A sickness from Fear the Walking Dead has stricken its parent show. It’s the idea of being “stuck,” something Morgan said multiple times on this season of the Walking Dead-spawned series, and it’s something Michonne utters during a conversation with Negan.
She continues to fight for the living and for this ideal society they’ve created by joining the colonies, but it’s the restlessness that keeps her up at night. During the day, she plants crops, plays with Judith, and mans the day-to-day at Alexandria, but the warrior gene awakens at night. During one of these moonlit skirmishes with a walker, she loses her sword and is forced to pick up the closest weapon she can fashion to subdue the dead. The weapon in her hand, she realizes, is a bat, now stained with walker guts and evoking the image of Negan, who haunts them all in different ways. Every day is a struggle to keep those tendencies at bay, yet they are still “stuck.”
Maggie, Daryl, and Oceanside are stuck in their need for vengeance. They’ve orchestrated a plan for Maggie to assassinate Negan. When Jesus intercepts Maggie at Hilltop, unable to dissuade her from this path, he radios Rick at the camp with the cryptic message saying she’s heading to Alexandria. Rick knows what this means and tries to send an emergency message to Alexandria through the radio relay, but an Oceansider is the first to hear it, and she doesn’t pass it along. Daryl overhears this and offers to drive Rick to Alexandria, but really he takes him in the wrong direction. The two friends fight and end up knocking each other into a deep pit dug out by someone (we don’t know who or if it even matters) in the dirt. They are literally stuck.
This whole conversation is a tired addition. It was already strung out across an entire season on Fear, and the idea of revisiting it in another setting is about as appealing as watching Eugene devour a jar of pickles in one sitting. But the powers that be seem content to let it play out anyway.
We never see Maggie make it to Alexandria, by the way, because most of the hour is spent unpacking this subject. As Rick and Daryl lay out their arguments — one arguing that killing Negan will make him a martyr, the other saying a living Negan is a symbol to those waiting for the old ways to return — Michonne goes to Negan, who is on a hunger strike. He mentions his wife, who died of cancer before the outbreak, and gets Michonne to talk about Andre, her son who “just didn’t make it.” Using the same rhetoric as Morgan and the Filthy Woman on Fear, he sees their deaths as a good thing because they would’ve made both Negan and Michonne weak in this new world. She returns later when she can’t shake his comments if only to prove to herself that she isn’t as similar to Negan as he might think. She also learns this conversation was partially for Negan to see if he could get Michonne to let him see his bat. She laughs and says they don’t have it. Lucille is still out there somewhere.
Gabriel is another who’s physically stuck. He comes to the junkyard, lying on the ground tied up before Anne, who’s hovering over him with a limb-less walker stuck to a hand truck. She’s about to kill him because there’s only one place for her to go now (this mystery colony) and he’s her price of admission. He’s able to talk her out of taking his lie by apologizing for his failures, so instead, she knocks him out again and sticks him in a shipping container. When he wakes up, all he can find is a note stuck to his inner jacket pocket announcing her departure alone. We don’t get any other sign of the other two colonies because this show loves to draw things out.
Meanwhile, the Saviors are ready for a fight. Carol and the others are packing up camp; with the rising water level and increasing river current, the bridge doesn’t look like it will hold long term, and it’s too dangerous for them to continue the project with such small numbers. Judd, having stolen a gun off another worker, leads his group against the camp to demand guns. They know Oceanside’s been killing their people and they want war. Judd underestimates Carol once again, and she’s able to subdue him, but the attack prompts the others to open fire on the Saviors.
Rick and Daryl hear the bullets from the pit and fear it will draw the two herds that’ve been spotted in the area. Walkers begin to fall down into the pit with them, but they’re able to claw their way up and out. Sure enough, one of the herds is waiting for them. Rick, hopping on a white horse that fled from the chaos at camp, says he’s going to lead the walkers away from their people while Daryl heads back. He ends up inadvertently leading the herd to the second herd. When his horse spots them, it spooks and knocks Rick off, impaling him on a metal spike jutting out from a cinder block. In a cliffhanger moment, he slowly falls unconscious as both herds converge.
I wouldn’t bet on Rick getting killed off so early on in season 9, but I suppose more dramatic things have happened. If anything, perhaps it’ll serve as an introduction for one of the other groups coming up. In his delirious state, will some of the walkers start “whispering” to him? Maggie also comes around three slain walkers on her way to Alexandria, two with severed heads and one with an ax in the back, another whodunit moment.