The Walking Dead Recap ‘The Key’: A Thirst for Vengeance

In The Walking Dead recap, Rick decides to handle Negan on his own while Maggie encounters a new community willing to help the Hilltop…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

As the Saviors prepared for an assault on the Hilltop to close out last week’s episode of The Walking Dead — the attack is about to be launched this week with Negan instructing all of his soldiers to gunk up their weapons with walker bits to infect anybody who gets even the slightest scratch.

That’s the beginning of what would end up being a very interesting episode as Negan’s power base because to disappear while he gets entrenched in a fight to the death with Rick.

See for the past few weeks, Negan’s No. 2 Simon has been questioning his leader’s decisions more and more. When Negan wants to punish those who have turned against him, Simon prefers to just wipe them all out and start fresh with a new set of communities of people who will follow the rules.

Meanwhile, Maggie encounters a new group offering help in exchange for food or records — a strange request but one that she’s forced to consider as her people continue to starve. Of course after so many run ins with the Saviors, it’s understandable why Maggie was so skeptical to believe anyone was just out to help these days much less doing so without threats of retribution.

With just four weeks to go this season, the stage is set for a final battle but it’s tough to tell right now who will be leading the charge.

With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of The Walking Dead titled ‘The Key’…

One Man Gang


Negan preps his soldiers for the upcoming fight at the Hilltop where his people will cover their weapons in zombie blood and guts to scrape, cut or otherwise wound their enemies so that they won’t die right away but instead gradually turn into the undead.

Negan believes that’s the best course of action to send a message to his enemies rather than just wiping out the entire community in a hail of gunfire.

Negan also takes some time to welcome Dwight back home after his harrowing adventure following the assault on Alexandria. Dwight can’t quite get a read whether Negan is suspicious about him turning traitor or if this is just his typical way of gaining loyalty through intimidation.

Either way it’s time to lead the assault on the Hilltop so everybody mounts up in their vehicles bound for a fight. While Dwight is ready to hop on his motorcycle, Simon invites him to ride along in his truck instead. Once again Dwight is contemplating whether someone has figured out that he’s the turncoat but actually Simon has his own nefarious reasons for asking for another of Negan’s right hands to join him on the journey.

Back at the Hilltop, Rick and Michonne arrive after burying Carl in the ashes of Alexandria. Rick is doing his best to keep it together, especially when he’s reunited with Judith, who is alive and well thanks to Daryl leading everybody out of the tunnels to safety.

Rick and Daryl share a brief word to put bad feelings behind him — who can forget that fist fight that ended with an explosion and a difference of opinion on how to handle the Saviors. As it turns out, neither one of them were right but now at least they’re back on the same page to finish this war once and for all.

Everybody is expecting an attack at any minute so Maggie has lookout stationed at half-mile intervals in every direction to spot the Saviors whenever they’re coming. Rick decides to serve as one of the lookouts to get a little solitude with his thoughts while he’s still trying to wrap his head around Carl’s death.

That’s when a unique opportunity presents itself.

As the Saviors are driving towards the Hilltop, Rick spots the caravan and notices that Negan is alone in his own car — Lucille sitting a bucket filled with zombie guts — and just before he’s about to signal Maggie to be on the lookout, he comes up with another plan instead. Rick drops the walkie and hops in his SUV bound with one man’s plan for vengeance.

The Future

As Maggie and the rest of the people at the Hilltop continue to struggle without much food, Rosita returns with an offer that was presented to her while she was serving as a lookout.

A new community offered up three boxes to fill with either food or records and in exchange they will receive “the key to the future”.

Maggie is immediately skeptical but Michonne tries to take a more positive outlook thanks to Carl’s message before dying. Carl kept telling everybody that there has to be something after this fight with Negan is finished and if they don’t start working towards that, nobody will survive. That’s why Carl wasn’t upset about his own death after he went out of his way to save Siddiq, who ended up being a valuable member of the community with his medical background.

Maggie decides to drive to the rendezvous point to meet with these new people to see if they are on the level or another group attempting to get the better of them.

When they arrive, a woman steps out of a van — her name is Georgie and she’s offering exactly what she said. In exchange for boxes filled with food or records, she will give Maggie and her people the key to the future.

Maggie doesn’t trust it and instead gets the drop on Georgie and her people, instructing Rosita and the others to lead them back to the Hilltop where she will decide what to do with them.

Once they arrive back at the Hilltop, Maggie is trying to figure out the next best course of action. Enid prefers to kill now and ask questions later after she took down Natania at the Oceanside. The way Enid sees it now — she shot first when Natania was a threat and she’s still alive. Carl tried to help somebody and now he’s dead.

As for Michonne, she believes these new people are genuinely trying to help and Maggie should consider bartering with them for goods. Considering how starving her people are right now, Maggie would do well to find a new group willing to provide food.

So Maggie goes downstairs with a pile of records to hand over to Georgie and her people before preparing to let them go. Georgie offers up several crates of food, seeing how desolate things are at the Hilltop right now and then she gives her the key to the future.

It seems Georgie has transcribed down plans and blueprints for how to build windmills, grain silos and aquaducts for clean running water. It seems Georgie is living by Carl’s philosophy even if she never knew him. She’s planning for a future because there has to be something after all of this is finished, right?

Maggie is happy that she didn’t burn a bridge with a new partner as she sends Georgie on her way while hoping that the Hilltop may have just found a sustainable new source of food with plans to provide for themselves in the future.

A Thirst for Vengeance

As Negan leads his caravan towards the Hilltop, Rick pounces to attack by hitting his car and separating him from the rest of the pack. While Simon and the rest of the Saviors stop as soon as possible, Rick forces Negan into a car chase through the back alleys of this small Virginia town.

Finally, Rick catches up to Negan by slamming his car and flipping it upside down just outside an old medical supply company.

As for Simon, he’s spent his entire car ride with Dwight gauging if he might be interested in another plan of attack than what Negan is suggesting. Dwight can’t tell if Simon is feeling him out to see if he’s the traitor by offering to turn on Negan or if he’s really being recruited into a coup.

Simon tells the rest of the Saviors to stay put while he and Dwight personally go look for Negan just in case this was an ambush all along. Simon certainly doesn’t seem like somebody all that concerned with finding Negan but he’ll be leading the search alongside Dwight.

Meanwhile back at the medical supply company, Rick exits his vehicle and begins firing at Negan’s overturned car. Negan is able to escape and avoid Rick’s gunfire, but once he’s inside the building, things don’t get much better for him.

Rick continues to fire away until he’s all out of bullets but just when Negan thinks he’s got the upper hand, he finds out that the former Georgia sheriff knows something about throwing an axe. Negan ducks out of the way of Rick’s hatchet attack, but he stumbles, drops Lucille and dangles from a staircase over a dark abyss where a hole in the floor has been opened up. Rick saunters up the steps, grabs his axe and prepares to do some chopping but Negan falls rather than allow anything to be chopped off of him.

Rick follows him to the basement where Negan is desperately searching for Lucille while being stalked in the darkness. Rick and Negan continue to shout at each other through the walls while talking about Carl’s death and much more. Negan insists that all he ever wanted to do was save Rick and his people and reminded him how no one at the Hilltop or Kingdom died when they were serving him but now a whole lot of blood has been shed.

Negan then offers Rick a new deal — he will only take 25-percent of whatever the communities gather rather than his previous 50-percent. With that, all will be forgiven and everybody can go back to the way things were before.

Rick scoffs at the offer and then asks if this is the same agreement Negan made with Jadis and the Scavengers before killing them all. Negan realizes in that moment that Simon didn’t follow his instructions, which means if he makes it out of this alive that one of his top lieutenants is in a whole lot of trouble.

Rick turns down the offer just before stumbling upon Lucille — he picks up the barbed-wire covered baseball bat and begins to taunt Negan with it. Rick then finds lighter fluid (how I don’t know) and pours it all over the baseball bat before lighting it on fire.

In a panic, Negan rushes in to save his favorite girl where he finally engages in a full on fight with Rick. Of course, Negan didn’t happen to notice that Rick was smashing open a set of wooden planks with the flaming baseball bat because inside were a horde of walkers that had been trapped there by the previous resident.

Now Rick and Negan are battling it out with a slew of walkers all trying to go for them as well. In the midst of the fight, Negan is able to reclaim Lucille before jumping out a window to the ground below. Rick has to fight through a few more walkers before he’s able to jump out as well but there’s no sign of Negan anywhere.

It appears Negan has escaped once again.

What Comes Next

As Simon and Dwight continue to look for Negan, they happen upon his overturned car and wonder if their fearless leader is alive or dead. Truth be told, Simon either just assumes that Negan is dead or it’s wishful thinking because he has no desire to give chase to him any longer. Instead, Simon does his best to recruit Dwight to his way of thinking where they will leave Negan for dead and then they will head back to lead the Saviors.

Dwight isn’t sure which direction to take but he ultimately sides with Simon after lighting the remnants of Negan’s car on fire.

When Simon and Dwight arrive back at the Savior caravan, they tell them about Negan’s almost certain demise and what they need to do going forward.

After getting everybody to chant how they are are all Negan, Simon decides that the best course of action is to go to the Hilltop guns blazing and wipe out anything and anyone who gets in their way. Simon knows these people aren’t going to cower to any message being sent so the only way to deal with them is if they’re dead.

He rallies the troops but now Dwight has an even bigger problem — at least Negan was going to leave most of the people alive after his attack. Simon wants to go in Old Testament style and wipe out anybody and everybody that moves.

As for Negan, he did manage to escape the fight with Rick in tact and now he’s riding shotgun in a car bound for parts unknown. When Negan turns to his left, he sees a gun pointed at his head and the person with their finger on the trigger is Jadis.

The former leader of the Scavengers, who turned every person in her group into wet Spam a week ago, is now looking for her own piece of revenge and she’s taken Negan hostage. What will Jadis do with him?

Find out next week when The Walking Dead returns with a brand new episode at 9pm ET on AMC.

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