SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen season 8, episode 11 of “The Walking Dead,” titled “Dead or Alive Or”
This week’s “The Walking Dead” gave Rick a break and instead bounced between stories focused on Gabriel, Eugene, Hilltop, and the Alexandria survivors led by Daryl.
The Alexandria survivors are slowly making their way toward Hilltop, but their progress is hampered by roving Savior patrols out for their blood. Dwight is traveling with them, but everyone is weary of him given his past association with the Saviors. Tara in particular is not thrilled Dwight is with them given the fact he killed her girlfriend Denise, so instead of killing a walker outright she not so subtly maneuvers it right into him.
Out on the road Gabriel and Dr. Carson are also trying to make their way to Hilltop after escaping the Sanctuary with Eugene’s help in the first half of the season. They find themselves lost with Gabriel suffering increasingly worsening symptoms of the infection he contracted by covering himself in walker guts, most notably the deterioration of his eyesight. To top it all off, their car breaks down. Gabriel remains hopeful though, believing that God will lead them to salvation and that it is Gabriel’s mission to return Carson to Hilltop. Gabriel’s faith turns out to be well-placed, as the pair stumbles across an abandoned cabin in the woods. Inside, they find anti-biotics and the keys to a car.
At Hilltop, Maggie faces a dilemma. The community barely has enough food to feed the inhabitants, not to mention the over three dozen Saviors they are holding prisoner. Meanwhile, Carol and Morgan are concerned about Henry, the young Kingdom resident who killed Savior lieutenant Gavin. Henry demands to know who killed his brother Benjamin, but Carol and Morgan are unwilling to tell them it was Jared, one of the Saviors currently locked up at Hilltop.
Back with the Alexandrians, the group is trying to determine their best course to Hilltop. Dwight suggests the group travel through a nearby swamp, as Negan had previously deemed the area too dangerous and not worth patrolling when the Saviors mapped out the surrounding area. With no other options, Daryl, Rosita, and Siddiq trudge into the swamp and clear out walkers that bob up to the surface. As they do so, Tara volunteers Dwight to help her kill a nearby walker. As they walk toward it, Dwight apologizes for killing Denise. But once they are alone, Tara draws her gun on him. Dwight makes a run for it but eventually gives up. Tara prepares to kill him, when they suddenly hear a Savior patrol approaching. Before they can discover Dwight and Tara in hiding, Dwight steps out and greets them. He tells them he escaped an ambush and asks about Laura, a Savior who witnessed Dwight’s betrayal. They say she has not returned to the Sanctuary and suggest they head toward the swamp to search for anyone from Alexandria. But Dwight steers them away and leaves with them.
Gabriel and Carson make for the car, but booby traps in the cabin’s yard snare Carson, injuring his leg. Walkers emerge from the woods and descend on him. He is able to fight most of them off, but one falls on top of him and nearly kills him. Gabriel, despite his diminished eyesight, is able to use a pistol they found inside the cabin to kill the walker and save Carson’s life. They get into the car, but before they can even start the engine, a pack of Saviors find them. As they load Gabriel and Carson into the back of a truck, Carson thinks he can save them by grabbing a gun off one of the Saviors. But the moment he grabs the gun, another Savior shoots him dead, leaving Gabriel shattered.
Daryl and the others make it to Hilltop, where they reveal that Carl has died. In the wake of that revelation, Morgan lies to Henry and tells him that Gavin is the one who killed his brother. Maggie meets Siddiq, who reveals that he was a doctor in training prior to the apocalypse.
At the Sanctuary, Negan tells Eugene that he plans to install Eugene as the head of his own outpost in order to get the bullet-making operation up and running as quickly as possible. Negan sets him up at a machine shop, and decides to leave the re-captured Gabriel there as Eugene’s helper. Eugene is unable to produce bullets fast enough for Negan’s liking, but suggests they could use catapults to launch walker parts over the walls of Hilltop as a method of psychological warfare.
Dwight, now back among the Saviors, watches as Negan unveils a new plan. They will use walker blood to infect their enemies and turn them into the undead, thus circumventing their lack of bullets.