We gave it a B
Before we dive in, can we talk about Jesus for a second? The sexuality of Hilltop’s parkour warrior is known in the comics, but the show hadn’t addressed that aspect of the character’s personal life until now. Actor Tom Payne promised “he is the same as he is the comic books in that regard,” but he revealed more recently to Out magazine: “I was excited to first establish Jesus as a kick-ass ninja, then have the fact that he happens to be gay dropped in later. The way it’s done is subtle. It’s a small moment.”
The moment was indeed subtle, but unmissable: Sitting on a stoop with Maggie, Jesus mentions his life before the outbreak. “When I was first here [at Hilltop], I was never here,” he says. “I always found it hard getting close to anyone: neighbors, friends,” pausing before adding, “boyfriends.” Maggie responds with a warm smile, and that’s that.
It’s a rare, touching demonstration of their relationship, and one of the few from this week’s episode, which proved to be a somewhat frustrating hour.
A wordless montage shows the Hilltop colony training for a fight, Daryl closing himself off from his family, Maggie forming a stronger bond with Enid, Sasha planning for an attack on The Saviors, Gregory drinking to dull his own frustrations, and a recap of Rosita approaching Sasha at Abraham’s grave.
After overhearing Jesus’ conversation with Maggie, Sasha tries sneaking into the trailer to grab bullets hidden in a book. Jesus and Enid walk in and catch her doing it but offer them freely. Jesus again tries to convince her to not go after Negan in this way, which is perhaps one of my biggest gripes with Sasha. Why does she think she and Rosita can solve the Negan problem as a two-person army, while the group continues amassing forces? Has she even considered the fact that another Savior might step into Negan’s shoes, should their assassination plot pan out? Every solo act of aggression towards Negan has failed, leaving a trail of bodies as a reminder. Why do they think their plan will now succeed?
Sasha somehow convinces herself that she is no longer needed to secure the future of Hilltop, but everyone else is. What Jesus should’ve told her was, “You are needed — you helped protect Hilltop from the rampant walkers, you supported Maggie when she lost Glenn, you’ve been training everyone to fight back, and you ensured Rick and the others’ survival along the way. So, if you’re determined to go, don’t let that be your excuse.” Maybe then she’d face some deeper revelation. But, instead, he gave the equivalent of, “Well, I can’t stop you.” At the very least, they tell her to give Maggie a head’s up before she leaves, but a surprise arrival from Simon leaves her scrambling to slip out and Maggie and Daryl rushing into the basement to hide.
As Simon explains his visit should be a quick one, Sasha and Rosita go off to hot-wire a car, but their brief stretch of peace is interrupted by the sight of Sasha’s necklace. Rosita mentions she made it for Abraham, who then pawned it off to his new flame. This unfairly paints Abraham as the bad guy. Yes, it was a bad move on his part to gift something so specific and sentimental, but he’s gotten the short end of the stick; his death is practically a blip on the radar compared to the lasting impact of Glenn’s loss.
The pair resolve to only speak to each other if it pertains to the mission, so Sasha proposes they should attempt a long-distance kill on the off chance they can make it out of there alive — which is perhaps the first smart thing either of them have offered up on their suicide mission thus far. She offers another poignant dose of reality when she’s arguing with Rosita, who’s continuing her anger rampage: Maybe if she stops fighting everyone for a moment, she’ll consider the possibility there’s a more agreeable way to get what she wants.
Back at Hilltop, Enid can’t keep the promise she made to prevent The Saviors from wandering into Daryl and Maggie’s hiding place. So, one of them ends up walking down into the basement to grab more supplies he surely doesn’t need. Just as it seems he’s about to catch them, the episode breaks into a commercial to further tease the end result, which is that Maggie holds Daryl back from killing this unfortunate soul and they live to plot another day. Daryl’s moment with Maggie hit me hard as that rugged crossbow avenger broke down over Glenn’s death.
NEXT: Sasha’s unexpected move