First of all, let me admit that I was completely wrong about the guy in body armor being Negan. Second of all, what an utter waste of ninety goddamn minutes. Seriously. This show is the worst.
Here's the B story, running throughout the ninety goddamn minutes and really only serving to break up the tension that is supposed to be building in the A storyline: Morgan finds a saddled horse, then he finds Carol. He patches her up as best he can (although she has a cut on her abdomen that needs stitches and antibiotics); they blandly argue about him taking her back to Alexandria because she's all, you were right and I can't kill anymore because feelings. She scarpers off while he wastes time killing a zombie that wasn't going to hurt anybody. That wounded Savior finds her, shoots her a couple of times (arm and leg) and then, when the Savior is about to finish her off, up rides Morgan on his horse. Morgan warns the Savior and then shoots him about six times with the gun Rick insisted that he take. Because, Carol, you see that anyone can kill when they really need to. Then, two guys in body armor (another online reviewer thought they looked like street hockey players, which LOL) show up, one on horseback and the other on foot. Morgan says to the pedestrian one, "I found your horse. Found my friend too. She needs help." The street hockey players say, "Then let's get you some help" and the pedestrian one holds out his hand for Morgan to shake. I'm assuming that the street hockey players are going to be allies in whatever battle against the Saviors there is in S7.
Here's the A story: Maggie is really pretty sick so in a BRILLIANT move, everyone who is a first-tier character not already captured by the Saviors, plus a couple second- and third-tier characters as well, jump onto the RV to take Maggie to the Hilltop doctor. No, really: Rick, Carl, Abraham, Sasha, Maggie (of course), Eugene and Aaron (remember him?). That leaves Father Gabriel in charge of defending Alexandria. No, really. As they start off, Rick is confident and encouraging, saying that their group is strong and mighty and can do anything that needs to be done. Woohoo, go team!
Then begins this series of encounters with the Saviors, who have inexplicably become extremely confident, tactical and stealthy, despite all prior events to the contrary, where no matter what road Rick et als. drive down, they are stopped by a Savior blockade: first just a bunch of guys with a beaten prisoner, parking their trucks across the road; then a bunch more guys with their trucks parked across the road; then a string of zombies, several of which have been festooned recognizably with some of Rick's captured peoples' belongings (like a couple of Michonne's dredlocks and Daryl's leather jacket), chained across the road; then really a lot of guys with their trucks parked across the road (surely at least one of these could have been edited out); then a massive pile of burning logs.
Each time our heroes are turned back, Rick's confidence fades further and he begins to doubt the wisdom of this venture. Never mind that this is rather implausible since the timing and set-up of each roadblock would have been daunting at best, even if there are hundreds of well-organized and efficient Saviors, which we have been given no reason to believe there are. Until now. With the RV running low on fuel and night about to fall, the gang realizes that as the crow flies, they aren't that far from Hilltop. Eugene devises a plan whereby he will drive the RV off as a decoy while the rest of them haul Maggie (on a stretcher) by foot through the woods. Eugene gives Rick his recipe for making bullets and Rick sincerely thanks him for it; Eugene and Abraham have themselves a moment and a big hug, saying goodbye. Eugene drives off.
The rest of them make their way through the woods, Carl strutting and being all, you're right, Dad, we can do anything! And then the woods erupts around them with eerie birdcalls. It's the Saviors, and they herd our heroes into a clearing. There are many, many, many Saviors there, all heavily armed. Eugene is there too, bloodied and on his knees, the RV parked at the far end of the clearing. Rick and his group are forced to their knees and then Dwight comes up, depositing Rosita, Michonne, Glen and Daryl (Daryl!) in a line with the rest of them. Carl and Michonne are the only ones showing the slightest bit of bravado - everyone else looks terrified.
And then, the moment everyone has been waiting for all season, ever since the comics fans told the non-comics fans about him: Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan. For the record, Negan emerges from the RV, barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat "Lucille" nonchalantly over his shoulder, with ten minutes left in the episode. And then he commences to do nothing but speechify for approximately nine minutes and 50 seconds. JDM has considerable charisma but holy fuck, this is just boring. He goes on and on and on and on. He doesn't stop. We know - from the comics - that this is the point where Negan beats one of our beloved characters to death with Lucille, just to show Rick et als. just what the hell he's up against. But it's just talking ... interspersed with shots of Rick becoming more and more unhinged, sweating, shaking, nearly drooling with fear.
Finally, Negan stops talking and picks someone to beat to death. And the camera switches to first person POV, where we the audience are in the shoes of his victim, and we watch Lucille descend. There's a splash of blood and a cut to black, and horrible squishy noises. And that's it.
Seriously, show? First we get a bait-and-switch with Glen's "death," then last week we get a Daryl-gets-shot fakeout, and now this? Three bullshit tricks in one season? You stretch approximately twenty minutes of plot into a bloated 90-minute episode, ostensibly to build tension towards the big Negan reveal and confrontation (never mind that said tension was completely dispersed every time you cut away to Morgan and Carol's boring story (never mind that you've taken two of the best characters and given them a boring story)), and then you don't even show it? Fans have been steeling themselves for the loss of a major character as a heart-rending way to end the season and talk about ad nauseum until S7 ... and we get this? Not cool, TWD, not cool at all.
Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead
8 minutes ago