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‘Walking Dead’ Recap: As the War Nears Its End, Will the Good Guys Stay Good?

”The King, the Widow, and Rick“ is another episode that sets the stage for what feels like an impending final showdown

(There are many spoilers here for the Nov. 26 episode of AMC’s “The Walking Dead, obviously.)

“If there’s one thing that watching the opening to Season 8, episode 6 of “The Walking Dead” drove home to me, it’s that this entire season so far has taken place in a pretty compressed time frame. In fact, we haven’t seen any scenes at night yet, so it very well could be that this whole thing has just been a single day, given how the various plot threads have all occurred simultaneously. Just something to think about as we near the end of this half-season (just two more episodes after this one).

This episode opens with a bit of an emotional montage that bounces around to all the key characters. The various protagonist groups are sending each other messages that are narrated by the authors over the opening. The messages from Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Carol (Melissa McBride) recap Season 8 events so far. Rick’s excursions have been wholly successful; the Hilltop’s efforts have, as well, though Maggie knows she faces a tough choice with the Savior prisoners Jesus brought back; and the Kingdom’s raid worked, but almost everyone was killed so their situation kinda sucks.

Rick’s message concluded by reflecting on their losses, before noting that despite that the war is going the way they want it to go, it’s time for the next phase to begin. “We meet at Sanctuary in two days to end this, to win it all,” Rick says after reminding us that the good guys have the place surrounded with snipers and there are walkers all over the compound.

“The path has led us here, to who we are, to each other, to now. And we’re so close. This can be our last fight.”

And just before the credits roll, we get a look at a group who we haven’t seen since the Season 7 finale: the Scavengers, led by the enigmatic Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), who fought with the Saviors when this war began.

After the credits, we see the Hilltop’s prisoners, who are tied to the outside of the Hilltop wall. Jesus (Tom Payne) is feeding them, and Maggie takes exception to that because she doesn’t want their food wasted on the bad guys. Gregory (Xander Berkeley) chimes in that they should build a gallows and let the Saviors starve to death. Maggie wants him to shut up. I would guess Maggie is also trying to figure out what to do with Gregory, as well.

Jesus, of course, tries to remind Maggie what they’re fighting for — this is about building a civilization that is categorically better than what the Saviors were trying to do. In Jesus’s view, lest we forget, that requires being able to live with those who were once their enemies. “We have to make sure what’s left is worth what we lost,” Jesus tells Maggie pointedly.

In the Kingdom, Carol decides to pay Ezekiel (Khary Payton) a visit, but his door is locked. “The king is not receiving visitors,” Jerry tells her. Carol knocks a few times, shouts about needing to meet up with Rick with whatever fighting forces they can muster, and gives up. A young boy nearby says he wants to fight. Carol blows him off.

Back at the Scavengers’ trash dump, we see that that’s where Rick was heading in the opening. He’s trying to recruit them to fight against the Saviors and join the coalition of Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom. After the battle they fought before, Jadis is skeptical, especially since they killed some of Rick’s people and Jadis herself shot Rick.

“Grazed me,” Rick says. “I’d still be mad if you shot me.”

“We killed your people,” Jadis says.

“We killed some of yours too, but we need you and you need us.”

Rick then explains how the war has gone since their fight last season, making his pitch for the future of civilization — join us or we’ll be forced to consider you to still be on the Saviors’ side, essentially.

Jadis rejects the offer and has her people lock him up in one of their crates.

Gregory and Maggie are alone now, with Gregory trying to give some kind of sanctimonious speech about the weight of leadership. Maggie mocks him, noting how easy it’s been for her not to capitulate completely to the Saviors the way Gregory did. Gregory claims his motivations were pure. And then he offers her some advice.

“At the end of the day, you’re the shepherd. And you can’t have wolves wandering around amongst the sheep.”

Back at Alexandria, the still-injured Michonne (Danai Gurira) has had enough of sitting at home while the war is happening elsewhere. She’s about to head out but is chased down by Rosita (Christian Serratos), who’s been experiencing a similar restlessness for similar reasons. Rosita tries to convince Michonne not to go, but when it becomes clear that attempt is gonna fail, she just hops in the passenger seat and goes along for the ride.

Daryl (Norman Reedus), meanwhile, has just gotten back to Alexandria and is hanging out on Tara’s (Alanna Masterson) porch. Tara tells Daryl that he was right to keep her from killing Dwight back when (last year she had wanted to kill him for murdering her girlfriend) because Dwight turned out to be the reason the good guys are winning the war now. HOWEVER, Tara declares that once the war is over she’s going to get her revenge on Dwight. Daryl agrees, says he’ll help out when the time comes.

Back at the Hilltop (it’s nighttime, finally), some folks inside are building a cage for the prisoners, while Jesus stands watch outside. One of the prisoners tells the story of how he ended up with the Saviors. He tries to sell Jesus on his skills as a worker, saying he was only at the satellite facility because he was going to build a fence. Jesus lightly snaps at the guy, but the conversation confirms what Jesus and Rick have been arguing about this whole war — there really are just regular people among the Saviors, and wiping them all out would turn the good guys into exactly the sort of thing they’re fighting against.

Michonne and Rosita are riding in the car, though Rosita is in the driver’s seat now, so they must have been on the road for a while. They hear music coming from somewhere, and Michonne demands Rosita pull over. They’ve found what they’re looking for: a loud Savior rig that the bad guys hope to use to draw the zombie swarm away from Sanctuary.

We move to ole Carl alone in the woods, where he encounters the guy (Avi Nash) that he tried to give food to in the Season 8 premiere at the gas station. The guy’s name is Siddiq, and Carl has brought him a little bit of food and water again. They chat about the zombie traps that Siddiq has set up all over (this conversation happening near one, in fact), which Siddiq says he maintains because his mother believed that killing the walkers would set their souls free.

Carl then gives Siddiq the test of trustworthiness that Rick used to ask all the new people they met as they wandered around Georgia. He asks how many walkers has Siddiq killed, and he knows the exact number for the reason I just mentioned. He says he’s killed one person as well. Carl decides to bring Siddiq back to Alexandria.

Now we see that Kingdommer kid from before out in the woods trying to fight off a couple zombies with a stick, but Carol shoots them and starts yelling at the kid for following her. The kid again tries to convince Carol that he can help in the fight — the Saviors killed his brother. Carol gives him a gun and they march off.

Back at the Hilltop, Jesus is still hanging out with the prisoners, and Maggie finally gives the order to bring them inside so they can be put in the barbed wire pen the Hilltoppers built for them. Maggie declares that they’re going to treat the prisoners decently, feeding them and all that. Gregory tries to interfere again. “We can’t let people we don’t trust run around inside our walls,” he says.

Maggie agrees and has Gregory thrown in the prisoner cage with the Saviors. Gregory cries a lot.

The one hipster-looking Savior who has been a total douche every time he’s been on screen — his name is Jared — tries to make a move, but Maggie nails him with the butt of her rifle. He tries to taunt her, but she hits him again, shutting him up by knocking him unconscious. The fence-builder Savior thanks Maggie for her generosity.

Carl and Siddiq, meanwhile, are still in the woods heading back when they get into a scuffle with a group of walkers, which they escape from after a bit of a struggle. Siddiq appreciates that Carl stuck with him instead of running away. Carl explains that part of the process is he’s responsible for Siddiq now. Sounds like Carl has a new best friend.

Cutting back to Michonne and Rosita finally, we see them infiltrate the spot where the sound truck is. Michonne accidentally kicks a tennis ball, giving them away. They get in a quick firefight with the pair of Saviors guarding the truck.

Michonne gets in a one-on-one fight with one of them, but she’s clearly not at full fighting strength yet. Rosita, in galaxy brain mode, uses a rocket launcher to blow up the other Savior. The one Michonne was fighting took that as her cue to jump in the sound truck and get the hell out of there, playing music loudly as it goes.

Rosita and Michonne look on sadly as it drives away — but as has happened a few times lately, Daryl comes out of nowhere with a truck of his own and wrecks the Savior’s truck, spilling the speakers everywhere. Tara is with him. The two pairs of fighters are surprised to see each other. They’re gonna team up to do whatever it is that’s next on Daryl’s list of things to do.

Carol, it turns out, took the boy back to the Kingdom and tried to talk to Ezekiel again, succeeding this time. Ezekiel is just over this whole thing. He doesn’t want to be king anymore. Carol gives him exactly the sort of pep talk that Ezekiel used to give.

“You are real. To me. To the Kingdom. The people need their king to lead them,” Carol says. “It has to be you. You inspired them to build this place. To believe in something. 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: play the part.”

But Ezekiel won’t budge.

Back at the Hilltop, the Savior Jared is really itching to do something bad, but the nice Savior is not having it. He really, really doesn’t want Jared to get all of them killed just because he’s a terrible person.

Inside one of the buildings, Aaron (Ross Marquand) is talking with Enid (Katelyn Nacon) and Maggie, finally spilling his heart out the pain he’s feeling after the death of his boyfriend in the war and bringing home the baby Rick found in the Savior outpost. Maggie tells him that bearing that pain never gets easier, “but it helps to do something about it.”

Jesus enters the room and tells them that Gregory is trying to suck up to the Saviors in the pen now that he’s stuck in there with them. Maggie then tells him that she’s keeping the Savior prisoners in case they may be useful for a POW swap at some point. But if they end up not being useful in that way, Maggie says, “we can’t let them live.”

Aaron then decides to rejoin the war, and Enid tags along.

Michonne, Rosita, Daryl and Tara finally make it to the Sanctuary, where the scene remains a gaggle of walkers surrounding the buildings. Daryl says they’re going to “end this thing, right now,” which probably means he’s about to do something that Rick didn’t want him to do.

Speaking of Rick, he’s still locked up in that crate at the Scavengers’ place.

And that’s where the episode ends… on not one but two cliffhangers.