‘The Walking Dead’ Places Rick Grimes in Grave Danger (RECAP)

Spoiler Alert
Gene Page/AMC

The pit…Rick was in it, the pit…Daryl was in it, the pit…walkers were in it, the piiiiiiiit…

It’s a little eerie how well Parks and Rec’s (in)famous, infectious ditty sung by Chris Pratt fits the central conflict of this week’s episode of The Walking Dead. Granted, this is a far more lethal pit, and the stakes are far higher than they ever were in Pawnee.

As you might have assumed, Rick and Daryl find themselves stuck in a sizeable pit in the forest after getting into a bit of fisticuffs over Maggie’s plan to kill Negan. Meanwhile, things have gone from worse to utterly horrible in the remains of Rick’s camp, Maggie’s on her way to Alexandria (much to Jesus’ chagrin) and Michonne’s having some interesting conversations with a hunger-striking Negan.

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Plus, the cast talks stepping up to the plate after the departure and what's going on with Negan.

Paying a Visit

The episode opens with another seemingly cheery montage of Michonne going about her daily life in Alexandria, taking care of Judith, making plans for buildings inside the walls, etc. But the happy music keeps pausing, and these clips are interspersed with less joyful moments of her walking around at night outside the walls and taking down walkers, eventually getting cornered by one when she stops to look at a walker someone hung from a tree. She uses the only thing available to her in the rubble to kill it: a baseball bat.

After she frees herself, she seems to get a good look at the weapon she used and drops it, leaving it in the pouring rain.

Though it isn’t evident at the time, Michonne’s use of the bat is central to her story this episode. While Rick gets himself trapped in the pit (more on that later), Michonne’s story revolves around Negan. She receives word that he isn’t eating, and says it’s her job to make him do so. She delivers food to him and tells him to end his hunger strike, and he asks her to stay and talk with him.

Reluctantly, she does. Negan tells her about his wife, about how she died, and about how they couldn’t have kids. This leads into an emotional discussion about Carl, during which Negan figures out — or correctly assumes — that Carl wasn’t the first son Michonne had lost.

Negan says it’s better this way, better that Michonne doesn’t have Andre and he doesn’t have his wife. He says it’s better that they’re dead, and asserts that he and Michonne are the same. Naturally, she takes offense to that, and takes extreme offense to Negan telling her she’s grateful Andre is gone because all he would have done is “make her weak.” After throwing the tray with his food down on the floor and breaking the plate, she storms out.

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Losing Lucille

Michonne goes back to see him later with more food, and Negan apologizes for what he said. He tells her she wasn’t ready to hear that they’re the same. “You’re trapped, same as me, you’re connected to the dead, same as me, we are the same and you can’t stand that we’re the same,” he says. Michonne affirms that they’re not, because she’s thinking of ways to bring people together, not pit them against each other. Negan realizes Michonne isn’t scared that she’s like him; rather, she’s scared she’s going to end up like him, with everyone and everything she loves gone.

Michonne says he’s desperately trying to connect with her, which Negan doesn’t deny, because according to him nothing is worse than nothing. He asks Michonne to let him see Lucille, but she doesn’t have his beloved bat and says it’s still out there beyond the walls. This horrifies Negan, who begins bashing his head into the prison walls once Michonne leaves.

Making The Right Call

Maggie doesn’t do a whole lot this episode, but her few moments have an impact. She drops Hershel off with a babysitter and prepares to leave, but Jesus won’t let her go without having one more talk. He tells her she has another letter from Georgie, but that’s not all he needs to say: he agrees Rick made a call with Negan that wasn’t his to make, but wants to be sure Maggie’s not wrong now.

Jesus says he wants her to be sure, and she tells him she is. They leave for Alexandria, and she says she’ll be back when it’s done.

Anne and Father Gabriel also have a few intriguing moments this episode. Anne’s ready to kill Gabe with Winslow 3.0 (why does she always have these walkers?), but Gabe seems to talk her out of it…only for her to shove a handkerchief over his mouth and sedate him. When he wakes up, he’s inside a storage locker and she’s gone. He collapses to the ground, weeping.

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Nothing’s going well at the camp. Floodwaters have taken down the levy upstream, which has put the bridge in jeopardy. Without a larger workforce, there’s no way to get it stabilized. Eugene tells a discouraged Rick that there’s a small silver lining, though; the two herds they had been tracking are running parallel to each other and aren’t showing signs of merging.

When Eugene expresses his regret that he wasn’t more helpful about the bridge, Rick says what might very well be his last words to him, telling him that he got the group there. “After everything, that’s everything,” the wise leader says. Eugene looks like he might cry.

Rick also has an oddly sentimental conversation with Carol. She’s preparing to leave the camp and take her people back to the Kingdom, which she can do because she’s put Alden in charge of the Sanctuary folks. Rick’s worried that the Sanctuary can’t make it on its own, but Carol sees this as an opportunity for them to decide who they want to be. Though Rick’s hesitant, he tells Carol that if anyone gives him hope for how things will turn out, it’s her. She tells him she’s still trying to figure everything out, just like everyone else.

Let Him Go

His day goes from bad to worse when Jerry informs him that Jesus says Maggie’s on her way to Alexandria. Rick knows what that means, and gets on his radio to tell Alexandria Maggie needs to be stopped at the gates and Michonne needs to know about it. Daryl hears this conversation, and innocently asks what’s going on. Rick says he needs to get back to Alexandria, and Daryl offers to take him on his motorcycle. How sweet!

Except it’s not sweet, really, because Daryl purposely goes the wrong way. He’s in on the plan, and so was the person on the other end of Rick’s radio: his message didn’t reach Alexandria. Once Daryl pulls over, the two start to fight. Daryl knocks Rick’s radio out of his hand and tackles him to the ground, where they go tumbling into — you guessed it — a deep pit.

Since there’s no good way out, the pair have some time to talk about their feelings. Daryl reminds Rick that if it weren’t for Glenn, he never would have found his family back at the Atlanta camp. Rick says that if Negan dies, then Carl died for nothing. Daryl accuses Rick of not having faith in his friends — in Maggie, in him — and when Rick says that’s not true, Daryl responds that he’d die for Rick and would’ve died for Carl, too. “You just gotta let him go,” Daryl says. “Let him go.”

Meanwhile, at the camp, a standoff forms between the Saviors and Carol. Jed has figured out that Oceanside is killing the Saviors, and says now it’s war. He tells Carol to step aside and takes her keys to the arms truck. She seems to comply…just long enough to kick him and knock him to the ground. More Saviors appear from the woods, Carol yells “No!” and gunfire erupts.

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Take My Hand

Daryl and Rick realize the gunfire is coming from the camp, and that it’s going to draw the herd. Daryl boosts Rick so that he can reach a tree root, which is tricky enough to climb up without the deluge of walkers that starts falling down on them. They end up being a blessing in disguise for Daryl, who uses the bodies to reach a different root and start climbing up next to Rick. They keep moving back and forth to avoid falling walkers, which eventually form a mini-herd beneath them.

Rick makes it up first, but Daryl struggles. At first, he tries to make it out on his own, but it’s clear he won’t be able to get out without Rick’s help. Rick offers him his hand. “Brother,” he says, “take my hand.” Eventually Daryl does just that, and Rick pulls him up. They take care of a few walkers and head back to Daryl’s motorcycle, where a horse from the camp has also turned up. Daryl says they should leave, but Rick opts to stay behind and lead the herd away from the camp. Not a great idea, but Daryl tells his friend to be safe: Rick says the same to him.

The episode ends with a series of things happening; Maggie stumbles upon a series of decapitated walkers, Daryl rides away on his motorcycle, Michonne reads a story about sports (which has an illustration of a bat) to Judith and Rick rides on horseback back toward the camp. Eventually, there are too many walkers for the horse’s comfort. It rears, and Rick is thrown off it onto a pile of scrap metal and rocks. He ends up with his left side impaled on rebar, and passes out while walkers surround him.

Other Observations:

  • That final shot of the walkers surrounding Rick is utterly terrifying. Between this and the first episode, the show has really made walkers scary again.
  • I’m guessing Michonne’s moments with Negan this episode are the show’s answer as to who’ll get Carl’s weird bond with Negan. Truthfully, I don’t hate it. While I’ll always wish the show had kept Carl around, there are parallels between Negan and Michonne and Danai Gurira and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are both incredible at their craft. Those scenes were fantastic.
  • So Maggie’s going to find Negan beaten up already, presumably. That likely won’t change her mind about anything, but it’ll be interesting to see her reaction.
  • Every time I think Anne can’t possibly get sketchier, she does. What is she doing? Where did she go? Is she connected to Georgie?

The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC