Rick has his groove back, and now it seems the show does, as well. It may not (probably won’t) last forever, but the story has more continuous movement since returning for the back half of season 7. Things are happening, there seems to be more of a purpose, everything feels more contained and concise, and the momentum is complemented by moments of walker bloodshed. This week’s carnage is brought to you by Winslow. So, let’s enjoy it while it lasts.
Elsewhere, The Kingdom is ready to fight, but Ezekiel isn’t.
What could’ve been a routine drop off with The Saviors quickly escalates because of Jared. You remember Jared, right? That jerk who engaged in fisticuffs with Richard during their last encounter and who would’ve gotten his butt handed to him if it wasn’t for Ezekiel? He instantly approaches the Kingdom guard and demands his gun because “bad boys” don’t get guns. Well, guns inevitably get drawn, and once again Ezekiel commands Richard submit. He does, but not before landing a verbal jab, which sets off Jared. In a surprising turn, Morgan, one who’s been onboard with the status quo, blocks Jared’s incoming blow, which loses him his staff. It does, however, give Benjamin the permission he needs to intervene.
Again, Ezekiel calls off his men and tries to soothe things with The Saviors, but Gavin, the troupe’s leader, says “things might need to get a little visceral” because they can’t have a repeat of this encounter anymore. It’s exactly as Rick’s group warned last episode — Negan’s people can’t come inside The Kingdom, but how long will that last if tensions continue running high? Even Diane’s prowess picking off a walker with a bow may be an indication that people are honing their skills in case of a fight. Upon their return, Ezekiel tells Benjamin to keep a head about him at all times, which highlights the biggest difference between the two — yes, Ezekiel is using his head and trying to create a future for his people with The Saviors, but Benjamin is the heart and he can’t watch others be tormented and do nothing. Knowing Ezekiel isn’t exactly the man he says is a constant reminder that perhaps the reason he won’t attack The Saviors also has to do with keeping up the facade, the fantasy of peace.
Morgan goes to speak with Daryl, who figures they went to see The Saviors and tries to convince his friend to wake up and do something about it. It seems like Morgan wants to act but is still conflicted over his monk-hood. Daryl points out that if Carol were still here with them and knew about the deaths of Glenn and Abraham, she’d be leading the charge against Negan — which will come into play later. But Morgan says that’s exactly why she left. Though he storms off to argue another day, Daryl gets his crossbow back — well, not his crossbow, but a crossbow — from Richard for a job he wants done.
Richard’s actions have been slowly escalating, from speaking out of turn in front of Ezekiel and Rick to now sparring with a Savior during the drop off. He’s looking for something to provoke a response from his king, and he hopes his next plan will do that: armed with guns and homemade explosives he hid away in his trailer, he hopes to ambush a Savior convoy and when others eventually come to investigate the scene, lead them back to a woman who recently joined The Kingdom. Since she’s close with Ezekiel, Richard hopes her residual death with be the push he needs. The unforeseen issue here is that Daryl now recognizes Richard is talking about Carol and physically stops him from exacting his plan. Richard says he would die for The Kingdom, but Daryl points to his contradicting behavior: “Why don’t you?”
NEXT: Meet Rick’s “New Best Friend”