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By Bryan Bishop & Nick Statt


Bryan Bishop: Last week the people that nabbed Carol và Maggie were mysterious voices on the other over of a walkie talkie, but this week’s episode starts with how that all went down. There’s Alicia Witt’s Paula, the hardened leader of this group, the older woman Molly, & a couple of others. Negan is certainly not with them, but from the way this group behaves it’s obvious they are just as matter-of-fact in the way they giảm giá with murder as Rick’s group has become.

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They decide to lớn buy time, even though the man that Rick has captured is Primo, their doctor. They’re scary, but not because they’re larger than life. They’re scary because they’re so recognizable.

Bryan: This episode is firmly focused on the trauma women suffer in the zombie apocalypse, and nowhere is that more evident than in the interrogation between Maggie và her captor. First Maggie is called out for the violence her group has committed — "You’re not the good guys," she’s told — before discovering that her captor’s boyfriend was one of the Negan disciples blown lớn hell by Daryl a few weeks back.

The knife turns just a little bit more when Maggie discovers that the tattoo of "Frankie" on the woman’s arm wasn’t a nod to that dead boyfriend, but rather a remembrance of a baby she was going khổng lồ have and ended up losing. It’s an extremely quiet scene, và one that didn’t actually sway my ql score either way. But I’m including it here because the entire point of this episode isn’t about plot twists or kills. It’s about the fragility of human life, và the idea that how these characters fight khổng lồ protect & honor it will dictate who they’re going to become.


Nick Statt: Carol’s shift from dependent mother and survivor of abuse lớn ruthless killer is arguably TWD's strongest character arc. So it was beyond strange to lớn watch Carol play the weak counterpoint to lớn her fellow female captors this episode in a dose of brilliant acting from Melissa McBride, who manages to lớn keep viewers’ heads spinning throughout the entire exchange.

Is it all an act? At first, you believe it has khổng lồ be. But the more you watch Carol & Paula pick each other apart, the more you start lớn realize the Carol we used khổng lồ know has always been there, holding onto her basic humanity the whole time.

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Bryan: When Carol started cutting through her bonds with the rosary, I felt an incredible sense of relief: yes, after all of the back & forth with Alicia Witt’s character, she had just been bluffing after all. But then when she helped Maggie get free, it was obvious things weren’t so clear. Carol wanted khổng lồ just escape, but Maggie drew the hard line. "Carol, we have to finish this," she said. "We have to."

The ruthlessness with which Maggie started her attack was breathtaking; first setting up a zombie trap for The Smoking Lady & then brutally beating her skull in, her mouth snarled while blood spattered on the camera lens. It was the inverse of the scene with her interrogator: here was Maggie, a fierce and protective mother, making sure nobody could vày any harm khổng lồ her child. It was animalistic, sure, but that’s the point we’re getting lớn now in the show: as much as these characters are trying to hold on lớn their humanity, they’re being stripped of it moment by moment, until only their most basic survival instincts are left. It’s disturbing, but I bởi think showrunner Scott Gimple is going somewhere with all of this.

Nick: Carol tells Maggie in a moment of exasperation that she’s killed 18 people, và then corrects herself. "20," she says. Those two extra kills told viewers that throughout Carol’s terror-stricken dialogue with Paula, she was always more scared of what she’s become than what would be done to lớn her.

One kill, a bullet lớn the head of the Savior who almost stabbed Maggie in the stomach, was quick và painless. Paula’s death, on the other hand, was one of the show’s most gruesome. Without even wasting a breath, Carol picks up her walkie talkie, imitates Paila’s voice, và sets up the rescue crew khổng lồ be burned alive on the aptly named kill floor. "Nervous little bird … you were her, but not now, right?" Paula asks Carol before her unpleasant demise. Despite her rising kill count, Carol seems khổng lồ disagree.


Bryan: I’ve never felt my emotions swing so quickly. First, Maggie opens the door khổng lồ the outside and sees Glenn & her friends waiting there for her. It’s instant relief, and Maggie tells Glenn that she can’t fight or kill anymore. Carol is also clearly shaken by her own actions, & when Daryl asks if she’s alright she doesn’t even bother trying khổng lồ put on her usual mask of detached stoicism.

Rick, on the other hand, continues khổng lồ act with cold efficiency. He turns khổng lồ the character that we, the audience, know goes by the name of Primo, and asks him about Negan. "I’m Negan, shithead," Primo says, & Rick promptly shoots him in the head.

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The final shot is blood trickling from Carol’s hand as her rosary cuts into her clenched fist. She, of course, remembers the moment earlier in the episode, where The Smoking Lady explained that in this group’s philosophy, they are all "Negan." She understands that Primo was likely just spouting the tiệc nhỏ line. & she realizes that this round of violence isn’t over, và that Rick and her group are slowly, inexorably being drawn into a buzzsaw that goes by the name of Negan.