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Sunday, March 25, 2018

[RECAP] Season 8, Episode 12 of The Walking Dead, "The Key"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

Episode 12 of Season 8 entitled "The Key" was arguably one of the best episodes of the season.  While many out there (including us) were expecting this episode to be merely a setup for the final battle (a "filler" episode, essentially), it was far beyond that.  It was action packed and set in motion many developments that will be hopefully quickly resolved by the season finale.  There were definitely some "suspension of belief" moments but the exciting developments far outweighed the critiques.

The episode starts off with Negan's men following his orders: Infecting all of their weapons with walker blood, in preparation with their altercation with The Hilltop.  They have been firmly instructed by Negan that they are only to maim the Hilltop and not shoot to kill.  This battle is meant to be a warning of what The Saviors are capable of and, in theory, they should cower and surrender.  We can see that Simon, Negan's right hand man, however is not convinced but he goes along with the plan.

Back at Alexandria, Rick and Michonne arrive and Rick takes some time to compose himself before gearing himself up for the next wave of battle.  It's at a quiet moment at Glenn and Abraham's graves that Daryl approaches Rick and probably delivers the most heart felt and longest monologue he's been given in years (for God's sake AMC, give this man more lines...geez).  He in essence apologizes for his impulsiveness at The Sanctuary but it was a coming from a place of just wanting to end this war for good.  Rick understands and they move forward with what to do next, but Rick doesn't leave without thanking Daryl for all he's done to get everyone here safe and sound, including no doubt Judith (IE. the John Conner of this series).

As part of the plan, Rick puts down roots at the side of a road to keep an eye out for the Saviors and to send out the signal once he sees them.  Finally, the convoy of Saviors come down the road (with freshly infected weapons) and Rick notices not just the convoy but that Negan is isolated in one vehicle at the back of the line.

Not quite sure why your leader would be traveling by himself in the BACK of the convoy but okay.  We'll just go with that.

Rick simply cannot help himself and he gets in his car and immediately pursues Negan's car until he manages to go down a random side street and t-bone Negan's car off the path.  They then continue a wild car chase, while Dwight and Simon stop their cars and ponder what to do...but not before Simon looks back in his side mirror with a smirk.

This is because during their car ride together, Simon attempted to pick Dwight's brain on his thoughts on this mission because on Simon's part, he had serious reservations on this tactic.  He felt that an endeavor meant to scare Rick and team was a futile attempt considering that Rick and team don't seem to scare easily.  The possibility that Rick could have eliminated Negan from the equation seems to embolden Simon to flat our recommend to Dwight when they attempt to "look" for Negan (honestly, I'm reaching here to even say that they made an attempt) that they should just cut their losses and move on.  To Dwight, this sounds extremely tempting: Cut our losses and just move away.  Not only does this save Rick and team, but it also allows Dwight a chance at a new life.  

Unfortunately, Simon, being the manipulative person that he is, takes the opportunity to leverage this in a different direction.  He proceeds to inform the Savior crew in tow that while they tried to look for Negan, he was gone and all that was left was some blood and an overturned car.  The Saviors are lost at what to do and Simon does exactly what he's been wanting to do: Step into the position of leader of The Saviors and disregard Negan's orders but informing everyone that to "honor" Negan they will now go to The Hilltop with a new objective.  That is kill everyone there until they can erase that this whole episode ever happened.  We can see that Dwight has made the realization that Simon is far more dangerous and psychotic than Negan ever was and we will now need to see how he plays into the new plan.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, Rick apparently pushed Negan's car off the road and overturned in front of a building.  Negan survives (of course) and runs into the building, with Rick feverishly chasing after him but not being able to land ONE SHOT.  This is one of those incredulous moments, particularly since we have to remember that Rick was a SHERIFF.  But hey, again, we'll go with it.

Once both men are inside the building, Rick runs out of bullets (of course) and proceeds to try and get Negan with his hatchet.  After a some back and forth however, Negan falls through the floor and both men end up in the dark (is this a metaphor?).

While in the dark, Negan states that he's still alive because he "is a goddamn cat" (GREAT LINE) and the two men go back and forth with comments while trying to orientate themselves in the darkness.  While in the dark, it is revealed that Negan was in the dark about something else: The events at the junk yard.  When Negan tries to negotiate a ceasefire solution (25% of all their earnings rather than 50%), Rick questions him on why should he listen to him based on what he did to the whole junkyard community.  It's at that point that we see the realization on Negan's face that Simon disobeyed him...and is likely in no rush to come and save him.  

Rick and Simon continue to do their back and forth dance of fighting (this time with a flaming Lucille), but in the end, Negan escapes out of the window...And disappears from Rick's view.

In reality however, one of the most significant things that likely happened this episode occurred with the women of the Hilltop.  Specifically Maggie, Michonne, Enid and Rosita.  While on watch, Maggie notices in the distance some empty crates with a flag and a note.  They go out to see what his is and they uncovered that it is a request for records or food, in exchange for "The Key" to their future.  While most of the ladies are skeptical, Michonne thinks it's worth investigating.  Ultimately they go and encounter a strange black truck with twin female soldier looking individuals guarding it.  Finally an older woman comes out in a very Hillary Clinton-esque outfit and style.  She introduces herself as Georgie and as someone who means no harm.  She has been watching them for some time and believes that her knowledge could be useful but they would like an exchange of records (music, no spoken word crap allowed).  Maggie is skeptical and they decide to bring them back to The Hilltop.

Once there, they have a bigger internal discussion on what to do with them but Michonne manages to convince the ladies that these people could really be the help that they need (even citing Carl's saving of Siddiq and now they have a doctor).  Maggie eventually comes out with crates filled with records (again, music, no spoken word) and Georgie changes the terms of the deals, for the better: She gives them food that they desperately need and "The Key".  This is literally a makeshift book entitled "The Key to the Future" with plans for building dams, bridges, aqueducts, mills for producing grain, etc.  Essentially the key to rebuilding society.  Georgie informs that she confident that they will be able to implement this and that they will be back at some point to see how they've done.

Now, there are a LOT of speculations on who Georgie and her people are but in my opinion, I believe that they are the same group that were in the helicopter that was flying over Rick when he was on his way to the junk yard.  To go out on a limb, I'm going to say that this is the government, scoping out the land to see what pockets of communities may have formed and which ones are strong enough and capable enough to rebuild society.  I have no doubt that this will be a major (and quite frankly exciting) story arc for season nine.  Oh yeah, and I'm going to say Heath is with them too.

But what happened to Negan?  Well, we end the episode with Negan coming in and out of consciousness in the passenger seat of a car...being driven by Jadis of all people, and who is driving while keeping a gun on Negan.  Negan comes to and Jadis swiftly pistol whips him and the episode ends.

What Jadis has in store for Negan is anyone's guess, particularly since she no doubt suspects that Negan gave the call for Simon to murder all of her people.  Unfortunately, it seems we wont find out their future until episode 14 (dammit).

In the meantime, expect episode 13 to be the beginning of the end of The Saviors and the start of the epic last stand at The Hilltop.


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