In “The Walking Dead” recap, Negan defends his new home with help from Maggie while Daryl and Rosita get pulled into a heist by Governor Milton’s son…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
The veneer of tranquility has been lifted rather quickly from The Commonwealth as the survivors from communities like Alexandria have found out in recent weeks on “The Walking Dead.”
Last week saw Lance Hornsby send out an operative named Toby Carlson — a former CIA specialist — to search for a convoy loaded with guns that was ransacked en route to its destination. Hornsby believed that the weapons were stolen by a group of survivors living in an old abandoned apartment building so he tasked Carlson with verifying the hijacking and then getting the weapons back.
When things didn’t go as planned, Carlson ended up killing the leader of the group and then he started executing anybody and everybody who didn’t tell him where the weapons were stashed.
Of course, Aaron and Father Gabriel found out that they were only pawns in this supposed humanitarian mission and before long they were in just as much danger as the people living in that apartment complex.
Thankfully for them, Negan appeared out of nowhere and saved Gabriel while sending a message back to Maggie that her friends were in trouble and she needed to come help.
Now as the new episode begins, Carlson is still on a mission that ends with killing as many people as possible until he gets his guns back while Maggie has to reconcile with the reality that Negan is the only reason why Gabriel and Aaron might still be alive right now.
Elsewhere this week, Daryl and Rosita get pulled into a dangerous mission by Governor Pamela Milton’s entitled son Sebastian that turns into a life-or-death situation where neither of them may make it home again.
With that said, let’s get to our recap for the latest episode of “The Walking Dead” titled “The Rotten Core”…
A Bad Man
With Carlson on a kill crazy mission to get The Commonwealth guns back, Negan will do anything to protect the new group he’s joined up with and the home he’s started to build with Annie — the woman who was by his side last week when he found Samuel and sent him to get help from Maggie.
Inside the building, Maggie, Elijah, Lydia and Aaron are sweeping floor by floor to hopefully find Gabriel and anybody else who managed to escape Carlson’s wrath. Outside, Carlson calls back to his old pal Hornsby to give him an update on the situation while informing him that he’s about to go through every room to question the people living in the building and if they don’t give him the answers he wants, they’ll be executed.
As Maggie and her people look through the building, they run into Annie who puts a gun to her head as tempers flare up because none of these people know each other. That changes when Negan finally arrives to lower the temperature as he introduces Maggie and the rest of the group to Annie — his new wife.
He then leads them through a secret entrance where Gabriel is sitting with more people from the apartment building, who have been hiding to escape The Commonwealth search party. It doesn’t take long for Aaron and the others to realize that Negan has been living here amongst them and these people now consider him one of their own.
Of course, Aaron is also very curious about the stolen weapons considering that’s the only thing Carlson wants but Annie once again declares that her people didn’t hit any convoy much less steal guns from The Commonwealth. Maggie realizes it’s a pointless discussion because Carlson is just going to kill everybody regardless of whether they’re guilty or not but Annie won’t leave without helping all of her people escape as well.
So they decide to sweep the building to gather up all the other survivors so everybody can escape together. Annie leads the search and declares that Maggie will go along with her while Negan stays behind to protect the rest of the survivors.
As they start going through the building, Maggie notices that Annie is chewing on ginger, which is a natural cure for an upset stomach. That’s all Maggie needs to see to realize that Annie is pregnant and that Negan is the father.
Maggie is understandably stunned and that only escalates after learning that Negan has been completely honest with his new wife about his past as a dictator and leader of the Saviors. He also informed Annie about the cruel way that he killed Maggie’s husband Glenn by beating his brains into mush with a barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat named after his ex-wife.
Annie has learned to accept Negan for the man he is today while explaining to Maggie that for all the horrific atrocities that he carried out in his now former life, nobody was above those same acts while trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. Annie says she’s done terrible things, too, but now she’s about to become a mother and Negan is the man she loves and the father of her unborn child.
Back in the hiding room, Negan chats with Lydia about his decision to leave without saying goodbye to her because it was best for everybody else if he was gone. Lydia doesn’t seem all that happy with the answer but she also knows that Negan was living on borrowed time if he had stayed in Alexandria.
Lydia is also angry about the way that The Commonwealth has turned out to be just as vicious as her former group with The Whisperers. While Aaron believes The Commonwealth is far better, Lydia sees them as the same kinds of monsters who just wear different masks — and judging by Carlson’s actions, she’s not wrong.
As they await word from Maggie and Annie, Negan peeks outside and he spots something that washes over him like a bucket of ice water.
Downstairs, a Commonwealth soldier has captured a stowaway in Maggie’s van — it’s her son Herschel and he’s been captured. Before the soldier can report the news, Negan shows up and kills him while rescuing Herschel.
He brings the little boy back to the hiding room before informing Maggie that he’s found her son and he promises to keep him safe even if that means giving his own life.
None of this is comforting to Maggie, who now has to trust the man who killed Herschel’s father to protect him from any possible harm.
When Negan returns to talk to Herschel after allowing the boy to speak to his mother, the little boy wonders why Maggie told him not to say anything else to this man. Without revealing too much, Negan says that he did some very bad things and Maggie has every reason to hate him.
Out of nowhere, Herschel produces a gun and points it at Negan because he knows this is the bad man that his mother told him about who murdered his father several years earlier. Herschel has been waiting for the chance to meet him and now he’s seeking revenge for Glenn’s death.
But Negan tells the boy that he’ll have plenty of time for vengeance but right now if he fires that gun, the Commonwealth soldiers will figure out their location and it will put all of them in danger. Herschel eventually relents and puts the gun away but he’s not going to forget any time soon that he just met the man who took his father away from him.
Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution
Back at the Commonwealth, Daryl and Rosita are preparing for a day of work when they get called away for special duty outside the walls. When they arrive on a hilltop looking down over another community, the other soldiers tell them that there’s a herd of walkers that need to be cleared but they know there’s far too many zombies for just the four of them to kill.
That’s when Sebastian Milton appears along with a walker on a collar like an animal being led to its next meal.
Sebastian informs Daryl and Rosita that they’re going to break into a house down in that abandoned community, slip inside a panic room and open a safe where stacks of cash have been hidden. This home apparently belonged to someone Sebastian knew before the world fell apart and this man was a bit of a doomsday prepper so the money would have certainly survived but now it’s just a matter of being retrieved.
It seems Sebastian is in dire need of a cash infusion after his mother cut off his lines of credit.
Daryl and Rosita decline to put their lives at danger for some money but then Sebastian invokes the names of their children, which leads to a knife being put to his throat. Sebastian tells them that he isn’t threatening their children but rather he can make their lives so much better if Daryl and Rosita are willing to complete this task for him.
Sebastian knows the Commonwealth soldiers would have no chance of survival because they need to fire guns to kill walkers and that will only lead to more of the dead swarming on that same location. Instead, Sebastian opts for a more tactical approach by having proven survivors like Daryl and Rosita cover themselves in zombie guts, marching through the herd and then getting into the house to steal the money without ever being detected.
Neither of them want to do the job but Daryl and Rosita realize that the penalty for refusing could actually be worse than just trying to steal the money for this entitled little prick.
After slathering on zombie insides all over their armor, Daryl and Rosita make their way through the herd before eventually getting inside the house. They’ve been given a code to the panic room but first the generators have to be turned back on again.
The only problem is Daryl and Rosita discover several more dead people inside the house but it appears they haven’t been dead for long. That’s when they hear a banging from the panic room and a woman named April, who has been trapped inside for days.
April informs them that she was tasked along with 11 others to get inside this house and steal the money for Sebastian but by the time they got through the herd, there were only three of them left alive. Once they got to the house, April explains that the two other men turned on each other and she closed herself inside the panic room to escape but the power ran out from the generator and she’s been trapped ever since.
Daryl runs to get the generators back online but nearly gets eaten by a group of zombies who have made it inside the house. Thankfully, Daryl is able to fend them off, get the power back up and running before he and Rosita get the panic room door to open.
After getting into the room, Daryl uses a crowbar to smash open the safe door to get the money that Sebastian so desperately needs but this also triggers a rather loud alarm system that begins ringing throughout the house. That noise brings the zombies storming in through the front door before Rosita can finally shut down the alarm.
Unfortunately there’s not much chance they’ll make it through this herd alive, especially given the vast number of zombies making their way into the house.
That’s when several gunshots ring out and the zombies get cut down one by one.
When Daryl and Rosita emerge from the room, they find Carol has arrived along with Mercer, who came to rescue them from this truly fucked up heist.
Carol sought out Mercer after Daryl didn’t show up for a scheduled lunch meeting with her and it didn’t take them long to discover what was happening. Mercer then learns that Sebastian sent them in there to steal the money after previously sending another group of 12 people there to do the same thing.
There’s no time to react or get angry because with limited bullets remaining, none of them will make it out alive if they can’t figure out how to get through this swarm of zombies.
Daryl decides the best course of action is everybody covering up with blood and guns and trying to walk through the herd undetected. The plan works until April panics and ends up being devoured by the dead while Mercer, Carol, Daryl and Rosita have to fight their way out of the house before finally walking through the rest of the herd to get back home again.
Sadly, the children April left behind at The Commonwealth will never see their mother again.
After arriving with the bags of money, the soldiers tasked with carrying out Sebastian’s orders laugh off Mercer’s commands until he pulls out his gun and shoots both of them dead. Before Daryl and the rest of the group can celebrate, Mercer tells them that they need to take the money to Sebastian because whether they like it or not, he wields more power than any of them and doing his bidding is the only way to survive this situation.
Back inside the walls, Sebastian is overjoyed to find that the heist was successful and he even gets a stack of cash to Daryl and Rosita as a reward. Sebastian declares that they’re all friends again as he leaves with the bags of cash.
As for Carol, she goes to pay Lance Hornsby a visit to tell him what’s been happening.
It turns out Hornsby was well aware that Sebastian has been sending desperate people after that money for weeks but nobody has managed to retrieve it until now. Sebastian’s need for money cost 30 or 40 people their lives but Hornsby chalks it up to a necessary evil so the Governor’s son is kept happy and satisfied.
Carol doesn’t overreact but rather sympathizes with Hornsby’s position while explaining that she knows if the people living here are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Hornsby is very happy to know she gets it — every person in the Commonwealth needs to do their part and without that, the entire community falls apart.
Hornsby is almost euphoric to finally have someone who understands his job and can reconcile with the actions he’s forced to carry out every day for the sake of the Commonwealth. He bids Carol a good night while her smile soon turns to a scowl because she’s beginning to realize that this massive, sprawling city might be nothing more than a fool’s paradise, especially given the fiendish actions being carried out in the name of the good of The Commonwealth.
Come Find Me
After hearing more of the apartment people being executed, Maggie decides a new plan of action needs to be implemented if they’re all going to survive this situation.
She ends up tasking Aaron and Gabriel with causing a distraction to then lure Carlson and his men up to the roof. Just when it looks like Carlson is going to execute them both, Elijah arrives and swiftly kills the soldiers while Aaron disarms the former CIA operative before he can fire off another round.
Carlson explains that he was just following orders but Aaron doesn’t want to hear his excuses.
Aaron picks up the gun that Carlson has been using and he fires several rounds at him before he falls off the side of the building. Thanks to his armor, Carlson isn’t dead yet but his fall wakes up the people who he tossed off the roof for not giving him the information that he needed.
The former survivors from the apartment who are now the dead crawl over and eat Carlson alive, which brings his final mission to a close.
Back inside, Maggie knows that it’s only a matter of time before the Commonwealth realizes that Carlson isn’t coming back, which means they might send an even larger garrison out to kill each and every person living in this apartment building. While she doesn’t say it, Maggie appears ready to invite these people to stay at Hilltop in order to give them sanctuary from the army that will surely be looking for them.
As for Negan, he tells Herschel to go back to Hilltop with his mother and help rebuild their home. In a few years when Herschel is older, he can return to find Negan and then they’ll settle whatever business is left between them.
Maggie and the rest of the survivors prepare to mount up before more Commonwealth soldiers arrive but they still have no idea what happened to those weapons that sent Carlson to their front doorstep in the first place.
Flashback to earlier when the convoy was actually hijacked and the soldiers killed — the person holding the knife who stole the guns was none other than Leah — the former Reaper and love interest to Daryl.
Leah was left alive after her fight with Maggie, Daryl and the other survivors and it appears she’s returned for some vengeance of her own. She’s got a whole pile of Commonwealth guns at her disposal but what exactly does Leah have planned for those weapons?
That remains to be seen but with Hornsby on the prowl, it won’t take long before reinforcements arrive to seek out the guns and the people now protecting those he holds responsible. That now explains the flash forward from the beginning of this part of the season where Daryl stood at the gates of Hilltop with Maggie staring back at him.
This confrontation will take place in next week’s episode as Maggie tries to protect these new survivors while Hornsby is more than willing to kill anybody who gets in his way.
“The Walking Dead” will return next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.