Walking Dead flashback: Rock in the Road & the challenge of rallying support

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, Steven Ogg as Simon - The Walking Dead: Dead City _ Season 1, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, Steven Ogg as Simon - The Walking Dead: Dead City _ Season 1, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC /

Originally airing on February 12, 2017, “Rock in the Road” is the title of the ninth episode of season 7 of the popular TV show The Walking Dead. The post-apocalyptic horror series airs on AMC, based on a comic book series of the same name created by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. Let’s take a look back at this episode.

“Rock in the Road” follows the events of the mid-season finale, “Hearts Still Beating,” in which Negan, the leader of the antagonistic group known as the Saviors, establishes his dominance over Rick Grimes and his group by brutally killing two of their members.

The episode “Rock in the Road” picks up from this point and revolves around Rick and his group’s efforts to gather allies to stand against Negan’s oppression. This attempted rallying of support has been a tool of the trade in The Walking Dead universe, but we are assured things will probably be different this time. The question is: Will they, and in what way? (Okay, that was two questions, but it’s sort of a two-pronged issue, both for the imaginary heroes of the story and for those invested in seeing it unfold).

The Walking Dead and King Ezekiel’s denial, a lazy tiger, walkers, and more!

Walking Dead
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan – The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

In this episode, Rick and his group visit the Hilltop Colony and the Kingdom to seek support in their fight against the Saviors. Recall that Negan is indeed an evil dude, with killings and disciplinary mutilations under his watch, as well as a harem of “wives” who are basically his slaves.

Still, Rick and crew encounter challenges in convincing these other communities to join their cause of rebelling against Negan, and the episode also introduces a new group called the Scavengers. We also see King Ezekiel’s tiger again, which is cute. As another notable development, Daryl grudgingly takes refuge in The Kingdom.

The Scavengers

The Scavengers are encountered after Rick’s people find a scribbled note from Gabriel that says “BOAT” (notes are usually bad in The Walking Dead universe, whether it’s this one, “DON’T DEAD, OPEN INSIDE,” or Morgan’s frantic “Clear” messages scrawled across various buildings). Instead of finding Gabriel at the boat location, they meet The Scavengers.

They are led by a mysterious woman named Jadis, and yes, they live in a junkyard. Though we don’t learn much about them, we know they are armed and are intended to add yet another assortment of flavors to The Walking Dead universe.

Final thoughts

The episode is characterized by tension, negotiation, and action as Rick and his group work to gain the support they need for their upcoming conflict with Negan and the Saviors. Thankfully, some of this action includes zombies, or “walkers,” which was a little bit neglected in season 7 overall. At the same time, the vibe of an “All Out War” is definitely still more about Rick vs. Negan in this episode.

It’s all part of the larger narrative arc of the season, which revolves around the theme of resistance against overwhelming odds and the struggle for freedom. “Rock in the Road” strives to be more of a pivotal episode in The Walking Dead as it sets the stage for the conflict between Rick’s group and the Saviors and begins to build alliances that will play a significant role in the rest of the season.

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