Previously on The Walking Dead: Negan is being held captive by Jadis and somehow convinces her to let him go, so he can go after Simon for payback for killing off the entire Not-Affiliated-With-Bill Cosby Junkyard Gang. Rick and Morgan went after Jared and the other Saviors who escaped captivity at the Hilltop, and despite Rick’s promise to welcome any other Saviors who want to live at the Hilltop with no problems, they both kill every last one of them. Carol goes looking for Henry, and is able to find him alive and bring him back. Negan picks up an unseen stranger on the side of the road as he’s driving back from the junkyard and brings that stranger with him to the Sanctuary. And there’s still that mysterious helicopter flying around and making another appearance…
THE STORY SO FAR: Rick is reading Carl’s letter and shedding several tears while doing so, as Carl describes all of the good times they spent together and with the rest of their family, while also expressing that there are more people in need of a community that brings them all together so that they can coexist and keep another All-Out War from happening again.
Simon makes it very clear to Gregory that he is now calling the shots and is in charge of The Saviors. And yet, once Negan returns and tells Simon that all is forgiven for his killing rampage at the Hilltop, that doesn’t stop him from recruiting Dwight as he convinces him to take down Negan and also find other Saviors who feel the same way in wanting someone else to run things.
Aaron is still hiding out in the woods in his attempts to convince the Not-Amazons to stop hiding out in Not-Themyscira and help him, Rick, and everyone else go up against the Saviors.
Eugene reminds his workers that their bullet manufacturing needs to be done faster and more efficiently, while also yelling at Gabriel to keep his surgical mask on so no one else gets sick and also doing an intentionally piss-poor job of helping manufacture the bullets. He also gets himself briefly captured by Daryl and Rosita, only to escape from their grasp by forcing himself to projectile-vomit all over Rosita and run away while she deals with a pair of Walkers.
Simon is able to call together Dwight, Gregory, and the Saviors willing to rebel against Negan. And it seems to work, until Negan shows up (thanks to Dwight telling him everything about Simon’s plan), and has everyone except Simon, Dwight, and Gregory taken out by sniper fire. Negan walks up to Simon and gives him one more shot to actually take over as leader of the Saviors, in the form of a no-holds-barred, two-men-enter-but-one-man-leaves deathmatch between the two of them, all while every Savior watches. Negan is able to come out on top and pummel Simon without mercy, right before channeling his inner Wayne Brady and choking him to death.
Dwight, who sends Gregory away to inform Rick and company about Negan’s battle plan against them, doesn’t get away scot-free as Negan soon reveals that 1) he also knows about Dwight being a traitor, thanks to his driving back to the Sanctuary and picking up Laura on the side of the road, who told him the truth about Dwight and what he’s been up to, and 2) his battle plan against Rick and company is a fake, as he knew that Dwight would run and tell Rick about it.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE?: Negan vs. Simon, and seeing Negan also channel his inner Ric Flair as he tells Simon that to be the man, you’ve gotta beat the Man. All that was missing was Negan following that up with a “WOOOO!”
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE?: I would’ve cared a lot more about the plot twist involving Laura if 1) I hadn’t forgotten all about Negan picking up someone in his car on the way back to the Sanctuary 2) if I actually remembered who Laura is, so I didn’t respond to her appearance with “Who?!”
IS NEGAN IN THIS EPISODE?: He most certainly is, and he makes it clear while choking Simon to death that he can no longer afford to show mercy, and that instead of simply defeating Rick and company, he now has to kill them all.
MICHONNE?: Yes she is, and she contacts Negan via walkie-talkie and reads him the letter that Carl wrote for him. And despite both her and Carl hoping that this will somehow end peacefully, Negan makes it clear to her that this war will only end with him and the Saviors killing every last one of them and that he has no interest in peace with them. And then he stomps his walkie-talkie into pieces for emphasis, as if he can just go on down to the local Radio Shack (or wherever it is that people buy walkie-talkies nowadays) and get himself another one.
CARL?: Still dead, but we do have the pleasure of hearing Chandler Riggs do a voiceover as Rick reads his letter at the beginning of the episode.
JUDITH?: Yes, she’s carried around and played with by Michonne while Rick is reading.
MORGAN?: He’s off somewhere in the Hilltop, polishing his staff. And no, that’s not a euphemism, you perverts, he really is polishing his staff.
IS DARYL STILL ALIVE? BECAUSE IF NOT, THEN WE’LL
PROBABLY RIOT IF WE HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO DO: Yes, he’s still alive, and he makes it clear that he’s not at all happy with Eugene and that he’s willing to cut his tongue out if he’s willing to keep making excuses for his cowardice and betrayal.
TO SUM IT ALL UP: This episode was a really good and effective set-up to prepare us all for the All-Out War finally coming to an end and answering many of the questions that we have as we get closer and closer to the finish line.
Will Rick and company kill Negan and the Saviors once and for all, or will they follow through on Carl’s dying wish for both groups to come together (right now!) and learn to live peacefully alongside one another?
What will cause Morgan to disappear from the Hilltop and join the characters over on Fear The Walking Dead?
Will Jadis make another appearance, and if she does, whose side will she be on? And does she still plan on being (understandably) thirsty as hell when she’s around Rick?
Will Maggie ever look like she’s actually pregnant? And will Lauren Cohan remain a cast member on The Walking Dead, or will she leave so she can star opposite Scott Foley on Whiskey Cavalier if ABC picks up the pilot and gives it the green light to become a series?
How many audience members will flip every table in sight if Negan stays alive and is given a redemption arc for next season?
Will the Whisperers make an appearance in the season finale to prepare us all for them making the lives of Rick and company absolute hell throughout Season 8?
All of these questions will probably be answered next Sunday in the season finale of The Walking Dead.
This episode of The Walking Dead has been brought to you by “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J: