Finally, an episode of The Walking Dead that moves the story along a little bit better in season 8. We’ve been waiting for a while for Rick and Negan to go head to head again. And in this episode, titled “The Key,” we finally get that.

As the Saviors head to the Hilltop with walker gut-covered weapons, Rick spots the caravan and goes after Negan on his own. Meanwhile, Maggie, Rosita, Michonne and Enid have a difference of opinion on what to do about a new group of women who claim to have “knowledge” to trade.

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Taking on Negan

Shortly after Negan comes up with his brilliant plan of dosing weapons in walker blood just enough to scare the Hilltop, his plan is put into place. Soon, a caravan of Saviors is headed to the Hilltop, with their walker gut-soaked weapons with the instructions to just create flesh wounds when they get there. Negan’s orders are to scare them, not kill them. Negan decides to take his own car with Lucille sitting in a bucket full of walker guts in the front seat.

Rick and company are ready for the Saviors, though, and they’ve placed scouts along the routes to the Hilltop. And lucky for Rick, he’s the one that spots the caravan. Instead of alerting the others, though, he decides to go after Negan himself. He manages to hit Negan’s car and separate him from the group. Rick immediately opens fire on Negan as he climbs out of the flipped-over car. Negan heads into a building with Lucille, and Rick follows him.

Inside, Rick runs out of bullets, so he decides to throw his ax at Negan, who manages to avoid the ax but drops Lucille a couple floors down. Negan slips and is hanging on, but Rick tries to hit him with his ax, so Negan falls down too. Rick again goes after him and finds a locked room full of walkers.

As the two search for each other, they trade words as they usually do. Negan even offers Rick a new deal. He says everything can go back to the way it was, with the communities trading with Negan, and no one else has to die. He says he’ll even lower the amount the Saviors take to 25%, instead of 50%. However, Rick has to work for Negan at the Sanctuary. Of course, Rick doesn’t take the deal. He asks how he can trust someone who killed all of the Scavengers, which is news to Negan, since he didn’t know that Simon did that. Rick plants a seed that perhaps Negan doesn’t have control of his people, since all he does is use them.

Things come to a head when Rick finds Lucille first. He lights her on fire and uses it to break down the door of the locked room full of walkers. Negan pops out, and the two fight as flaming walkers surround them. In the end, Negan flees out a window, with Rick on his heels, but he manages to get away. But Negan is not out of the woods yet, as he’s somehow captured to Jadis and ends up in a car, with her driving.

Moving On

Meanwhile, Simon’s patience is wearing thin with Negan’s threats on the Hilltop. He wants action, he wants to just move on, as he suggested to Negan before. He takes the alone time he has with Dwight to feel him out and maybe get someone else on his side. Dwight really doesn’t take the bait, as we all know he just wants Negan to be brought down by Rick.

When Negan’s car gets run off the road, Simon uses this as an opportunity to really take care. He tells the Saviors to sit tight while he and Dwight go looking for Negan. When they stumble upon the crashed car, Simon once again suggests his plan of just moving on by leaving the Hilltop behind and starting over with new communities. They don’t know if Negan is alive or dead, but this could be the opportunity they need. Dwight doesn’t really see this as a terrible option, but he doesn’t necessarily agree with Simon either. Instead, he throws his lit cigarette at the car to destroy it. Simon takes this as an agreement, so they head back to the Saviors to announce his new plan.

However, Simon says they will first destroy the community and everyone in it. Once they erase the mistake they made in the first place, then they will be able to move on. Dwight has a look of fear on his face when he realizes that this wasn’t part of the plan he signed up for.

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Trust Again

As everyone else at the Hilltop prepares for the Saviors’ arrival, Maggie spots some crates in the woods. Rosita goes to check it out and brings it back with a note that requests food or records in exchange for a key to the future. On the note are coordinates for a meeting spot. At first, Maggie thinks it’s a trick by the Saviors, but Michonne doesn’t think it’s the Saviors. She says she’ll go check it out because what if it’s something good?

Rosita, Maggie, Enid and Michonne go to the meeting spot, where a van with two women outside it waits. When they arrive, another woman comes out and introduces herself as Georgie and the two women as Hilda and Mitch. She explains that she has knowledge to trade for the future. All she wants are the crates filled and they can have the knowledge she has. Rosita asks if Georgie has found other communities, but she says they haven’t really. She says lately the worst is outpacing the best, but she believes people will start believing in people again, which is why she wants to make the deal. It’s an exercise in trust.

Maggie is very skeptical, so she says she won’t make a deal, but the women have to come back to the Hilltop, basically so she can think some more about this situation. Inside the women’s van is a lot of food. Maggie says that food can feed her people, as the rations are still really low at the Hilltop. Enid goes as far as to suggest that they just take all the food because if they don’t someone else will. She’s still angry about Carl, and she says that people need to stop pretending that things will just work out because they don’t. Michonne disarms Enid and says that Carl took a chance on Siddiq, and now they have a doctor at the Hilltop. Enid storms out, so Michonne looks to Maggie. She tells her that Carl never gave up on what Rick wanted him to be, so they can’t give up on who Carl wants them to be.

Michonne’s words must have stuck with Maggie because later she comes out with some records for Georgie. She tells Georgie that she will accept the deal. Georgie is pleased but says she’s changing the terms. She’s going to give the Hilltop a sizable portion of their food. She adds that it’s not a gift but rather a barter, as she just wants records. She then gives Maggie her knowledge, which is written down in a huge book. The book is filled with plans and blueprints of silos, aqueducts, fields and much more. Georgie calls it the Key to the Future and says it’s filled with human medieval achievement. She hopes the information will provide a future built from their past. She tells Maggie that she will be back, and she wants to see the Hilltop built up.

Something After

There must be something after the fighting. This is Michonne’s thought at the end of “The Key.” She and Enid discuss what Carl meant for the future and if they should stop fighting. Michonne explains that they have to fight, but there will be a future, something after the fighting. I think between that thinking and these new blueprints from Georgie, the Hilltop is much closer to building that future that Carl had envisioned. It’s just a shame that he won’t be around to see it. It’s also a shame that he had to die for people to really figure out what the hell they are doing. For a while, things were all over the place on The Walking Dead. Now they seem focused on just ending the war and moving on.

It seems that the Saviors want to do that too but in a different way. I do agree with Simon that the Saviors should move on. But I do not agree on his way of doing that. I hope that someone else stands up to Simon. He uses the “I am Negan” speech to motivate the Saviors into wanting to kill everyone at the Hilltop, but that is not Negan’s way. But I have to be honest, I don’t think either of their ideas is the right idea.

I’m intrigued by this Georgie character. It seems that she may have the right answer. But where the hell did she come from? And how has she survived for so long? I also like that she didn’t beg to stay at the Hilltop to help build the future. She trusts that Maggie will do the right thing. Georgie is a refreshing change of pace for The Walking Dead. I just hope that Maggie can follow through on her promise.

What did you think of the fight between Rick and Negan? Are you over them fighting? What do you think Jadis will do with Negan? Do you think Simon is right to go against Negan and try to win the war his way? Do you think Maggie did the right thing with Georgie? Why do you think Georgie wants records? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Contributing Writer, BuddyTV