(NEW YORK) — Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead began with a flashback sequence: King Ezekiel waking up and dressing in his armor, before the operation that ended in the last episode with his people getting cut down by a .50 cal gun nest.
His people say goodbye to their Kingdom-based loved ones in the flashback, before the fighters head out.
After giving his warriors one last look, he bucks them up with another of his “And yet I smile” motivational speeches. You can tell he has a background in theater. “WE ARE ONE!” he chants, and the others repeat it, gathering in an embrace.
Cut to the Saviors’ compound. Body parts are everywhere. They are one in death.
A pile of bodies shakes, and Ezekiel emerges from underneath, to find his people cut to pieces. He screams, which certainly isn’t too smart considering there are snipers about.
One by one, to his horror, his fallen comrades awaken — as walkers. With an injured leg, he scrabbles backwards through the menace before the credits run.
Ezekiel uses a discarded rifle as a cane, before offing one of his former comrades who turns on him. No ammo, the king is rescued at the last minute by one of his surviving men.
In the sniper nest, a band of Negan’s men pack up their .50 cals.
Inside their building, Carol stalks, on her own. Outnumbered, she hides.
The men lug the crated heavy weapons through a room, when they’re cut down.
Carol emerges from a drop-ceiling, gun smoking, and puts down two gurgling survivors. Just as she tries to take the crate, more Saviors emerge, scaring her away.
Outside, Ezekiel and his lieutenant walk through, before he’s shot. A spectacles-wearing savior emerges, and takes the limping Ezekiel hostage.
Ezekiel warns him that the Sanctuary is overrun with walkers, thanks to Rick’s operation. The baddie explains that they want to movie the heavy weapons to the Sanctuary to clear out the undead.
The Savior who took Ezekiel puts him down verbally, calling him a con man in a costume, who “rooked” his people “into thinking you’re a king.”
Elsewhere, on her own, Carol attempts to take out the Saviors looking to move the guns when she’s ambushed. Taking fire from behind a pick-up, she’s pinned down.
Ezekiel seeks a chance to break free and slashes his captor with the sword he took away. He cuts him, but is overpowered. “Illusions of grandeur,” the captor says after painting Ezekiel with the man’s own blood.
They make it to a locked fence and can’t get out, the horde approaching. He tells Ezekiel that Negan wanted him alive to pin to the Sanctuary fence, but, “your head on a pike will do just fine.” Just as he raises Ezekiel’s sword, the captor is chopped in half by Jerry, the King’s loyal guard.
Meanwhile, Carol apparently surrenders to the baddies, promising to tell them where her allies are.
Jerry and Ezekiel can’t break open the gate. Jerry breaks his axe trying to open it.
Back to Carol. When a Savior approaches the supposedly surrendering woman, she quickly takes him hostage at knifepoint. Negan’s people shoot him instead. In the confusion, she grabs the Savior’s key ring and hits a button, opening a door, sending walkers shambling to the Saviors’ backs. This breaks their ranks, leaving only two in a standoff to face off with her.
She has a choice: try to stop the guys from getting away with the guns or save Ezekiel and Jerry from the horde at the fence.
In a flashback, Ezekiel is telling Carol how he went from a “meek” zookeeper to the savior of his tiger Shiva, who was injured. He leapt into her enclosure, he recalled, and saved her. “If you’re asked to be the hero, be the hero,” he quotes the fallen Kingdommer kid Benjamin.
Ezekiel asks Carol if she’s always been so strong and brave. Viewers know she has gone from battered wife to bada**. “I decided,” she says. “But life decided some things,” too.
In the present, Carol unlocks the gate. Ezekiel panics that the guns are getting away.
Carol hears a motorcycle in the distance. “They’re not getting to the Sanctuary” she assures him.
On a road, the two Saviors hauling the 50s are pursued by Daryl on his bike, and Rick in a Jeep behind him. The Saviors’ truck bay opens, and one of them opens up, causing Daryl to ditch his bike.
Rick’s Jeep takes some hits, before walkers in the road cause the Savior driver to swerve, knocking the gunman off balance in the back.
Rick swerves, revealing Daryl, back on the bike. He fires, killing the gunman. Rick pulls alongside the Humvee and Indiana Jones style, jumps in. He knifes the driver in the belly, and swerves. The truck careens off the road.
Elsewhere, Carol and Jerry haul the injured Ezekiel into a gully, where walkers who have been stewing in toxic waste have been hanging around. They turn their attention to the fresh meat.
On the road, Rick, who apparently ditched before the truck went off the road, reunites with Daryl, to recover the Saviors’ heavy weapons.
Meanwhile, Ezekiel insists Carol and Jerry abandon him there so his two friends can escape, because they’re struggling to get him up an embankment.
“I can’t leave you, your majesty!” a desperate Jerry says.
“I’m not your king!” Ezekiel exclaims. “I’m not your majesty! I ain’t no king! I’m just some guy!”
Just as all seems lost, Shiva leaps into the fray, tossing walkers aside, giving the survivors a chance to escape. Eventually, she is overpowered, too, and to Ezekiel’s horror, the walkers tear her apart.
Later, The Kingdom’s gates open, revealing only Carol, Jerry, and the would-be king, wounded in more ways than one.
The Kingdommers gather, to see that all their mothers and dads and wives and husbands won’t be coming back.
The Walking Dead returns next Sunday, September 19 at 9 p.m. Eastern time on AMC.
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