Warning: General spoilers ahead
One more week, folks. Only one more week until The Walking Dead returns for the 2nd half of season 7, and Sunday’s will be perfect once again. With the current chaotic and tense political environment, I couldn’t be more thrilled because to be honest, I need a good distraction. How about you? I think we all do. And, The Walking Dead is just what the doctor ordered.
What makes this even better news is the mid-season premiere is a fantastic, top-notch opener to the back half of the season, and for those who may have complained about the format and pace of the earlier episodes, I think you’ll be pleased. While it is a slightly extended episode, the extra time in this case is warranted, and every last minute is needed to tell the full story. It’s very fast-paced, with all of the communities visited (even the Sanctuary and Negan, albeit for only a brief moment), and there’s even time left to introduce us to a new community.
As we may recall from the mid-season finale, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) finally agrees to fight Negan (Jeffrey Dean-Morgan) and the Saviors, and the premiere continues with that storyline. Unfortunately, as Rick and the Alexandrians quickly discover, this is much easier said than done. Gregory (Xander Berkeley) is still adamant on not getting the Hilltop involved, and even though Maggie (Lauren Cohan) — AKA “Margaret” as Gregory now calls her — makes a pretty good argument, still no dice. That’s when Jesus (Tom Payne) decides it’s time for Rick and Co. to meet King Ezekiel (Khary Payton).
After getting past the initial shock of meeting a leader who calls himself a “King” and who sports a pet tiger, the time comes for Rick to make his pitch to Ezekiel for their two groups joining forces to fight the Saviors. During this time, there is also a very happy reunion between Rick’s group and Morgan (Lennie James), and for a short while, it seems like Rick’s connection to Morgan — whom Ezekiel likes and trusts — might work to his advantage. Well, that turns out to be short-lived. Ultimately, Ezekiel asks Morgan for his input about whether they should fight the Saviors, and the answer isn’t one that Rick wanted to hear. To everyone’s dismay, Morgan recommends that perhaps a better plan might be to just take out only Negan, and then, maybe the Saviors will fall due to their charismatic leader being dead. At that moment, Rick just closes his eyes and hangs his head. You’ll have to watch to learn what Ezekiel’s final decision is and why he makes the decision, but I can’t imagine Morgan’s recommendation helping much.
Besides visiting both the Hilltop and the Kingdom, Rick’s group also spends a great deal of time on the road scavenging, even after Daryl (Norman Reedus) escaping from the Sanctuary and the threat of the Saviors showing up anytime at Alexandria. That is primarily thanks to Jesus and his quick thinking while he was at the Sanctuary. He managed to snatch one of the Saviors’ long-range radios, and so, now, they have the advantage of always knowing what is going on at the Sanctuary and what their next move is (this includes hearing Negan giving an eulogy at “Fat Joey”‘s funeral). This proves to be very useful after they hear that Simon and his group of croonies are heading to Alexandria to look for Daryl, with the full intent of killing him once they find him. Don’t worry, Rick is able to out-smart Simon. Tune in next week to find out how he pulls it off.
Now, what about that new community? Thinking back to the mid-season finale, you probably recall a stranger in boots being seen watching Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) while he was in the watchtower. Well, Rick’s group finally come face-to-face with this “Boots” and his/her community (a VERY large community BTW) in the final moments of the episode after Father Gabriel goes missing. Friends? Foes? Given the sheer size of this new community, let’s hope for our heroes’ sake, it’s the former.
Episode 7.09 of The Walking Dead is titled “Rock In The Road” and airs Sunday, February 12th, at 9/8c on AMC.
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com