they came upon not just a roadblock of cars but also a steel cable lined with explosives. As big a gamble as it was to steal TNT from the Saviors, our heroes had to — they were gonna need it. So, after Rosita completed Step 1 of the procedure (with what I’d swear was a vague variation of the Mission: Impossible theme playing in the background), the others carefully removed sticks of dynamite. Meanwhile, the walkie-talkie tipped them off to the fact that Daryl’s absence had been noticed and a search party sent out. In other words, they needed to haul ass back to Alexandria — Daryl’s logical destination and, therefore, the Saviors’. First, though, they had to deal with the approaching herd of walkers. Rick’s solution? He and Michonne raced two cars connected by the steel cable down the highway, bisecting just an absolute s—ton of walkers along the way! When the couple miraculously made their way back into their getaway vehicle, Michonne told Rick that he could relax and smile. To her, the successful maneuver was a sign that they were gonna make it in the end.
‘I WANT US ALIVE… BOTH OF US’ | Arriving back in Alexandria just in time to greet Simon and the Saviors, Rick, of course, pretended that he didn’t know that Daryl had escaped from Negan, much less where he was. Still, the villains turned Alexandria inside out looking for the fugitive, along the way discovering that the cupboards were bare. Once the Saviors split, Rick naturally wanted to know what the hell had happened to Alexandria’s supplies. After Tobin explained that Gabriel had been M.I.A. when he came to relieve the preacher from his sentry post, Rosita jumped to the (fairly logical) conclusion that he’d robbed them blind and run in the wake of Spencer and Olivia’s murders. No, Gabriel had “found his courage,” Tara argued. “I wanna believe he held onto it.” And maybe he had — Rick discovered the word “boat” scrawled in the back of the pantry log and deduced that Father G had somehow found out about the houseboat that he and Aaron had happened upon. Before a group — Aaron included — headed in that direction, Eric pleaded with his boyfriend not to go. (And if Eric, who never has any lines, is actually getting dialogue, we all know what that means: No way will he survive the season!) Finally, as the episode drew to a close, Rick, Michonne, Tara, Aaron and Rosita were following tracks near the houseboat when suddenly they were surrounded by a whole lotta people pointing guns at them. Strangely, this made Rick… smile?
Has Rick snapped again? Does he know these people? Do you? (I didn’t recognize anyone.) Hit the comments with your theories as well as your review of the midseason premiere.