This week’s episode begins with a Savior scout team responding to an emergency. Says a guy on the other end of a walkie: “Orange situation.” That’s apparently a bad thing. Well, I’m calling an orange situation on this entire hour, in which very little happens of any real significance. On top of that, Gabe and Doc Carson engage in the old tug-of-war between science and faith. This is a world in which corpses rise to eat human flesh! Was there any doubt that the holy roller would eventually crap out?
We follow two groups as they attempt to make their way back to Hilltop (or “the Hilltop,” as Rosita says, much like your mom when she asks if you need anything from “the Target”). Daryl leads the A-Town survivors and Dwight, who’s now the target of Tara’s anger. Yes, Pizza Face killed Denise, but is a treacherous walk through the woods with zombies and Saviors lurking around any corner the right opportunity for justice? Dwight’s given them no reason to doubt his loyalty: Why hide in a sewer while Alexandria was firebombed if he was just going to betray them later? Daryl’s no fan of the guy, either, but at least he’s waiting until they’re safely inside the walls of Hilltop before deciding Dwight’s fate.
Daryl even takes Dwight’s advice on the best path, choosing to go straight through the swamp, where even the Saviors fear to tread. With Siddiq and Daryl on point, they trudge through slowly, poking the muck with sticks until inevitably, a walker emerges. Quick logic break: Why would zombies lie dormant under the mud until someone showed up to disturb them? They’re not the Napping Dead or the Snorkeling Dead or the Please Do Not Disturb Dead.
And then why would anyone let Tara, who wants to kill Dwight, go off alone with him? He picks a really bad time to apologize for putting a crossbow bolt through Denise’s face. (Luckily for Dwight, she’s a lousy shot.) As he confided to Daryl, he knows he’s likely a dead man no matter who wins this war with the Saviors, but Dwight’s got two motivations: finding his ex Sherry (who he hopes is still alive somewhere), and seeing Negan pay. So when the Saviors wander dangerously close, Dwight gives himself up and leads them away. (Note that one of them says he didn’t recognize Dwight without his vest. Um, Dwight’s vest, dude?) It all ends rather weirdly, as Daryl chews out Tara for disobeying his order to leave Dwight alone. Seconds later, Daryl worries that Pizza Face will sell them out, and it’s Tara who’s defending him. Let’s all agree that Dwight is the absolute least of their problems.
A much bigger concern? The world is running out of doctors, and Carson and Gabe are broken down and lost. Making matters worse, Gabe’s infection has made him nearly blind. Yet the priest’s faith is unshaken: “We’re on the right path even if we’re not on the right road.” Cue a series of seemingly miraculous events: They discover a cabin in the woods, and the sightless man finds the antibiotics he desperately needs. Gabe also breaks a piggy bank and — whaddya know! — there’s a set of car keys inside. Doc gets his leg caught in a bear trap, but Gabe not only avoids getting spiked, he squeezes off a headshot.
Praise the Lord! Maybe Gabe is onto something with all the higher-power chatter. Maybe he’s the chosen one … but then, the Saviors show up. Doc makes a play for one of their guns and gets himself shot dead. As Gabe cries, it seems his heavenly luck hath run out — at least until the next time he escapes death, which I’d bet he will. The half-blind priest is going to play a key role in how the Saviors saga ends.
Then there’s the usual drama at Hilltop, where rations are low, babies are multiplying, and Gregory is unfortunately still breathing. Henry asks who killed his brother moments after the guy who killed his brother says the kid is “creeping people out.” I’d love a cage match between Jared and Psycho Hank, who’s still holding the bloody stick he used to impale Gavin. For a minute, it looks like Morgan is going to officially push the kid into full-blown serial killer mode; instead, he tells Henry that Gavin killed his brother, in hopes Henry will chill out. Pretty sure Jared will eventually set the record straight, because he’s a dick.
Siddiq continues to look like someone who’ll play a major role this season and beyond. He’s now the replacement for Doc Carson, and if Maggie makes it to delivery, he will be responsible — fittingly enough — for helping to bring a life into the group. He’s also probably added Enid to the list of folks he’ll need to make peace with along the way.
Back at the Sanctuary, Negan puts Eugene in charge of his own outpost, where his duty is to start cranking out bullets. Our least-favorite mullet enthusiast takes his job a little too seriously when one of Negan’s wives arrives at his shop: He orders her to shut up, take his dinner order (no fold-over on that omelet!), and wipe his brow on occasion. Not cool, Eugene! Just when it looked like you were showing concern for the friends you abandoned, you remind us why we’re totally fine with you dying.
Negan thinks Carson is to blame for Gabe’s escape, so Eugene is back in his good graces — so much so that Negan takes his advice on an upcoming “psych ops” assault. Now Negan’s ready to rain down zombie guts on Hilltop. Um, ok? Aside from being gross, I’m not quite sure what that will accomplish, given that they’ve frequently smeared entrails all over themselves with no ill effects. More importantly, though, these little skirmishes are dull, no matter how ingenious or gory the details. It’s getting harder to keep the story moving when everyone is waiting for the one thing that won’t happen until the season finale. As Gabe would say, God willing.