Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC)
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC)

The blood is flowing in the latest episode of “The Walking Dead.” With the threat of The Saviors at an all-time high, characters are pushed to their absolute limits in order to survive. While a few problems are present, this episode is yet another intense and jarring chapter of the story.

A large focus of this half season has been on Carol’s internal struggle of having to kill people in order to survive and protect her group. The beginning of this episode shows Carol preparing a bag of supplies, which she hides under the bed from Tobin. He shares with Carol his sadness over the death of Denise, but Carol zones out. Later, Carol is shown sneaking away with her supply bag as Tobin sleeps. A sequence follows that shows several characters going about their daily tasks as Johnny Cash’s “It’s All Over” plays; if that isn’t foreshadowing I don’t know what is. Glenn and Maggie shower together while Abraham takes over Sasha’s post at the gate lookout post. Rosita awkwardly watches Abraham and Sasha have a brief moment of flirtation. Michonne and Rick are shown cuddling in bed where they discuss the threat of the Saviors. This scene displays just one example of religious imagery that this series frequently incorporates. Michonne and Rick snack on an apple; possibly symbolic of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Later, Michonne meets up with Glenn and Maggie to establish security plans. Maggie proposes that they hide caches of guns and ammunition throughout Alexandria to assure that weapons are available in the event of an attack. At the main gate, Daryl drives up in his motorcycle and hurriedly leaves, amidst protests from Abraham and Rosita. Glenn and Michonne rush over and leave with Rosita to try to catch up with Daryl. Tobin arrives at Rick’s house, where he delivers Carol’s goodbye note. They meet up with Abraham, Sasha and Morgan at the front gate and conclude that Carol snuck out when Sasha and Abraham were changing shifts. Morgan and Rick take a car and leave Alexandria in search of Carol. This is a problem that I have with this episode. Some of the group’s strongest fighters leave Alexandria in midst of a major crisis. The search efforts for Carol and Daryl were not well organized and feel amateur for our group.

On the road, Carol drives past a group of Saviors in a pickup truck who shoot out her tires. Carol steps out of her car and pleads for the Saviors to leave her alone. They demand information about her camp, but Carol tells them that she has no home. The Saviors are able to deduce that Carol came from Alexandria based on the spikes on her car; several cars with spikes are outside of Alexandria’s gate as a way to trap walkers. Carol tearfully begs for the Saviors to leave, but they maniacally joke about her weak nature. This proves to be a deadly mistake as Carol uses a hidden gun in her sleeve to shoot nearly all of the men. After the shootout, a lone Savior chases after Carol, but she uses a one of the spikes to impale him. Carol’s run in with the group of Saviors is incredibly ironic as Carol originally left Alexandria because she didn’t want to kill anyone else. However, the harshness and danger of the world places Carol in the position where she must kill. Once again, Melissa McBride delivers a stellar and award-worthy performance; Carol is truly one of television’s finest and most complex characters.

Morgan and Rick follow Carol’s tire tracks and eventually arrive at the scene of the shootout. Before they arrive, however, a surviving Savior staggers away from the scene and into the forest. Rick proclaims how proud he is of Carol for eliminating the threat; he also refers to her as “a force of nature.” Rick and Morgan follow a trail of blood into a field, which they presume is from Carol. Morgan shares with Rick that he learned about Carol’s banishment from the Prison after she killed Karen and David in order to prevent a virus from spreading. Rick explains that she made the right decision, even if he didn’t agree with her at the moment. Rick’s decision to banish Carol rather than kill her allowed for her to save the group at Terminus. Morgan and Rick come across a farm where they encounter a man armed with a Hilltop Colony spear who claims he is looking for his horse. Walkers arrive and the man flees, but Rick tries to shoot him; Morgan intervenes claiming that the man is possibly innocent. Morgan decides to tell Rick about the altercation with the Wolf in “Start to Finish” and “No Way Out.” He explains that because the Wolf saved Denise, she was able to save Carl in turn. Morgan’s justification of himself keeping the Wolf as a prisoner is incredibly flawed. Denise never would have been taken hostage by the Wolf if Morgan would have killed him the first chance he had. Also, it’s unclear how Morgan knew that the Wolf saved Denise as Carol was the only witness. I understand where Morgan is coming from, however, his logic is questionable. Morgan sends Rick back to Alexandria while he continues searching.

The other search party of Rosita, Michonne and Glenn return to the train tracks where Denise was killed by Dwight. Michonne discovers Daryl’s motorcycle and Rosita infers that Daryl is hunting Dwight. Rosita leads Glenn and Michonne in the direction that Dwight fled and they eventually catch up to Daryl. Glenn and Michonne plead for Daryl to return home, but he refuses, citing his role in Denise’s murder; in “Always Accountable,” Daryl naively chose not to kill Dwight, who later escaped with his crossbow. Rosita decides to join Daryl, clearly as a result of her shared guilt about Denise. Michonne and Glenn begin making their way back, but are ambushed by Dwight and Saviors. Daryl’s quest for vengeance is completely understandable and truly develops his character.

Dwight holds Daryl at gunpoint. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.)
Dwight holds Daryl at gunpoint. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.)

Rick returns to Alexandria and meets up with Abraham. These two characters parallel each other as they share their similar fears of becoming romantically involved with someone new; Rick with Michonne and Abraham with Sasha. Enid and Maggie share a few scenes together in this episode. Maggie arrives at the pantry to take a break and eat lunch before resuming her lookout shift. Enid decides to take over her shift and orders Maggie to rest and relax. Later Enid arrives at Maggie’s house where she gives her a haircut; Maggie comments “I have to keep going and I don’t want anything getting in my way.” This haircut likely represents a shift in Maggie’s character, similar to when Shane cut his hair and when Rick shaved his beard. Suddenly, Maggie collapses to the floor in a fit of pain. She screams as Enid watches in horror. Did Maggie lose the baby? The danger of pregnancy is only heightened by the fact that Alexandria no longer has a doctor; the Hilltop luckily does have Dr. Carson, who is an obstetrician. My fears about Maggie’s pregnancy are linked to a theory proposed by Lori during her pregnancy in Season 3; if a baby dies in the womb, will it turn and devour the mother from the inside? Hopefully, Maggie’s baby is safe, but this disturbing theory is a definite possibility. The episode ends with Daryl and Rosita locating Michonne and Glenn bound and gagged next to a campfire. Glenn tries to warn them, but Dwight and a Savior ambush Daryl and Rosita at gunpoint. Dwight fires his gun at Daryl and a massive amount of blood splatters on the camera. The screen cuts to black and Dwight chillingly says “you’ll be alright.” This massive cliffhanger creates multiple questions; was Daryl actually shot and will he survive?

“East” proves that Rick and the group severely underestimated the capabilities of the Saviors. This penultimate episode is truly amazing and nicely sets up the finale.  As the season comes to an end, the various individual storylines are beginning to merge together. Few problems exist with the actions of the characters, however, these problems are nothing new to this series. With multiple cliffhangers, next week’s season finale is sure to be action packed. The previews promise that “the price will be paid” and tease the arrival of Negan. What madness awaits our characters? Be sure to tune in to the Season Finale of “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Jeffrey Kopp is the Community Editor of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead."