A new character promises a bright future on The Walking Dead, and Rick destroys Negan’s most prized possession. Here’s our recap/review of “The Key”!
“The Key” begins at the Sanctuary. People are getting ready for an attack on Hilltop, and Negan’s voice is talking about all the damage they’ll cause with the walker guts over the images on screen.
Dwight has taken himself out of that part of the help, and he’s in his room. He finds his and Sherry’s rings in a pack of cigarettes and looks at them before putting them away. Negan makes a surprise visit, with beer!, and says he’s glad to have Dwight back, but you can see the doubt in Negan’s eyes the entire time.
I firmly believe that Negan knows Dwight tried to run away, but not necessarily that he helped Rick. If or when he finds that out, things will get really bad for Dwight.
Once they’re outside, Dwight gets on his bike, ready to run or follow Negan, we’ll never know for sure because Simon walks up.
Negan’s taking his own vehicle so Simon and Dwight ride together. Simon tells everyone to use restraint and tells Dwight, who really wants to ride his bike on this trip:
“He says. We do.”
This would be totally true if Simon didn’t kill all of Jadis’ people against Negan’s wishes the last time he got out for a trip. Not too far away, Negan is waiting in his car and staring at a bucket of guts with Lucille sticking out of it.
Rick and Michonne arrive at Hilltop, and Daryl watches from afar as Rick takes Judith and cuddles her close.
Later, Daryl walks up to Rick, who is visiting Glenn’s grave, and apologizes for his reckless behavior that led to Negan getting out of the Sanctuary sooner than he should have. He says that he’s always thinking about things:
“People that are gone that shouldn’t be gone and the people that are still here. It ain’t right and it ain’t fair.”
They decide to continue their attacks on Negan, and Daryl says that he’ll ride out with Rick. That’s when Rick shakes his head and says that they should split up and cover more ground. It seems like he doesn’t want to be with Daryl or anyone and repeatedly tells Daryl that he’s okay.
“I’m gonna be okay.”
On the wall, Maggie and Rosita are keeping watch and talking about Negan. They look over and see Michonne talking to Enid, and they agree that even if Negan does die, then it might not be so hard after this all quiets down.
Maggie spots a box outside the gate, near the woods, and Rosita goes and gets it. After reading the note, they decide that it isn’t the Saviors. The person asks for records and food, and in return, will give them the key to survival.
Maggie decides that she, Michonne, Rosita, and Enid will go. They’ll take guns, too, in case it’s a trap.
Rick and the others are waiting on the Saviors on the road to Hilltop. The plan is for Rick to honk his horn and let them know that they’re coming, but instead of following the plan, he hops in his vehicle and goes after Negan on his own.
It turns out he wasn’t mad at Daryl and wanted to be away from him earlier. He just knew that if he were by himself, he could go after Negan and no one would stop him.
Classic Rick Grimes.
Simon and Dwight are part of the convoy to Hilltop, and Simon decides it’s time for a heart-to-heart since they’re alone. Simon absolutely wants to kill Negan, and he complains to Dwight that he doesn’t think this will work because Rick, the King, and the Widow don’t scare easy at all.
I value your perspective, Dwight. You’ve been on both sides of the iron. Well, if you’re not gonna answer, let me extemporaneously express that I have my doubts this little maneuver is going to deliver the desired outcome.
You think we should do it different?
No. No, no. Not at all. The big man’s plan will get it done, no question. We’ve thrown a lot at Rick, the widow, the King, and they just keep coming, keep fighting You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it. Tallying it up, I keep seeing the same answer They don’t scare.
While the convoy is driving through some side street, Simon sees Rick coming down an alley. Before he can relay any information, Rick slams his SUV into Negan’s car and pushes them both off the street and then starts the chase.
Side note: It looks like this chase was shot in the same location as when Rick ran down that cop from Grady back in S5.
As the cars move away, Simon looks in the side mirror and smiles because he’s all about Negan dying, and if Rick does it then he doesn’t have to get his hands dirty. After all the Saviors get out of their vehicles, Simon tells them that him and Dwight will go look for Negan, and they can wait there.
Not everyone is sold on this idea, but Simon is close enough to the top that they don’t question it too much.
After Rick causes Negan’s car to flip, he goes after him and wastes all his bullets. Negan gets out of the car and runs to a nearby building that subtly has “STAY OUT” spray painted on the side.
Once inside, Negan sees a big hole in the floor and avoids it by walking up the stairs. Rick tries to shoot him, but is out of bullets and Negan gloats, but then quickly ducks because Rick throws an ax at him. This makes him hit the railing and go over the side. In one of the most over-the-top, stupid moments, Negan drops Lucille down the hole below him and yells out for her.
Negan’s holding on to the ledge as Rick retrieves his ax. Right before he slams it onto Negan’s hand, Negan lets go and plummets through the hole in the story below them.
Maggie, Michonne, Rosita, and Enid meet the new character in the series. Her name is Georgie and she has a dislike for anything spoken word related when it comes to records and won’t accept those kinds of records for her knowledge.
I come bearing knowledge to trade Essential knowledge for the future, primarily in my head, and, uh, I prefer to keep that where it is.
You’re trading knowledge.
That’s what I have. I’ve made the same offer before: fill the crates, get the knowledge. Simple as that. It’s not a trick, just a fair trade. I promise you. It’s an act of benevolence.
Why would you do that?
What else should I do?
Georgie seems earnest, but let’s be real, she’s completely annoying with this: “I’ll only accept records and absolutely NO SPOKEN WORD.” You know that’s something that someone who hasn’t seen death and carnage in a while would say.
When Maggie presses her on what she’s really after things get more interesting/confusing.
How many communities have you found? Communities like yours?
Not many at all. And not one for a very long time. What you have is special, unusual. The dead have brought out our best and worst, and the worst has been outpacing the best lately, but that won’t last forever. It won’t. If, perhaps, people can believe in people again, four crates of goods is worth far less than a sustainable future and perhaps an exercise in trust.
Then Enid pitches a fit and yells about how people don’t act like this and it certainly doesn’t work this way. In response, Maggie tells them to they’re going to Hilltop with them.
I mean, WHY NOT? It’s not like she doesn’t have enough mouths to feed already.
Negan and Rick walk around in the dark, trading snarky remarks to each other. Negan finally tells him that he knows he’s going through a tough time, and if he makes Hilltop, the Kingdom, and Alexandria fall back in line, he’ll pretend this all didn’t happen.
All those people were doing just fine before Rick Grimes! You’ve not only failed your boy, you failed your people, Rick. Kind of makes me sick just thinking about it. All that wasted potential, but, see, there is still hope for you. A one-time deal that I will make in the memory of your bad-ass son, someone that I actually respected. You get Hilltop, Kingdom, Alexandria to fall in line, and our arrangement is back in place, and you are forgiven, Rick. I will lower my take from 50% to 25% A lousy 25%. But you, you got to come work for me.
Rick doesn’t take that at all, and really hates how Negan keeps saying he saves people, so he calls him out on Jadis and her people.
Now, why would I trust any deal offered to me after what you did to Jadis’ people?
The hell are you talking about?
The Scavengers. You killed them All of them. A whole community just wiped out. Is that how you “save” people?
Son of a bitch.
Negan goes silent because he’s shocked that Simon disobeyed him, but Rick thinks he has one up-ed him. Then, in a move that made me say “of course” out loud, Rick finds Lucille. Then lights her on fire later.
Simon and Dwight are walking around, looking for Negan, and Simon asks if he ever thought about killing Negan, and Dwight gets sassy.
You must’ve thought about it, clipping him yourself.
You mean when he took my wife? Or burned my face? No. Never thought about that. Not once.
But you didn’t because you chose to survive instead of focusing on past discomforts. You are an adult. You did what you had to to live. And yet our leader is not doing the same. If it was my call we’d say enough. We’d branch out, we’d find new places, we’d make new relationships. We’d make sure the Saviors survive, as you chose to, and we’d move on from past discomforts as you wisely chose to.
Well, here I am, my nuts blowin’ in the breeze, naked as a jaybird. What do you say?
Just move on?
Just move on.
Simon gets into it, and basically says to Dwight that they need to move on in order to survive. They find Negan’s car and Simon says:
“He could be alive or dead or somewhere in between.”
He mirrors Negan’s words from the previous episode, and then tells Dwight that they just need to walk away and leave Negan. They could create a better place without all this fighting.
As Dwight takes a smoke break, he stares at the car. Then he casually flips his cigarette at it, causing it to explode into flames. Simon takes this to mean that Dwight is choosing his side.
Then they walk away.
Back at Hilltop, Jerry is talking to Maggie about letting Georgie and her two people go before it gets dark or the Saviors get there. After he leaves, Enid has a bit of a fit (again) and goes toward Michonne, questioning why they aren’t killing the new people they just picked up.
I can’t let her go, not with what they have. I got too many mouths to feed. They’ve got quite a bit of food in that van. People here could be starving soon.
Maggie’s right. We take their stuff. Otherwise, someone else will. Someone else will kill them. It’s a miracle they’re still alive, anyways.
Michonne tells Maggie that they can’t be exactly what Carl wanted them to be. Going forward, though, they have to see that they must maintain a balance.
The theme of “the next generation being too bloodthirsty” is really picking on up this show with Carl’s death. It could be because they’re trying to get ready to pass the baton in a few years, and we need to see character growth for these kids or a push by the writer’s to justify Rick’s passive stance later in the season. He wants to be a good influence on the kids growing up so they don’t have to see the carnage that he has or Carl did.
Either way, it’s not played subtly at all.
Rick talks more shit to Negan in that basement, then he mirrors Negan’s words about not being about to protect Carl by saying he can’t even protect Lucille as he reveals to Negan that he found the bat.
“Don’t you touch her!”
Negan is very protective and careful with Lucille, and I don’t necessarily think he’s deep enough to really think its a connection to his dead wife, but okay. After he yells, Rick sets Lucille on fire and slams it into a boarded up wall as walkers growl around them.
They get into a knock-down, drag-out fight that ends with them jumping out of a window to get away from walkers and leaving a burnt Lucille behind in the basement. Negan gets out first, and when Rick gets out, he doesn’t see him anywhere. He assumes that Negan has run away and escaped.
Meanwhile, Simon and Dwight make it back to the other Saviors and tell them that Negan is gone. They couldn’t find a body and all they found was blood. One Savior is very quick to say that he is Negan, and Simon backs him right up.
Our plan Negan’s plan Was to go on to Hilltop and put the fear of God in these people so that, finally, once and for all, they get with the program, but after what just happened, what they did to Negan, that tells me that what we need from them is beyond them. It’s time we come to accept that, and once we do, it’ll become crystal clear there’s only one thing left for us to do. We must expunge them. We must redact them! They are a mistake that we shall now erase. We are moving on.
For Negan! Yes?
Then they all head to Hilltop to finish what they started.
At Hilltop, Maggie brings out records for Georgie, no spoken word at all. That’s when Georgie tells her that she’s going to be leaving Maggie food. That their settlement seems to need it way more that she and her people do. She also hands over a book with tons of incredible information.
In addition, you can have a sizeable portion of my food stores. From the looks of things around here, you need it far more than we do.
You’re giving us food? In exchange for what? Records and good faith.
To be clear, this isn’t a gift, it’s barter. I’ll be back. Maybe not for a while, but I will, and by then, I expect great things. Here is the aforementioned key to a future. Inside, there are handwritten plans for windmills, watermills, silos, hand-drawn schematics, guides to refining grain, creating lumber, aqueducts A book of medieval human achievement so we may have a future from our past. Yes, I know, the originals are in my head, but I made photocopies. Still, it’s been an evolving document since the copy shop.
Build this place up. I want those other crates filled when I get back. Cheeses for Hilda, pickles for Midge.
We’ll see what we can do.
I guess she wasn’t a liar after all! Her warning about coming back, though, sounds omnious. Like, if they don’t do what she expects of them, they’ll fail some test, and if they do pass, she’ll be reaping the benefits of it, too. Anyway, I don’t trust her, but Maggie has a hopeful look for the first time in a long time.
Elsewhere, Enid and Michonne are talking and Enid tells her she killed Natania (Grandma at Oceanside) and that she doesn’t believe that they can’t NOT fight. That goes directly against everything that Carl wanted. If they had done what she said and kill Georgie, they would have never gotten those plans.
She’s at a very difficult place.
How the hell are we supposed to do this? Are we supposed to just stop fighting?
I don’t think Carl wanted us to stop fighting for our future, but I think he was telling us that, to get to our future, it’s gonna take more than just fighting. The Saviors are coming right now, and we’re gonna fight them, but there’s gotta be something after.
There can’t be just one or the other in this world now. There has to be a compromise. Yes, they need to fight, but they also need to figure out a way to survive in which fighting isn’t the norm.
The scene switches and we’re back with Negan who is in a car. We don’t know how he got there or who has him, but he turns his head and we see that Jadis has a gun pointed at him and is driving them somewhere.
It’s a good thing Rick told him what shenanigans Simon pulled so he knows how deep of trouble he’s in with Jadis.
The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9/8c on AMC!