This show has changed. The showrunners have said that they try to reinvent the show every 8 episodes or so, but holy shit, this was a big change. I know last week was the episode where the group decided that killing a bunch of people preemptively was a good way to stay fed, but this is when it actually happened. There was still a 0.01% chance Morgan could have talked them down from it (Hey, Holm, McGregor, and the Warriors all lost this weekend. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN), but alas, this was the week where the show really changed.
For the past five and a half seasons, Rick and his gang have had to kill in order to survive at a most basic level: kill this person right now or this person is going to kill me right now. It was all defensive (save for the Termites, but that was an ambush when the Termites were on their way to kill Rick’s group in the church).
But now, they pivoted: kill these people right now because these people may try to kill us in the future. This is a big difference, because these Saviors are people that Rick’s group only has a passing knowledge of: A group of bikers that Daryl spectacularly blew up with the RPG; and stories of the guys who had that one Hilltop guy try to kill Gregory and take his head. Rick and his gang don’t know these people and save for the skirmish with Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha, have not really been threatened by the Saviors.
You could see this change throughout the characters in this episode: Tara was immediately uncomfortable with the idea because (as she later said) she was involved in something scarily similar and didn’t like it one bit. The Governor came into her life, convinced everyone Rick’s group was evil, got a fucking tank, and tried to preemptively kill them to save Tara’s group. We all know how well that ended. Hell, even Jules Gabriel kept quiet. Morgan was the sole dissenter, but the idea of going in and killing people who you don’t even know weighed on everyone - including Rick.
That scene when the team was sweeping through the compound (which isn’t even close to the Saviors’ headquarters - that was just an outpost) killing Saviors in their sleep was one of the harder scenes to watch this series - and we’ve seen kids eaten right in front of us and people lined and slaughtered by cannibals. What the fuck. Rick sort of hesitated there for a second before making the first stealth kill, and you could tell Daryl and Michonne were in a state of disbelief as they guarded the door.
Glenn had never killed a live person up to this point, and the act hit him the hardest. He and Heath had the heart to heart while getting ready, and once Glenn killed the first dude, he saved Heath from having to kill the second - Glenn now knew how bad killing someone made him feel, and wanted to save Heath from that same feeling. That was until everything went to shit and the rest of the Saviors were woken up by the alarm (Thanks Abraham!) Glenn and Heath were chased into the armory by a group of Saviors. They composed themselves, and just blasted the door. When they opened the door, all but one of the Saviors were dead. Neither Glenn or Heath knew which of the Saviors they killed, but did know that together they were responsible for all of them.
Except for that last one that Ninja Jesus finished off. This is the next world.
And that’s the point: The world just changed in a big way. Before, Rick and his group were trying to survive day to day, killing only when it meant they would live for another day. Every establishment they tried to set up or be part of went to shit. Until now. Now, Alexandria survived a massive walker hoard, and they met Jesus, a man from the Hilltop, another self sufficient community. The world was much smaller before Jesus came along. Now, the world is huge. There is more at stake than just surviving to the next day. This is more important than one person - entire communities of people are at risk. Meeting the Hilltop changed Rick. Instead of protecting his own little group, he feels like his group’s, um, particular set of skills, should be used to protect these communities. The Saviors are a threat to all, or so Rick’s told, and the only way to truly protect the new world is to preemptively eliminate that threat. Every community has things it can contribute to the greater civilization in this new world. The Hilltop is a group of vegetable farmers.
Alexandria is a group of lead farmers.
1. Speaking of Ninja Jesus: What about Ninja Gabriel? He’s done a complete 180 since helping keep Judith and those other Alexandrians safe during the walker run. He wore his traditional pastor getup for two reasons: It’s still who he is, and it will make it harder for them to see him at night. WHAT. NINJA PASTOR. And the way he finished off that Savior in the tall grass. Holy shit. He went full Jules Winnfield right there, reciting that verse as he sent the Savior to meet Gabriel’s boss.
My favorite part with Gabriel, though, was when he and Jesus were in the car talking to Tara. Tara was talking to Gabriel as a pastor, because she felt guilty telling Denise that she loved her only to cover up the bad feeling she had because she participated in something similar in the past. Jesus jumped in and asked if Tara really meant it - that she loved Denise - and Gabriel repeated what Jesus said. So meta.
Also: Him finishing off that Savior like that wasn’t for anyone else but him. Gabriel was proving to himself that he had what it takes to survive in this world, especially living in Rick’s group.
2. Even though the Saviors got Maggie and Carol, the two people I’m more concerned for are Heath and Tara. Kirkman already hinted that one character would not be meeting the same fate they had in the comics, so people have been speculating who would actually meet Lucille. In the comics, Negan is looking for the leader, so since they have Maggie, I’m a little concerned that it may be her (especially since she’s preggo and the emotional impact it’ll have on Glenn and the group will be devastating - enough to go to war over...)
I’m also a little concerned about Carol despite how badass she is, because she’s finally coming around from her stance on killing. Morgan is getting through to her, and she may pay the price. It isn’t so much the effect on her though: Morgan may see her die, and it may be the final straw that brings back crazy Clear Morgan.
But the reason I’m more concerned for Tara and Heath is this: They went on a two week run in a camper truck they stole from the Saviors. They left right before Rick and his group learned Maggie and Carol were captured, and think the Saviors were wiped out. I’ll bet you the remaining Saviors will recognize the camper truck when they see it out on the road, and will capture Tara and Heath.
Tara is in danger because she told Denise that she loved her, and Denise said she’d say it when Tara got back. POOR TIMING.
Heath is in danger because he’s still lucky: He hasn’t (confirmed) killed anyone yet, and is one of the few people without any real blood on his hands. If Heath meets Lucille, then everyone involved in the raid will feel guilty.
3. Abraham. What did you see when you were getting choked at the Hilltop? Abraham doesn’t have a filter, but god damn. Before I thought he might not have seen anyone (or saw his dead wife), and realized relationships weren’t for him. Now I think whoever he saw (probably Sasha), it wasn’t Rosita, and he didn’t want to keep going with something that he wasn’t 100% invested in. He cut her off cold turkey.
Now the only question is: Who gets custody of Eugene?
4. Eugene’s shirt was glorious.
There was something I noticed last week that really didn’t have any follow-up this week because the show was busy showing us Rick and his gang murdering sleeping psychopaths: Eugene and his ingenuity. Whatever you think about Eugene, one thing is for certain: he’s smart. Eugene may not be very helpful in a firefight or when a hoard of walkers comes through, but when it comes time to rebuild, have him on your team.
Before Rick and Daryl went out and found Jesus, Eugene told them to keep an eye out for sorghum, a robust crop that could help Alexandria get it’s food game going. Eugene knows how to keep a community producing, and I think this was a good preview of the lead farmer Eugene really is.
5. Those pictures that Glenn saw above the second dude he killed had to have been people after dates with Lucille, right? I didn’t think they were trophies of that guy so much as warnings.