Season 9, Episode 3
Rick’s vision for the future is threatened by a mysterious disappearance that divides the work camp where the communities are building a bridge.
Walkers mill around an abandoned building. A group feeds on Justin’s corpse, which soon reanimates. The wall behind him reads: “FINAL WARNING.”
Rick wakes up in deep thought, having a moment. He checks on Judith, and moves toward the front door, stopping at something hanging on the wall -- a piece of the porch with Carl’s and Judith’s blue painted handprints. He takes a moment to touch Carl’s handprint. Outside, he strolls through the Alexandria vegetable garden, picks a tomato, and places it on Carl’s grave.
Rick returns to his bedroom and finds Michonne working on the charter. She tells him that Judith has a cough, so she’ll take her to see Siddiq. Rick decides to take a day off from the bridge to join her – he’ll have to promise Judith a family fun day to get her to see the doctor. He thanks Michonne for everything and suggests “another way to build for the future.” She catches his meaning and they kiss.
Maggie and Kal ride a wagon down the road when a gang of Saviors -- Jed, Arat, D.J., Regina, and Laura -- interrogates them about their missing friend. Maggie doesn’t know anything about that. Jed asks what they have in the cab. It’s Hilltop’s end of the deal: food for Sanctuary’s ethanol, a shipment they never got. The Saviors say that went missing, too – along with the people bringing it. Jed takes a tomato. Maggie demands to know his name so she can mark him down for it. Laura breaks the tension, telling Maggie his name is Jed. She thanks her for the food and assures her that they’ll make good on the fuel as soon as they can. As the Saviors move along to their bridge shift, Maggie and Kal see Walker Justin further down the road.
It’s family fun day with Rick, Michonne, and Judith enjoying every moment. Judith laughs as Siddiq gives Rick a check-up. Rick reads The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to Judith, when Scott arrives with urgent news.
Scott informs Rick and Michonne that Justin turned up as a walker and that it’s clear someone definitely took him out.
After the discovery of Justin’s body, the Savior workers grow unruly against the workers from the other communities. Alden and Carol intervene, but Jed remains defiant. Laura doesn’t want a fight – they just need to protect themselves. Daryl reminds them, “No guns!” D.J. accuses Daryl of killing Justin. Norris accuses Anne, with Regina surmising it’s revenge for Simon’s play. D.J. picks up an ax to move against Daryl. Arat tries to stop him, but DJ and the Saviors keep moving. Rick arrives and breaks up the fight.
Rick privately asks Gabriel where Anne was the previous night. Gabriel provides an alibi for Anne, that she was on watch with him all night. Rick nevertheless urges Gabriel to keep an eye on her. “Even if she doesn’t have anything to do with it, somebody thinks she does.”
Alden urges Rick to allow the Saviors to have guns. Rick promises to consider the idea once they’ve tracked down Justin’s killer. He privately explains to Maggie that since the Saviors comprise the majority of the bridge crew, it’s their job to keep the Saviors safe.
Gabriel tells Anne that he lied to Rick for her. Gabriel asks if she noticed anything suspicious while on watch the previous night. She replies, “You think I’m hiding something?”
Rick tells Daryl that Justin’s body had a small puncture wound akin to an arrow wound. Daryl says that if he was gonna kill him, he would’ve done it in plain sight. He doesn’t know who it is, but he knows why, and so does Rick. “Bringing all these people together, it was always gonna happen.” Rick insists it’s the right thing to do, that the future belongs to all of them. Daryl questions why the Saviors get to have this future, but Glenn, Abraham, Sasha, and all the people the communities lost don’t. “You ever think about what they want?” Rick admits that he used to want revenge, but killing each other when the world already belongs to the dead is not the way anymore. He knows Daryl doesn’t agree with him, but asks him to try. “It’ll be one of the best decisions you ever make. Like not killing a guy who left your brother on a rooftop to die.”
Maggie and Cyndie comb a section of forest and report via walkie that their area is clear of activity. Over walkie, Rick tells them to stay sharp – they still got missing people out there. Maggie and Cyndie spot a couple of walkers and go to investigate. Rick heads their way and orders Grid 5 to do the same. Cyndie tells Maggie there’s a house up ahead -- she used to live around there, before Oceanside. Around the house, they
find walkers drawn to the sound of metal banging on the roof. Maggie distracts them so that Cyndie can fix the roof before they draw more. More walkers burst out the front door, attacking Cyndie. Rick, Rosita and Daryl arrive to help kill the walkers. Daryl notices blood soaking through the bandage on Cyndie’s hand and asks if she’s all right. She states it just opened back up. Rick tries to radio Grid 5 (Bea and Arat) but gets no reply.
Rick’s group finds Bea face down on the ground in the woods. Bea explains that something hit her in the head from behind while she was combing the woods with Arat. Daryl picks up Bea’s compressed air gun and hands it to her. Maggie finds Arat’s walkie and says whoever did this took her.
Rick, Maggie, Carol, Cyndie, and Jerry convene in a tent. If they don’t figure out what happened to Arat, Sanctuary is gone, and then they’ll lose the bridge. Jerry asks what would happen to the perp – is it gonna be a Gregory or a Negan? Cyndie says, “Whoever it is, when the time comes, they’ll get what they deserve.” Rick orders them to pair up and search for Arat.
Rick and Carol search for Arat in the woods. Carol predicts that a fight will break out if they cannot find her. Rick admits that everyday since he put Negan in that cell, he has a moment, right when he wakes up, this feeling that he should go down and kill him, but remembers everyone they’ve lost, and knows that he needs to honor them. “Because it’s us or the dead. Every life counts now.”
Daryl and Maggie search through the woods and discuss Rick’s leadership decisions. Maggie says that she wishes she could see things Rick’s way, but every time she looks at Hershel, she thinks about what could’ve been, and can’t let that go. Daryl says she doesn’t have to. He hasn’t. She adds that what Rick’s doing is right for the future. Better for Hershel. Maggie kills a walker. Daryl finds a spear in its back and immediately realizes who took Arat.
Anne returns to the heaps at night and speaks into a hidden walkie, stating that she saw the helicopter last night. A man replies, asking if she has an “A” or a “B.” She asks if it was him who took them. He says “No pickups. But the deal still stands. Will you have an A or a B?” She says she has neither and asks what it will take. The man demands an “A” by tomorrow. Gabriel appears and demands to know who Anne is communicating with. She tells him that she did not kill Justin, but admits that she used to trade people for supplies. For her people. She explains that she tried to make it work at Alexandria, but the first thing that goes wrong, they blame her. Rick suspects her. When the Saviors came at her, everyone stood by, except Gabriel. She knows of a better place to live and asks Gabriel to run off with her, on the condition that he keep it a secret. Gabriel can’t do it. “And all this time, I thought you were a B,” she says, knocking him unconscious.
Rick and Carol encounter Jed and D.J. in the woods. Jed grabs Carol at knifepoint and demands that Rick hands over his gun so that they can safely return to the Sanctuary. Carol quietly prepares her knife and meets Rick’s gaze. Rick looks at Jed while sending a message to Carol, “Every life does count. You do this, there’s no going back. Everything we’re doing, it ends.” Jed replies, “Ended with Justin. No going back from that. Not for us.” Carol eyes Rick, telling him it’s over. Resigned, Rick reluctantly nods to Carol, who then stabs Jed in the shoulder. Rick orders them back to camp, where they’ll fix him up. Jed asks why not take him out. Carol replies, “Every life counts.”
Maggie and Daryl arrive at the same abandoned building from earlier, where Justin turned. They find the missing ethanol canisters that Maggie had been waiting for. Around the corner, they find Cyndie, Bea and other Oceansiders holding Arat at gunpoint. Bea tells Daryl that Justin killed her husband. Cyndie reveals that this used to be their home until the Saviors came, and Simon gave them their “final warning,” as written on the wall. Oceanside fought for Rick because they couldn’t forget, and went along with him because they didn’t think they had a choice – until Maggie executed Gregory. They realized Rick’s rules weren’t the only rules, and Maggie showed them the way. Looking to Maggie, Arat pleads for her life, insisting that she’s one of them now, that she’s changed. Cyndie reveals that the Saviors killed her mother, that Arat killed her 11-year-old brother and smiled as she did it. She asks Arat to repeat what she said to her as she begged for her brother’s life. Arat claims she doesn’t remember. Maggie repeats the question, “What did you say?” Defeated, Arat says, “No exceptions.” Maggie and Daryl walk away, leaving Cyndie to execute Arat.
The next morning, Rick watches as the Saviors abandon the work camp.
Maggie and Daryl walk down a road with the fuel canisters. Maggie reminds Daryl that they agreed they’d wait. “Cyndie said I showed them the way. But they did the same for me. We gave Rick’s way a chance. Now, it’s time to see Negan.”