Hello! Welcome to another recap of The Walking Dead.

In this week’s episode, we catch up with Negan as he continues to put distance between himself and Alexandria. Meanwhile, Hilltop is dealing with its fence situation as well as a thief in its midst.

Before continuing, check out my recap of last week’s episode.

“Don’t try anything.”

Kelly is hunting in the woods. While she’s doing so, her ears are constantly ringing and she keeps looking around her with every step she takes, presumably to see if there are any walkers sneaking up on her. As she revealed to her sister Connie in a previous episode, her hearing is beginning to fade and it’s scaring her.

She spots a wild boar and readies her slingshot to take it down. The ringing becomes worse and she doesn’t let it stop her as the projectile finds its way into the boar, knocking it over. She walks up over to it only to find it still breathing, and she ends its misery with her knife. Kelly unfortunately hasn’t taken the boar’s loud squealing into consideration, as a walker surprises her. She kills one of them only to find that more of them have started getting into her boar. She runs away and falls down, injuring herself. She leans against a rock, unable to hear the walker coming up from behind her.

Meanwhile, Negan is drinking water from a creek when an Alexandrian tells him to freeze, pointing a knife in his direction. Negan looks angry, but the Alexandrian cheekily notes the look on Negan’s face and tosses him a water flask, telling him that it took a while for him to track him down. Negan cracks a smile.

“Alexandria deserved better.”

At Hilltop, Yumiko is commanding some residents to kill walkers threatening the gate. She eventually enters the fortress and checks on how the tree-cutting process is going. Alden throws an idea at Yumiko, that they can not only use the tree’s wood for defences, but also for larger weapons like a catapult. Yumiko agrees with the idea but since former Kingdom residents are still living in tents, it may not be the best idea for the moment. Alden understands but Earl, the blacksmith, notes that the Whisperers are still sending out groups of walkers to Hilltop every couple of hours. Just then, a Hilltopper named Brianna tells Yumiko that “it happened again”, and that Magna was on watch while it happened.

Yumiko confronts Magna, telling her that a crate of fish has been stolen. It’s the third one this week, she says. Magna admits that she wasn’t at her post, and ignores Yumiko’s suggestion that since things are currently tense, it’s best for everyone to stick to their posts and do their job.

Magna has resisted against Yumiko’s decision-making since last episode, but it seems she’s coming from a place of wanting to contribute to Hilltop aggressively or strategically rather than simply watching things. It’s understandable, but yikes. Magna has quickly become one of those characters.

Meanwhile, Ezekiel watching as Daryl and Siddiq enter through the gate. Daryl signs at Connie that he wants to talk to her later, while Ezekiel asks about the fruitful search for Negan. During this conversation, Ezekiel briefly coughs which as far as I’m concerned is the mark of death. I knew ye well, Ezekiel.

A group of hunters make their way back. Connie asks about Kelly, but they’re surprised she hasn’t come back yet since she was tracking something and planned to meet the hunters at Hilltop.

“We’re both Negan.”

Negan and the young Alexandrian are making their way through the wilderness. The kid seems to be a big fan of Negan, particularly of his legend. While he’s off peeing behind a tree, he tries whistling like Negan did when making his presence known back in the day. He talks up the awesomeness of the Sanctuary, of how Rick Grimes came in and dragged his family to Alexandria while preaching the benefits of community.

Negan doesn’t seem to process any of what he’s saying in a substantial way, but he stops the kid in his tracks when he brings up Carl and how Negan killed him. Negan says he would never have hurt Carl, and that he doesn’t kill kids.

They find the border marker that the Whisperers put up, and Negan is set upon by a walker. He uses his walking stick to fend the thing off and kills it. He thanks the kid for his help, who says he was getting Negan’s gift ready in the meantime. He pulls out a baseball bat with barbed wire on it, as well as Negan’s leather jacket. Negan tells the kid to put the jacket and bat away, as he claims he doesn’t want to be recognised.

Negan comes across to me as someone who genuinely has changed, who has put the worse version of himself behind him. This kid shows up and expects to find the Negan of legend, the version of Negan that his father told him about when he was a kid. Negan’s just going along with it for now.

“You gotta be kidding me.”

Aaron is practicing with his sword on a bridge while he hears some rustling nearby. He finds Gamma killing a walker and gutting it, only to throw it into the water and likely poisoning the water supply.

Meanwhile, the kid is showing Negan a place that he says could be the next Sanctuary. They hear a woman screaming in the distance, and Negan runs off to help. He finds a bus, and kills a walker which breaks his knife. He enters and kills the rest of them, saving a woman and her child while the kid yells, “Classic Negan!” at him after the deed is done.

“Dummy, get the beer.”

Daryl and Connie are trying to find Kelly, and Daryl tells Connie a story about his brother Merle to calm her down, of how he and Merle were drinking and fishing. Merle fell into the water and Daryl saved him, swimming him to shore, only for Merle to berate Daryl for not bringing the beer. He and Connie hold hands, but Daryl hears his dog barking and they run off.

They find the dead boar from earlier and hear some nearby rustling, only to find Magna. Magna hasn’t seen Kelly either.

“What are we here for, if not for each other?”

At Hilltop, Alden and Yumiko are discussing their supply problem. Yumiko laments that she isn’t with Magna, Connie, and Daryl but Alden assures her that her place is with the people. Earl reminds Alden of the threat of the Whisperers, but Alden says that he’s been thinking of them every single day since they killed his girlfriend Enid.

Siddiq and Ezekiel are talking when Ezekiel goes into a coughing fit. He’s aggressive in not letting Siddiq check on him, but he eventually gives in and reveals a massive lump on his neck. Siddiq brings up all the possibilities but Ezekiel is certain that it’s thyroid cancer. His grandmother and his father had it, but they were able to fight it given the various treatments they had access to. Now, he doesn’t stand a chance. Siddiq calms him down and says that he can live with it, like how he himself is living with not being able to properly lead Alexandria due to his trauma at the hands of the Whisperers.

“People are a resource.”

Negan and the kid, now named Brandon, are listening to the story of the mother and her kid, named Milo. They’re travellers who have been moving from place to place. They need to keep moving so they leave the bus. Brandon wishes them well, and then immediately suggests to Negan that they follow them to where they’re hiding whatever they’re hiding. He’s even ready to kill them with a crowbar he finds. Negan stops him, and tells him to go back to Alexandria. Brandon is hesitant because he thinks he’ll be suspected of helping Negan, but Negan tells him to leave him alone anyway.

“We’ll be waiting.”

At the Whisperer camp, Alpha is teaching someone how to skin a walker. This Whisperer suggests that instead of sending out small groups of walkers at a time, why don’t they simply send in their entire horde all at once and crush the enemy? Alpha puts the idea up to a vote and kills him when nobody responds.

Back at the bus, Milo’s mom is packing to move so Negan wants to have a word with the kid. He builds up a rapport with him by describing what it was like to fly on a plane, and teaches him the mystical art of nut-tapping, wherein you whip your hand at another man’s genitals. He tells Milo that he’ll be dropping him and his mom off at Hilltop, where they can hopefully find a home.

Meanwhile, Gamma is leading the corpse Alpha killed to the river where she stabs him in the head. She begins thinking of how her sister died and goes crazy on the guy, stabbing him repeatedly until she accidentally cuts herself. Aaron is watching and throws her some bandages, but Gamma runs away before Aaron can say much.

“I am Negan.”

Daryl’s dog leads the group to Kelly, who asks Magna to “tell them.” Daryl is confused by this until he’s led to a wagon with a lot of supplies on it. It’s the stolen supplies from Hilltop. Magna doesn’t trust them, which is why she did what she did.

Negan’s bringing some firewood back to the bus when he hears Brandon attempting to whistle that Saviour tune. He finds that Brandon has killed Milo and his mom, and says he knew Negan was trying to test time to see if he could do what needs to be done. Negan beats Brandon to death with a rock. He finds Brandon’s bag with the barbed wire bat sticking out, picks it up, and begins walking.

At Hilltop, Siddiq is checking in with the other doctor at Alexandria. He says that aside from Rosita catching the bug, there isn’t much going on. Siddiq asks for Carol and lets Ezekiel sit in his seat. Ezekiel hears Carol approaching the microphone but turns the radio off; he isn’t ready to tell her yet.

Yumiko and Magna are in their room and Magna wants Yumiko to admit that she thinks Magna stole the supplies. It seems that Yumiko saved Magna from prison during the initial outbreak. Magna confesses to Yumiko that she killed the man who did something to her cousin, either raping her or killing her. Yumiko is shocked at this and asks Magna to find another place to sleep.

“You might just have to wear a new mask.”

At the Whisperer camp, Gamma tells Alpha of how Aaron helped her. Alpha sees an opportunity to seize here, as she asks Gamma to wear another mask when talking to him.

At Hilltop, Connie finds Daryl and Siddiq preparing to leave. Connie apologises for Daryl having to lie on Magna and Kelly’s behalf, about how they stole supplies, but Daryl signs that they’re a family now and he heads off.

The End

That’s it for this week!

This might have been the most character-focused and dialogue-driven of the episode this season, as you can tell by the length of this recap. It’s longer than usual but this episode seems like a cooler before the explosion over the next few weeks, so if you’re sick of my excessive words then that should be good news for you.

Catch me here next week for my recap of the next episode of the season, “Bonds.”