Season nine episode two of AMC’s The Walking Dead begins with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) walking some unseen listener through the events of the day. He remarks that today was day 35 and that the community seems to be coming together. It’s no longer a daily fight to simply stay alive and instead the survivors are building toward the future, creating a new beginning. “We’re getting back a piece of who we used to be,” says Rick.
We quickly learn Rick’s describing the group that’s gathered together to fix the bridge. The remainder of the episode plots out the specific events of day 35.
Ezekiel (Khary Payton) believes the bridge is part of the lifeblood of civilization, connecting the different communities. Carol (Melissa McBride) arrives and makes Henry (Macsen Lintz), who’s definitely getting taller, give her a kiss before he heads off to help the bridge crew. She tells Ezekiel she has to head back to the Sanctuary because it still needs her, and Ezekiel insists he’s not giving up on the idea of the two having a fairy tale ending.
Eugene (Josh McDermitt) delivers a report to Rick, informing him the levee upstream has about six to nine more days before it fails. That’s about the same amount of time they’ll need to finish fixing the bridge. Fortunately, Eugene also believes they’re capable of picking up speed if they add extra shifts.
Next, Rosita (Christian Serratos) delivers her update which also needs immediate attention. A herd of 100+ aren’t that far away and if they blast the bridge, it will draw them. Rick doesn’t think they should hold off blasting because there are other herds out there. They’ve got a diversion (a massive rock slide) ready to go when they’re set to start the blasting.
After Rosita leaves, Eugene confesses the “walk-offs” are still happening and they just lost another Savior this morning.
Rick sends Siddiq (Avi Nash) back to Alexandria because there’s a bug going around, leaving Enid (Katelyn Nacon) to handle anything at the bridge camp. (Watching this exchange, it’s evident Rick’s decision will play into the storyline later in the episode.)
Eugene continues his report, explaining the pickings are slim over at the Sanctuary. Rick promises Michonne’s working on it.
And speaking of Michonne (Danai Gurira), she makes the trek to Hilltop to speak with Maggie (Lauren Cohan). The ethanol hasn’t been delivered from the Sanctuary (as promised), but Michonne says they told her it was sent last week. Maggie thinks they’re lying, but Michonne believes the delivery guys may have been attacked. Either way, the Sanctuary desperately needs food. She asks Maggie to send some to tide them over, and Jesus assures Maggie they do have a surplus right now. But, Maggie reminds them both that without fuel the tractor can’t work, and they can’t plow the fields.
Michonne suggests they use the plow from the museum, but Maggie says it needs a blacksmith’s attention. Their only blacksmith, Earl, is still locked up after attacking Maggie. Maggie hung Gregory but only placed Earl in custody, and she’s not sure how long she plans on keeping him in jail. Michonne suggests they need to make new rules, including laying out punishments for specific crimes.
Maggie’s not ready for this conversation and decides she will not send any food to the Sanctuary until the fuel shows up.
Back with the bridge crew, Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) talk about babies while Henry provides water to the bridge workers. Justin (Zach McGowan), a Savior, knocks Henry to his feet and steals the container. Justin claims he needs more water and doesn’t care that it’s supposed to be rationed to make sure there’s enough for all the workers.
Henry gets to his feet and uses his staff to knock Justin’s legs out from under him. Henry picks up the container and walks away, with Justin hot on his heels. Justin’s about to hit Henry when Daryl grabs him from behind. He tells Justin to get back to work, but Justin refuses to take orders from Daryl or his people. He takes a swing at Daryl and misses, but Daryl’s return punch lands hard on Justin’s face.
Justin fights dirty and flings sand into Daryl’s eyes, attacking Daryl while he can’t defend himself.
Back with Rick, Eugene continues to go down the list of dwindling supplies. They’re within sight of the bridge when Rick sees the fight going on, racing off to stop it.
Rick arrives and it’s not just Daryl and Justin going at it. Aaron is also fighting one of Justin’s Savior friends. Rick manages to break up the fight, but Daryl looks ready to kill someone.
After Rick sends everyone back to work, Daryl confronts him over his handling of Justin. Daryl believes Justin should be punished, and Rick begs for Daryl to let it go so they can finish the work. Rick reminds Daryl the Saviors are the strongest men and more are deserting each day. “Yeah, because that’s who they are. Some of them ain’t ever gonna fall in line just because you say so,” responds Daryl.
Carol’s been listening and she agrees with Daryl. These people can’t all be expected just to live together peacefully after everything that’s happened. Rick reminds them it’s not about forgetting, it’s about moving ahead. He thinks eventually they’ll all realize they’re on the same side.
“Are we though? We on the same side, Rick?” asks Daryl. He doesn’t think Rick’s truly listening to anything he’s tried to tell him about the Saviors.
Over at Hilltop, Jesus tries to get Earl’s wife, Tammy, to understand why Earl is still locked up and why she can’t see him. Tammy claims she has rights and once again Jesus begs for patience given that Earl tried to kill Maggie. Tammy places a stool in front of the locked door and insists she won’t move until Earl’s freed.
Michonne asks if Jesus (Tom Payne) agrees with what Maggie’s doing. He admits he’s not against Tammy seeing her husband, but he trusts Maggie’s instincts.
After the encounter, Jesus speaks to Maggie about Tammy, reminding her it’s been a month since they locked Earl up. Maggie wonders if Jesus thinks she’s been wrong about Negan, Gregory, and Earl, and Jesus replies that he thinks she’s a good person.
Maggie takes Tammy down to see Earl and it’s an emotional reunion. Earl tells his wife they’ve been treating him fair, admitting that’s more than he deserves. After 20 years of sobriety, he brought shame to her. Tammy tells him she forgives him, but Earl doesn’t need her forgiveness. They miss their son horribly. Maggie listens to this and seems moved by their conversation.
Meanwhile near the bridge workers’ camp, Rosita and a Savior set off the diversion and a herd redirects itself.
Maggie returns to the cell which, apparently, Earl built. She asks about his drinking and he reluctantly opens up. He admits it’s always been bad, but he eventually joined AA. When his son, Ken, was two they were having a bad time financially. He stopped at a bar and then went to pick up his son from the sitter’s. The sitter knew he was drunk but Earl demanded his son anyway and drove off. He crashed and blacked out. Tammy rescued them and stood by him afterward, understanding alcoholism is a disease. He swore off alcohol after that and was sober up until a month ago when his son died and he tried to kill Maggie.
Maggie thanks him for the truth, and he wants to know why she didn’t hang him when she hung Gregory. She doesn’t provide an answer.
Tara (AAlanna Masterson) radios Rick, who she’s now decided should use the “Mother Goose” call sign, and tells him the nearby herd’s on the move. She then calls Jerry (Cooper Andrews) and instructs him to crank up the siren. He does and the herd turns.
Alden (Callan McAuliffe) is next up to give his report to Rick. He delivers the bad news that the Saviors who walked off the bridge job earlier still have not returned to the Sanctuary. Some of these guys had families and one even has a new baby so they wouldn’t have just left. Alden reminds Rick that if the Saviors are scared working on the bridge, that means they’ll lose the biggest portion of the work force. Rick swears he’ll protect them.
Tara frantically radios to the second siren which isn’t going off. If it doesn’t soon, the walkers will overtake the crew out working on gathering trees to be cut into lumber for the bridge.
Daryl is part of that crew and notices the mules getting antsy and then he spots a couple of walkers. He stakes a few and then sees a herd is fast approaching. The Savior who had been fighting Aaron earlier deserts his position, causing a massive log to roll down the stack and pin Aaron’s arm to the ground.
Daryl orders the mules freed as the walkers approach. Daryl refuses to leave Aaron and along with the Savior responsible and one other crew member they manage to free him. They’re struggling to make it to safety when Rick and large group that includes Carol, Alden, Gabriel, Dianne (Kerry Cahill), and Ann (aka Jadis) arrive to take on the herd. Ezekiel had left to return to the Kingdom but heard there was trouble, so he also shows up to take down the walkers.
Rick shoots the rope holding a stack of logs and sends them tumbling down a hill, knocking over walkers like bowling pins.
Aaron makes it back to the bridge camp but his arm’s smashed. He’s in a lot of pain and because Siddiq’s not there, it’s up to Enid to handle the emergency. She determines they have to amputate the arm and cauterize the wound. And, they have to do it without pain medication. Aaron screams and passes out.
Daryl races from the medical tent and into a tent where Carol’s yelling at Justin. Daryl demands to know who was supposed to turn the herd, and of course it was Justin. Justin claims the walkie wasn’t charged and he didn’t hear the order to use the siren.
Daryl’s done with Justin’s attitude and lays into him. He punches Justin with his fist and follows that with a smack from a metal pan. Daryl only stops when Carol makes him. She assures him they’ll deal with it and Daryl replies, “There’s only one way to deal with these assholes.”
In a slightly less tense environment, Michonne and Maggie have a talk back at Hilltop. Michonne truly believes Maggie’s done an amazing job. Maggie agrees they can talk about common laws, but she won’t give up the right to govern her people the way she sees fit. Maggie also reveals she had Jesus load up the extra food, like she initially promised. Plus, she’s let Earl free to work on the plow under supervision.
Michonne wonders what changed and Maggie admits her father drank. He received a second chance and so now she’s granting Earl a second chance. However, Gregory wasted multiple chances and always chose the wrong path. Gregory could not be redeemed and Maggie doesn’t regret hanging him.
That night, Justin passes by Rick and tells him to keep his dog on a leash. Rick, calmly, moves just inches from Justin’s face. He calls him a dipshit and reveals that as a cop he’d have to spend Saturday nights picking up people just like Justin. All of those people always blamed someone else for their problems.
Justin doesn’t want to continue the conversation, but Rick forces him to. Rick’s over giving Justin the benefit of the doubt, telling him to pack his stuff and head out in the morning. If Rick sees him again, stitches won’t be able to fix what he does to him.
Justin says he’s leaving that night.
Rick enters the medical tent and congratulates Enid on a job well done. Aaron will recover if they keep the wound from getting infected. Rick apologizes to Aaron for what happened, admitting Aaron paid the price for him putting the project first.
Aaron doesn’t believe it’s the end of the world; it’s the start of a new one. He’s glad he’s part of it and credits Rick with helping bring it about.
Elsewhere in the dark, Ann (Pollyanna McIntosh) and Gabriel share a quiet moment. They talk about frogs and the woods, and then Ann asks about the woman he had her draw during lunch. They’ve agreed not to talk about their secrets, but Ann believes it’s okay to ask about their pasts. Gabriel admits the woman was his organist at his church. He cared for her but didn’t do anything about it. He reminds her he’s Episcopalian, not Catholic.
They kiss, and then Gabriel reminds her he’s supposed to be on watch.
Back at camp, little groups have formed and they’re sitting by fires, relaxing. Carol asks if Ezekiel’s still got the ring, saying she wants to wear it for a while. Ezekiel’s disappointed when Carol won’t let him get down on his knee or read a speech he’s carefully prepared. She assures him he can read it to her later. They laugh and snuggle, as Rick watches over the group from a nearby tree.
And now we’re back with Rick recounting the events of the day to someone off screen. He thinks that as bad as it was, at the end of the day most of them came together. “They chose to be together,” says Rick. He believes it’s human nature to come together.
Of course, the off-screen person is Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Negan’s in jail and Rick assures him he’ll die behind bars. He’ll never see the light of day. Negan tries to get under Rick’s skin by saying, “When this finally goes to shit – and it will – make sure you come back and you tell me about that day, too.”
Rick taunts Negan, telling him they’re thriving and building a future. Negan brings up Carl’s name and Rick’s voice turns icy when he warns him never to do that again.
“The bridge is not the future. It’s a monument to the dead,” says Negan. “You’re not saving the world, Rick. You’re just getting it ready for me.”
Ann’s on lookout duty when she hears a helicopter.
The episode ends with Justin walking alone in the dark, drinking. He realizes there’s someone off to the side but recognizes the person and relaxes his guard. The person attacks.
More on The Walking Dead:
- Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Finale
- The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 1 Recap
- The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 3 “Warning Signs” Recap
- The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4 “The Obliged” Recap
- The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 5 “What Comes After” Recap
- The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6 “Who Are You Now?” Recap
- Season 9 Photos and Plot Description
- The Walking Dead Season 9 Cast Interview