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

Jason Douglas as Tobin and Melissa McBride as Carol. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Jason Douglas as Tobin and Melissa McBride as Carol. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)

The balance between one’s humanity and the need to survive is the central focus in this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead.” Just how far are people willing to go to insure the safety of their loved ones? “Not Tomorrow Yet” takes the time to explore this question for each of the characters. Some problems exist, but this episode is yet another strong chapter in the intense and captivating saga of our beloved survivors.

After being absent from the previous two episodes, Carol is finally back in action, but in an unexpected way. The episode begins with a montage of Carol’s daily life in Alexandria. Collecting ingredients, baking cookies and distributing to the various citizens of Alexandria shows viewers that Carol still maintains her friendly neighbor persona. Morgan confronts Carol at the cemetery and asks her why she hasn’t said anything to Rick about the Wolf that Morgan was holding prisoner. She pretty much ignores his question, highlighting the fact that Carol feels guilty about killing the Wolf in “No Way Out.” Before leaving the cemetery, Carol places a cookie on Sam’s grave. This was a small, yet touching moment that brings closure to the difficult relationship that Carol had with Sam. In the middle of the night, Carol wakes up and writes a list of all the people she has killed, totaling 18. She walks over to Tobin’s house where an unexpected romance begins to take shape. Tobin tells Carol that she is essentially a motherly figure to the people of Alexandria, but not to him. Tobin and Carol have shared only a few scenes together, so a romantic relationship between the two feels somewhat forced and awkward. Is this just a short fling or will their relationship last?

At the church, Rick holds a meeting to discuss the deal established with the Hilltop. He explains that striking the Saviors preemptively will create peace and allow for Alexandria and Hilltop to exist without fears of being attacked later down the road. Morgan insists that Rick try to speak with the Saviors to avoid unnecessary killing. Later, Maggie tells Glenn that she will be joining the group on their assault, but will be taking on a safer role due to her pregnancy. Rosita checks in on Abraham, who is packing his bags. He cruelly breaks up with her as a peeping Eugene watches on. While the brewing love triangle between Abraham, Sasha and Rosita was my major complaint about last week’s episode, it was handled much better here. Rick seeks help from Hilltop’s Andy to figure out the best way to storm the Savior compound. Andy draws a map and Rick declares that they will attack at night when most of the Saviors are asleep. The scenes in Alexandria represent soldiers preparing for war while saying their goodbyes, knowing that they may never return home.

The next day, Rick leads a caravan to the Savior compound. They stop near the compound to search for a walker that resembles Gregory. The purpose of this can be explained by a deal mentioned last episode to deliver Gregory’s head to the Saviors in exchange for a Hilltop resident being held hostage. Rosita shares with Carol her anger about hiding Morgan’s secret from the rest of the group, but Carol surprisingly defends Morgan. In the forest, Heath and Glenn disclose to each other their shared nervousness about killing the Saviors as neither have killed another human before. Back on the road, Carol worriedly questions as to why Maggie was allowed to come along on the mission; she then decides to stay behind to stand guard with Maggie. This is a major problem that I have with this episode. Although Maggie is an extremely skilled fighter, her pregnancy presents a perfect reason for her to stay behind in Alexandria. There was no real reason for her to join the mission that promised to be exceptionally dangerous. Rick walks over to Jesus and Andy where he selects a walker head to be used in the ploy. The preparation scenes on the road are eerie and fill with character development.

Andy arrives at the Savior compound. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Andy arrives at the Savior compound. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)

Night falls and Andy drives up to the compound where he meets with two guards. He presents “Gregory’s head” to which they inspect and sadistically joke about before sharing that they are satisfied. The Hilltop hostage, Craig, is returned to Andy. Rick’s group ambush and kill the two guards giving the team clearance into the building. The group enters in military formation and begin searching room by room. Glenn and Heath find a room with two sleeping Saviors. After managing to go nearly six full seasons without killing another human being, Glenn is finally forced to murder. Glenn notices a collection of Polaroid photos depicting the bodies of victims of the Saviors. Meanwhile, Gabriel, Tara, Jesus, Andy and Craig wait outside where they discuss Tara’s recent declaration of love to Denise; Jesus tells her “you know what you’re fighting for.” With the imminent danger of the mission, this quote perfectly represents the motives of the characters.

Inside the compound, Abraham and Sasha work their way through a hallway, checking behind each door. A lone Savior appears and attacks Abraham with a knife. Sasha lunges and repeatedly stabs the man, but not before he is able to pull a fire alarm. Outside, Maggie and Carol hear the alarm sounds; Maggie demands that they go in to help, but Carol sternly tells her to stay put. Tara sends Andy and Craig back to the Hilltop to fulfill the deal. Back inside, an intense firefight erupts between Rick’s group and the now awake Saviors. Each character makes their way through the maze of hallways killing Saviors left and right. A few Saviors manage to flee the compound, but Tara immediately shoots them; this is also the first time that Tara has had to kill other humans. Gabriel approaches an injured Savior and begins reciting a prayer, before shooting him; this is Gabriel’s first human kill as well. Glenn and Heath find themselves being chased by a large group of Saviors. They take refuge in the armory where they quickly arm themselves and unload a torrent of bullets on their assailants. Jesus arrives and kills a lone survivor. Greg Nicotero’s expert skills as a director are put on full display in this sequence. Nicotero once again proves himself to potentially be this series greatest director.

The dust settles and the sun comes up as the group exits the building, relieved that the threat has been eliminated. Heath and Tara head off on their two-week scavenging run. A single Savior barges out of the building on a motorcycle, but Rosita immediately shoots him. Rick rushes over and holds the injured man at gunpoint, but a woman’s voice comes over the man’s walkie-talkie. The woman orders Rick’s group to lower their weapons, but Rick quickly refuses. Ominously, the woman utters “we’ve got a Carol and a Maggie. We’re thinking that’s something you want to chat about.” Who is this unknown woman? It is now clear that Rick severely underestimated the abilities of the Saviors. With only one hostage of their own, will Rick be able to get both Carol and Maggie back?

“Not Tomorrow Yet” is a thrilling ride showcasing the cohesive unit that Rick’s group is when they work together. The desire for safety pushes our characters to commit dark and grim actions. The inclusion of Maggie in the mission is a major problem of the episode, along with the sudden romance between Carol and Tobin. Another prominent problem exists with Morgan, whose story is becoming increasingly stale and repetitive. This episode, however, stands strong and sets up the rest of the season nicely. With two of the group’s integral members being held hostage, how will the group dynamic change? Don’t miss “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."