Refreshingly, the episode continues exactly where the last one ended, with our heroes in an epic graveyard battle with walkers and whisperers alike. It brings us straight back to the shock and horror of the sudden and unexpected death of Jesus and the realization that yes, he really is gone, and no, there won’t be any resurrection. Sadly, this scene is over abruptly and we watch the team grab his corpse and exit through a gate with minimum action or effort.
The importance of bringing Jesus’s body back and the closure it allows Hilltop for the handing over of the reins officially to Tara is apparent and obvious.
The one person who is seriously lacking closure, however, is Michone, given that a burial was not something she was able to do with Rick. In spite of this, she thanks Darryl for searching for him in the past and ‘what he did after’ fueling more intrigue about what went on in the missing six years leading to the fallout between the groups and Maggie’s absence.
Further introduction to the Whisperers is drip fed to us by the capture, imprisonment, and interrogation of the mysterious new character Lydia. How much we have learnd is unsure as it is pretty clear that every other word from her lips is a lie.
Meanwhile, Negan has gone walkabout from his unlocked jail cell into the outside world. This is sandwiched in between a couple of well-directed bonding scenes between him and stony-faced young Judith. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is excellent as ever, managing to pull off every scene with his usual charisma, despite having no one to bounce off other than walkers and a pack of savage wild dogs.
The scenes where he revisits The Sanctuary are almost heart-warming to the point where you could easily forget that actually he was a sadistic psychopathic despot there only half a series ago. This is deliberate though as both he and the viewer do find closure of that storyline and accept that Judith was right and there is ‘nothing out there for him’ allowing us both to move on and look forward.
All this paves the way for further introduction to the new storyline with the Whisperers, this time as they catch the hapless search party for Alden and Luke. We will have to wait and see what happens to them but judging by the tone of new character Alpha’s voice, they won’t be going back for tea and crumpets.
Overall, the episode didn’t have the same explosive excitement as some previous midseason premiers. It still had its moments though and flowed well considering how much went on to set the scene for the rest of the series. It certainly leaves the viewer wanting to see more.