The Walking Dead recap: 'Still Gotta Mean Something'
Rick and Morgan go down a dark and familiar path.
Rick doesn’t handle grief well. He took out his executing Shane on the group by igniting the Ricktactorship, no one was really there to save him from his own insanity after Lori died, and the slaughter of Glenn and Abraham broke him into submission. With Carl gone, he tries to retreat from his feelings, unwilling to read the letter his son left behind and ignore his final request: to make sure there’s something left for everyone when this own Negan thing is over and done. Rick following a dark but familiar path, giving the brutality of his Rick rage some fresh air.
But before we get into that, there’s Jadis.
How did she escape with her life when the shooting commenced at the junkyard? She ran around the corner and played dead. After, as the weight of her peoples’ deaths sunk in, she shed her leather clothes to reveal the white dress beneath. Flashing forward to the present, we see her in jeans, boots, and plaid — significant only because she’ll later reveal how her identity was stolen. Jadis is waiting for something in her model IKEA home of the zombie apocalypse: pristine wooden floors and walls, a modern skylight, futon, bench and closet, and Negan’s bat is leaning up against a wall.
Time goes by. She’s packing a suitcase to go God knows where and scribbling in her journal, presumably about being truly, utterly alone now. When her cue comes, she wipes up her tears, picks up the bat, and walks out to the crate where she’s keeping Negan, tied up on a dolly and trying to figure out “what the sh–” is going on.
Carol is chopping wood at Hilltop when she’s approached by Ezekiel. He knows where the escaped Saviors went and believes they are their best lead to finding Henry. Carol either already believes Henry’s dead or isn’t allowing herself to think otherwise in order to spare herself the pain from a dashed hope. Either way, she’s not leaping into action. Daryl is also in denial — denial that Dwight actually saved Tara by shooting her with an untainted arrow. She still hasn’t turned and the doctor cleared her for duty, but Daryl is still fuming for one reason or another. Tara tells him to do what he feels he needs to do, but to know that seeking retribution would only be for his benefit, not hers.
Michonne is reading her letter from Carl when Rick walks in. He still hasn’t read his, though it’s a reaction she’s familiar with. When she lost family members amid the outbreak, she felt she needed to keep “moving” to avoid stopping and actually dealing with the grief. Andrea stopped her from moving, and now she wants to do the same for Rick. She takes his coat and leaves him alone in their room. We see him open his drawer to take out the envelope with his name scrawled in Carl’s handwriting, but did he actually read it?
Carol then spots Morgan storming off to go hunt the missing Saviors. He feels responsible for losing Henry because he could’ve just ended the Saviors when he had the chance. She puts down her axe to go with him, while Maggie, Rosita, Dianne, and Daryl are weighing their resources to see if they could survive another attack. Daryl suggests the Saviors are running out of ammo and would probably attack with melee weapons instead, but Rosita reminds them that they have Eugene, their bullet maker, so they can make more ammo. On the bright side, she reckons she knows where they’d go to get the necessary ingredients to make bullets.
Back at the Heap, Jadis is turning a wheelbarrow into a pyre. She pours salt around the wood, while listening to Negan rant about finding a way to fix this. Simone “wasn’t part of the program,” he says, and for trusting him with the task of intimidating the Scavengers, he’ll now have to own that. She’s not quite paying attention. Jadis glances again at her watch, waiting for something. When she feels she’s had enough of Negan’s rambling, she swings his own bat close to his face but stops just short of bashing in his temple.
Carol and Morgan are tracking the Saviors in the woods when they spot a turnip, putting them on the right path. Morgan sees a body moving through the trees and believes it’s Henry. He rushes ahead, shouting his name, but only finds a mirage of Henry looking back at him. With a gash in his neck, he tells Morgan, “You know what it is, you were supposed to.” Carol finds Morgan screaming, “You are not here,” to seemingly nothing, and she reveals she didn’t come along on this mission to find Henry, but to keep an eye on Morgan. He has his “I see dead people” confessional, though they spot another sign that the Saviors were there and continue on the path. (Recap continues on next page)
Rick, meanwhile, is about to cross paths with them. Staring at Carl’s hat poking out of his bag, he suits up to go looking for the Saviors. He approaches Alden for clues. The sexy Savior (I will never stop calling him that) mentions an old dive bar the Saviors once thought could make a good outpost. Rick doesn’t ask anymore questions like where exactly this place is — all he knows is that it’s between Hilltop and the Sanctuary — and goes to rush off. Alden stops him for a moment to request he doesn’t kill anymore Saviors than he has to; some, he says, made a wrong choice by fleeing Hilltop and that choice probably hasn’t sunk in yet for some. Alden reminds Rick that he could choose to show them the way by inviting them back, but Rick has always known he’s had that choice. Whether he wants to make it or not is another story.
The hour continues to cram a lot in as we hop back to Jadis. She tosses Lucille into the salty pyre and goes off to get a walker strapped to a platform truck, but by the time she wheels it around the corner, Negan has scooted over to her suitcase to grab her gun. He also found a bunch of black-and-white photos he threatens to burn with one of her flairs if she doesn’t want to talk.
Jumping back to Carol and Morgan, they follow the Savior tracks to a herd of walkers. Morgan is still very much determined to find them and kill them, but they spot a walker hobbling down a side road with Henry’s staff stuck through the corpse. Carol wants to follow that direction, even if it means finding Henry dead. She has to know one way or the other, but Morgan, another character constantly keeping in motion to avoid dealing with reality, refuses to go. Carol reminds him that he saved her from herself once before, and he, too, can come back. But they part ways.
The theme here is pretty clear: All of these characters are dealing with the ripple effects of grief. Jadis is pleading with Negan to not burn the photos — the last remains of her people and of her former self — when Negan brings up his dead wife. Since she got him through life, he gave her name to his bat, the one thing that got him through this apocalypse. It’s the one thing he has left of her. It’s during this speech that Jadis’ watch alarm goes off and the repetitive flap of a helicopter is heard approaching. She pushes the walker toward Negan and leaps around to tackle the flair out of his grasp. In the scuffle, the flair falls into a puddle of water, forcing her to scramble to get another one. While she’s doing so, Negan is stunned to see a chopper hovering overhead. Is this the same helicopter Rick glimpsed earlier in the season? Does it have something to do with the mysterious Georgie? We know that there are helicopter pads out in the back of the junkyard and Jadis clearly knows them.
The chopper, however, doesn’t see Jadis and is already turning away by the time she comes out with another flair. Once again, she’s left alone. Jadis goes to burn Lucille in the fire, but Negan begs her to stop. He reminds her that he didn’t burn her photographs and promises he can make this right. She drops the flair in return and begins to cry.
By this point, Rick finds Morgan, who admits he’s not right in the head. They both agree to finish this — which, by the way, every time someone vows to “finish this” it always ends up complicating matters further. When they approach the dive bar, they spot a severed arm and leg in what looks like the remains of an explosion. Someone rushes Rick from the side, knocking him out. When he awakes, he and Morgan are tied up inside the dive bar as the escaped Saviors are arguing with each other. Some of them are sick and dying. Jared wants to leave them, but others aren’t willing. Some even suggest going their own way, since Simon was willing to let them die at the Hilltop. But Jared thinks that delivering “Rick the prick” to Negan will change things for them. (Recap continues on next page)
Jared goes to kill one of the ill Saviors when Rick promises that they can all come back to the Hilltop, where they will be healed and welcomed into their community. He gives them his word; “a man’s word has got to mean something,” he says. Jared seems to be the only one who doesn’t buy these proclamations. He reminds everyone that Rick and Morgan came to kill them all. Morgan admits that was his plan, but with an incoming herd of walkers, there won’t be anyone for him to kill. Jared chalks up the herd to another lie, but then Morgan screams, “I can’t die! Nobody dies! Everybody turns!,” attracting the walkers to their location.
The dead start pouring in. Jared goes to kill Rick and Morgan when they suggest they be released, but one of his own knocks him to the ground. Jared escapes to the back of the bar as the Saviors go to release Rick and Morgan, and together they work to shoot down the walkers. But Rick lied. As the fighting winds down, they turn their bullets on the Saviors, throwing their bodies to the walkers. Morgan goes stalking after Jared when he sees another vision of Henry. Distracted, the Savior leaps out of the shadows and goes to kill Morgan with a pool stick. Morgan knocks back Jared into a room with walkers and closes the gate behind him. He holds Jared against the metal as walkers tear into his flesh, never once breaking eye contact.
It was a satisfying death for such a despicable human being, but it also made Rick’s development here confusing. He shows no mercy to the Saviors, and yet he’s trying to talk Morgan into coming back from his own darkness. Just a few episodes ago, he was telling Negan how Carl died trying to save another person and bring him into the community, yet he’s blinded to the fact that there might be good people trying to escape the Sanctuary. In many ways, Rick is becoming more evil than Negan, who, even as he reclaims Lucille from Jadis, still promises to make things right with her and offers her a place in his colony.
Carol, meanwhile, gets some good news. She finds Henry screaming for help as three walkers have him pinned down behind vines by a small pool. She gets to him in time and embraces this boy. They’re a welcome sight when they return to Hilltop. Sitting by the fire, Carol tells Ezekiel about her daughter and how she was able to find herself again when she died. She realizes now that even if everything she has now is taken away abruptly, she can still find herself again and again.
Morgan arrives and he still hasn’t found himself. He touches Henry to make sure he’s real and confesses he killed the man who murdered Benjamin. All Henry can do is apologize for what this mission has done to Morgan, but he walks away, saying to never be sorry. Rick locks eyes with Alden as he walks through Hilltop; the blood on his face reflects his deeds. Like Morgan, who’s seen crying by himself, he’s alone. So is Jadis, who returns to her solitary room to stare up at the ceiling.
On his way back to the Sanctuary, Negan spies someone on the road. He stares into the camera as he opens his door for this unknown passenger. “If sh– could sh–, it still wouldn’t look as sh–y as you,” he says. He finally returns home but tells the Saviors to keep his arrival to themselves, for he has a lot of surprises to dish out. Rosita and Daryl have also found Eugene’s outpost, where he’s making bullets. They vow to take out “the man” instead of the machines.
Closing out the episode, Rick finally opens the letter from Carl. After a brief moment with Michonne, he sits alone his room, considering his own reflection in the mirror as he’s left with his son’s last words.