Warning: This recap for the “East" episode of The Walking Dead contains spoilers.
If what initially appears to have happened at the end of “East” actually happened, it is quite possibly the biggest, and worst, thing that’s ever happened on The Walking Dead. A Daryl Dixon-less apocalypse is too cruel a world to contemplate, but that’s just what we may have to do. In the meantime, as confirmation on Daryl’s fate may not come until the Season 6 finale, here’s where the rest of the Alexandrians stand heading into the episode that is destined to be remembered as the one where Negan introduces himself, and his Lucille, to Rick Grimes and company.
Love Is in the Air
Abraham and Sasha are making goo goo eyes at each other when he relieves her on guard duty, as she hands him a fresh cigar. Maggie and Glenn are conserving water and getting things all kinds of hot and steamy by sharing a shower — she washes his hair and he washes her intergluteal cleft. And Rick and Michonne wake up and share an apple from Michonne’s nightstand, perhaps the sexiest apple in primetime TV history.
Carol’s trying to be romantic with Tobin, too, but it’s proving tough for her to even focus on what he’s saying, because she is busily plotting her departure. She’s written that letter Tobin found at the end of last week’s episode, she has made a bunch of food and gathered supplies to fill her backpack, and she’s tailoring a big men’s jacket to… more on that later. She’s also in stealth mode while planning to leave, so everyone is in shock when Tobin takes her goodbye letter to Rick, who shares the news that she’s gone with the others. No one saw her leave, but one of the cars is gone. Morgan thinks he understands why she left: She can’t continue to have to kill to survive. He hops in a car to go find her, and Rick takes off with him.
Daryl, meanwhile, is still heartbroken about Denise’s death, and still blames himself for it… if only he had killed Dwight when he had the chance. So, clutching Denise’s Dennis keychain in his hand, Daryl rides out of town on his recently recovered bike, without telling anyone what he’s up to. His friends know where he’s headed though — to take care of Dwight once and for all — so Glenn, Michonne, and Rosita take off in a van to track him down before he becomes another victim of The Saviors.
Carl’s Very Special Weapon
Carl wanders into the pantry and is perusing the weaponry when he comes across an interesting gun. It has a carving on the handle, and the carving appears to be a bat-shaped etching, with something snaking around the bat. Like, say, a baseball bat covered in wire, or barbed wire. Yes, Carl is apparently in possession of a weapon that features a carving of the weapon favored by Negan. And there’s no way that’s not going to play out in some major way, perhaps in the Season 6 finale.
Mama-to-be Maggie is worried about an impending attack by The Saviors on Alexandria, and she’s taking measures to try to keep the town and its citizenry as safe, and prepared, as possible, by stashing guns and ammo in hidden places around Alexandria. She’s also bonding with Enid — who, let’s not forget, still has some secrets of her own — and asks her for a favor: She wants Enid to cut her hair really short. “I have to keep going, and I don’t want anything getting in my way,” Maggie tells Enid, just before she starts to experience intense pains in her stomach.
Ms. Carol’s Wild Ride
Carol’s barreling down the road in one of the cars from Alexandria, one that had been parked outside the front gate, with spiky implements sticking out of it to entangle walkers. Going down the road now, the car looks like a large moving cactus. It doesn’t intimidate the Saviors, though, as a truck full of them pass Carol and shoot out her tires. They demand she get out of her car, and she becomes teary while trying to convince them that no one needs to get hurt. She tells them she’s “Nancy, from Montclair,” and that she has no home, and only a knife, to deal with “the dead ones.” But the cactus car gave her away; one of the Saviors says he saw cars just like that outside Alexandria, so he thinks they’ll take “Nancy” back there and force their way in, too.
“Doesn’t have to be this way,” says an increasingly shaken Carol, and The Saviors think her tears are a result of fear. Of them. She pleads one more time for them to stand down, but when they advance towards her, she opens fire, from a gun, hidden in the sleeve of her oversized men’s coat (her alterations project back in Alexandria). She killed a couple of the five, but the driver of the truck survived, and comes after her. She hides behind the cactus car, and when he gets close enough, she removes one of the car’s spikes and stabs him with it. She takes his gun, and kills one of the other men who has (had) survived.
Morgan and Rick
Morgan and Rick pull up to the scene of Carol’s shootout, and know she was there because of the cactus car. Rick sees her handiwork and tells Morgan he’s proud of her, but Carol herself is nowhere to be found. Rick also knows the dead men are (were) Saviors, because he recognizes their weapons, which had been made by The Hilltop’s blacksmith. He and Morgan decide to follow a small trail of blood into a field, where they hope to find their friend. Unbeknownst to them, one of the truck Saviors survived Carol, and is also walking into the field.
As Rick and Morgan walk along, Morgan asks why Rick is out there… is it because Carol is his friend? “I’m out here because she’s my family,” Rick says. Morgan says he heard from people what Rick did to Carol back at the prison, banishing her after she killed Karen and David. But then she came back and saved everyone at Terminus. “People can come back, Rick,” Morgan tells him, as they come upon a barn, with several dead people on the ground. A live man is fighting off a walker, and runs into the barn as Rick draws his gun. They ask him if he’s seen Carol, and he says no. He asks if they’ve seen his horse, and they say no. “They’re coming! Just go!” the man yells as he takes off out of the barn, and Rick fires at him. Morgan pushes Rick to make the shot miss the man, angering Rick, who reminds Morgan he doesn’t take chances anymore.
That prompts Morgan to ‘fess up about the Wolf. He tells Rick how he spared the Big Bad Wolf, and kept him locked up. Carol found out about it, and the Wolf escaped, Morgan says. But he also changed; during the walker horde attack on Alexandria, the Wolf risked, and lost, his life to save Denise. And because he did, Denise was there to save Carl when his eye was shot out. “It’s all a circle,” Morgan says. “Everything gets a return.”
Morgan tells Rick he should go back home. “You shouldn’t be out here taking any more chances,” he says, promising he’ll stay out there and find Carol. “Somehow,” he says.
“You’re coming back,” Rick says as a statement, not a question.
“Yeah. But if I don’t, don’t come lookin’,” Morgan tells him.
Rick makes Morgan take a gun, and Morgan turns to walk away. First, Rick has something important to tell him. “Morgan… Michonne did steal that protein bar.”
Morgan smiles and laughs. “Oh, I know.”
Rosita directs Glenn and Michonne to the railroad tracks where Denise died, and reluctantly tells Glenn which direction Dwight ran after the attack. Rosita’s so angry about Denise that that she thinks they should let Daryl find Dwight and kill him, but Glenn tells her they have to find him. They find his bike, hidden under some branches, so they know he’s already ahead of them on Dwight’s trail. And they meet up with Daryl shortly — when he shoots an arrow that nearly hits Rosita. He tells his friends they shouldn’t have come; Michonne tells him he shouldn’t have left. But he blames himself for Denise’s death, and tells his friends he’s going to do what “I should have done before.”
“For her?” Glenn asks. “She’s gone, man. You’re doing this for you!” Glenn wants them all to return home and make a new plan, but Daryl won’t hear it. He and Rosita go off in pursuit of Dwight and his men, while Michonne and Glenn walk back towards the van… and find company. They hear a series of whistles, and with each sound, a man steps out of the woods, aiming a gun at them. And then there’s Dwight, who steps out and says, “Hi.”
Dwight and his crew have Michonne and Glenn tied up and gagged, sitting on the ground, when Glenn spots Daryl sneaking up on the camp. Glenn shakes his head no, and Daryl puts his finger to his lips to tell Glenn to be quiet. But there’s something urgent Glenn needs Daryl to know, and he tries to yell at him through his gag.
Too late… Dwight, with gun drawn, is already standing behind Daryl. One of Dwight’s men is behind Rosita — who’s beside Daryl — as Dwight says, “Hi, Daryl.”
Then, just as Daryl turns to look at Dwight, Dwight has his gun aimed at Daryl and pulls the trigger. A shot is fired, and blood splatters, hitting the camera lens, too.
“You’ll be alright,” Dwight tells… Daryl? Someone else hit by the bullet? Did the bullet hit Daryl somewhere other than the head? And will we have to wait through the Season 6 finale — or longer?! — to find out, a la Glenn and the Dumpster?
* Rick’s overconfidence, with a bit of naiveté?, about dealing with Negan, as told to Michonne: “When they come for us, we’ll end it. The whole thing. This won’t be like before. We’ve put everything in place, and these people know what to do now. The world’s ours, and we know how to take it. Everything we need is right here inside these walls. And we’re not losing any of it again.”
* When Morgan tells Rick not to come looking for him if he doesn’t return, do you think that means Morgan might have decided not to return? Maybe he thinks, like Carol, he’s better off living alone, where he won’t be forced to kill people to protect the ones he cares about?
* When Maggie tells Enid she has to go on, does it feel like she’s accepted something really bad is going to happen? Like, something bad to Glenn or the baby?
* When Rick returns from looking for Carol, he runs into Abraham, who asks him if he was nervous about taking another shot at love, given everything he’s been through. Rick says yes. “Me, too,” says Abraham. “But now, I think I’m that much more ready to tear the world a brand new a–hole.” He and Rick laugh, and as he stares at the entrance gate, Abraham adds, “Any second now. Any second.”
* Johnny Cash song playing during Carol’s preparations to vamoose: “It’s All Over.”
* The buzzkill on Sasha and Abraham’s sweet moment at the guard tower: Rosita, who was on front gate guard duty at the time, witnessed the whole thing.
* Obviously, fashion is not among the top priorities of Alexandrians, but is Tobin the most normcore character ever?
OK, Dead-heads, let’s hear your reactions to “East”: Is Daryl Dixon really dead? If not, whose blood was that splattering the camera? Will Morgan find Carol? Will he find her before that surviving truck Savior finds both of them? Will Maggie and the baby be OK? Will that gun Carl has in his possession find its way back to Negan somehow? And if Daryl did die at Dwight’s hand, who do you think meets the business end of Negan’s bat in next week’s Season 6 finale?
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC .