The Walking Dead recap: No exceptions

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

Who said creating a working society in the wake of a zombie apocalypse was going to be easy?

Presumably, Rick Grimes doesn’t know he’s about to die. Or… whatever it is that’s going to explain his absence from The Walking Dead. I’m not a spoiler gal, so I don’t know what Rick Grimes’ fate is going to be, and I certainly don’t want to know until I see it with my own two eyeballs. What I do know is that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is acting like a man with a finite amount of time. And things aren’t exactly going his way.

Last week I spoke about how Rick seemed to be working to build a world governed primarily by capable and complex women. This week continued the trend of showcasing these women in action. We see Michonne (Danai Gurira) hard at work on the peace charter, Carol (Melissa McBride) continue to provide value as a savvy and fair leader, and Maggie… well, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is struggling. So is Daryl (Norman Reedus), a would-be leader in a Rick-less world.

These are the central characters we’ve been with for years now, and the core of the TWD Family. As we’re about to lose Rick, it’s curious to see where they all stand as the world begins to rebuild and moral codes are tested.

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Let’s start with Michonne. First, if we don’t see a meaningful interaction between Michonne and Carol this season, I’ll scream. These two characters have been on the same journey for eons now, and they’ve rarely shared any sort of dialogue, which seems impossible, but it’s true. Okay. Deep breath. Now, second, Michonne is prepping the charter that she and Maggie tentatively agreed to back at the Hilltop. Advocating for work/life balance, Rick interrupts and suggests a fun activity that will also help build a new world. YES. More Richonne in the world, please. Because TV sperm is magic sperm, y’all know Michonne is definitely pregnant. So, obviously it’s time to start early speculation on what she’ll name the baby. Andrea? Rick Jr? Discuss.

The Grimes family has a wholesome family day, and the montage is bittersweet given that we know Rick isn’t long for this world. I’m grateful for what we’re getting though. Rick racing Judith on all fours down their hallway is possibly one of the most innocent and joyous things he’s ever done on this show, and the man deserves a few moments of levity before meeting whatever fate befalls him.

The family day is cut short, however, because greasy Savior has been found in the woods. He dead. And the Saviors are worried.

Yet, the Saviors concern about their safety and welfare doesn’t stop them from being jerkholes. Jed (Rhys Coiro) confronts Maggie as she rolls into town with her trusty steed. He nabs a tomato from the back, and just generally tries to intimidate her. Not gonna work, pal. Also, bad move. In true Walking Dead fashion, I’m already imagining how this guy is going to die. Preferably screaming.

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Cooper Andrews as Jerry, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Sydney Park as Cyndie, Nadine Marissa as Nabila – Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Cooper Andrews as Jerry, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Sydney Park as Cyndie, Nadine Marissa as Nabila – Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

Once Maggie finds greasy dude’s body, and foul play is suspected, a fight threatens to bubble over at the camp. A few of the reformed Saviors attempt to mollify their peers, but most of these guys might not be as redeemable as your average Joe. Gabriel steps in. Carol steps in. Daryl keeps an eye out from the side, as does Maggie. But the groups don’t back down until Rick flies in on his horse, hope in his eyes and a fire in his heart. Rick wants to make it work. Rick. The man who once bit another man’s throat out with his bare teeth. Rick. The man who killed his best friend. That Rick.

In another mentorship moment, Rick takes Daryl aside and asks him to consider trying to lead. He invokes an old memory from Season 1, reminding Daryl of when Rick left Merle on the rooftop to die. Daryl didn’t kill Rick at that time – perhaps because the apocalypse was so new then that some of the old laws still felt like they applied – and they became an unstoppable team and inseparable family.

The Walking Dead has always advocated for redemption for what might be seen as unredeemable actions, but with the integration of the Saviors into the group, there seems to be a marked divide springing up. Some people are brought to violence to survive, and others are just bad people. Rick is the former. Many of the Saviors are the latter. But how much damage can the unredeemable Saviors do before justice can be served?

When the groups go out looking for greasy Savior’s attacker, Maggie and Cyndie (Sydney Park) provide the thrilling adrenaline rush of the episode as they take out a gaggle of walkers attracted to the banging of a loose metal shingle on a rooftop. Daryl, Rosita (Christian Serratos), and Rick catch up with the two women, and then they discover Bea (Briana Venskus) has been knocked unconscious, and Arat (Elizabeth Ludlow) has been taken.

Seeing as Arat had proven that she can be trusted, the group feels responsible to get her back. The top minds of the camp huddle in a tent, and Jerry (Cooper Andrews) asks what everyone’s thinking when he says, “Is this going to be a Gregory or a Negan?” There it is. There’s the divide that Maggie created when she expressly flouted Rick’s example and executed Gregory in front of a captive audience.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

Our gang continues to search into the night, with Carol and Rick taking one area, and Maggie and Daryl taking another. Each of them run into issues that directly challenge Rick’s ‘no kill’ rules. Rick and Carol get attacked by two idiot Saviors who demand guns so they can leave and go back to the Sanctuary safely. Of course Queen Carol can handle herself, and she magically produces a tiny knife out of nowhere in order to take down the threat. However, when Jed asks why they don’t just kill him, Carol is the one to echo Rick’s sentiment from before, saying, “every life counts.”

Elsewhere in the wilds of this new world, Maggie and Daryl encounter a different challenge. Perhaps drawn by Cyndie’s admission that her people used to live near the bridge before they fled to Oceanside, Maggie makes a beeline for the Hollowbrook Outreach Center. Surrounded by a bright and cheery fence of road signs, the center has clearly been abandoned for awhile. Maggie spots her missing fuel cans, and then hears a commotion coming from the side of the building.

It’s Cyndie, Bea, and a few other Oceanside women. And they have Arat. Just like Maggie, they can’t let the past go, and they want revenge on the Saviors that killed their beloved family members. When she made the choice to hang Gregory, she just showed that vigilante justice was acceptable. This murder tableau, featuring a clearly repentant Arat, somehow confirms Maggie’s choice, and she leaves the Oceanside ladies to do as they please. Emboldened by the women’s actions, Maggie and Daryl decide to head off to see Negan, moving toward a possible showdown with their old pals Rick and Michonne.

Until next week…

Next. The Walking Dead Recap: Come Together. dark

Random Thoughts Before I Go:

  • We only got a few minutes with the Gabriel / Anne storyline this week. She’s back in contact with the helicopter people, and she’s taking Gabriel with her as a hostage for a trade with this unknown community. Honestly, I’m curious to see where this leads, but a wrench is about to be thrown into the gears with Rick’s death, and a new order will need to be firmly established before moving forward. IMHO, we don’t need another community cluttering up the works right now.  Hoping they’ll hold off until 9B, but the Whisperers are on deck, and the Commonwealth is in the near distance… so probably not.
  • Is there something going on between Cyndie and Daryl? There have been two definite moments between the two so far this season, and I’m intrigued to see how their bond will play out.
  • At the start of the episode, Rick picks a tomato and brings it to Carl’s grave. That’s sweet and all, but tomatoes are precious calories! Dead men don’t eat tomatoes, Rick. Bring flowers next time.

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