The Walking Dead recap: Come together

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC /

Blossoming romance! A heart-stopping medical procedure! Compromise! Cliffhangers! The feels are officially back in The Walking Dead Season 9.

It’s uncertain how much longer Rick Grimes is going to stick around in the world of the Dead. But we know we’re losing him soon, and the show is playing ball accordingly, setting us up for his loss by having him visibly pass the torch on to other cast members. At the start of the second episode of The Walking Dead Season 9, the famous Rick Grimes addresses an unseen person (it’s Negan, shocker, but we’ll get to that) and tells the tale of rebuilding society. In flashbacks, Rick wanders around a campsite, touching base with his leaders, heading towards a future they’re all helping to rebuild.

And the future is female.

Rick has surrounded himself with capable and confident women. It seems as if Oceanside has fully integrated into the group (it’s about time), Ann (Pollyanna MacIntosh) is cozying up to Gabriel (Seth Gillam), Carol (Melissa McBride) is a trusted and known advisor wherever she goes, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is taking on some serious challenges at Hilltop, and Michonne (Danai Gurira) is prepared, thoughtful, and pragmatic. Even the younger ladies are getting in on the leadership action. Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) are confidently leading up a mission to redirect a herd, and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) is training to be a field doctor.

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It’s wonderful to envision a world in which females have such a large say in shaping the future. Of course, Daryl (Norman Reedus), Aaron (Ross Marquand), Jesus (Tom Payne), Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) are in the mix as well, but they’re all men who value and seek out the advice of ladies. And under the leadership of Angela Kang, the new showrunner of The Walking Dead, it’s easy to envision the show focusing in on a world in which women literally inherit the earth due to their superior decision making skills.

This week, the primary action was split between two different areas, the Hilltop and the Bridge Builders. A bridge is an apt metaphor for this episode as compromise is a key factor in both narratives. Out in the woods, Rick and our gang are trying their best to encourage the Saviors to play nice with the rest of the crew as they repair the roadway, while over in the Hilltop Maggie, Michonne, and Jesus debate redemption, rights, and restructuring societal laws.

Michonne heads to the Hilltop to ask Maggie to negotiate on behalf of the Saviors who aren’t delivering on their promises of clean ethanol fuel. However, that’s just a ploy to get in the door. What Michonne really wants to talk about is creating a more perfect union. And the opportunity to discuss law and order – dun dun! – presents itself in the form of Maggie’s would-be assassin, Ed.

The Walking Dead Season 9
Brett Butler as Tammy Rose, Tom Payne as Paul ‘Jesus’ Rovia – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC /

Instead of killing Ed, Maggie has imprisoned him in the very cells he built for the town as the blacksmith. Ah, irony. Still alive and well in the apocalypse. At the urging of Jesus and Michonne, Maggie first allows Ed’s wife Tammy to visit him, and then chats with Ed about his situation. It’s revealed that he had a drinking problem, and this hits home with Maggie as her own father had an addictive past as well.

The dilemmas that Maggie faces throughout this episode all recall her relationship with her daddy. She’s got mad farming and animal whisperer skills due to Hershel’s careful tutelage, and she also has experience with forgiveness and redemption. Hershel’s memory looms large over this episode, and in the wake of actor Scott Wilson’s death last week, his legacy might even be more pronounced.

Ultimately, after listening to the council of two of her trusted friends and her inner Hershel compass, Maggie decides to provide the food to the Saviors and also agrees to setting certain laws that the growing society will abide by. But Maggie isn’t a fool, and she’s seen enough to know that not everyone can be redeemed. This line of discussion harkens back to Morgan’s “all life is precious” mantra from Season 6, and is reinforced by the knowledge that psychopaths (ex: Negan) and narcissists (ex: Gregory) would have a higher chance of survival in an apocalypse situation. The world is now populated with an elevated percentage of potentially harmful and irredeemable people. Maggie is aware, and she lets Michonne know that she’s going to be flexible with the laws if a situation calls for flexibility.

Over at the bridge camp, Rick has his own problems to deal with. The effort to turn the herd hasn’t gone as planned due to a greasy Savior who doesn’t know how – or care – to charge batteries. He might just be one of the irredeemables.

The Walking Dead Season 9
Rhys Coiro as Jed, Ross Marquand as Aaron – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC /

As a result, the herd plows right into a group of guys cutting lumber for the bridge. Convenient plot twist, but okay. The situation gives us the requisite tension-filled walker sequence that manages to mine some genuine surprise and horror out of a situation we’ve seen literally hundreds of times. The walkers bear down on the site, and Savior Jed (Rhys Coiro of Entourage fame) freaks out and lets go of a log he was hoisting up onto a truck. The giant log smashes down on Aaron’s sweet, precious arm, and Daryl goes into beast mode in an attempt to clear the approaching walkers away from his friend’s trapped body.

The cavalry arrives just in time, and we get some awesome images of women kicking ass as Diane  (Kerry Cahill), the women from Oceanside, and Carol all lead in the fray to clear the herd. Zombieland continues to be right. Cardio is the most important thing in the zombie apocalypse.

Daryl runs Aaron to the infirmary, and Enid’s mettle is tested for the first time as the lone doctor in the camp. In a tension-filled sequence, she makes a series of educated decisions that result in the amputation of Aaron’s arm. It’s graphic, anxiety-provoking, and one of the most deeply visceral and emotional scenes featured on the show in some time. Also, GO ENID!!!

In the aftermath, Rick confronts the greasy Savior responsible for this whole mess. He kicks him out of camp, and in the final moments of the episode, we see the guy walking on the road and getting snatched by an unknown party. Truthfully, I don’t really care what happens to that derelict dude, but the identity of the person(s) who took him could very well shift the storyline for the rest of the season.

But before we potentially meet our next Big Bad, The Walking Dead has made a little time for love. Gabriel and Ann canoodle together in a sweet scene, and then Carol accepts Ezekiel’s proposal in a very Carol way. Happiness can’t reign in the world of the Dead for long, so we can be assured that tragedy is right around the corner.

Next. The Walking Dead Recap: Someone To Follow. dark

Random Thoughts Before I Go:

  • Rick does chat with Negan in bookends to this episode, but I’m still not ready for more Negan after the Negan overdose that was both Seasons 7 and 8. He can sit on a shelf for a bit, getting more beardy.
  • Without an arm, it’s going to be hell for Aaron to change diapers now. Maybe he’ll find a friend in Jesus. (#IShipIt)
  • When Maggie talks to Michonne about addiction, she states, “I count myself as one of them.” Is Michonne in recovery? We still know so very little about her past, and we deserve more as Season 9 progresses.
  • Ann spots another helicopter. Is this girl trippin’ or is she connected to something larger? This is one of the great new mysteries of the show.
  • Speaking of Ann, I’m curious to know if she painted those colorful, abstract portraits in Maggie’s office. They’re fabulous and they include images of Hershel, Glenn, and others we’ve lost, giving a nice homey touch to her office.

‘The Walking Dead’ airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.