(Spoiler alert: Do not keep reading if you have not seen the midseason premiere of “The Walking Dead”)
The second half of “The Walking Dead” Season 7 began with one of the best episodes in recent memory, filled with heart, laughs, and crazy action.
The episode opens with Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) entering the Alexandria food pantry. We hear a crash offscreen, followed by Gabriel inexplicably emptying out every last scrap of food in the place, along with all the remaining weapons. He then loads all this into the trunk of a car and drives off.
Over at Hilltop, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the group are trying to convince Gregory (Xander Berkeley) to commit the community to the fight against the Saviors, but Gregory displays his trademark cowardice and refuses. But all is not lost.
It turns out Enid (Katelyn Nacon) has been going around Hilltop to rally support among the inhabitants. A group gathers and informs Rick they are willing to fight. Jesus (Tom Payne) then tells the group that it is time they met King Ezekiel (Khary Payton).
The group travels to The Kingdom, where they are slightly taken aback by Ezekiel’s theatrical appearance and, ya know, his pet tiger. Rick makes an impassioned speech imploring Ezekiel to join up with them, but Ezekiel is torn, as he does not want to see his people killed. He tells them he will make his decision by the following morning.
Later, Ezekiel’s soldier Benjamin (Logan Miller) finds the King reciting Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to a little boy as a bedtime story. The two speak afterwards, with Benjamin imploring Ezekiel to side with Rick.
The following morning, Ezekiel tells Rick that he cannot fight the Saviors, and that a tentative peace is still better than war. However, as the Saviors have never entered The Kingdom, Ezekiel offers asylum to Daryl (Norman Reedus), who is a wanted man following his escape from the Sanctuary.
Out on the road, the group discovers a roadblock set up by the Saviors. They have strung high explosives on steel cables between several cars in an effort to block walker herds from reaching the Sanctuary.
Rick decides they cannot pass up an opportunity to get their hands on the explosives and the group sets about disarming them as quickly and carefully as possible. Things take a turn for the worse when they hear Negan over a stolen radio calling for a search party to assemble to search for Daryl, starting with Alexandria.
Adding to the pressure, a walker herd stars bearing down on them. Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira) realize they will not be able to gather all the explosives before the herd arrives, so they take matters into their own hands.
The pair climbs into separate cars with a steel cable running between them, but with the explosives removed. They fire up the cars and drive through the herd, using the cable to cut down the walkers in one of the most innovative and bloody sequences the show has ever accomplished.
They race back to Alexandria just in time, as Simon (Steven Ogg) and a group of Saviors arrive to search for Daryl. They tear Alexandria apart but find nothing. Once they are gone, Rick learns that Gabriel stole the remaining food. He tries to figure out why, and finds a note written in the back of a notebook in the pantry that simply says, “Boat.”
The group travels back to the houseboat that Rick and Aaron (Ross Marquand) found in the first half of the season. There they are surrounded by a large group of strangers toting guns and edged weapons. Rather than showing fear, Rick starts to smile, realizing he may have just found the army he was looking for.