Episode 2 is all about Rick’s lengthy, one-sided chat with Negan about his no-good, very bad day.

At first, it almost feels like Rick is talking to us as he stares directly into the camera and says the communities are building to regain a piece of pre-apocalypse life. The scene quickly goes into a flashback from the season 9 trailer of Rick walking through a campsite with signs pointing to several communities.

There’s still no explanation of what Toledo is and I am assuming that HQ is Alexandria. There’s Jerry kissing Nabila, Rosita helping devise plans, and Siddiq training Enid to provide medical assistance.

Siddiq may have terrible survival skills, but at least he has enough common sense to know that you need multiple medical people in the apocalypse. Because, you know, every doctor in the past has died a terrible death.

The camp is actually for people working on the downed bridge from last episode and it doesn’t take long for the workers to get into a scuffle.

The main problem in this episode is Justin. When did you get her Savior Justin? And, why are you so salty and annoying?

Henry is no one’s favorite character but it was appalling to see a large, grown man shove a little boy to the ground over water. It’s a reminder that many of these people are more like Negan than Rick cares to admit.

And, they may have “surrendered” to Rick but that won’t make them valuable, productive members of this burgeoning society. Daryl continues to win back my love when he gets into Fight #1 with Justin. As usual, Rick does what a trained policeman should do and de-escalates the situation.

But, the way Rick handles the aftermath was plain terrible. He completely overlooks the fact that Justin has been consistently volatile toward people with his words and actions.

Daryl again reminds Rick that this ain’t gonna work but Rick says they “need” Justin because he is strong. No, you don’t need him Rick. What good is he doing if he is shoving kids and throwing dirt in Daryl’s eyes?

Apparently, the Saviors can quit their jobs and walk off with little to no consequence while others have to work double time to finish. This is another glaring reason why Rick should not be so invested in taking care of these people.

Many of them have made it clear that they only care about themselves and that doesn’t bode well for anyone.

As a matter of fact, this is proven to be true when Justin fails to set off his signal to turn a herd that was heading for a logging site. Sure, his mistake gave us an entertaining scene with Rick using his hatchet to bludgeon walkers as his squad tries to save Daryl and Aaron’s work group.

Rick even shows off his marksman skills to shoot a rope and release logs to squash walkers. It is so cool to see characters from multiple communities come together every day, but this is not the way we want it to happen!

Sadly, Aaron takes a major loss during this incident when his arm is crushed under a log. Daryl got him back to the campsite but SURPRISE Siddiq was nowhere to be found so his arm is at the mercy of Enid.

She does a 3-second examination and decides that his arms should be amputated immediately. It’s not clear how long Siddiq has been training Enid, but it seems like a major call for her to make on her own.

The moment when Enid cuts through Aaron’s mangled arm is reminiscent of Herschel’s leg being whacked off by Rick at the prison. And once again, Daryl is present for a stomach-churning amputation.

It was an emotional moment for him because Aaron was the first Alexandrian that he formed a close bond with back in season 5. Aaron helped Daryl transition into the community and find his purpose.

They also spent a significant amount of time outside the walls together. So, it made sense for Daryl to investigate why the walker plan went awry.

Justin didn’t do his job, claims his walkie died, and THEN shows zero remorse by saying the walkies were pieces of junk. Daryl grabbing a pot and whupping his behind in Fight #2 was wonderfully satisfying, even if it isn’t “leadership” behavior.

It’s what Justin deserves and if I were there then we could have taken turns smacking him with the pot. I’m baffled by how much Daryl’s actions, reactions, and thoughts have made perfect sense thus far. Thank you Angela Kang.

Of course, Carol is the only person who can stop him from beating Justin to death in front of the everyone. Daryl tells her there is only one way to deal with Saviors like Justin.

He didn’t elaborate, but it’s safe to say that he wants to kill them. And, he may have a point after Justin’s interaction with Rick later that night.

Rick walks by and Justin tells him to keep his “dog” (read: Daryl) on a leash. Rick turns to him and says he used to pick up “dipshits” like him on the weekend during his cop days.

This season has so many subtle callbacks and it’s been a long time since Rick has mentioned his former professional life. Rick finally makes the right move and tells Justin that he has to leave in the morning.

“I gave you the benefit of the doubt,” says Rick. “That is done. Now, you pack your shit and get out of here first thing in the morning. If I see your face again, stitches won’t fix what I do to you.” Now, that’s the savage Rick that we know and love! Someone get that last sentence on a T-shirt immediately!

Rick quickly goes from anger to remorse and regret when he sees a pained Aaron lying in his makeshift bed with an amputated. Enid and Daryl watch as Rick apologizes to Aaron for “paying the price” of this bridge project.

Rick has always taken things personally as a leader, especially when something happens to one of his people and this time is no different. It’s easy to empathize with Rick in this moment because he is in an impossibly tough place.

He wants to have peace and rebuild the world together, but he’s also not sure if all the groups can ever become one. Aaron is encouraging as usual and praises Rick for giving him hope for a new world and a brighter future.

Justin makes his first wise decision and leaves immediately, but he gets ambushed by an unknown assailant on his way out. It appears he was friends with this person based on his response to them, so this means it was not Daryl.

It’s not clear if Justin is still alive, but if he was killed and his body is found, then people will likely blame Daryl anyway because of their feud. Or, the show may flip it in an interesting way and have Justin taken in by that group of “missing” Saviors.

I highly doubt they all died during the trip to the Hilltop and they could be forming some kind of secretive group to plot against Rick. It wouldn’t be surprising for Justin and a crew to pop back up later for some revenge or to head to Alexandria to start trouble.

But, there’s always the possibility that someone is taking out Sanctuary travelers on purpose. Could this be a sign of the Whisperers? Hopefully so.

If a rogue group went to Alexandria, then they could easily take over because who the heck is there anymore?! Michonne spent this episode hanging out with Maggie and Jesus at the Hilltop. Yep, there’s no Richonne this episode y’all.

The Maggie and Michonne interactions are solid this season and this was a nice B-plot to underscore the campsite action. Michonne arrives from the Sanctuary and says that the group sent the ethanol out a week ago.

Maggie thinks they are lying (she’s probably right) but Michonne thinks they may have gotten intercepted by walkers or they went AWOL (this might be right). Michonne says the Sanctuary needs food and Jesus points out that the Hilltop currently has a surplus.

Maggie replies that the surplus won’t last for long because they need fuel for the plow that turns their large fields. Again, this is a fair statement from Maggie.

Apparently, they cannot use the broken plow from the museum run because Earl is the only blacksmith and he’s locked up for attempted murder. Michonne wonders if it might be time to release him and brings up her idea about making general rules among the communities.

As I said in my Walking Dead season 9 premiere review, a conversation about laws/rules should have happened a LONG TIME AGO. What are you all doing?

Maggie says it’s all good, but in the end, she’s going to decide what’s best for her people. And, who can blame her at this point?

She has been leading at the community for a while, but now it is official and that’s a ton of responsibility on top of being a new mom. Maggie eventually shuts Michonne down and says Earl will stay locked up and her surplus won’t go anywhere. Nice try Michonne.

Meanwhile, Tammy is harassing Jesus, who reminds her that he’s not in charge, about not seeing Earl. Michonne witnesses the entire exchange and meets up with Jesus to ask him if he thinks Maggie’s decisions about Earl are right.

He again defers to Maggie being in charge and says he trusts her judgement, but he realizes that no one is right all the time. Michonne says this is the reason he should speak up. Honestly, what would these people do without Michonne?

And, she also tells Jesus that situations like this are exactly why there needs to be a collective agreement that is bigger than one person’s decision. I’m not down for all this Sanctuary business, but Michonne has an excellent point when it comes to her agreement.

This isn’t season 1 with a small group of survivors. There are entire communities now and there should not be situations where Rick, Maggie, or anyone else has total control.

I also love Michonne’s general influence over other characters outside of Rick. She has been one of the most level-headed people on The Walking Dead and she will play a key role in helping the communities move past Rick’s demise.

Maggie eventually softens her heart and let’s Tammy see Earl. But, the real game changer is when Maggie goes to have a conversation with Earl and finds out that he was a recovering alcoholic who hadn’t drank for years until after Ken’s funeral.

Maggie saw similarities between Earl and her father Herschel and realized he was a redeemable person who deserved another chance. In the end, she told Michonne that she would allow Earl to work under supervision until she decides with her counsel when he can be released and that she would send some food to the Sanctuary.

This was a solid decision by Maggie and wouldn’t have happened if Michonne hadn’t convinced Jesus to talk to Maggie. And, the Jesus/Maggie conversation also confirmed that Maggie is still in close contact with Georgie, the mysterious woman who gave Maggie plans to build up the Hilltop.

Apparently, Georgie’s guide has been working and she wants Maggie’s group to mesh with her community. This might be a sign that Georgie is the leader of the Commonwealth, the massive network of communities that is thriving from the comics.

Their leader was Pamela Milton, but perhaps they have switched up the name for the TV series. And, eagle eyed viewers probably noticed in the last episode that a windmill at the Hilltop had Commonwealth on it, so this means there has been some contact between those groups.

Michonne was proud of Maggie’s decision about Earl, but the pair were still at odds over killing Gregory. Honestly, Maggie’s reasoning behind his execution was solid.

“Gregory had chance after chance and he wasted them all. I don’t regret what I did Michonne. Some people can be redeemed but others can’t.”

ALL FACTS MAGGIE! Gregory has tried to kill Maggie multiple times, left Father Gabriel to die after he saved him at the Sanctuary, and turned his back on other groups in the war by teaming up with Negan.

There was no way that he was going to stop being a vindictive moron, so he had to die.

This concludes the part of the episode that was engaging and made sense. There was a very weird and uncomfortable C plot involving Father Gabriel and Anne (formerly Jadis) that literally no one wanted to see.

First, she draws a picture of a mysterious woman at his request and they do some very uncomfortable flirting. Anne believes that no one really accepts her into the group except him, Rick, and runaway Morgan, so he tries to cheer her up by saying he was once a traitor and not well-liked by the group.

Obviously, they have built a bond during the time jump, but it just feels awkward and left field for viewers. Return to sender.
Later on, he says the mystery woman from the picture was his church’s organist. In case you forgot, he locked out his congregation to save his own behind so she’s probably dead.

There’s more weird flirting and building sexual tension that leads on an awkward moonlight kiss and the unbuckling of a priest’s pants. Oh, and Anne saw that elusive helicopter in the sky. Please give us answers because we are tired of seeing it over and over again.

I suppose the show is building some new relationships because Richonne won’t exist soon (insert ugly cry here) but this ain’t it.

At the end, Negan finally replies to Rick (he’s a great listener) and says the bridge is just a memorial to the dead, Rick has nothing under control, and the world is just getting ready for his return. He’s right about Rick’s delusions of one big happy family and semi-right about the bridge.

In a way, the bridge is homage to their deceased loved ones but it is also a symbol of growth. Rick looks kinda shook and I don’t like what this scene is implying about his final episodes.

If Negan plays a role in Rick’s death, then I’m gonna bring an angry mob to AMC’s headquarters.

What was your favorite part of this week’s ‘The Walking Dead’ episode?

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