After a bleak, depressing, almost nihilistic opening eight episodes of the seventh season of The Walking Dead, the midseason premiere, “Rock in the Road” quickly shifted gears from hopelessness to optimism. The episode picked up where the midseason finale left off, with Rick, Daryl, Michonne and the gang reuniting with Maggie and Sasha in The Hilltop and piecing together a plan to vanquish Negan. But first, they need the numbers, and the midseason premiere conformed with expectations that the back eight episode would be about piecing together a winning alliance.
We start in The Hilltop, where Rick confronts his first obstacle: Gregory.
Despite his growing unpopularity within The Hilltop, Gregory still remains the nominal leader of the group, and in conversations with Rick, Jesus, and Maggie, he remains steadfast in his refusal to take on Negan, although he’s all too happy to accept any benefit that might accrue from Negan’s defeat, so long as he doesn’t have to put his neck out and risk the lives of his “sorghum farmers.”
Fortunately, those sorghum farmers are willing to put their own lives at risk, and thanks to the good word Enid put in for Rick, several members of The Hilltop are willing to sidestep Gregory and join the burgeoning alliance. It’s a small victory for the Resistance, but it’s something to build upon.
The worry here is Gregory, who has revealed himself to be someone willing to watch his own people die rather than endanger himself. It’s only a matter of time before he’s confronted by The Saviors, and I expect he’ll sell out Alexandria at the first opportunity. The only saving grace here is that Rick and Maggie already know this about Gregory, and he could potentially be used to feed Negan false information.
Meanwhile, at The Kingdom.