The Walking Dead: Rock in the Road S7,Ep.9

Just because Rick and company are ready for war with The Saviors doesn’t mean any other faction is woke and wiling. That was the main takeaway from TWD’s mid season kickoff. Despite some solid pitches and Rick’s passionate telling of a rock in the road, nobody was willing to join the war effort.

That’s fitting though. As traumatic as The Grimes Gang’s initial encounter with Negan was, these other communities have already fought wars with The Saviors. And all had similar results. So while Rick has a wide-eyed optimism about the power of a communities united front taking down the Saviors, the other groups aren’t buying it … yet.

Thankfully, it wasn’t a simple matter of these other communities just needing Rick to rally them. It would undercut the fear of Saviors’ reprisal. No, it’s clear now the main battle won’t be against The Saviors, but getting the other communities to believe they can win a war against them.

Gabriel apparently really didn’t seem sold, raiding Alexandria’s pantry and riding off in the night. I’m more in line with Rick here in thinking Gabriel has a reason for relocating the supplies beyond being a coward. His character has evolved immensely since then and revisiting his old character flaw doesn’t seem useful.

It wasn’t surprising that Gregory (Xander Berkely, 24) wanted no parts of a war. The Hilltop is cowering and ill-equipped to handle a prolonged conflict. I’d love for about 50 of the walker extras to double as Hilltop residents as this community always seems barren. If The Saviors killed 10 people, they’d kill half of the community based on how many are normally onscreen. Regardless, some are down to fight thanks to Enid stumping for Maggie and the others.

With a little momentum, Jesus decided now was the time to introduce Rick and company to The Kingdom and King Ezekiel. You had to appreciate Rick being taking aback by Shiva. While they’ve seen some crazy stuff, they don’t come across tigers too often. But on that front, what’s happened to other zoo animals? Are they stuck in cages? Dead? Wandering around?

While Rick made one heck of a pitch with his Rock in the Road story, Ezekiel wasn’t biting. Despite his key adviser, Richard, definitely being down to attack the Saviors, Ezekiel is fine maintaining the tentative peace. Gotta figure poor Benjamin is going to have to be killed to get Ezekiel off the fence and into the war.

the-walking-dead-episode-Rock in the Road review -Rick, Michonne, Aaron and Tara

That would be a shame since Benjamin had a number of strong scenes this episode. Maybe its youthful naivete, but his simplistic take on right and wrong was dead on. And he sized up Rick and company pretty quickly.

Morgan was taken aback upon learning who Negan killed, but he favors capturing Negan to end the war. Even if he didn’t truly seem to believe that one act would end it either. While the band got back together last episode, they’re already splintering off again. Daryl has to stay at The Kingdom since it’s neutral ground. And Rosita wants no parts of bonding with Sasha. That seemed catty especially after the terrific Kumbuya moment last episode.

Securing the explosions from The Saviors trap seemed needlessly dangerous. How did the explosives-filled truck not blow up with the walkers rocking it again?? But it sure made for an awesome sight with Michonne and Rick dismembering walkers with the steel cable. That seems like a pretty effective battle technique…especially against a horde of people with massive numerical superiority…


the-walking-dead-episode-Rock in the Road review -Michonne and Rick

After a relatively brief Saviors bully moment as they look for Daryl, Rick and the gang go searching for Gabriel. While they don’t find him, they do encounter a new collective fully armed. Given the circumstances, Rick probably shouldn’t have smiled, but clearly he’s already sizing up some new allies or a new weapons depot. Either way, things are staring to look up for The Grimes Gang.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Barring that one incident with the walkers, Rock in the Road wasn’t an explosive episode. It was a solid way to kick off the second half of the season and clearly lays out Rick’s big obstacle going forward.  Before battling The Saviors, he needs to raise an army.

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC