It's been a rough season so far for The Walking Dead fandom. Beyond that brutal premiere, every episode has been tinged with the sadness of loss and the fear hanging over our favorite characters like a dense fog. It's hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel from here.
This week's episode proved pretty traumatic too. For starters, if anyone was able to keep it together as Maggie and Sasha sat over the graves of Glenn and Abraham, give me some of whatever mood stabilizer you're on.
Throughout the episode, we were forced to reckon with our still-raw feelings over the loss of these core characters.
We also have to grapple with the knowledge that poor Daryl has potentially been broken and is one Lucille swing away from winding up just like Glenn and Abe. After all, he's in such close proximity to Negan at all times now that he is the most likely candidate to get whacked (quite literally).
Basically, everything has gone to shit. So what, if any, silver lining could there possibly be right now? I've got one word for you: Jesus. Not the deity, mind you. Rather, the bearded guy with bravado who calls Hilltop home.
In this week's episode, Jesus did more to move the narrative of the characters forward than anyone or anything we've seen in weeks.
Let's start at the beginning, with the revelation that Maggie is indeed alive and as well as can be expected given the circumstances. She and Sasha have been holed up at Hilltop so that Maggie can receive medical treatment for the pregnancy complication that popped up just before Negan started bashing in skulls.
Hilltop's idiotic, misogynistic leader, Gregory, is still idiotic and misogynistic. He's also just a grade-A jerk who insists the women leave his community immediately. Enter Jesus. Hilltop's second in command interjects on behalf of the women, showing them true compassion.
In fact, at the start of the episode, he even brings flowers to Glenn and Abraham's graves, saying, "I read somewhere that blue flowers inspire strength and calm." (Sidebar: swoooooon.)
On the eve of Maggie and Sasha's banishment, the Saviors break into Hilltop and set up a disastrous situation — leaving loud music blaring from a locked car, fires blazing and the gates open. Naturally, the only people in the community really equipped to deal with droves of walkers are Maggie and Sasha, the former of whom defies orders to rest in favor of running a tractor over walkers and the blaring car.
And Jesus? Lord, Jesus. He comes out of nowhere decimating major walker ass with flying roundhouse kicks and precise stabs to whatever temporal lobe the undead may have left.
The following day when Gregory still tries to refuse the women sanctuary at Hilltop, Jesus starts to take a stand when the Saviors spill into the compound. Gregory tells Jesus to hide the women in the closet, which he appears to do.
However, when Gregory tries to reveal the women in the hall closet, all he finds is a box of scotch (which he then has to give to Negan's cronies). Jesus, knowing full well what closet Gregory was referring to, instead hid Maggie and Sasha in the bedroom closet to keep them safe.
When Gregory confronts them, Jesus asserts his newfound confidence. The women are staying. Gregory will no longer lead the people of Hilltop. Times, they are a'changing.
When Gregory approaches the women, Maggie punches him square in the jaw. Why? For, well, being a total dill hole and for taking the pocket watch that belonged to both her father and Glenn. After punching him, she sets the record straight about her name: it's Maggie Rhee.
The moment was gutting and glorious in equal measure.
In this episode, Jesus turned out to be the divine intervention Maggie and Sasha needed... and that the fans needed. He's got the goodness of Glenn and the scrappiness of Abraham. He can't take their places, no, but he is definitely a welcome distraction from the gaping hole they left in the fandom's heart.
Plus, as the episode closes, he follows through on his word to Sasha by hopping in the Saviors' truck in an attempt to locate Negan's hideaway. There, he runs into fellow stowaway Carl and gives him a little smirk. This looks to be the start of a very promising arc for our heroes.
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