As expected, it was Carl who was the biggest agent of change on the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead. And, Rick promised to make Carl’s vision of a peaceful community a reality, to allow his mercy to prevail over his wrath.
What remains to be seen is how Rick will keep his promise to Carl under such extraordinary circumstances. Here are this week’s five to watch, and one to watch out for:
Last week, Simon was our one to watch out for, and with good reason. The trailer for episode 10 now shows Simon at a dangerous crossroads with Negan.
In one scene we see him triggering Negan’s anger over the suggestion that they fall back and cut their losses. In another, he is seen menacing Jadis, presumably for betraying the Saviors right after they betrayed Alexandria. What should concern us most though is how the official synopsis reads:
"“Simon (Steven Ogg) takes matters into his own hands.”"
Whether it’s regaining Negan’s confidence, or something more self-serving, Simon is clearly poised to make a play. However, we have seen time and time again how unilateral action on The Walking Dead can lead to unintended, negative consequences.
Michonne is as broken as Rick is over the loss of Carl. She is no stranger to loss either, having lost her own son long ago, when the apocalypse first began.
Overcoming her own grief will be difficult, but Michonne may be the only person who can rein in Rick’s rage. She was there when Rick promised to make Carl’s vision a reality, and judging by the tense exchange between Rick and Negan in the episode 10 trailer, that reality is already in jeopardy. How Michonne and Rick cope through this together will determine whether or not mercy will be allowed to prevail.
As Alexandria burned, the survivors huddled beneath the streets in shock. Viewers know that Dwight had been quietly informing on the Saviors leading up to the first attacks, but to Alexandrians, he’s the guy who showed up at their gates to collect their treasured possessions and precious resources. Still, they listened to him when he urged them to sit quietly and wait for the Saviors to leave. His knowledge of the the enemy’s tactics will be invaluable as they continue to evade capture, and later, as they regroup to defend Hilltop. Dwight may not be popular among the locals right now, but his defection is a huge gain for Rick’s forces.
Eugene has been in preservation mode since Negan shattered the peace in season 7, and, while he says he’s “Negan”, he has also been hiding secrets from him.
And, just as Dwight has vital intelligence to share about the Saviors, Eugene has the same potential to completely betray his former allies. Although, when we last saw Eugene, he was leaving Gabriel with the means to escape back to Hilltop with the doctor.
So, we’re still not sure where Eugene’s allegiance lies and that’s what makes him a danger to both sides.
The war is once again at a tipping point and this time, Negan holds a clear advantage. Rick certainly isn’t out of the picture, but this week’s trailer suggests that his wrath is still firmly in charge of the situation. Negan’s cooler head could be what prevails.
Negan’s affection for Carl may also have a role to play. His respect for the younger Grimes is no secret, particularly after he offered up his own life to spare Alexandria from being punished. When Negan learns of Carl’s death, it may temper how he uses his power.
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One to watch out for: Ezekiel
Did anyone else think Ezekiel was not going to make it out of the last episode? Just when we thought he was about to become a martyr for The Kingdom, Carol and Morgan arrive to even the odds. Ezekiel has gone from triumphant leader to broken man and now, after finding personal redemption in sacrifice, “King Ezekiel” has returned.
Ambushed and outgunned by the Saviors, The Kingdom has suffered some of the highest casualties of the war under Ezekiel’s watch. Despite their losses, those who are left remain fiercely loyal to their king, and Ezekiel appears ready to reprise his role.
Honorable Mention: Morgan
And, it did NOT go unnoticed that Morgan ripped the guts out of a living guy. We should probably keep an eye on that too.
Who will have the power to change the world next week?
Watch Episode 10: “The Lost and The Plunderers” on AMC, Sunday at 9PM EDT to find out!