The Walking Dead Is Back With Mid-Season Premiere
After about two months of waiting, it was nice to finally see The Walking Dead back on television, and even more exciting was to see Rick and the gang back together. Obviously, there will be spoilers below (you’ve been warned!).
Episode 9, titled “Rock in the Road” was a breath of fresh air from the first half of the season. As producer and director of the episode, Greg Nicotero, put it, it was the exact opposite of the season 7 premiere, which many fans thought was too gruesome and graphic.
This episode was filled with a lot of hope, a lot of coming back together, and seeing Rick back to his confident self. The previous 8 episodes were filled with a lot of despair, disunity, and disconnect.
Now reunited with his Colt Python, Rick was brought to the Hilltop community and The Kingdom in hopes of forming an alliance to combat Negan and his army of Saviors. The episode was a roller coaster ride of wins and losses but it took quite some time before we saw some action.
We also start seeing the Rick of old, being more of an army general, and being more strategic, looking at the big picture of the all our war against the Saviors.
It was very tame, in fact, a little too tame, and I was wondering if we would even see a walker or a kill with the pace of the episode, but towards the end, we witnessed maybe one of the best walker kills of the entire series.
Overall, Rock in the Road did a pretty good job of getting fans back into the series after a slow first half, and it helped seeing all of the cast in the episode. Below, we’ll mention some of the cool things that happened, some questions we still have, and some of the things that were almost missed.
The beginning of the episode started off seamlessly from where we left off in the midseason finale, with Father Gabriel on the lookout of Alexandria. After quietly flipping through pages in his bible, he suddenly began acting out of character, grabbing food and weapons, leaving us wondering why he would do such a thing. He eventually packs up a car with all of Alexandria’s food and weapons supply and drives away.
If you blinked, you may have missed it. As the car drives away, you can see the silhouette of another person appear with Gabriel, which seems to imply that he was forced to grab all of Alexandria’s supplies and head out. It’s also pretty safe to assume that the person accompanying Father Gabriel is the mysterious boots character we saw in Episode 8.
As we find out later in the episode, it’s clear that Gabriel left a message referring to the “Boat”, where Rick and Aaron were in their last search for supplies. Looking for Gabriel, Rick and the gang find themselves surrounded by a new group of people, but we still aren’t sure of what happened to Gabriel, and if the group is good or bad.
With Rick’s rarely seen smile, we’re hoping that he’s right and that this is a community that can join the resistance against Negan. They’ve definitely got the numbers and the weapons, but who is this group?
When the residents of the Hilltop volunteer their services to join the fight against Negan, we see Bertie who we first saw in Season 6. She was part of the group of Hilltop members who crashed their car and were hiding inside a building waiting to be rescued. It was Rick and the group that first came to Hilltop that rescued them, reinforcing Bertie’s trust in Rick and the Alexandrians and why she’s willing to fight alongside of them.
For the fans of the comics, you’ll probably recognize that Bertie is the TV counterpart to the comic character Brianna.
In the Kingdom, Rick has just asked King Ezekiel to join the alliance, and the King asks Morgan for his thoughts. You’d think that maybe Morgan might have come back around after learning about Negan’s brutal killings, but he instead mentions that there could be another way. After seeing the frustration in Rick’s face, it appears that Morgan may be foreshadowing the fate of Negan, suggesting that perhaps instead of going to war with Negan, capturing him may be the solution.
We’ve seen Morgan build a jail cell back in Season 6 Episode 12, and he’s mentioned to Rick that capturing instead of killing may offer “some choices next time”.
In this episode, we hear through the stolen Saviors walkie-talkie that Fat Joey has been found dead and is remembered for his work. We meet Fat Joey earlier in the season and we see that he wasn’t really an evil guy, and in fact, he was the brilliant genius behind the explosives on the highway.
The highway scene was full of action with the explosives and the awesome car-clothesline that mowed down a ton of walkers. It was fun and seemed like something straight out of The Fast and the Furious series (Who would you take? Dominic Toretto and his crew, or Rick Grimes and his band of survivors?).
It was a huge win for Rick and Co as they were able to acquire explosives and RPGs, thanks to Rosita’s ability to know how to disarm the explosives. But the big question here is, how did Rosita know how to disarm a bomb?
Here’s a behind the scenes look at how they made that epic highway scene
If you missed it, King Ezekiel, during story time, was reciting Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech, ‘I Have A Dream’ to Benjamin’s younger brother. In the speech, it talks about calling for the end to racism, and seeing unity between peoples and different groups, and finally having freedom. Fittingly, the speech can be tied in The Walking Dead universe, with the different communities coming together in unity and finally being free. Ironically, King Ezekiel ends up refusing to join Rick’s alliance.
What we’ve also gathered from this episode is that Morgan doesn’t tell Rick and Daryl anything about Carol. He doesn’t mention her whereabouts or anything, but simply that “she’s gone”.
Despite the original gang coming together, did anyone else think that Rosita was extra rude this episode, especially to Sasha?
Scenes from The Kingdom always seem to bring a smile, with the quirkiness of Jerry, and the memorable reaction of the group seeing Shiva, King Ezekiel’s tiger for the first time. Also, at the Kingdom, we see a bunch of children and teenagers learn the bow and arrow. Director Greg Nicotero brought in his two children who made a cameo as two of the Kingdomers participating in the training.
Carol’s interaction with Benjamin in the forst was just another reminder that, excluding Carl, Judith and Enid, all the children on the show close to her end up dying. Watch out Benjamin!
It was a refreshing pace as the episode covered a lot of ground, and had plenty of screen time for the different characters and communities, allowing enough time for character development, as well as some much needed action.
The characters are back and better than ever, and so is the series.
Here’s a sneak peak of next week’s episode.
And here’s a scene from next week’s episode with the mysterious new group.