Having visited all of the now splintered core group in recent weeks, it was finally time to catch up with Maggie and Sasha, the two women who lost their partners in Negan’s murderous attack. From the relative tranquility of Carol and Morgan’s Kingdom haven, to Daryl’s living Hell as a prisoner of the Saviors, to the bruised and grieving Alexandria community, we’ve seen several forms of ‘leadership’ and coping strategies from survivor groups, and this week, the focus was on the structure of Hilltop, and its leader, Gregory.
Fans of Glenn and Maggie will have been pleased to confirm that Father Gabriel was indeed lying to Negan, and Maggie and her unborn baby are both safe (well, safe by TWD standards!) While telling Negan that Maggie hadn’t made it bought her some time and covered the alliance between Hilltop and Alexandria, it seems that this conspiracy will backfire in the not too distant future, especially as the Saviors are sniffing around both camps with increasing menace. Gregory too, realised that harbouring Maggie and Sasha was likely to get him a date with Lucille, and spent most of the episode trying to get rid of them.
But while Negan rules by terror, Ezekiel by having adopted a regal, almost mythical persona, and Rick is struggling to lead his people after being beaten down by The Saviors, Gregory is a different breed. Spineless and self-serving, he puts his own safety and comfort first, making deals with bad people under the pretense that he’s doing it for the sake of the community. Gregory’s uselessness was spotlighted this week, when The Saviors decided to shake things up a little by opening the gates of Hilltop to walkers, shutting the residents in their house, lighting some fires, and leaving a locked car blaring music at the entrance. It was left to Maggie, Sasha and Jesus to save the day, with Maggie climbing out of a skylight and running some zombies and the offending car over with a tractor, and Jesus opting to roundhouse kick his way through the hoards of undead. Surely that’s the least efficient zombie killing method there is, Jesus!?
As if Gregory’s ingratitude wasn’t enough to stomach, the final straw for Maggie came when Gregory attempted to hand her and Sasha over to Savior Simon, a dick-move which echoed Rick’s ‘goodwill gesture’ with Michonne’s gun last week. Maggie punching Gregory was undeniably satisfying, and she cemented her place within Hilltop by reminding him of her married name. This was significant, because while Greogry’s inability to remember names has been largely played for laughs, it reveals his lack of care for the people he claims to protect. Maggie stating her married name reinforced her point to Enid, that in their world, they don’t need keepsakes. They assimilate their lost people into themselves. They carry them with them and pass the best of them onto the next generation. Giving Enid Hershel’s watch wasn’t subtle, but it did highlight why Maggie has the support of Sasha and Jesus, who want to make her the leader of the Hilltop colony. Her grief makes her more compassionate and stronger. She treats Enid with the same care she showed Beth, and she will honour Glenn by carrying on and raising his child.
Conversely, Carl is consumed by his grief and his guilt, as is his father currently, and this episode again showed how this can result in terrible decisions. On the one hand, Carl and Enid’s subplot was a sweet romance blooming in a time where there seems very little hope, but on the other, it demonstrated how both characters’ youth counts against them when it comes to thinking about the consequences of their actions. Enid, in the wake of Glenn’s death, decided she needed to see Maggie, and Carl, tired of her putting herself in danger, tried to prevent her leaving Alexandria before heading out on the road to save her bacon. But once he got Enid to Hilltop, Carl took the opportunity of the Saviors’ visit to sneak into their truck and find out where Negan lives. Little did he know that Jesus had also been sent on a recce by Sasha (presumably because of his ninja skillz), which is probably a good thing, as Carl seemed hellbent on revenge without having devised an actual plan other than ‘kill Negan’.
With Negan’s people suspicious of Hilltop, and dissent being sown there and in Alexandria, it seems that the next few weeks will see a storm brewing. I’m looking forward to seeing how Carol and Morgan’s path will cross the others’, and what fate awaits poor Daryl as a prisoner of The Saviors. This was a slow-burn, but showed some interesting character development and set us up nicely for the homestretch before the hiatus.
Final Grade: B-
+ Maggie and Sasha’s graveside scenes were moving without being cloying or overly maudlin. Really lovely, nuance performances from Lauren Cohan and Sonequa Martin-Green.
+ I like that this show refuses to make its characters archetypes or absolutes. They might not be likable, but they are rounded. People like Carol and Gregory and Carl are problematic because whether we love or hate them, they will always do things we hate or grudgingly respect. Even Negan, while clearly a murdering, sadistic, asshole, is arguably a very effective leader…
+ Jesus. I mean, karate-kicking Jesus. What’s not to love?
– After the tension of last week and Daryl’s torment, this episode did seem to drag a little.
– Although Enid seemed to get Maggie’s point at the end, she is still an idiot for constantly buggering off into the wild, unarmed. We’re supposed to believe she survived for ages alone after her family was killed, but she can’t fend off a lone walker?
– Is it wrong that I missed Negan a little bit?
Extra Thought: Anyone else really looking forward to Father Gabriel meeting Jesus?
What did you think? Was this episode MAGGIE-nificent or RHEE-dundent? Sorry…Tell us your thoughts in the comments or over on Twitter!