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[This story contains spoilers through season seven, episode 10 of AMC’s The Walking Dead.]
It’s going to take a whole lot more than a hole in the hand to smack that smirk off of Rick Grimes’ face.
In the second episode since returning from its midseason hiatus, The Walking Dead again championed joy and possibility over bleak inevitability, as Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his allies fought their way out of a tough situation against some deadly new adversaries — adversaries who could very well become friends by the end of this thing. Far away from that action, the episode featured a long-awaited reunion between Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride), who have been separated for almost a full season now. The happy times were short-lived, however, with Daryl deciding that Carol’s continued happiness depends on his continued depression. (Look, even when joy and possibility in the air, this is still The Walking Dead we’re talking about here.)
Here are the seven biggest moments of the episode, called “New Best Friends.”
1. Batter on Deck
The episode begins with another meeting between King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and the Saviors, far away from the Kingdom’s reach. As usual, it does not go well, especially when an argument with Richard (Karl Makinen) becomes a full-blown standoff. The Saviors make it clear that Richard is on thin ice, forbidden from carrying firearms, and very much the first person in line for a swift Lucilleing should things escalate any further. Another casualty from the meeting: Morgan (Lennie James) loses his aikido staff, a devastating loss for the season one veteran.
2. The Sacrifice Play
Of course, the meeting doesn’t do anything to dissuade Richard from coming after the Saviors. Far from it. He enlists Daryl in an elaborate plan that involves shooting up a highway filled with Saviors, framing a stranger who lives in a nearby neighborhood for the assault, and using that incident to spur Ezekiel into action. Just one problem: that stranger? It’s Carol, and when Daryl finds out, he physically stops Richard from putting the plan into action. Daryl promises to kill Richard if anything at all happens to Carol, even if she’s struck by lightning. Seems like a lot to put on Richard’s shoulders, but point made.
3. Garbage People
Far away from the Kingdom, Rick deals with some problems of his own: the Junkticons. At least that’s what they were called in Transformers: The Movie. It turns out the people who snagged Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) are the proud inhabitants of a massive junkyard, lording over piles and piles of trash, and taking whatever it is they want. Here’s what they want right now: they want the supplies Rick and Aaron (Ross Marquand) stole from the boat a few episodes back. Rick wants to give them something more: a free and full life, something that’s only possible if Jadis (Pollyanna Mcintosh) and her people agree to fight the Saviors.
4. Not-So-Silent Hill
As a means of testing Rick’s worthiness, Jadis has the Alexandria leader thrown into a gladiatorial arena of sorts. Inside, Rick battles one of the most memorable walkers in recent Walking Dead memory: a zombie that’s outfitted with a metal bodysuit covered in knives, spears and other assorted sharp objects. It looks more like a creature from Silent Hill than the comparatively realistic world of Walking Dead, and Rick experiences an appropriate amount of difficulty as he tries to kill the thing. After suffering some scratches and a skewered hand, Rick defeats the monster, and proves his point to the garbage people.
5. Happily Ever After
With that, Rick and Jadis strike a deal. The Alexandrians will get their hands on a massive supply of guns, and in exchange, Jadis and the others will join their war against the Saviors. Following the negotiations, Rick and Gabriel stop down and share a moment of mutual admiration. Indeed, Rick credits Gabriel with making the deal possible, since he’s the one who showed Rick that enemies can become friends. It’s a real “aw shucks” moment, as the Father Gabriel Redemption Tour continues.
6. The Reunion
Let’s return to the Daryl story, in which he finally reunites with Carol. Despite the fact that she wants nothing more to do with anyone else, she’s still thrilled to see Daryl. She’s less thrilled once she starts asking about what the Saviors did to Alexandria after she ran away, becoming an emotional wreck as she wonders aloud about the possible carnage. But Daryl, always protective of his good friend, falls on the proverbial sword and tells Carol that everyone survived their brush against the Saviors — a lie he tells in order to keep Carol’s current peaceful existence as intact as possible.
7. King of Shiva
The episode ends with the formation of yet another new friendship: Daryl and Shiva, King Ezekiel’s pet tiger. Morgan finds Daryl sitting beside Shiva’s cage, the two old souls keeping each other company. Daryl even pets Shiva without agitating the animal. Is this a sign that Daryl and Shiva will have each other’s backs in a future action scene? If so, that day can’t come soon enough.
Let us know your thoughts on the episode in the comments below, and keep following THR.com/WalkingDead for more coverage of the series.
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