This review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead is BACK! So lets get straight into the breakdown!
The episode starts with Maggie killing a turned Whisperer with a deadly knife throw, this just reminds us not only of how skilled she was when we last saw her but also how she is probably even more enhanced now, as she has spent years away out there away from the core group. I also like her Western look, it suits her. She has a nice catch-up with Judith but as she enters the temporary camp she comes face to face with Negan… Maggie says nothing, relying on her facial expressions and the music key to convey to us her hatred for him. She walks off leaving Negan to ponder what the future holds. Cut to the opening theme… boy, that was an intense start!
Darryl and Carol casually say their hellos and Maggie introduces her companions, Elijah (the masked warrior) and Cole. They are on the road again, having lost their village and Maggie was taking them to Hilltop. This then triggers an uncomfortable scene of Maggie standing in front of the ruins of Hilltop and Carol explaining to her that she was the one who let Negan out to fulfil his mission. Maggie does not take kindly to Carol for her actions. The pressure continues to build, and this was yet another tense scene focused around Negan and his position going forwards.
Maggie’s group, Darryl and Kelly head off and plan to hold up overnight in a lot, but first of all, they have to clear it of Walkers. This gives us a much more fleshed-out look at Maggie and Co in terms of their Walker-killing skills. There were so many brutal takedowns! Darryl and Maggie have a chance to catch up on what Maggie has been up to over the past few years. She was out there trying to create other Hilltops, buy preparing them, and getting them to a place where they are much more than just ‘survival ready’. But each time she did, Maggie proclaims that “it all went sideways”, the sound of defeat in her voice coming through loud and clear. She suffered a lot since she’s been away, and still wants to keep some things to herself. The conflict between what Maggie went through at the hands of Negan and what Negan has done since his redemption is so strong for the audience here. With Maggie not in the picture for a few seasons, it’s like we have forgotten what Negan did. Her emotional talk with Darryl just brings it all back and gets us, the audience, questioning everything, it was so well done!
The next morning, the group head on out, Kelly still desperate to find any sign of her sister. Maggie talks to Darryl about how she can’t wait for him to see Hershel, but Darryl points out a pillar of smoke in the distance. The colour in Maggie’s face drains and she charges off towards it. “Its them, they’ve found us”…
Smoke and ruin set the scene of the landscape as Maggie frantically tries to find Hershel. All that remains are two charred bodies and the rest of her people, Hershel included, taken by “The Reapers”. Looks like we’ve got a new faction of villains to fight!
After Maggie is reunited with some stragglers from her group, they come under fire and take off. The assailant takes down two more of Maggie’s group, resulting in them being pinned down under sniper fire. Maggie tries to flank the sniper, with Darryl drawing their attention. The sniper rifle has been abandoned, and Maggie is attacked from behind by the sniper, in a full ghillie suit. Maggie falls into a snare trap, but Darryl comes in for the save. The mystery sniper won’t go down though and quickly takes out Darryl, by throwing him into a tree. Just as Maggie is about to go one on one with the ‘Super Sniper’, Kelly shoots him with Darryl’s crossbow. With the arrow sticking out of him, he remains standing and when Maggie questions him, he tells her that ‘Pope marked her’ and proceeds to pull the pin out of a, hidden, grenade. The sniper is killed in the subsequent explosion. Maggie’s confusion soon turns to relief, as we get our first glimpse of little Hershel sitting in the tree, cap and all!
As night falls, Maggie and Kelly share a nice exchange by the campfire. Darryl wants to know what the plan is and Maggie confirms that she will return to Alexandria, but the whole Negan issue is still well and truly up in the air. The episode ends with Negan and Maggie walking away in separate directions… so symbolic.
This was an incredibly strong return for the show, it really was! We’ve only got 5 more episodes to go and I can’t see the Negan and Maggie stuff being resolved to any satisfying conclusion this season. But I am OK with that! Take your time, give us that earned payoff. As for ‘The Reapers’, it’s hard to say how much of a presence they will be. These appear to be a totally new creation for the TV show, so as to their motives and influence, only time will tell. They may just fill the role of temporary antagonists for the remainder of Season 10, as we already know that the final season will be focused on The Commonwealth, so there might not be room for both!
What did make of The Walking Dead‘s return? Let us know in the comments below.