“Hey. I know you’re here,” an older Michonne says to an absent someone. “I’m still here, too. Maybe you already knew that. But it hasn’t gotten any easier…” As Michonne monologues through voice-over…
Daryl wakes up alone in a tent in the woods. He spearfishes in the river, catching one fish, when a walker creeps up from the water. Daryl snaps his spear in half and stabs the walker, sending it back down the river.
A quote on a cracked bedroom wall reads, “At times we crack, only to let the light in.” Carol, now with long hair, sits on a bed next to a sleeping Ezekiel. She smiles and looks out their window at the Kingdom.
Michonne rides a horse down a road. She scavenges an abandoned van and finds a cigar box containing a child’s collection of hidden treasures – including a four-leaf clover, baseball cards, and a sheriff figurine. Continuing in voice-over, she says, “…There are still flashes of light. Tiny beacons that shine out, calling to us through the darkness.”
Daryl walks through the woods, prepared to kill another walker that’s stuck to a tree. He sees a blue bird take a worm from the walker’s flesh, and watches it feed some baby birds in a nest.
In the Kingdom courtyard, Carol sees a flower blossoming from a crack in the pavement and smiles.
Michonne concludes her monologue, saying, “I haven’t given up… And I never will.” She gets on her horse, carrying newly scavenged items, including toilet paper and a frying pan. As she rides off, we reveal that she’s been speaking to someone who isn’t there – at the ruins of Rick’s bridge.
In the woods, Rosita, Laura, Eugene (now sporting a ponytail, and carrying a deer over his shoulders), and Aaron (with a prosthetic arm) search for Judith. Judith emerges with the new group of survivors she just found – Magna, Luke, Yumiko, Connie, and Kelly, whose rig got overrun by “sickos.” She insists they need help and gives Aaron’s canteen of water to an injured Yumiko. Rosita shoots her a glare, saying, “We can’t. You know that.” Luke sees Eugene’s deer and offers his dabbled culinary skills to “help whip this buck into a mighty fine osso buco.”
Eugene replies, “Stew. We make stew. More mileage for the masses.” Magna deduces there are more of them. Judith confirms they have more, with walls, before Laura tries to shut her up. Kelly uses ASL to interpret for her deaf sister, Connie, who senses more walkers incoming. Eugene takes the initiative to swiftly dispatch the walkers with his knife, with expertise and efficiency we haven’t seen from him before.
Judith insists that the new survivors need food, water, and medicine, adding, “If they don’t go, I don’t go.” Rosita, annoyed, looks to Aaron. After a beat, Aaron reluctantly agrees to take them in.
From a balcony, Carol watches residents work on a dead garden while Jerry repairs a door step next to her. “Is there any part of this place that’s not falling apart?” Carol asks Jerry, who replies, “Our loyalty to you, my queen.” Carol shakes her head, playfully annoyed. Jerry continues, “Married to the king, mother to the prince… Gonna have to accept it at some point.” A loud rumbling interrupts their banter, and they run off to investigate.
Carol and Jerry find Henry, now a teenager, fixing a burst pipe in the basement. Henry complains to Ezekiel that the Kingdom is falling into disrepair. “We need better tools… and someone who’s trained to use them.” Ezekiel says they’ve discussed this, and lectures Henry about his tone. Henry apologizes and moves along.
Ezekiel watches from a distance as Henry practices his fighting stick maneuvers. Carol says, “He’s not wrong. This place is getting older. He’s getting older.”
“I know,” Ezekiel says, “But surely there are others who’d gladly train under Earl Sutton of Hilltop, assuming he’s not retired by now…” He adds that the fair is right around the corner and that they need him here. “I want him safe. Hilltop feels so distant. More distant than it’s ever been. It hasn’t been the same since –”
Carol knows what he means, and says, “Sometimes you have to let the cracks happen to let the light in.” Ezekiel laughs, recognizing his own words.
Eugene reiterates that what they’re doing “is in direct and flagrant violation of the current security protocols.” Rosita knows and removes the burlap sacks from the heads of Magna, Luke, Connie, and Kelly. Now at the Alexandria gate, they anticipate what they’ll see. Judith assures them they’ll be safe here. Kelly interprets for Connie. Judith takes Magna by the hand and leads them into Alexandria.
The newcomers marvel at Alexandria’s bustling and thriving infrastructure. This post-time jump Alexandria now has a windmill spinning over a fruit orchard, along with merchant booths, a vegetable garden, and a playground with children. Gracie (now eight years old) greets her daddy, Aaron. Gabriel emerges, along with Siddiq, former Savior DJ, and other Alexandrians – curious and cautious about the new group. Rosita sends Yumiko, injured with a head trauma, to the infirmary with Siddiq.
Michonne arrives on her horse, surveying the scene with a hard, disapproving expression. She sizes up the new strangers and pats down Magna and asks why they’re here. Aaron says, “My call.”
“It’s not your call to make,” Michonne replies. Judith steps forward, “I decided. They needed help.” Michonne says, “Judith, you know the rules. You all do.”
Aaron says, “Thing is, they’re here now. One of them’s badly hurt…No disrespect, but maybe their fate is something we should decide together.” Gabriel adds, “First thing tomorrow, we could bring them before the council for a vote.” Michonne concedes and orders DJ to “put ‘em in holding.” As everyone moves along, Judith finds something on the ground -- the sheriff figurine that fell out of Michonne’s pack.
Ezekiel hugs Henry. “That was for the boy,” he says. Then shakes his hand. “That was for the man you’ve become.”
“You’re acting like we’ll never see each other again,” Henry says to Ezekiel. “I’ll be back before the fair starts…wouldn’t miss it.”
As Henry boards the wagon, Ezekiel advises, “As my father said to me once, upon my departure from home: Be respectful, be responsible, be kind, and be safe.”
Ezekiel expresses to Carol that he would feel better if he or Jerry came with them. Carol reminds him that the fair is important. Ezekiel says, “If we could bring the communities back together as full partners…it would change everything.” Carol assures Ezekiel that she and Henry will be safe on the road. Ezekiel is concerned, “He sees this world as it should be, not as it is. He’s a dreamer.” Carol says that the world could use a few more dreamers, while Ezekiel asks who would be the one to pull Henry down from his flight of fancy back to earth. Carol smiles and says, “I have some ideas.” She kisses him and leaves with Henry.
In Alexandria’s rebuilt church (now a multipurpose meeting house), Gabriel presides over a council meeting, flanked by Aaron, Siddiq, Nora, Laura, Michonne, and a seventh Alexandrian -- to discuss whether to allow the newcomers into Alexandria. The council poses questions to the newcomers. Magna gives attitude, while Luke speaks honestly. He tells the council they’re a team, and they lost someone yesterday, Bernie. Aaron asks who they were before. Luke was a music teacher, Magna waited tables at a truck stop, Connie was a political journalist, and Kelly was in high school. Aaron asks who they are now. Magna says she’s a fighter. Connie is a guardian angel for her sister Kelly. Kelly insists it’s the other way around. Luke says he’s still a music teacher. “Education never ends, not even in the face of monsters and mayhem.” Gabriel asks what they did to survive. Connie says she never gave up. Kelly says she grew up. Luke makes a heartfelt speech about how lucky and great his people are. “We certainly don’t have anything in common, except for the fact that we’re breathing. And that’s a lot nowadays, right?” Aaron motions for a vote, but Michonne, the head of security, has one more concern, revealing that Magna has a prison tattoo. Furthermore, Michonne orders Magna to hand over a knife that she had been hiding in her belt. The residents murmur with surprise as Magna surrenders the weapon.
In the storage room of the church, Rosita finds Gabriel tinkering with an elaborate ham radio set-up. Gabriel believes there are still good people out there, and that they need to reach out to them. He tells Rosita that he spoke with Eugene about going further out and setting up a remote amplifier to boost the radio signal. They both know Michonne would think it’s a security breech. Rosita tells Gabriel to stay behind to help with the new people, while she and Eugene take care of the relay box. “You sure?” Gabriel asks. Rosita pulls him into a passionate kiss.
Judith overhears Michonne talking to Rick in her bedroom. “I thought I was done with this. Done talking to you and never hearing you answer. But I watched what you did to protect him. How nothing mattered except him…And I need to be that for them. I know it’s not the way we planned it, wanted it. But you weren’t here. And neither was he. You didn’t have to go through –" Judith’s creaking footstep interrupts. Michonne spots Judith and reminds her that it’s almost time for her lesson and homework.
Carol and Henry’s wagon rolls by an industrial area. Henry questions Carol’s direction. Carol tells Henry that they are not going to Hilltop, yet. A woman’s cry for help interrupts their conversation, and Henry rushes off to help. Carol runs after him, as he follows the cries to an alley, where he finds three men surrounding a helpless-looking woman. Henry raises his fighting stick, but the men step aside to reveal that the woman is the former Savior Regina, who points a spear gun at Henry, taunting him. Carol arrives with a bow and arrow pointed at the Saviors. Behind her, another gang of Saviors ambush them. “Hey there, boss lady!” Jed says as he reveals himself.
Elsewhere on another wagon, Eugene fiddles with a solar-powered electronic relay box while Rosita handles the reins. “You must really like Gabriel,” Eugene surmises. Annoyed, Rosita wants to focus on what they’re doing. Eugene pauses, then says, “Machete-wielding men of the cloth with zero depth perception aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, I’ll give you that. But that’s not to say there aren’t other, more viable selects available to you. Selects with equally distinctive qualities and belief systems firmly rooted in facts and science versus fables and fairy tales. Generally speaking.” Rosita asks if he had anyone specific in mind. Eugene pauses, “Generally speaking. As I said.”
Rosita spots tracks on the dirt road in front of them. “Tracks look fresh. Maybe hundreds, heading east.” she says. Eugene observes, “Lucky for us, west is where the deed gets done.” They eye two water towers in the distance.
In the infirmary, Siddiq sets up a glass I.V. bottle at Yumiko’s bedside. He tells Magna, Luke, Connie, and Kelly that Yumiko had a concussion and is a little dehydrated but could be back on her feet by tomorrow. Magna looks out the window and sees Michonne training Judith on sword fighting. Luke asks Siddiq, “What’s your story, doc? You been here from the start?”
Siddiq replies, “No, I was a stranger, someone they took in. But it was different then.” Luke asks if there’s a reason things changed. Siddiq says, “There’s a reason for everything.”
While the Saviors take Carol and Henry’s tomatoes and supplies, Jed tells Carol, “Sorry for the inconvenience, Cee. This kinda thing ain’t my bag, but times have been tough ever since Sanctuary went bust. This is all we have in the world. We used to have more horses, but we got hungry.” Carol says he could’ve joined one of the other communities. “That ain’t really my bag, either,” he replies. The saviors laugh. Jed levels with Carol.
“Listen, you spared me back in the day, so I’m gonna offer you the same courtesy. Keep your wagon, your horses, and your lives…” He kicks Henry’s stick. “Shit, you can even keep your damn stick, ‘cause what do I need with a stick? Everything else is ours and that’ll make us square.” Carol calmly tells him to take it and go, but Jed sees Carol’s wedding ring and adds, “Think I’ll have that rock on your hand, too.” For the first time, Carol hesitates. Henry swiftly kicks up his stick and knocks Jed down, but Jed gets up and knocks Henry down. The Saviors descend on Henry, but Carol shields him and gives up the ring to Jed.
Sitting on the steps outside with a math textbook, Judith reads aloud a math problem about airplanes. At the window next to her, a healthier, better-groomed Negan cracks a joke. Judith says, “You gonna help me or what?” He asks, “You ever seen an airplane fly in any direction at any speed?” She says no. He says, “So what the hell difference does it make? Math problems are supposed to apply to the real world. You want me to help you? Give me a problem for right here, right now.” Judith tells him that her mom is gonna make the new strangers she found leave.
“…Let me guess,” Negan replies. “You being you, you wanna help ‘em.”
“I found ‘em. I brought ‘em here.” Judith justifies.
Negan tells her a story about how he used to bring home stray dogs when he was about her age, until one of the strays killed the other strays and chewed off half his mother’s ear. “The thing is, that dog seemed just as friendly and grateful as the rest of ‘em.”
Judith sets off to move along when Negan says, “I thought you wanted my help.”
“I do, but just with math.” When asked why, she says, “Because it doesn’t matter if you’re a good or bad person on the inside. The numbers don’t care.” Judith walks away, while Negan smiles with amusement.
At the top of the water tower, Eugene sets up the radio relay box. He spots the herd coming their way and warns Rosita below. Rosita starts for the horses, but Eugene accidentally drops his backpack, its impact startling the horses away. On his way down, Eugene accidentally kicks away the extension ladder, forcing him to jump down, injuring his knee. Rosita grabs a military shovel and hands it to Eugene to use as a crutch. They flee just as the herd reaches them.
Back on the wagon, Henry rebukes Carol for caving in to the Saviors without trying. She tells him there’s no point. “That’s bullshit…” Henry says, “…You stand up for what’s right and fight what’s wrong. You taught me that. And I remember back when you did. What happened?” Carol tells him he’ll understand someday.
That night, Luke, Connie, and Kelly discuss their situation, telling Magna that she screwed them, and not to be an asshole. Luke orders Magna to hand over another knife that she hid in her necklace. Magna suggests they fight Michonne so that they can stay in Alexandria, but Luke, Connie, and Kelly overrule her. “There’s kids here,” Luke says. “You want to fight debate-style? Cool. You want to fight-fight? We save it for the people that deserve it.”
Carol sneaks up on the Savior camp and takes the matchstick that has been dangling in Jed’s mouth. Jed wakes up and finds two red gasoline cans at her feet.
“The ring I could let go,” Carol says. “But that stuff belonged to people I knew. People who went out and never came back.”
Jed says, “We found that stuff. We didn’t do anything.” She says he hurt her son. Jed pleads, “I swear, you’ll never see us again.”
“I know,” Carol says. She flicks the lit match onto the gasoline. Fire engulfs Jed and the rest of the Saviors covered in gasoline. Carol walks away as the roaring of the fire drowns out their final screams.
Magna arrives at Michonne’s house. She peers through the window and sees – a five-year-old “RJ” – Michonne’s son. Magna’s face washes over with resolve as she watches RJ leap into his mother’s arms. She knocks on the door and surrenders her knife, telling Michonne that she missed one. Michonne thanks her. “You were right about me,” Magna says. “I’ve done things. Terrible things. If I had all this, I wouldn’t trust me either.” Magna turns to leave.
“We’ve all done things,” Michonne says. “Or we wouldn’t be here. It isn’t always that easy to live with.”
Michonne closes the door and catches Judith at the stairs, pointing Rick’s Colt revolver at the doorway. “You said Dad would’ve wanted me to have it,” Judith says as she lowers the gun. “To protect myself and the people I love.” She also says she thinks “Dad would’ve wanted me to do what I did yesterday, too.”
“He would’ve been proud,” Michonne says. “Your brother, too.”
Judith asks why she won’t help them. Michonne tells her that she’ll understand someday.
Judith places the sheriff figurine on the step in front of Michonne and tells her, “I know you talk to him sometimes. To Carl, too. I’m starting to forget their voices. I’m not trying to, but they keep fading away. I hope you can still hear them.” Judith walks up the stairs as RJ runs to Michonne. She sweeps him into her arms and hugs him close.
In the woods, Rosita and Eugene urgently flee from the herd. Rosita urges Eugene to keep running, despite the pain in his leg. Eugene stops and tells her, “I’m holding you back. And I cannot keep on keeping on. I’ll gladly distract the dead while you vamoose. But, there’s something I’ve been working up the testicular gravitas to tell you. Something I’ve been feeling for a long time –”
“Shut up!” Rosita interrupts. “Don’t make this weird. We are making it. C’mon!”
Carol and Henry continue their journey to Hilltop. Henry apologizes for what he said. “It’s okay,” Carol says. “You’re safe. That’s all that matters.” Henry notices that Carol’s wedding ring is back on her finger. She smiles at him and steers the wagon onto an off-road trail. He questions her direction again. “I know where I’m going,” Carol assures him. They suddenly stop and see a figure standing in front of them – Daryl.
Carol smiles. “Need a ride, stranger?” Daryl smiles back.
In her bedroom, a freshly showered Michonne removes her robe, revealing a large X-shaped scar branded on her lower back. She opens her closet and holds one of Rick’s shirts close to her chest. She takes a moment and puts it on, over her scar.
With Yumiko healed, the newcomers prepare to leave Alexandria. Luke personally thanks Siddiq, Gabriel, and especially Judith. Michonne arrives on horseback with a change of plans. She informs them that Hilltop might be able to take them in and offers to escort them there personally. She asks Siddiq to accompany her to look after his patient, Yumiko. Connie and Kelly use ASL to thank Judith. Judith tries to sign back and charmingly says she’ll work on it.
Rosita and Eugene hide in a ditch, desperately disguising themselves in mud as the herd passes by. Then, they hear something --
“Where are they?” whispers a voice among the walkers. “They must be close,” whispers another voice. “Don’t let them get away…”
Eugene’s eyes go wide with horror, while Rosita clamps a hand over her mouth to stifle her own panicked breaths.