This was posted Sunday, February 12, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk
"We're the ones who live." - Michonne to Rick.
Rick Grimes' negotiating skills are put to a serious test his episode. He's a man who is prone to tendentious pep talks, bouts of extreme violence and episodes of pent-up rage. But he needs to turn on the charm to convince other communities to join him for the fight of the century against evil Negan.
How did he do in this season 7 mid-season return? So far, not great.
But at least it was an entertaining, often amusing episode that featured another reunion between Rick and Morgan, more of King Ezekiel talking in third person, Carol admonishing yet another kid, Gregory acting the fool (as usual) and a horde of walkers taken down in a unique way.
The Hilltop: Come on. Rick has to deal with a man of incalculable jerkiness. By his very nature, Gregory is an insufferable coward. He wants nothing to do with fighting Negan. This is no negotiation. It's Gregory saying no, not in your lifetime, no way Jose, nada, na-gonna-do-it. Heck, he doesn't even know how many people are in his colony, much less half their names. He is the King of Checked Out and Cover Your Arse.
Funniest moment is when Tara tries to convince him by saying this is "a chance to do the right thing and step up."
"Let me stop you," Gregory interrupts, "before you break into song."
Instead, he is covering his tracks, even saying this meeting never happened.
Fortunately, Enid talked to some Hilltop's folks and several are willing to help out, whether Gregory wants them to or not. Still, it's not a huge number. Rick said they need more warm bodies.
Jesus has a solution: he knows about King Ezekiel!
The Kingdom: Jesus brings several of Rick's crew to the outer edges of the Kingdom. Richard and an unnamed buddy show up. Jesus and Richard are friends.
Jesus convinces Richard that Rick has a proposition to get rid of the Saviors. He brings Rick before King Ezekiel and his tiger. Rick is bemused but manages to keep his chuckling to himself as he presents his plan to take down the Saviors. King Ezekiel is momentarily upset that Jesus revealed the Kingdom and their Saviors deal to Rick. But he is a fair man. He hears Rick out. Rick decides to provide an overly long story from his childhood that uses a king, hoping Ezekiel can connect. It's about a rock in the road that causes much heartache until a girl digs it out, bleeding hands and all. She finds a bag of gold. The king had placed it there as a reward for someone willing to sacrifice for the greater good. Inspiring? Yes? No?
Then Benjamin, the teen who is Morgan's mentor and whose dad Ezekiel greatly respected, meets up with Carol in the woods. She gives him tips about walking quietly in the woods ("Heel, toe, heel, toe. Bend your knees. I heard you from a mile away."). Later, after telling Ezekiel that Carol is fine, Benjamin advises Ezekiel to join Rick because if they don't, they'll regret it, win or lose.
Surprisingly, Ezekiel is not swayed. The next day, he only offers asylum to a skeptical Daryl Dixon. No aid or bodies. Rick hopes that Daryl can convince Ezekiel otherwise or just "stare him into submission." (Someone inserted sly humor into the script!)
At the very end of this hour-plus episode (AMC is doing this more and more often), Rick - along with Michonne, Aaron, Rosita and Tara - run into a squad of people pointing weapons at them. What new community is this? It's heavily female and pretty young. We don't see an obvious leader yet. Rick smiles for the first time, knowing they might be a useful addition to his burgeoning army.
Jesus, fortunately, has one of the Saviors' long-range walkie talkies so they now know what's going on back in Negan land. They hear Negan giving Fat Joey a lovely send off, the one person Daryl needlessly killed. Then Negan commands a crew to go to Alexandria to track down escapee Daryl. Of course, he's not in Alexandria but they scope out the place as well as they could, breaking stuff just for fun because they're jerks, right? Negan's henchman Simon is amused that they have no food in the pantry but says this is not a day they are seeking goods. Michonne and Rick insincerely promise to get stuff for them. In reality, they probably do need to get Negan something or there will be consequences.
But as noted, the more they give the Saviors, the stronger they get. Times are a-wastin'.
Earlier, they faced an obstacle on a road created by the Saviors, possibly to stop folks from getting near them but also to trip up walkers. There a strong cable attached to a bomb with plenty of dynamite draped across the road. Rosita, with war training, disables the bomb and they take as much dynamite and other explosive devices they'll be able to use later. Then conveniently, a horde of walkers arrive. Why now? Plot, people, plot. And the show needs walkers in every episode.
So as the horde converges upon Rick and Michonne, they take cars on separate sides of the highway, with one of those big cables between them and mow down dozens and dozens of walkers. It's the coolest visual of the night. They then manage to block themselves through dozens more walkers to get to a getaway vehicle. As they drive off, Michonne tries to get Rick to smile. Not yet. That only happens later.
What in God's name is happening?
One more thing: Gabriel's departure at the top of the hour. What is he doing? He clears out their entire pantry of canned goods and books it out of there overnight. He leaves one clue in a book: "BOAT." How did he know about Aaron and Rick's escapade there? They go back to that area and run into the lady army.
Look who gets some lines!
Eric, Aaron's partner, shows up for a couple of minutes begging Aaron to stay. Aaron is still recuperating from getting beat up a few episodes earlier by the Saviors. Eric is worried he'll never see Aaron again. But Aaron said he needs to join Rick to do more work. He's a loyal foot soldier.
For a moment, you thought this was "Real Housewives of Atlanta"...
"Just because we slept with the same dead guy doesn't make us friends." - Rosita to Sasha, referencing Abraham
Morgan, in reuniting with Rick, tells him some true information about how he found Carol, saved her life and brought her to the Kingdom to heal up after she got shot (a graze, apparently, though it looked far worse at the time). Then she just left. But he lied by saying he had no idea where she was. He chose to honor her need for privacy although it's clear a lot of people know she's just down the road needing alone time.
Logistical question of the week
As Gabriel was pouring gas into a vehicle, this question popped into my wife's head: how do these folks have so much gasoline? Are they near a gas refinery nobody else knows about? They never seem to have a shortage. In reality, gasoline generally degrades over time and becomes ineffective after two years or so unless it's kept in a seal-tight container. We are now well past year two of the zombie apocalypse. They should be in a "Revolution" situation where walking, biking and horses would be the primary modes of transportation. But that would limit the story lines.