Another Sunday, another episode of The Walking Dead. Need a refresher before going in? Check out my recap of last week’s episode right here.

In this week’s episode, Hilltop prepares for war as the Whisperers and their massive walker horde are ready for battle.

“Does this mean we’re bonded for life?”

Beta and some Whisperers are collecting sap from dozens and dozens of tree, nailing sack to the bark in order to collect it. Meanwhile, Alpha and Negan are hanging out. She asks him to whip her arm with a thin branch, and she asks to do the same to him when her turn is done. He’s hesitant but willing to learn more about their ways.

Afterwards, Alpha, Negan, Beta, and many Whisperers are walking among a walker horde and talking to each other, reaffirming that they are the end of the world. And that they’ll take it all.

“You can’t go out there. My mother’s coming.” 

Remember that woman Eugene was talking to over the radio, the mysterious one who was very cautious about revealing any information about herself and her people? Well, her name is Stephanie and she seems to have gotten very comfortable with Eugene. They clearly like each other and always have something to talk about, but Eugene brings up the subject of meeting each other. None of their respective people know that the two of them are communicating, but Eugene tells her that she’s stationed in Virginia when she reveals she saw the same satellite fall that they did, thus revealing her location as relatively close-by. After some hesitance, Stephanie agrees to talk to her people.

Alden and Earl are working the fence at Hilltop when they spot the Alexandrians approaching the gate, but they don’t recognise Mary, formerly Gamma. Aaron tells Earl that Mary wants to see Adam, the baby they adopted. Earl refuses, and is angry at Aaron for bringing who he considers an enemy into the camp.

Kelly, Yumiko, and Luke are arguing about going to find Magna and Connie when Daryl rides into Hilltop with Lydia, who warns the group about her mother.

“We can get them to join us.” 

Rosita enters Eugene’s radio room and is calling out for him when Stephanie radios in. Rosita answers her but Eugene violently grabs it from her hand, telling her to leave. Rosita asks if it’s someone from Oceanside but Eugene is adamant that Rosita gets the hell out of the room yesterday. She leaves and he tries to radio Stephanie back, to no answer.

Negan finds Alpha grimly standing by a pond and wants to throw an idea at her. Sure, he says, killing everyone at Hilltop and Alexandria would be damn satisfying. However, making them bend the knee and turning them into Whisperers would be even sweeter. She asks him to go on.

Lydia is explaining the situation to some of the top people at Hilltop, in the mansion. Earl wants to stay at Hilltop and fight, and maybe even die, as long as he defends the places he loves. Aaron and everybody else don’t agree with him at all, pointing out that some of them have children and that they all need to live. Lydia tells Earl that the walkers will ram straight through Hilltop and leave no survivors.

Daryl loads up Judith and other children into a wagon and he tries to get them out of the area. However, he finds one of the roads blocked with logs and knows that every road will have the same roadblock; he knows that Negan is behind this as well.

“We’re on our own.” 

Daryl returns to Hilltop and everybody is appropriately freaking out; Luke nervously asks if they can get Alexandria or Oceanside to help them in the fight but it’s pointed out that they won’t be able to get to Hilltop in time. Earl goes all military and yells at the lot of them, telling them to get ready for the fight of their lives.

Carol enters Ezekiel’s room and notices his scarf covering his neck. She removes it and finally discovers the lump. Ezekiel swears he was going to tell her, but before he knows it she goes in for a kiss.

“I’m sorry your kid died and you hate the world.”  

Eugene is out working on some doo-da when Rosita approaches him. She notices how beat-up Eugene is about the whole thing and she wonders if Eugene really, truly likes this girl Stephanie. She asks Eugene to kiss her; he’s a little confused but goes in for the kiss, backing out at the last second. This confirms it for Rosita, who thus tells him to go see about a girl.

Carol spots Lydia sitting by herself and joins her; they have this weird, nihilistic conversation but it seems like they’re on okay terms now.

Luke and Kelly are working on some anti-walker devices when Yumiko comes in to apologise for arguing with Kelly earlier. Just then, an army of mice comes out of the forest. Yumiko screams for them to leave: the horde is coming.

“Let’s get this over with. I have a date.” 

Eugene sings into the radio and is delighted when Stephanie sings back. They each apologise for their transgressions and she blurts out that she too is in Virginia, and sets up a time and place for them to meet. A week from then, south of some river.

Daryl and Ezekiel have a heart-to-heart conversation; Daryl is aware that they haven’t been the most communicative over the course of their relationship but he wants Ezekiel to know that he’s stronger than most. Daryl makes a deal with him: when the time comes, either one of them need to get the kids out of the camp. They agree, and Daryl goes off to have a talk with Judith.

He keeps her updated on his deal with Ezekiel and it’s an adorable conversation. She gives him his vest but with a few artistic modifications that she’s made.

Then, the time comes: they’re ready for war. They stand outside the gates of Hilltop and watch as the walker horde slowly approaches. A trap is meant to slow them down but they walk through it eventually. Our heroes then take formation and kill as many walkers as they possibly can.

Meanwhile, in the forest behind the action, Beta directs his Whisperers to launch the sacks at the Hilltop residents. It turns out to be some kind of flammable liquid, as one of them lights on fire like a match when Whisperers volley fire arrows at them. They’re forced to fall back, but more fire arrows have created a wall that they can’t get through.

The End

This was a fantastic, and very mournful, episode. More than most instances, this truly feels like a big moment in the show and I genuinely can’t wait until the next episode, “Walk with Us.” Check out my recap for that one next week.