All roads lead to the Hilltop in the latest installment of AMC’s The Walking Dead. The once thriving union of communities apparently fell by the wayside following Rick’s death with none more diametrically altered philosophically than Alexandria. As seen in last week’s episode, Michonne seems to be all out of trust. But in The Walking Dead season 9 episode 7, an evolving enemy might force her and those she estranged to unite once again.
The Tree of Knowledge
Daryl leads Carol and Henry through the woods to his rudimentary camp site. Things seem in disarray, including Daryl. Carol questions Daryl physical and mental health before stating her desire that he accompany them to Hilltop. Henry idealism both encourages and concerns Carol, and she believes that Daryl’s guidance could help him navigate such a path. Daryl remarks that Henry will have to learn like he and Carol did as he heads back to camp to prepare some snake stew.
Carol later confronts Daryl about his separation from the others. What began as an obsessive search for Rick hardly changed over the years, leading Daryl to fully retreat to the woods. The absence of Rick’s body emboldens Daryl’s belief, but Carol implores him to let it go. Daryl doesn’t respond and leaves the camp to search for his missing dog. The dog is found surrounded by trapped walkers. Daryl moves in to rescue his companion, but is forced to accept Henry’s help when a walker breaks loose. Daryl thanks Henry and prepares his bike for the long ride to Hilltop the next morning.
A New Leader
Waiting for both Daryl’s and Michonne’s separate contingents is a thriving Hilltop that is under new management. Maggie left her post at some unknown point after Rick’s death, leaving Jesus in charge of the community. The new leader seems very reluctant to take on the role despite earning the confidence of the Hilltop’s citizens. Jesus views himself as a temporary replacement holding down the fort until Maggie returns, but Tara fingers that thought as one of denial.
Whether he truly believes it or not, Jesus makes sure to take some time to himself during a solitary horse ride beyond the city’s walls. That peace is interrupted when Aaron jumps Jesus. There’s no malice in the action, however, as the two begin a friendly sparring session before catching each other up on current events within their respective homes. The rift between Alexandria and Hilltop seems even larger based on the secrecy of this meeting, but a flare could force the healing to begin. Jesus and Aaron notice the flare and find an exhausted Rosita. She tells them Eugene is hiding in a barn before they transport her to the Hilltop.
Michonne’s redemptive decision to lead the newbies to the Hilltop is revealed to be less heartening than originally thought. Saddiq points out that Michonne likes the quintet, but she is quick to point out that she doesn’t trust them. The feeling is mutual as Magna remains on edge as the group approaches their disheveled camp. The newbies gather their remaining belongings while reflecting on their fallen companion, Bernie, but MIchonne refuses to let them have their weapons. Magna pushes back, but Michonne offers the group an ultimatum: Turn over your weapons or you are on your own. The group choose the former and seek shelter for the night.
That shelter doesn’t protect the newbies from Michonne’s heightened mistrust. She draws her blade and attacks Luke when she catches him taking something out of a bag. Luke is unarmed and cries out as MIchonne’s attack broke a prized Stradivarius violin. Michonne seems incredulous to Luke’s reaction to the instruments destruction. But Luke points out his belief that it is but one of many tools for advancement. Luke’s opinion that art brings communities together appears to fall on deaf ears. However, Michonne decides to continue on with the group to the Hilltop despite her clearly estranged relationship with Maggie. Saddiq informs her that Maggie is no longer at the Hilltop before the group fights through a collection of walkers side-by-side, culminating in the final death of the now-turned Bernie.
Michonne changes her mind about going to the Hilltop once again, questioning how Saddiq knew. Hilltop guards approach the group, telling them about Rosita’s presence at the Hilltop. Michonne changes her mind yet again, pledging to go to the Hilltop as a mysterious figure watches them from the woods. Daryl, Carol and Henry beat them there, arriving just in time to join the search for Eugene.
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