Heads up – this blog will contain spoilers for The Walking Dead season 9 episode 2!
If The Walking Dead has made one thing clear in season 9, it is this – they’re moving things along much quicker than they had in previous seasons.
Following criticisms about a lumbering pace during the Saviors arc, the show is not wasting any time this season. In the second episode of season 9, we open with Rick having a conversation with a mystery person, detailing how the various communities have come together to move projects forward.
The main project involves repairing a damaged bridge in order to facilitate trade agreements – Hilltop needs fuel, Sanctuary needs food, and everyone needs a way to get back and forth. But, of course, there must be problems. And when a member of the Saviors’ work crew tries to hog the water supply and gets put on his backside courtesy of young Henry, a fight ensues between the downed Savior and Daryl.
Meanwhile, Maggie must decide what to do about Earl, the father of the boy who died on the supply run in the premiere. After trying to kill Maggie in his grief, Earl was incarcerated. But he’s a blacksmith, and Maggie has a damaged plow that she needs to get a harvest – no blacksmith, no food. After hearing from Michonne and Jesus, she ultimately decides to let Earl out under supervision. Her reasoning deals with his speech about drinking – something her father used to do. This persuaded her to give him a second chance.
Rick fends off criticism about his decision to disarm the Saviors, while also reasoning it may be why they keep running off the job. The group has also began naming herds of walkers the same way we name storms today. And when someone fails to do their job and redirect the herd via an intricate system of sirens, it stumbles right upon a worksite.
Aaron ends up with his arm pinned under a massive log, resulting in the appendage being mangled beyond salvaging. Newly trained medic Enid is tasked with the amputation, which goes through in all its grotesque glory. As fate would have it, the Savior Daryl fought with earlier is the one who failed to pull the herd, and he’s battered by Daryl in response. Carol plays peacemaker and breaks up the brawl, and later that night, Rick gives the Savior a speech that is one of his best in the entire series.
Rick’s conversation partner is revealed to be the incarcerated Negan, who tells Rick he’s overestimating his hold on things. He strikes a nerve by bringing up Carl, and says the bridge isn’t a tribute to the living, but a monument to the dead.
The troublemaker Savior from this episode is shown on his way back to Sanctuary before he is apparently attacked by a mysterious figure. Who could it be? Viewers may find out soon enough – or next season for all we know, given the show’s penchant for long-running cliffhangers.