When you say, “You know what it is,” especially in the rhythm of Wiz Khalifa, I think, “Black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow.” So as serious as Morgan’s haunting vision of a slain Gavin tried to be, all it did was send me to iMovie to try to haphazardly slap together a mashup of this scene with the 2011 rap song. (My video editing skills are subpar, so that failed.)
But even that didn’t distract from what was the most action-oriented episode we’ve seen in some time. The latest assault on the Hilltop colony provided both a victory and house of horrors for Maggie, the Saviors escaped from their pen, and Negan was M.I.A. Let’s begin.
Morgan is grappling with a ghostly vision of Gavin — blood dripping from the wound in his neck as he clutches the wooden staff that took his life — when he hears the signal. A car horn in the distance warns that the Saviors are on their way to Hilltop, so he honks his horn to continue the chain of alarms all the way back to Hilltop. Food for thought here: Yes, an alarm system is a good idea when at war, but these folks have always been worried about attracting walkers with massive amounts of noise. The fear is suddenly gone…this week anyway.
So Hilltop prepares. Henry tries to get ahold of a gun, but forever-blunt Carol says he’ll just die if he goes outside. Meanwhile, Siddiq wins over the affections of the Hilltop’s new cold-shouldered doctor, Dana, previously of the Kingdom. (I know, there are a lot of bit players to keep track of.) They’re ready.
Simon and his crew arrive by nightfall. He’s getting cocky as he talks to Maggie over the walkie, unaware of the traps and tactics that have already been prepped. To Maggie’s dismay, Negan isn’t here. She admits later in the episode how she sent the big man the dead body of one of his Saviors to provoke him into coming to Hilltop. Now, she has to make do. She tries threatening to kill the Savior prisoners, but Simon doesn’t care. He doesn’t care about any of their lives the way Negan does, and Dwight reminds him that this isn’t how their leader would want them to play it. Simon proceeds anyway, since it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission, if Negan is still alive somewhere.
The battle begins when Daryl rolls up on his bike and fires at the Saviors from behind. Simon’s forces follow him inside the gate before it closes, but a bus rolls out and their cars crash against it. Maggie gives the signal and the Hilltoppers open fire. The Saviors attack back with arrows, many of which make their marks. Amid the hellfire, Carol watches as Tobin gets sliced by an attacker. While she manages to save him so Siddiq can come and block the wound, we all know what’s going to happen to him. And another potential love interest bites the dust.
Meanwhile, Simon and Dwight are sneaking up behind Tara. Daryl tries to warn her when Simon goes to hurl an ax her way, but Dwight pops up quickly and shoots her with an arrow instead. It seems like a safe guess to say Dwight’s arrow wasn’t tainted by walker blood, so she’ll be fine and it’ll once again prove Dwight’s loyalty to the cause… hopefully. Daryl, however, isn’t forgiving.
Maggie smashes the lamp on the mansion’s porch, signaling all the lights to go out at Hilltop and the next phase of the assault to commence. Simon reasons “these people have run before,” so he’s perfectly happy to waltz right up to the mansion, where shooters are waiting in the windows to strike. The headlights from cars parked out front of the house flash on, blinding the Saviors as the gunfire begins. The same thing happens when Simon tries to flee through the gates where Rick is waiting.
Rick and Maggie chase after Simon, Dwight, and some of the Saviors as they flee the scene. Maggie laments Negan’s absence, and that’s when Rick confesses he tried to kill him earlier and lost track of him. She thanks him for trying, highlighting her dilemma. She wants to be this leader for Hilltop, but she’s also been grappling with her own need for vengeance. Is killing Negan and the Saviors to satisfy her thirst for retribution more important than the people she now guards? This is a question she constantly has to ask herself.
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In the light of day, Daryl and Tara still debate over Dwight, while Michonne tries to comfort Rick, who’s burying his feelings about Carl in his work. Alden is called over to see Maggie by the graveyard, where she tells him he can take some time beyond the gate to bury his people. He reiterates these aren’t really his people and he’s glad to see them dead, but he does so anyway. Dianne takes a moment to commend Maggie’s leadership, again poking at her balancing act of revenge and protecting her people. Carol, meanwhile, has a private moment with Tobin in the hospital. She apologizes for how she left things with him, though she’s not sure if she’ll stay once this whole war is over. While they’re sharing some inspirational words, threats loom. A Savior locked in the pen is beginning to convulse, having seemingly been hit in the crossfire. Henry has also found an automatic rifle left out on a chair, and he snatches it up before anyone sees.
Siddiq finds Rick sitting on the mansion’s steps and offers to treat his wound. Rick is still trying to reconcile his feelings about him, a man for whom Carl ultimately gave his life. Siddiq mentions a Muslim funeral prayer that ends with a request of Allah: “Do not send us astray after them.” But it’s not something Rick, falling astray himself, wants to hear at this juncture.
Maggie walks through the mansion later that night, carrying a lamp as she makes sure her people are tucked in safely. This scene’s visual reference to those gothic haunted house stories isn’t a mistake, because this house is about to be visited by the dead. Tobin stirs in his hospital bed as other bodies start changing. The sound disturbs the guard from slumber, and he’s about to go for help when walker Tobin surprises him from behind and kills him. He claims more victims, including Dr. Dana, as other infected rise again. Those resting on the floor of the mansion have just become their own personal feast.
Outside, Henry approaches the pen and wakes up Gregory. The boy threatens to start shooting the Saviors if Gregory doesn’t give up the name of the one who killed his brother. Alden wakes up and tries to talk Henry down, but the rest jolt up when they hear screams from the mansion. Henry, who has also found the key to the pen, opens the gate and is prepared to shoot them all down, again, if his brother’s killer isn’t revealed. Nobody there knows who did it except for Jared, and he’s too selfish to give himself up. The pen is thrown into chaos when that one Savior completes her turn into a walker and begins attacking them. Henry starts firing, but Jared easily disarms him and makes an escape with some of the Saviors.
The group continues killing off the walkers and getting the survivors out alive. Carol is forced to kill Tobin, though they’re all perplexed by how this could’ve happened. When the attacks die down, Rick remembers Negan’s bat coated in walker blood. “They have us working for them again,” Maggie says. “Killing our own.” Rick and Daryl go to inform Rosita, Enid, and Tara, which throws a depressing shadow over Tara since she got hit by Dwight’s arrow. (Again, I’m thinking she’s probably fine. She hasn’t suffered any symptoms — that we know of, anyway.)
Maggie rushes out with a squad to find Alden saving Siddiq from a walker. He informs them a bunch of Saviors took off from the pen, but the other half are staying to try to get the walkers out. He wants to become a part of Hilltop after hearing how much they mean to Simon and Negan.
The next day Carol and Ezekiel are looking for Henry. Enid tells them the now-former Saviors saw him unlock the gate and then they lost track of him in the fray. They run off to go look for him, leaving Morgan alone with the ghost of Gavin. “You know what it is.” (Black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow…)
This scene cuts to Dianne asking Maggie over the newly dug graves, “What is it?”
“The cost,” she answers, surveying the additional lives lost.
Now we’re down to three more episodes before the end of season 8. What will Jadis do with Negan now that she thinks he ordered the extermination of the Scavengers? Will Negan make it back to the Sanctuary? What will he do to Simon if he does? Will Simon become the new Negan? Who exactly was Georgie, and will we see her again before season’s end? Who will make it out of all this alive?
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