AMC’s The Walking Dead season nine episode three opens with the revelation that Justin (Zach McGowan) is the newest member of the walking dead. Walkers munch on him and then shuffle away, leaving (most) of Justin to rise and follow.
When he shuffles away, he passes a building painted with “Final Warning.”
Over at Rick’s place, he rises early, not disturbing Michonne (Danai Gurira). Rick checks on a sleeping Judith, places his hand on the wood with Carl and Judith’s handprints (from early season 8), and wanders out to the garden. It’s almost like Rick/Andrew Lincoln are taking a really early pre-goodbye tour of Alexandria.)
Back home, Michonne’s awake after a restless night. She couldn’t stop thinking about the charter she’s writing for the communities. Rick acknowledges Michonne’s the one keeping the place running since he’s been busy with the bridge.
Judith’s not feeling well and since there’s a lot of sickness going around, they agree to take her to see Siddiq. But first, Rick looks lovingly into Michonne’s eyes and thanks her for everything. Michonne and Rick then find a way to take her mind off the charter as they dissolve into each other’s arms.
Elsewhere, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and a helper are confronted on the road by Saviors. Jed (Rhys Coiro) does his best to intimidate Maggie, obviously unaware of just how ruthless she can be. Maggie’s only reluctantly sharing more food with the Sanctuary, and they’ve interrupted her as she’s bringing fresh food to their group despite not receiving the fuel she was promised.
Maggie stares Jed down as another Savior thanks her for bringing food and tells the group to get on their way. After they walk away, Maggie’s still willing to give them a chance.
The horses only move forward a few feet when Maggie spots Justin, the newly turned walker, emerging from the trees.
Rick and Michonne make the visit to the doctor into a fun day of adventures for Judith. She’s all giggles as her dad joins her in games, including a crawling race through their home. The afternoon of adventures also includes a picnic and storytime.
Unfortunately, the relaxing family day’s interrupted with news of Justin being found dead. All indications are that he was murdered.
Over at the bridge camp, a huge fight breaks out between the Saviors and everyone else. Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) try and calm things down, but it takes Alden (Callan McAuliffe) screaming and pushing his way through the mob to quiet the crowd. He promises they’ll find out who did this, but is quickly punched in the face by Jed for his efforts.
Carol (Melissa McBride) is next to step into the fray, placing one arm on Jed’s chest and the other on the gun in her holster. She demands the Saviors all turn around, but Jed refuses. He suggests she go ahead and kill him now instead of waiting until he’s not watching. Carol removes her gun from its holster and so do others gathered behind and at her side.
The Savior who stopped Jed from hassling Maggie steps forward and claims they don’t want to fight, they just want the ability to defend themselves.
Daryl (Norman Reedus) is standing apart from the group and growls, “No guns.” He’s immediately accused of being the one who killed Justin. Other Saviors put the blame on Jadis/Anne, but the overwhelming consensus among the Saviors is that Daryl killed Justin.
A handful of Saviors arm themselves with tools (including axes) and begin to walk toward the Carol and her people. Daryl aims his crossbow and as the groups are about to meet, Rick rides through on his horse, ordering everyone to back off.
Rick whips out his gun and the one calm voice among the Saviors tells her group to let it go. Rick then sends both sides of the argument off to work on finishing the bridge.
Father Gabriel lags behind and Rick confesses he believes Anne might have had something to do with Justin’s killing. Gabriel provides her alibi for the previous night, and Rick warns him to watch out for her because the Saviors might come after her.
Alden approaches Rick and asks if he’s thought about arming a few of the very trustworthy members of the Saviors. Maggie steps in and nixes that idea. Rick just wants to figure out who killed Justin first and why other Saviors have gone missing. If they figure that out, then Rick will think about arming a few Saviors.
After Alden leaves, Maggie and Rick continue their talk. Surprisingly, Maggie is in agreement with Rick on the issue of arming a few Saviors once they find Justin’s killer.
It turns out Gabriel isn’t sure Anne didn’t kill Justin. He delicately questions Anne, reminding her he wasn’t with her the entire night. He asks if she saw anything, but she fails to provide him with a straight answer.
Rick’s equally worried Daryl killed Justin. Rick describes the wound on Justin which could have been made by an arrow. Daryl asks, “Do you really think I did it?” Rick replies, “No. But others do so I had to ask.” Daryl reminds Rick that if he did it, he wouldn’t have hidden the body.
Daryl believes this is the result to be expected by bringing all these groups together. Rick disagrees, prompting Daryl to ask, “Why do they get this future when Glenn don’t? Or Abraham? Or Sasha? All the people the Kingdom lost, Hilltop, Oceanside, do you ever think about what they want, what they’d do if they could?”
Rick acknowledges that he does, but he thinks killing the Saviors isn’t the right thing to do. He asks Daryl to try and look toward a better future.
The bridge work continues, and all the outposts report things are clear. However, Maggie and Cyndie (Sydney Park) notice a couple of walkers heading into the trees. They call it in and Rick tells Group 5 over to help them assess the situation.
Cyndie knows the area because her group used to live nearby before they set up camp at Oceanside.
Maggie and Cyndie track the walkers to a deserted house. As Maggie makes a noise to draw their attention, Cyndie sneaks onto the porch. Walkers inside the house are attempting to get out, drawn to a metal banging noise caused by loose roofing. The sounds of the walkers and the banging will ultimately draw other walkers if this group isn’t taken out.
Cyndie falls through a board on the porch and the loud noise causes the walkers inside the house to push through the boarded-up door. Cyndie frees herself as Maggie fights off the group stumbling out of the house. Cyndie no longer has a weapon and can only use her hands to fend off a walker. Fortunately, Daryl, Rick, Rosita, and Dianne (Kerry Cahill) arrive to assist in finishing off the walkers.
Group 5 never arrived and Rick tries to contact them, but no one answers. They race off to find Bea (Briana Venskus) has been knocked out. She comes to but doesn’t know what happened or who hit her. She was paired up with Arat (a Savior), but now Arat is nowhere to be found. Her radio was left behind and they have no clue who took her.
Back at the camp, Rick, Carol, Daryl, Cyndie, and Maggie try and figure out their next step. The Saviors haven’t been told Arat is missing, and Carol voices everyone’s concerns. If she’s been killed, the Saviors will desert the bridge crew.
Jerry (Cooper Andrews) is at the tent door and he’s been quiet until now. He asks what will happen if they find the murderer. “Who decides what happens next? Is it going to be a Gregory or a Negan?” asks Jerry.
No one replies for a while. Finally, Cyndie says whoever did it will get what they deserve.
The group break off into pairs and head out to search for Arat. Rick doesn’t want any of them to return until they find her.
Rick and Carol pair up. She admits she was going to pull the trigger earlier, ending the inevitable war before it can begin. She knows if they don’t find Arat, then there will definitely be another war. Rick swears he won’t let it come to that and then confesses he wakes up every morning with a feeling that he needs to kill Negan and the Saviors. But, he then thinks about everyone they’ve lost during the zombie apocalypse. He needs to honor those people. “It’s us or the dead, and every life counts now,” says Rick.
Carol does not look convinced.
Daryl and Maggie make up another team. She admits she wishes she could see the future Rick envisions. She also agrees Rick’s way is in fact better for the future. They spot a walker and Maggie stabs it. When it’s dead, Daryl removes an arrow from its chest and declares, “I know who took Arat.”
Anne walks through her old junkyard by flashlight. She uncovers a metal box and removes a walkie talkie hidden there. She turns it on and says, “It’s Jadis. I know you’re in range. I saw the helicopter last night.”
A man finally responds and asks if she has an A or a B. She asks if he took the missing people and he denies he was involved. He then tells her the deal still stands and asks again if she’ll have an A or a B. She replies, “Neither.”
Anne tells this mysterious man she’s paid her share and he reminds her she’s been compensated. She wants to know what it will take and he tells her an A…tomorrow.
Gabriel secretly follows her and eavesdrops on the conversation. He demands to know who she was talking to and what she did. She admits she did bad things, but she didn’t kill Justin or take the missing Saviors.
Gabriel figures out Anne traded people and that she would have done that with both he and Rick. Anne reveals she did it for supplies. She gets emotional as she talks about how everyone, including Rick, assumes she’s the one who killed Justin. No one came to her defense except Gabriel.
Anne begs Gabriel to leave with her, indicating she knows of a better place where things will be different. If he helps her and doesn’t tell anyone, they can have a life “like you can’t imagine.”
Gabriel turns her down and says he needs to tell Rick. She knocks him out after telling him she thought he was a B.
Back out in the forest, Carol and Rick are still hunting for Arat. They’re not walking close to each other and Jed launches a sneak attack on Carol. He grabs her and holds a knife to her throat as Rick pulls his gun and tells him to drop it.
Rick asks if Jed killed Justin, but Jed says he’s just doing this to get the guns. They want to take off because they’re tired of being hunted. If Rick hands over his gun to Jed’s accomplice, DJ, then they’ll be free to leave.
Carol’s worked her own knife free and is ready to attack. She says it’s over, and Rick lowers his weapon which causes Jed to pull his knife away from Carol’s throat. As soon as it’s no longer at her neck, she turns around and stabs Jed in the shoulder. Rick then forces DJ to kneel.
Neither DJ or Jed are killed, although both should be. Instead, Carol and Rick take them back to camp because every life matters.
Daryl was right when he deduced it was the Oceanside crew picking off the Saviors. When Maggie and Daryl arrive at the old Oceanside place, Cyndie, Bea, and two other Oceansiders have Arat on her knees insisting she beg like she and the Saviors made people beg for their lives.
Daryl doesn’t drop his weapon as he and Maggie approach, however Cyndie keeps Bea from shooting either of them. After Daryl asks if that’s how she killed Justin, Bea reveals Justin killed her husband.
As Arat pleads for her life, Cyndie tries to assure Maggie and Daryl that Arat will be their final victim. They’ll stop killing as soon as she’s dead. Maggie doesn’t believe that, so Cyndie shares her memories of her old community. She recalls all the men, women, and children who thrived there until the Saviors, in particular Simon, wanted what they had. After the killing was over, the surviving women created a new community.
They agreed to help Rick and the other communities because they knew they couldn’t forget what had happened. After the battle, they’ve only gone along with Rick’s instructions because they didn’t think they had any other choice. It’s all because of Maggie they now believe they’re able to get revenge for their people who were slaughtered. Maggie killing Gregory was a signal that “Rick’s rules aren’t the only rules.”
Cyndie cries as she remembers how the Saviors murdered her mother. Arat was the one who shot her brother before taking all of their supplies.
Arat begs Maggie and Daryl once more for her life, claiming she’s one of them now. Maggie asks if she did what she’s accused of, and she blames it all on Simon.
“You asked me to beg for his life. He was crying and you smiled,” says Cyndie, struggling to maintain a semblance of composure. Cyndie told Arat she loved and needed her little brother who was only 11 years-old when he was murdered.
Arat’s forced to recall what she said while Cyndie was begging for her brother. “No exceptions,” says Arat.
Maggie and Daryl turn and walk away, leaving Arat begging while kneeling in front of Cyndie and Bea. They not out of earshot when Arat is killed.
As they’re walking, Maggie tells Daryl, “Cyndie says I showed her the way. She did the same thing for me.” Maggie and Daryl decide it’s time to see Negan. (Actually, it’s way past time.)
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 2 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
- The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 7 “Stradivarius” Recap
- Season 9 Photos and Plot Description
- The Walking Dead Season 9 Cast Interview