Warning: This recap of the “King, the Widow and Rick” episode of The Walking Dead contains spoilers.
The episode begins with Team Resistance passing handwritten updates to each other about the state of the rebellion against Negan and the Saviors, and while most of the leaders remain committed to the mission, one is having a royally difficult time dealing with recent losses, and another finds himself in a Heap(ster) of trouble.
Daryl and other Alexandrians return home and are greeted by Michonne and Carl, while Nabila and the considerably smaller population of the Kingdom create a memorial for their lost loved ones. At the Hilltop, Aaron arrives and delivers baby Gracie to Maggie, and everyone learns via the letters that the Kingdom army appeared to have won their battle at the Saviors’ outpost, until they were ambushed in an open field and everyone but Carol, King Ezekiel, and Jerry were killed. They also learn Jesus rounded up a large group of Saviors as prisoners and is keeping them outside the Hilltop gates. But they have to keep going, Rick says, to honor Sasha and all the others who’ve sacrificed their lives for the chance to create their own new world. He says the Saviors get weaker by the hour, as the walker herd Rick and the others let inside the Sanctuary fences keeps Negan, his lieutenants, and much of the Saviors population trapped inside. Rick restates the final part of his plan: They all meet up in two days at the Sanctuary “to end this.”
No one at the Hilltop is happy about Jesus’s Saviors lineup, especially when Maggie sees him giving Hilltop food to the prisoners. Gregory adds his unsolicited two cents’ worth, saying they should kill the whole crew by building a gallows, so they can save bullets. (TWD comics readers will know that could turn out to be a very bad suggestion by the arrogant former Hilltop leader.) Maggie tells Gregory to go away, but she also tells Jesus execution is an option; they have to end this, she points out. Jesus agrees but says they also need to make sure what they do is worth what they’ve lost.
Maggie, torn between following her gut and honoring Jesus’s requests to follow his humanitarian instincts, talks with Gregory in his old office. He tells her “our hippy-dippy, kung fu fighting friend” is trying to make her feel bad, but she should go with her gut. “At the end of the day, you’re the shepherd, and you can’t have the wolves wandering around amongst the sheep,” he says.
Outside the Hilltop gates, Jesus is keeping an eye on the prisoners as well as on a construction project happening inside the gates. Is Maggie really having a gallows built? He wonders, while one of the seemingly levelheaded Saviors tries to bond with him, telling him he was a loner who just joined up with some guys who kept switching leaders, because they fed him. Then they sent him to the satellite station to build a fence, and now his life depends “on that lady in there.” Jesus tells him to stop pretending any of them are innocent, and just then the gates open, and Maggie tells him to lead the prisoners inside. The construction project: a pen, where the prisoners will be held until she decides what to do with them next. Gregory is outraged. “We can’t let people we don’t trust run around inside our walls!” he tells her.
“You’re right, Gregory,” she says, as Kal and Eduardo grab Gregory and lead him to the pen. He struggles and hits his head on a wooden post in the process. They drag him in anyway, and he breaks down in tears. Inside the pen, he witnesses Jared the weasel-faced Savior trying to free himself from his rope handcuffs with a rock, while Dillon, the Savior who tried to bond with Jesus, knocks the rock away and tells Jared he won’t allow him to put all of them in danger. Jared smugly remarks that the Hilltoppers aren’t going to kill them.
Back inside Gregory’s office, Maggie and Enid listen to Aaron talk sadly about the loss of Eric. He asks Maggie if it ever gets easier, and she says it doesn’t. Jesus comes in and thanks her for not killing the prisoners, and she stops him. She spared them only because they might need them as bargaining chips, she says, in case they can trade them to save their friends. “Jesus, if we don’t [need them], we can’t let them live,” Maggie tells him, as she holds baby Gracie.
Carol tries to see Ezekiel, who’s hiding away inside the theater at the Kingdom. Jerry says he doesn’t want any visitors and even told Jerry to go, that he doesn’t need him to be his guard any longer. But “it’s what I do,” Jerry says, and remains on duty. Meanwhile, Carol has another youngster trying to bond with her: Henry, Benjamin’s little bro, who wants to accompany Carol to the Sanctuary to fight. She tells him no, sharply, and adds that he shouldn’t follow her.
She later finds him in the woods, practicing the aikido skills Morgan started teaching him against a pair of walkers. Henry is skilled, but two shots ring out and kill the walkers. Carol. She’s angry Henry is out there. “Do you know what happens to kids when they go wandering around in the woods? They never get seen again,” she says. “And if they do, they’re monsters.”
Henry’s undeterred, though, and unafraid. “You need fighters, so I’m fighting.” Besides, it’s personal for him, the reason he wants to accompany Carol to the Sanctuary: “I have to get the guys who killed my brother.” Carol hands him a gun and asks if he knows how to use it. He says he watched her train people.
The two go back to the Kingdom, where Carol demands to see Ezekiel. She’s about to shoot the door open, when Jerry points out it’s not locked. She goes in and finds Ezekiel sitting on the stage, Shiva’s chains in his hands. “I know what you want from me, what I should be doing,” he says to Carol. “But I can’t.”
Carol tries to convince him the Kingdomers need him. He tells her she could lead them.
“It has to be you. You inspired them to build this place, to believe in something,” she says. “You have to help them grieve, to move on, to end this. You owe them that. Henry needs you. Those people need King Ezekiel. And if you can’t be the king, then do what you do best and play the part. I have to act every day. It used to bother me. But this is who I am. And I am still standing. We just have to act like everything is normal until it is. It’s what they need, and it’s what you have to give them.”
“I can’t,” Ezekiel insists.
Michonne and Rosita
Though they’re both still healing, curiosity and worry about what’s going on without them in the war against the Saviors get the best of Michonne and Rosita. They take a car out of Alexandria to see what they can see. Turns out it’s more about what they hear; as they’re driving along the road, they hear some sort of musical noise and stop to check it out. They find an industrial building with two cars parked in front, and music that’s only getting louder. Sneaking into the building’s warehouse area, they spot a real threat: two Saviors who are talking about their chance to move up the Saviors ranks. They’ve rigged a giant truck with speakers blaring tunes, which they plan to drive to the Sanctuary and lure the walker herd away.
Michonne and Rosita jump into action, as Rosita sends an RPG shot right through the male Savior. Michonne gets distracted by that play just long enough to allow the female Savior out of her sight. The Savior jumps into the truck and speeds off toward the Sanctuary, where she has the opportunity to single-handedly put an end to Rick’s plan. But then…
Daryl and Tara
Daryl and Tara drive another big truck right into the side of the speakermobile, T-boning it out of commission and then killing the driver.
“Jesus, that was too close,” Rosita says, and she and Michonne meet up with their friends. Daryl and Tara had teamed up earlier at home, as both share a desire to see Dwight dead. Tara tells Daryl he was right not to kill Dwight earlier — they couldn’t have gotten this far in Rick’s plan without Dwight’s input, she admits — but he does need to die, she says, and she wants to be the one to kill him.
“Maybe it can be you and me both,” Daryl tells her. “Maybe we don’t gotta wait so long.” Maybe this, having to tamp down his desire for revenge against Dwight in order to get intel to beat the Saviors, is why Daryl has been an extra dose of angry this season?
Tara asks why Michonne and Rosita are out there, and they say they need to see the Sanctuary for themselves. Daryl says they’ve all got a lot more work to do. He and the women get in their truck and drive right outside the Sanctuary, where Michonne gets a peek at the herd surrounding it.
“What do you need us for?” Rosita asks.
“To end this thing, right now,” Daryl says, suggesting he’s not going to stick to Rick’s plan.
Carl and Saddiq
In the woods near Alexandria, Carl’s on a secret mission to find the guy Rick scared off with gunshots in the season premiere. Carl spots him killing a walker in a trap and offers him food and water. Saddiq introduces himself to Carl, and Carl shares his name, as he tells Saddiq his dad hadn’t intended to harm him, only to warn him. Carl then asks Saddiq the magical questions: How many walkers has he killed? (237, give or take.) How many people? (One.) Why? (Because walkers had tried to kill the man but didn’t.) Satisfied with Saddiq’s answers, Carl invites Saddiq to come to Alexandria.
On their way home, though, they see a trio of walkers noshing on a deer. Touched by Saddiq’s story about how his mother thought they should kill any walkers they could in hopes that doing so frees their souls, Carl stops to take care of these. But the noise he and Saddiq make draws more walkers, and the two fellas are nearly overrun. They manage to kill them all, but Saddiq is surprised Carl didn’t just run away and leave him. Carl tells him he’s responsible for him now that he’s invited Saddiq to join their community. Carl knows Rick wouldn’t invite Saddiq in, but he says sometimes kids have to find their own way, and show parents a different way.
The Heapster hideout
We catch up with Jadis and the Heapsters during what appears to be arts and crafts time. Naked arts and crafts time, as Jadis sits sans duds, except for a work apron, turning items from the junkyard into a sculpture of what may or may not be Shiva.
A knock at the junkyard gate announces Rick’s arrival, and he’s brought in for a meeting with Jadis, surrounded by two circles of Heapsters. She wants to know why he’s there, since she shot him the last time he saw her. Rick insists she only “grazed” him; he’d still be angry if she had shot him, he tells her. He says he and his cohorts have the upper hand now, and he’s there to invite the Heapsters to switch sides (again) and team with the alliance of Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom. He passes around the Polaroids he took at the Sanctuary as proof that he has Negan and the Saviors on the ropes, and tells Jadis she can either throw in with him, or he and his people will come back and destroy her and her people.
“Threats and dreams … dreams and threats,” Brion says. Rick says his people know where he is, and what happens next depends on what Jadis decides right now.
“No,” she says, and Rick is led away to a giant shipping container with air holes.
Later, Jadis walks by the box and draws a giant “A” on it with chalk. Inside, we see Rick is sitting on the ground, naked … while Daryl is off apparently ignoring Rick’s plan.
* Where’s Morgan? We haven’t seen him since his throwdown with Jesus in 803. Where do we think he’ll pop up next? Back at the Kingdom? At Alexandria? Or maybe he’s gone back to Eastman’s cabin in the woods?
* With Carol’s new friendship with Henry, that means Melissa McBride has now worked closely with two Lintz siblings: Macsen, who plays Henry, and his older sister, Madison, who played Carol’s daughter, Sophia.
* Aaron and Enid leave on a mission he says will “make sure we win,” and he says they might be gone for a while … any guesses about where they’re headed?
* F-bomb count: still zero.
* That helicopter in last week’s episode? Not seen or heard or mentioned this week.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
Revisiting the toy-less first ‘Star Wars’ Christmas 40 years ago
Holiday Gift Guide: 21 ideas for pop culture junkies
‘Aladdin’: 25 fun facts about the Disney classic for its 25th anniversary