I initially thought of Jesus as a rather funny character, this episode remakes him in my mind as someone more sober. He seems to be thee diplomatic glue holding Hilltop, and assorted isolated communities, together. It sure isn’t Gregory, who is something of a milquetoast. He’s not a villain but he’s unwilling to make some very harsh decisions, although he is willing to be an ass. He’s certainly unwilling to make the kind of decisions Rick made in this episode.
We pick up the story almost where we left off. Jesus is amusing himself in Rick’s house when he’s interrupted by Carl. When he tells Carl he’s waiting on his Mom and Dad to get dressed, the look on Carl’s face is priceless. Later, Rick has a n awkward conversation where he attempts to explain to Carl what happened, which is totally adorbs, but Carl’s cool about it. Ricks new (old) dynamic with Michonne doesn’t bother him. Why would it? They’ve been living in each other’s backpockets for months now.
Jesus explains that he’s from a community called Hilltop, which actually is on a hill, and used to be some kind of historic recreation, and that his job is to seek out new communities for trade. It really is a whole new world for the Alexandrians. He’s taken inventory of their community and thinks there’s something to work with. He turns out to be a good guy after all, despite my dread that he might not be. Later, he tells Rick he likes them, thinks they’re good people, and that he took their truck full of supplies because they looked like bad guys. he’s right. Rick and crew aren’t evil but they’re not good for the communities they have disagreements with.
There’s a lot of Abraham in this episode with shots of him wistfully longing for Sasha, while sleeping with Rosita, and asking Glenn awkward questions involving pancake batter. (You have to watch the episode to understand that.) Later, at Hilltop, Abraham almost gets killed. I wonder what will be the outcome of that event, especially after he told Rosita she was “almost perfect”. (Yeah, she is but not as perfect as Sasha, apparently).
Jesus takes them to Hilltop, after being derailed by a car crash. Rick and the others save the survivors from zombies because they can’t fight worth a darn, (which explains their behavior towards Negan and his crew). There’s a standoff with the gatekeepers, but Jesus diffuses the situation (not for the first time) by letting the Alexandrians keep their guns and informing Rick and the others that the Hilltoppers don’t even have any ammo. The Alexandrians have so little to trade that I wonder what exactly Jesus had in mind when bringing them to the community.
Rick throws Maggie in the deep end when he appoints her to be their liaison to Gregory, the leader of Hilltop. Her negotiations with Greg are the highlight of the episode. I love a good negotiation scene. She initially gets knocked for a loop but she gets back up and comes in swinging. Gregory, believing he’s got the upper hand, suggests the Alexandrians work for the community, in trade for supplies, (while implying that he wants to get in Maggie’s pants) Maggie cuts his shit short about that, when she tells him to remember what her name is, and stop calling her Baby.
Maggie figures out that he’s not the only one with leverage after one of his community members stabs him in the stomach at Negan’s behest.The Hilltop is unable to protect itself from people like Negan, so they offer trade instead, but creatures like Negan are greedy things. If you give them an inch, they will take a yard. They’ve been sending supplies to Negan on a regular basis, but he’s been asking for more. At some point they’re going to have nothing to offer. Its the oldest scam in the book. “Give me your lunch money and I wont kick your ass.”
One of Gregory’s deliveries gets derailed when Negan kidnaps the brother of one of the deliverers and sends the brother back with a very painful message for Gregory, Rick kills the man when he attacks him and his crew. (Watch Michonne step in to protect her man, although Rick can and does take care of himself, she’s always had his back.) The man Rick killed would never have been trusted again anyway, as long as Negan holds his family. Negan would never have been satisfied with just assassinating Gregory. He would’ve asked for more because that’s just how he rolls.
Once again Rick walks into an ostensibly peaceful situation, and nonchalantly walks out of it, covered in someone else’s blood. Does anyone else think of Rick and the Murder Crew as the nuclear option of the zombie apocalypse? Just drop them anywhere in or near a settlement and they’ll have it gift-wrapped for you in a week or two. They’ve been weapons of mass destruction since season one and have this shit down to an art form.
Knowing this about Negan, gives Maggie the leverage she needs, to procure half of the Hilltopper’s supplies. She reasons that Negan would have to be killed, at some point, as someone like him will never be satisfied with appeasement. Also, sooner or later, Negan is going to run into the people who turned his henchman into pavement stew and they’re gonna have to nuke him, anyway.
Maggie and Glenn, using the first rate medical facilities of Hilltop, get their first ultrasound look at their baby, because conveniently, one of the people they saved earlier was once an obstetrician.
For those of you who have read the books, you have some idea why every time Glenn and Maggie discuss their future and their baby, I feel a deep sense of dread and everything that comes out of their mouths feels like a punch in the gut. For those of you who haven’t read the books “DON’T GOOGLE ANYTHING! YOU WILL NOT LIKE IT!”
Rick takes his proposal to the rest of the group and they reach a consensus. I feel pretty awful about the decision they’re making because, as a general rule, Rick and his crew don’t actually look for fights. The fights usually come to them as they seek to protect each other. But this is different. Rick isn’t wrong. Sooner or later, they will have to fight Negan, (probably as a result of what Daryl did to his henchmen), which means somebody’s gonna die.
I think sometimes the best we can hope for in this show is that its not everybody.