'The Walking Dead' recap: The best-laid plans of rats and men

·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Warning: This recap for the “Time for After” episode of The Walking Dead contains storyline and character spoilers.

The best laid plans… the loss of the Kingdom army and a good man like Eric means Rick Grimes and his allies have already paid a price for their attempt to extricate their communities from the tyrannical rule of Negan. But when members of Rick’s own team upend his master plan, it sets up a midseason finale that promises deadly consequences and serious fractures in longtime friendships.

Elsewhere, Eugene makes a definitive choice about his future.

Rick Grimes, Male Model

Rick is still in that metal box the Heapsters put him in, sitting on the ground, wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. The doors open and he stands, to see Jadis with a camera and another Heapster sitting on a chair, drawing Rick. He ignores the pics Jadis is snapping and the artist, telling Jadis it’s not too late… the Heapsters can join up with Rick, or they will die.

As Jadis ignores his threats and continues to take photos, Rick finally asks why.

“Sculpture. After,” she says.

Rick: “After what?”

“After,” Jadis says, directing Rick to be locked up back inside the box again.

Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis in <em>The Walking Dead</em> (Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC)
Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis in The Walking Dead (Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC)

Eugene Porter, Private Eye

In his room at the Sanctuary, Eugene paces back and forth, before sitting to make a list. “What I Know,” “What I Know I Don’t Know,” and “Things I Am Unaware of Wholly” are the categories, but he makes no entries. Instead, he goes to Dwight’s room, where he tells Negan’s lieutenant he knows Dwight is “the trader creepin’ and colludin’ with AHK… that’s an acronym I concocted — Alexandria, Hilltop, Kingdom. I considered going with KAH, but it remains a hair too onomatopoeic.” Eugene tells Dwight he’ll maintain his secret, though, as long as Dwight agrees to stop his colludin’ ways.

“The Saviors are finished, Negan’s finished, this place, what it’s been, that’s all over,” Dwight explains. “Food and water are running low, workers are angry, the Saviors, they’re getting scared, and this place is gonna fall. And all you have to do to be on the winning side is stand down… wait. Let it play out. Can you do that?”

Dwight gets right in Eugene’s face as he continues, “You’ve seen what happens here, heard the screams. Smelled the burning skin. You don’t got blood on your hands yet, but that’s coming. Once you do those things, you become those things. There’s no going back. No forgettin’ it.”

But Eugene has made his choice, and if there was any doubt about his allegiance, and whether or not he’d ever return to Alexandria and #TeamRick, he explains why that won’t happen.

“What cranks my shaft is being safe,” Eugene says. “And here, me being safe means a whole lot of other people are safe. I think about that a great deal. Yes, I’m Negan. And that ain’t perfect. But we are Saviors… we save.” He reminds Dwight his “cloak and dagger is on the QT” and will remain so as long as no more harm comes to anyone inside the Sanctuary.

R. Keith Harris as Dr. Carson and Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter in <em>The Walking Dead</em> (Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC)
R. Keith Harris as Dr. Carson and Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter in The Walking Dead (Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC)

Eugene continues visiting his neighbors when he walks past Dr. Carson’s office and is summoned inside. Carson is treating Father Gabriel and tells Eugene that Gabriel’s condition is worsening. He has multiple infections after draping himself in those funky walker innards, and his organs are threatening to shut down. “I wish we had some meds,” Carson says.

“I wish [Gabriel] hadn’t assisted in the ill-conceived caper to trap us in here,” Eugene says. “I also wish for Razzles, but if wishes were horses and all that…” Eugene tells Carson he blames Gabriel for the situation the Saviors find themselves in, but he agrees to stay with Gabriel while Carson goes to the marketplace to see if he can find some herbs that might stop Gabriel’s infections.

A weak Gabriel asks Eugene to take a seat beside his bed, and he asks if Eugene has decided to help get Carson out of the Sanctuary, so he’s available to help Maggie when her baby is born.

“What you may have forgotten in your request is that I’m a small person, who does not stick his neck out for anyone other than himself,” Eugene says.

Gabriel: “All I want is for you to do the right thing.”

“And what is said definition on that?” Eugene asks. “Can’t say that I ever sussed it out. Right for some might be downright horrific for others, and knowing that has kept me vertical when so many have gone horizontal.” But Eugene is rattled, at least a little, when Gabriel tells him it’s about faith. He tells Eugene he’s a man of science, and not so long ago, he would have found it impossible to believe that the day would come when the dead would walk. It’s not hard to believe then, Gabriel says, that when the time comes, Eugene will know what the right thing is, and he’ll act on it.

Morgan Jones, Super Sniper

Morgan’s back! He’s one of the lookouts near the Sanctuary, and after he gets a report via radio that a truck is approaching, he looks out the window of the building where he’s perched, and sees it’s Daryl driving.

Lennie James as Morgan Jones in <em>The Walking Dead</em> (Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC)
Lennie James as Morgan Jones in The Walking Dead (Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC)

Daryl, Michonne, Tara, and Rosita get out of the truck, and Daryl reveals his plan: With the others covering him with gunfire, he’ll drive a garbage truck into the Sanctuary wall, opening a hole and allowing the walkers to flood in. “Crack it open… Savior buffet,” Tara adds. Daryl reckons it will drive all the Saviors into one smaller area of the building, and make them even more likely to surrender when Rick and the other leaders of the resistance demand they give up.

Daryl and Tara are both anxious to carry out the addition to Rick’s plan, but Rosita and Michonne are less convinced it’s a good idea. What if the workers inside the Sanctuary can’t get to a safe place in time? What about the risk Daryl is taking driving the truck? What about the fact that Rick’s plan is working so far, so why mess with it now? “I believe in Rick Grimes,” Rosita says. Morgan joins the group and says he and the other lookouts can help provide the cover gunfire. “I want it done; I want them done,” he says. Everyone agrees to go through with the truck plan, except for Rosita, who takes one of the lookout staff’s car and returns to Alexandria. Later, when Michonne and Daryl are in the garbage truck and about to drive it into the Sanctuary, Michonne also decides she can’t go against Rick’s plan. They need to trust it, she tells Daryl. Besides, this extracurricular attack on the Saviors isn’t worth risking their lives for, she tells him. It is to him, he says, but he also thinks she shouldn’t participate if she has doubts. She gets out of the truck, leaving him, Tara, and Morgan and the lookouts to deliver another attack against Negan and his people.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler, Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa, and Danai Gurira as Michonne in <em>The Walking Dead</em> (Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC)
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler, Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa, and Danai Gurira as Michonne in The Walking Dead (Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC)

Eugene Porter, Wine Connoisseur

Tonya, one of Negan’s wives, visits Eugene for an update on her boombox. She made a deal with Eugene — he’d repair the music machine in exchange for two bottles of wine. He hasn’t even touched the boombox, though, and asks how she can be more concerned about her boombox than she is about the fact that they’re trapped inside the Sanctuary, surrounded by walkers.

She says she was already trapped, something she and Frankie asked Eugene to help them with. He refused and did only what was best for him, Tonya reminds him, but as she’s headed out the door, Eugene asks her for a favor. He needs that other bottle of wine, now, even without completing the repair. “I’ve taken to throwing 1.5 fluid ounces down my gullet most PMs as a necessary requirement to catching some increasingly elusive zzzs,” Eugene admits. Despite how Eugene rebuffed her pleas for help when he first arrived at the Sanctuary, Tonya is sympathetic to his request, and leaves the bottle with him. She tells him she hopes it helps, but knows it won’t. As she walks out, Laura approaches and tells him Negan wants to see him.

In the Sanctuary conference room, Negan tells Eugene that if things don’t get fixed soon, a lot of his people are going to die. “Not me, of course,” Negan adds. “I’m living no matter what. I am too good at this shit. But others…” Negan needs Eugene’s help with this effort, and he knows building up Eugene’s confidence is a surefire way to get it.

“That spongy organ between your eyes and your spectacular mullet is strong, and I just wanna make sure that you know that I know that,” Negan tells him.

“Our pages are utterly and completely one and the same,” Eugene says.

Negan stands up and sticks his hand out, and Eugene grabs it, and is about to kiss it. Negan yanks his hand back.

“Eugene, I was going for a handshake,” he says, asking Eugene to stand up. “I see where you’d be confused, as I rarely do that shit. A handshake is a sign of mutual respect. Not many people get that from me.”

Eugene nods as the two shake hands. “There’s work that needs getting to,” Eugene says, and Negan grins as Eugene walks away.

Eugene Porter, Drone Captain

In his room, Eugene is disassembling various electronics — including a fan and what appears to be Tonya’s boombox, the one he’s supposed to be fixing for her — and following along with a schematic he’s drawn. He takes a trip to the Sanctuary storage room, where he hunts for a coffin… the coffin that transported Sasha to Alexandria. He finds the MP3 player he’d given her for her final road trip and takes that back to his room.

On the rooftop of the Sanctuary, we see Eugene’s concoction: a DIY drone he’s hooked up to the MP3 player. His plan: to use the drone and tunes to “Pied Piper away the cold corpses” from the Sanctuary and give the Saviors open passage out of the prison Rick and the others created for them. Eugene even records an operations manual for his gadget — in case he’s not there to set it in motion — which he may need since Dwight follows him onto the roof and threatens to shoot him if he starts the drone.

Eugene tells Dwight he’s trying to save the Sanctuary dwellers, but Dwight points out to him that he’s trying to save everyone — the Saviors, Rick, Daryl, and all Eugene’s friends. Eugene tells him those people, the Alexandrians, are his “former traveling companions… nothing more.” Dwight, who Eugene refers to as his “sometime ally… despite any injury I may have caused in the past by delivering a chomp-down on your chode,” just wants to make sure Negan dies, but Eugene tells him Negan “isn’t the dying type.” Eugene then launches the drone, and Dwight is torn about whether or not to pull the trigger, until shots ring out… and take down the drone before it makes it more than a few feet beyond the rooftop.

And the shots help set in motion another plan.

Daryl Dixon, Demolition Driver

Tara is in place right outside the Sanctuary, and when she hears gunshots — the ones Dwight fired at the drone — she starts shooting at the Sanctuary windows. Just then, Daryl starts barreling the garbage truck towards the building. When he gets close, he puts a concrete block on the accelerator and jumps out, while the truck continues right into the Sanctuary wall, cracking it open just like Tara had hoped, allowing the walkers to stream in.

Daryl and Tara take off running away from the Savior buffet they’ve created, while inside the Sanctuary, Negan’s lieutenants round up as many of the workers as they can and send them scrambling upstairs to safety, while Laura, Regina, and other Saviors leaders open rapid fire bullets on the walkers.

Eugene stands above the action, watching dozens of hungry walkers pouring in, and he looks terrified… until his face changes and he looks furious. After all, his “former traveling companions” weren’t just putting the Saviors they don’t even know in harm’s way; they were threatening Eugene’s life, too, and there’s no life Eugene cares about more than his own. He stomps off into Father Gabriel’s hospital room and yells at him that he will never be on board with getting Dr. Carson out of the Sanctuary. In fact, he’s going to do everything he can to make sure Carson stays at the Sanctuary, in case he ever requires his “healing expertise.”

“And I won’t feel bad about it, because I will survive,” Eugene says. “It’s my biological imperative. It’s all I know how to do.”

Eugene then heads off to see Negan, where he reveals a plan — the details of which are not shared with the audience — to save the Sanctuary.

“It’ll take an assload of ammo,” Negan says, and then asks if his “bullet maker” will be able to replace that. Eugene answers in the affirmative.

“You do realize the storm of shit I’m gonna dump on Rick as soon as I am clear of the shitstorm he dumped on me?” Negan asks Eugene.

Eugene: “I do, indeed.”

Negan: “How does it feel to be the second most important person here? How does it feel to save these good people?”

“It feels great,” Eugene says, and tells Negan he has “something else of urgency” to tell him.

“More than a way out and the promise of bullets on the way?” Negan says. “Jesus, Eugene… you are magnificent!”

“I am,” Eugene says, just before he’s about to tell Negan of Dwight’s cloaking and daggering. That is, before there’s a knock at the door, and Dwight and the other Saviors leaders come in. They tell Negan the walkers have overrun the bottom floor, and Negan says Eugene has “solved them a way out” of the mess. He also says Eugene is about to deliver a “topper” to that solution, but Eugene side-eyes Dwight and instead tells Negan he can fix the building’s intercom system.

“That’s it?” Negan asks, underwhelmed with the reveal.

“Sorry, but that kind of thing cranks my shaft,” Eugene says, flashing another side-eye glance at Dwight as he pointedly repeats the phrase he’d shared with Dwight earlier.

“I’ll leave you to the last action item,” Eugene says, and leaves Negan and the Saviors minions in the room.

Back in his apartment, a shaky Eugene hears rapid-fire gunshots and a tear streams down his face. He takes a shot glass full of the wine, and then starts guzzling it from the bottle. He throws up, but then resumes guzzling.

Rick Grimes, Spiky Walker Fighter

Back at the Heapster Hangout, Rick is taken out of the steel box and thrown into the middle of the junkyard. Jadis and one of her cohorts bring out another spiky-headed walker — Winslow 2.0, with fewer spikes — for him to battle.

“Time for ‘after,’” Jadis says.

Winslow Light is attached to a stick a Heapster uses to guide the monster around. But Rick, despite being locked in a hot metal box and having his hands bound together, outmaneuvers them all. He uses his bound fists to punch one Heapster, then gains control of Winslow Light and uses the stick attached to his head as a weapon against the other Heapsters. He also uses the stick to snap Winslow Light’s head from his body, and uses the still chomping head, still attached to the stick, to take down Jadis and intimidate her into surrendering.

Jadis tentatively agrees to join Rick’s fight, which he says will mean going to the Sanctuary with him, where, thanks to a yard filled with walkers, the trapped Saviors will be ready to surrender to him and the other resistance leaders. Then, he, alone, will kill Negan. Jadis wants all of the Saviors’ stuff afterwards. Rick offers her one-fourth. She wants half. He says one-fourth. And he wants his clothes and boots back, now.

Jadis is in for one-fourth… and she wants Rick to stand for her while she sculpts him. “Those off,” she says, nodding towards his boxers.

He’s over this. “These off,” he says, pointing towards the ropes around his wrists. “No sculpting.”

Another alliance with the Heapsters is formed, and they all travel to the Sanctuary. Outside, at the water tower Rick’s group was using as a lookout, Rick sees three walkers milling around a man who has fallen down the lookout tower ladder and is hanging there as a snack for the walkers. Rick kills them all, as the Heapsters look on. He gets no response when he tries to contact the other lookouts via radio, so he climbs the tower himself. Using the dead lookout guy’s scoped rifle, Rick focuses in on the yard right outside the Sanctuary, the one he left filled with hundreds of walkers. Now, in his scope, he sees none, thanks to his BFF Daryl.

Zombie Bites:

* What is Eugene’s plan, the one that will use an “assload” of ammo, one that may have been launched and caused all that gunfire that led Eugene to shake and cry and pound wine from the bottle? Or do we think Eugene is shaking and crying and pounding booze because he’s just that afraid of how the war between the Saviors and Rick’s people is going to play out?

* As Rick fights his way free from Winslow Light and tells the Heapsters he is going to leave their camp, he also warns them he and his people will come back to kill them if they don’t join his fight. “Won’t attack today, but we will attack,” he says. Rick really loves threatening future violence. His promises of retribution rarely involves immediate delivery; it’s always a coming attraction. He might want to rethink that. Giving any of the more nefarious characters in his world even a day’s notice can be the difference between life and death.

* F-Bomb Count: still zero.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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