Season 9, Episode 4
Rick's vision of a civilized future is threatened by a sudden reckoning with past sins that remain unavenged and unforgiven.
In a montage, Michonne wakes up, kisses Rick, grabs her notebook, feeds Judith an apple, oversees construction in Alexandria, mediates a dispute between neighbors in a garden, and tends to a patient in the infirmary. Restless at night, she looks over at her katana while Rick sleeps, and gets up to slay walkers. By day, she picks tomatoes with Judith, and studies criminal justice textbooks for her charter. Writing in her notebook, she scratches out her notes in frustration. By night, she grabs her katana, slays more walkers, and cleans her blade with a pretty tea towel. She repeats this routine night after night. Catching up to family fun day, Michonne and Rick play tag with Judith.
One rainy night, Michonne finds a young African-American male walker hanging from a noose under a tree. Her moment of anger gets interrupted when a walker attacks Michonne from behind, causing her to drop her katana. She bashes the walker with the nearest weapon she can reach. As the walker drops, Michonne realizes she’s holding a bloody baseball bat, reminiscent of Negan’s. Repulsed, she drops it, picks up her katana, and leaves the bloody bat behind.
At Hilltop, Maggie stands on the balcony of Barrington House, cradling baby Hershel. She kisses him, then hands him over to a caretaker. She stares down at the peaceful community, with a look on her face that turns from serenity to resolve.
At the blacksmith shed, Maggie sneaks a crowbar into her backpack. Jesus alerts her that Georgie sent another letter. Maggie instructs him to place the message in a drawer with the others, then asks him to oversee Hilltop while she’s gone. Jesus suspects that she’s going someplace other than the camp with the crowbar. Maggie tells him, “I’m going to make things right. Like we talked about.” “Like you did with Gregory,” Jesus replies. He advises her to consider her decision carefully. “Rick was wrong because he made a call that wasn’t his to make. I just want to be sure you’re not wrong in the same way he was.” Maggie sticks to her decision and leaves Hilltop with Dianne.
Rick watches the river rush under the bridge, at a loss. Eugene takes no pleasure in informing him that a deluge destroyed the upstream levy and that the bridge will not hold. The silver lining is that the two herds they’ve been tracking close to camp are showing no signs of merging. Eugene expresses that he’s “truly very sorry he couldn’t do more.” “Don’t do that.” Rick interrupts. “You’re not just a guy who read some books. You made something. You got us here. After everything, that’s everything.” Rick’s words lift Eugene’s entire self-worth.
Rick finds Carol in his HQ tent, running her thumb over her engagement ring. She tells him that she’s taking her people home to the Kingdom, and that she sent Alden to lead the Savior workers back to the Sanctuary. Rick worries that the Saviors can’t stand on their own. Carol reasons, “They don’t want us there anymore, but I don’t think they want Negan anymore either. Not most people, anyway. So it’s up to them to figure out who they want to be.” Rick doesn’t know if they’re all doing the right thing, but tells Carol she’s the one who gives him hope. She insists she’s still figuring things out, just like everyone else. She apologizes to Rick, assuring him that she really wanted this to work.
Jerry finds Rick in the camp and conveys a message from Jesus that Maggie is headed for Alexandria. Via walkie, Rick contacts Alexandria Relay One, instructing her to tell Alexandria to delay Maggie at the gate and alert Michonne right away. AR One, Rachel from Oceanside, takes Rick’s message but does not pass it along to Alexandria. “I think she’s done talkin’,” she says to herself.
Rick prepares to ride his horse to Alexandria. Daryl offers to take Rick on his motorcycle instead, as they’ll get there quicker. Rick hops on Daryl’s motorcycle and they ride off.
Michonne is at the breakfast table, surrounded by research books for her Charter project, while Judith eats her cereal. Nora, an Alexandrian, informs Michonne that Negan is refusing to eat his meals.
At a four-way intersection, Daryl intentionally misses the turn to Alexandria. Rick orders Daryl to pull over. They get off the bike and face each other. Rick tells Daryl that he already called it in -- “Maggie’s not making it through those gates.” Daryl reveals that the message didn’t go through, that they messed with the relay. “This time, it’s gonna go the way it was supposed to.” Rick takes out his walkie, but Daryl slaps it away and tackles him. In their angry scuffle, they tumble and fall into a pit.
Michonne brings food to Negan’s cell and orders him to eat -- “The hunger strike ends today.” Negan wants her to stay and talk with him, saying, “I’m proof you’re making a civilization, right? Hard to be that if I’m dead from starvation.” Michonne agrees to talk for 20 minutes.
Rick tries unsuccessfully to climb out of the pit and argues with Daryl over the merits of keeping Negan alive. “I get why she can’t accept it, I do. Her never coming to Alexandria, her hanging Gregory the way she did. I know. I’m not blind.” Daryl points out, “Sure as hell been acting like it. Your ass wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for Glenn. You never woulda found Lori…Carl…you never woulda found any of us. He did that.”
Rick thought Maggie was coming around. Daryl reveals that he and Maggie couldn’t live with it, just like Oceanside. Distraught over Oceanside killing Saviors and Daryl knowing without saying anything, Rick laments, “If this doesn’t work, if she kills Negan, he becomes a martyr. The war was for nothing. Every person who’s died, died for nothing. Carl died for nothing.”
Daryl criticizes Rick for not having faith in his friends, telling him, “I’d die for you. And I would’ve died for Carl. But you gotta hear me. You’re chasin’ somethin’ for him that ain’t meant to be.” Rick considers all of this, then says, “I never asked anyone to follow me.” Daryl knows. “Maybe you should’ve.”
After hearing about Michonne’s day, Negan tells Michonne that she, like him, is not meant to be stuck at home. Michonne insists that they’re reordering the world, rebuilding government and creating laws, while he’s rotting in here with nothing.
Negan is grateful that his wife didn’t have to see him like this. “As opposed to the asshole you were before?” she retorts. Sensing his vulnerability, she asks what happened to her. He tells her, “What used to happen. Cancer.” They would’ve loved to have had a kid like Carl. Michonne confides that she sees Carl everywhere.
Negan figures Carl wasn’t her first, and asks how he died. She discloses, “His name was Andre. He just didn’t make it.” Negan sincerely says he’s sorry, then adds, “It’s better this way.” His wife wasn’t meant for this. She was weak. When she was gone, he was relieved. Now he knows she made him not weak. And with Michonne, it’s the same. Michonne insists they are not the same.
Negan speaks the truth, saying, “We were built for more. We still are, Michonne. Behind walls and bars, we die. But out there, it’s like an addiction. I know you know what I’m talking about. And that is why you’re grateful, too…that Andre is gone, because all he would’ve done is make you weak.” Michonne snaps, throwing his food on the ground, and storms out of the cell.
Gabriel lies tied up on the ground at the Heaps. Anne kisses his right eye and rolls in an armless walker tied to a dolly, with a bucket over its head. She tells Gabriel, “There’s only one place left for me to go and you’re the price of admission.” She removes the bucket and lowers the biting walker toward Gabriel’s face. Gabriel tells her that what she’s about to do is his fault. He’s sorry and hopes for her forgiveness, just like he forgives her for whatever she has to do. Moved by Gabriel’s compassionate words, she stops, Instead, she places a kerchief over his mouth until he fades into unconsciousness.
A gang of Saviors, clutching knives and machetes, creeps up to the work camp as Carol, Jerry, Kathy, Beatrice, and their crew unload and lock up guns at the weapons locker. Kathy gets on a white horse. Carol and her crew point their guns at the approaching Saviors, led by Regina, DJ, Norris, and Jed, who aims a gun at Carol. She asks Jed where he got the gun. “Alden wasn’t as quick as you,” he replies. He figured out that Oceanside’s killing them -- “So now, this being war, they’re gonna get what’s comin’ to em.”
Carol implores him to stop. Jed tells her she’s not the boss lady anymore and commands her to step aside. After a tense beat, she obeys and lets him grab her keys. Catching him off-guard, she kicks him in the back of the knee and disarms him, prompting the Saviors to charge toward Kathy and Beatrice. Kathy swings her white horse and raises her gun. Carol shouts, “No!” but a shot is fired.
From the bottom of the pit, Rick and Daryl hear gunfire coming from the camp. Rick says, “It’s gonna draw those herds.” More shots are fired. Daryl hoists Rick up the side of the pit, but Rick’s grip on the root slips, and he falls. “We got this,” Daryl assures him. He puts his hands out again, and helps him with another boost, allowing Rick to grab onto some roots.
Michonne tries to work on the charter in her kitchen, but is unable to focus. She looks at her katana hanging on the wall, tempting her. She gets up, not to grab her sword, but to make a sandwich.
Michonne brings the sandwich to Negan and demands to know why he said those things. He wasn’t trying to piss her off, and admits he was wrong to bring up her kid. He says she wasn’t ready to hear that they’re the same. They’re both trapped and connected to the dead. She explicates how they are not the same. Negan realizes, “You’re not scared you’re like me, you’re scared you’ll end up like me.” He takes a bite of his sandwich, but before Michonne goes, he makes a request. “There are things in this world we hold onto, when everyone we care about is gone.” Michonne almost laughs, “This whole time. You thought I was your last, best chance.” Negan vulnerably says, “I wanna see her. I need to.” Michonne interrupts with a “No.” They don’t have his bat. It’s still out there. Michonne leaves Negan with his food as he becomes emotionally distraught. When Michonne is gone, he weeps for his Lucille and repeatedly bangs his head against the wall.
Rick climbs a tree root along the side of the pit, but is challenged by the arrival of walkers falling in. Rick swings out of the way as they nearly knock him down. Daryl stabs them from the bottom of the pit and looks up to make sure Rick is okay. Rick finds a sturdy root for Daryl, who piles up the fallen walkers to give himself a boost. Rick and Daryl dodge more walkers sliding down. Those at the bottom reach up to grab Daryl’s ankles. Rick finally climbs out of the pit and scrambles to find a nearby branch to anchor himself while he reaches for Daryl. “Brother, take my hand,” he says to Daryl. As they anxiously reach out, they finally clasp hands, and Rick pulls Daryl up to the top, only to find more walkers, and the approaching herd. Rick spots Kathy’s white horse, lost and spooked without its rider. He decides to stay back and lead the walkers away from the camp. Daryl urges Rick to lead the herd to the bridge, which would collapse from the weight and send the walkers into the river, but Rick refuses to sacrifice the bridge. Daryl sees this is important to Rick and tells him to be safe. “You, too,” Rick replies as he mounts the white horse. Daryl gets on his motorcycle and sets off to help the camp.
Gabriel wakes up in the “A” shipping container. He stumbles out to the Heaps, calling out to Anne, but she is gone. He finds a note from Anne pinned in his jacket. It reads: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. I need to go fast…” Heartbroken, Gabriel weeps and holds the note close to his chest.
Michonne reads a children’s book to Judith on a rocking chair. It’s delightful, until she turns the page and sees an illustration of a baseball bat. She pauses for a moment, then resumes reading. After they reach the end of the book, Michonne asks Judith for a kiss and holds her tightly.
Maggie and Dianne ride down a road on horseback. They spot the dead walkers Michonne slayed in the opening montage, indicating they’re close to Alexandria.
Daryl speeds down the road on his motorcycle, determined.
Rick leads the giant herd down a road and reaches the four-way intersection, where he encounters a second giant herd. His horse panics and rears onto its hind legs, throwing Rick off. Rick falls onto a pile of debris and yells in pain, unable to move -- his side is impaled by a piece of rebar sticking out of a crumbling cement block. As a stunned, profusely bleeding Rick begins to fall unconscious, the two giant herds of walkers close in, surrounding him from all sides.