‘The Walking Dead’ reminds you that your vote matters

The Walking Dead
“A New Beginning”
October 7, 2018

It’s been about 18 months since Rick spared Negan’s life and Maggie had some issues with his choice, and things are good! Alexandria is growing plenty of crops, Rick’s house wasn’t burnt down during the conflagration caused by the Saviors so Carl and Judith’s handprints have been preserved, they have solar panels and windmills, and Rick and Michonne have enough free time to take Baby out to a field to watch crows murmurate.

Those same crows, though, are giving Sanctuary and their dying crops some agina, and Daryl, who is the new Negan who is not Negan, disapproves of the Saviors trying to use walkers as scarecrows.

Daryl rides off to join a group from all the communities who is headed to Washington D.C. to scout supplies, including Rick and Michonne, King Zeke, Carol, Jesus and Aaron, Maggie, Enid and those Saviors Maggie spared, Father One-Eye, that one Amazon chick, what’s her name hold on, Cyndie, Siddiq, and Haircut, as well as a couple of red shirts. Their destination is a natural history museum — I suppose it’s supposed to be the Smithsonian, but it’s CLEARLY not the Smithsonian — where they split up in search of different items while crossing over Chekov’s Glass Floor Under Which Are Dozens of Zombies. I am sure that will not pose a problem at all.

As Siddiq waders through the museum, a walker grabs his leg, dragging him to the floor where he’s greeted by this, literally the most upsetting zombie in the history of this show:

Fortunately, Siddiq is saved from the spiders by Rick and Enid.

Elsewhere, Father Cyclops kills a walker up against a display of Human Evolution, which is a pretty good visual joke!

…  which they go and ruin by having Haircut and Father Milky Eye literally say, “intelligent design,” and “the de-evolution of man.” You know, just in case you are a fucking idiot who didn’t get it.

On a different floor, Cyndie and Daryl have a mini heart-to-heart about brothers and missing the people they’ve lost, I suppose to show that Daryl has shown some emotional development? I don’t know.

Rick, Haircut and Father Eyeball break into the horticulture department where they take all the heirloom seeds the museum had used for their gardens, thereby inadvertently creating their own little doomsday vault. Rick adds that the Sanctuary will be grateful.

On another floor, Maggie, Michonne and Carol exposit the surprising fact that Gregory is the one who called for an election in Hilltop, an election that he lost and Maggie won. Michonne then pauses in front of a display about the Civil War and the Revolutionary War which I’m sure means nothing.

The group also grabs a plow with the intention of bringing it back to their blacksmith to copy, and an old covered wagon which, obviously, they have to drag across Chekov’s Glass Floor Under Which Are Dozens of Zombies.

And, obviously, just as they get the wagon across, Chekov’s Glass Floor Under Which Are Dozens of Zombies gives way, and King Ezekiel falls through.

Fortunately, he is secured by a rope and the group is able to pull him back up before the walkers devour him and his pretty hair.

Soon, the group is back on the road where that one Nice Savior is chatting with Red Shirt Ken and Red Shirt Marco about Red Shirt Marco learning blacksmithing from Red Shirt Ken’s dad back at Hilltop.

Meanwhile, in the back of the caravan, King Ezekiel tries to propose to Carol because they “can’t wait on life.” Carol is like “OH HELL NO YOU ARE NOT PROPOSING TO ME WHILE WE ARE ON HORSEBACK.” So he laughs that he loves her and he will wait for her even though we all know where this is going and it’s not to a happy place because we can not have nice things.

Daryl and Rosita report to the group that the bridge ahead is out, having been destroyed by a walker herd, so the group makes alternate plans: Father Gabe, Tara, Haircut and Aaron will go back to Alexandria, Maggie and her people will return to Hilltop, and Rick, Michonne, Daryl, Carol, and the Kingdom kids will go to Sanctuary. How this diverged from the original plan is unclear.

On the way back to Hilltop/Sanctuary, the wagon gets caught in the mud just as a shuffle of walkers appears down the road. The group struggles to free the wagon, but the walkers are too close, and they are forced to abandon it. HOWEVER, Dumb Red Shirt Ken runs back to cut the horse free and in the process gets his fool self bit. The group tries to save him, but, alas, he dies, and Maggie is forced to stab him in the back of the head.

When they return to Hilltop, Maggie has to break the bad news to Red Shirt Ken’s parents, Earl and Brett Butler, and Brett Butler is NOT HAPPY WITH MAGGIE RHEE. What did her son die for, so they could get supplies for the Saviors? THIS IS SOME HOT BULLSHIT, RHEE. Maggie offers to arrange a funeral for Red Shirt Ken, but Brett Butler is all, “YOU’VE DONE QUITE ENOUGH, THANKS.”

They hold a funeral for Red Shirt Ken where Gregory eulogizes the dead Red Shirt. Later, he offers Earl and Brett Butler a swig of whiskey, an offer that Earl declines on account of being sober, but which Brett Butler happily accepts because HELL YES GIVE HER ALL THE WHISKEY, HER SON JUST DIED.

Soon, Earl and Gregory put Brett Butler to bed and stay up to shoot the shit. Earl complains that his son shouldn’t have been on the run in the first place, while Gregory pours booze into his cup and suggests that Maggie stole the election. When Earl shrugs that Maggie is the leader, Gregory hisses that she doesn’t have to be.

That night Maggie decides to take baby Hershel out for a midnight walk because sure, that just makes sense in a zombie apocalypse. She runs into Gregory who gives her a heads-up that Glenn’s grave has been vandalized, and he hopes it wasn’t someone who was angry about what happened with Red Shirt Ken. Anywhoodles, it can probably wait until the morning …

Of course, it most certainly not wait until morning, and Maggie goes to check it out, only to be attacked by a hooded figure. Fight fight the baby stroller gets toppled over struggle fight and eventually Enid and Nice Savior come out to see what the commotion is. In the process of pulling Hooded Figure off of Maggie, Enid is knocked down, bonking her head on a bench. OH NO, ENID. And then the hooded figure is revealed to be one very drunk Earl. Oh, Earl.

Maggie confronts Gregory in his trailer, where he’s like, “YEAH I DID IT, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?” before coming at her with a knife. However, Maggie’s not one to be trifled with and she quickly takes the knife and holds it to his throat.

While all of this foolishness is happening at Hilltop, Rick, Michonne, Daryl, et al return to Sanctuary where Daryl declines to make a big speech because he’s not Negan THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

Elsewhere, Michonne notices some unsettling graffiti:

Daryl orders Savior Meathead to clean it up, but Meathead is all, “AW COME ON.” But Rick waves off the message, and addresses the Saviors, promising that they are going to help them with their crops and get them back on their feet. “YAY, RICK GRIMES!” the crowd cheers.

Later, Daryl tells Rick that he no longer wants to run Sanctuary, it just doesn’t feel right to be there. Also, too, he feels like things were better when they were all together. Rick insists he needs to stay and hold things together, but Daryl warns it’s going to all fall apart no matter what they do: this is a factory, they’re never going to be able to grow crops there. It’s why Negan took from other communities. Rick protests that the communities are helping the Sanctuary voluntarily now, but Daryl’s like, “OK, but for how long?” FAIR QUESTION, DARYL.

Daryl explains that he’ll be going to Hilltop to keep an eye on Maggie and Baby Hershel. Rick encourages him to return to Alexandria instead, adding that they can’t all be together because things have changed, but Daryl points out that Rick’s the one who changed them.

Later, Carol sits with Daryl where she tells him that King Z has proposed, before explaining that she didn’t accept it because she wants to “take [her] time” i.e., give the plot a chance to catch up with them and kill someone. To that end, she offers to take care of the Sanctuary in Daryl’s stead. He asks if she wants him to stay with her, but she declines, before resting her head on his shoulder.

Sorry, Caryl shippers, it ain’t gonna happen.

That night, Rick wonders to Michonne if he did the right thing by letting Negan live, before answering his own question, insisting that the Saviors don’t want Negan, they want food. Michonne, she’s not too sure, and she suggests that they make a charter — not constitution — between the communities, outlining how they will treat one another and what will happen if they violate the agreement.

Rick then tells her about Daryl being worried about things breaking down, and Michonne is like, “UH, DUMMY, MAYBE YOU SHOULD LISTEN…” Rick then decides that the big thing he needs to do next is to fix the bridge so that the communities won’t be so isolated from one another. And all this bridge and charter talk obviously leads to sexytimes.

The next morning, Carol kisses King Zeke goodbye. Bye, Zeke! Bye, Jerry!

Daryl, Maggie, and Rick also leave Sanctuary for Hilltop where they find Maggie and her people busily assembling a gallows. Rick takes Maggie aside for a private chat where he invites her to come visit Alexandria and Baby, but she declines, thankyouverymuch, as Negan is there, alive and well. Rick then asks her for help in rebuilding the bridge and for supplies for Sanctuary, and she’s like “Instead, we’ll give Sanctuary some supplies, but they provide the bridge labor and hand over all the fuel they’ve been making with their corn.” Rick insists they have an obligation to help the Saviors, but Maggie disagrees: they surrendered. They’re lucky Team Rick didn’t kill them all.

Maggie then reminds Rick that he once said he would follow her lead. But he didn’t because she wasn’t someone to follow. WELL, THAT ENDS TODAY. PUT THE BABIES TO BED, BECAUSE MAGGIE’S GOT SOME JUSTICE TO SERVE.

That night, the adults of Hilltop assemble near the gallows where Maggie explains she doesn’t want to do this, but she has no choice: the punishment must fit the crime. She then reveals Gregory astride a horse with a noose around his neck. ANY FINAL WORDS, ASSHOLE? Gregory begs someone to stop this just as two children wander outside, leading Michonne to yell at Maggie to stop. Instead, Maggie gives Daryl the signal to slap the horse’s ass, snapping Gregory’s neck. BYE, SHITBIRD. HOPE YOU ENJOY HELL.

Also, FUCK YES, MAGGIE. I’D VOTE FOR YOU, TOO.

Just a couple very quick notes before the next episode airs (not that anyone in Houston will be watching it live tonight). Because this episode makes such a huge time leap from the previous episode — some 18 months or so by some accounts — there’s a lot of exposition to get to, and there’s not a whole lot of material to sort through or digest.

That said, the important take away from this episode is that while communities have clearly had an extended period of peace in which they were able to begin the rebuilding process, the inequity of the resources available to each community will clearly be a source of tension. There is a good piece on Warming Glow about Michonne contemplating that Civil War display in the museum and how Reconstruction and all of the resultant resentments might serve as a model for where the story goes. (It goes on to suggest that this will be related to Andrew Lincoln’s departure from the show, although I’m not so sure that I’m willing to go that far.) Still, that question of what we owe to one another after a bruising war, and what it is worth to us to try to unite is an interesting one that I hope animates the politics of this season.

The only other thing I’ll point out is this sort of lovely imagery of the survivors raiding a museum for supplies: the symbolism of our future returning to our past to salvage their present. It’s a depressing image: that our future is so bleak that we have no need to enshrine the past, it’s more important to live it than to worship it behind glass. But I also find something almost hopeful in the “de-evolution of man” image, that in a way, it’s a new start, a new chance to reshape society and future, to reimagine it.

And now, a few questions:

If things don’t grow at Sanctuary, why not just spread the Saviors out to other communities where things do grow? What’s so special about Sanctuary? Put those people to live and work elsewhere, maybe leave a few to stay at the Sanctuary to … do whatever the Sanctuary does?

Why didn’t Rick and Michonne go back to Alexandria WHERE THEY LEFT THEIR TODDLER CHILD BY HERSELF?

Why didn’t Carol accept King Ezekiel’s proposal? I mean, aside from the obvious reason: so that when he is killed she will be extra sad?

Whatever happened to Maggie, Jesus and Daryl’s “I’M SO MAD AT RICK AND AM GONNA TEACH HIM A LESSON” plan?

And speaking of plans, what was Gregory’s exactly? Did he think people wouldn’t notice that Maggie was dead? Did he think Rick and Daryl would be cool with this situation? Or did the writers just need to get rid of Gregory while also establishing that there is some tension within Hilltop regarding their leadership and they didn’t really think the whole thing through?

Finally, really, Red Shirt Ken? Really? The horse? HOW HAVE YOU SURVIVED THIS APOCALYPSE THIS LONG, YOU IDIOT?

What questions did you have about this episode? Hit me up, I love a good logichole.

The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sundays at 8/9 p.m.

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