In the winter premiere of The Walking Dead season 7, titled “Rock in the Road,” Rick and the Alexandrians try to round up more numbers for their upcoming war with Negan, but their first attempt at recruiting doesn’t go so well. Jesus decides to take the group to the Kingdom to meet King Ezekiel. While they are there, the group encounters a familiar face. Meanwhile, something bad goes down with Father Gabriel, and Rick and company run into a situation on the road.

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Enid Comes Through

As the episode begins, Gregory-the-coward outright rejects any idea of fighting back against the Saviors. He doesn’t want anything to do with a war against Negan or have any ties with Rick’s people in general. Rick and the others try to convince him that they need to fight back, but Gregory won’t listen to any of them.

Luckily, while Rick and company are wasting their time trying to change Gregory’s mind, Enid is taking action. She apparently talks to some members of The Hilltop and tells them about Rick’s plan to fight the Saviors. After consulting with Maggie, these people agree to join in the fight.

Unfortunately, that still leaves them very low on numbers compared to the Saviors. Jesus might have a solution to that. After showing the group that he stole one of the Saviors’ radios so they can monitor their movements, he tells them that he wants to introduce them to King Ezekiel. (Rick’s reaction at learning of King Ezekiel is priceless.)

When they arrive at The Kingdom, Richard is there to greet them. Jesus introduces Rick’s group and says they want to request a meeting with the King. Richard is hesitant at first, but he apparently trusts Jesus enough to allow Rick’s group into the community.

An Audience with the King

At The Kingdom, Team Family has a joyful reunion with Morgan. Morgan tells Rick and Daryl that Carol was with him at The Kingdom, but he claims that she left after she healed from her injuries. Daryl, who looks very upset at hearing that Carol was shot, asks if the Saviors were behind it, and Morgan says they were. He also says he killed one of them to stop him from killing Carol.

Rick and Team Family are brought before the King and, like Carol earlier this season, are surprised to see that Ezekiel has a tiger. (How both Morgan and Jesus just forgot to mention that little detail is beyond me.) Rick tells Ezekiel that their three communities — Alexandria, Hilltop and The Kingdom — are all under the thumb of the Saviors. Rick says they need to start fighting back. They then reveal that the Saviors murdered several of their people. (Abraham, Glenn, Spencer and Olivia all get a shout-out here, and Morgan is distressed to learn of their deaths.) Rick tells Ezekiel that his people don’t have the numbers or the weapons to stand against the Saviors alone. Richard, more than excited at the prospect of finally fighting back, tells Ezekiel that they should join with Rick’s people.

After Rick makes his pitch to Ezekiel, the King turns to Morgan to get his input. Morgan suggests they avoid war all together by simply capturing Negan. He believes that once their leader is gone, the Saviors will fall apart. Ezekiel decides to take the night to think on his decision.

The next day, Ezekiel tells Rick and company that he cannot join in their fight. He has an uneasy peace with the Saviors and needs to maintain that for as long as he can. While Ezekiel might want the Saviors gone, his first priority is protecting his people, and he isn’t willing to risk their lives in a war that he doesn’t think is necessary yet.

Yet Ezekiel does make the group an offer before they leave. Since Daryl is being hunted by the Saviors, Ezekiel offers him sanctuary at The Kingdom. The Saviors have never been inside The Kingdom, so it’s a fairly safe place for Daryl to lie low. Daryl isn’t interested in Ezekiel’s offer, but Rick tells him that he has to stay. He also tells Daryl to try talking to Ezekiel while he’s there. Rick and Team Family then leave poor Daryl behind. (Here’s hoping that Daryl staying behind means he’ll learn that Carol is still in the area.)

A Brief Moment with Carol

Young Benjamin is walking through the woods near the Kingdom when he stumbles upon Carol. They have a brief discussion about Ezekiel — Ben says Ezekiel will keep checking on Carol because he looks after the people he cares about — and Carol gives him a tip on how to stay quiet in the woods.

When Ben goes back home, he and Ezekiel then have a discussion about Carol, and it’s clear that Ezekiel is a bit sweet on her. Ben tells Ezekiel that he thinks they should help Rick fight the Saviors, and we are reminded of just how much Ezekiel cares about Ben. (I suspect the one thing that could get Ezekiel to break his tentative peace with the Saviors would be if something happens to Ben. Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that, though.)

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Richonne is Back in Business

Rick and company run into trouble on the road back to Alexandria. After clearing out a road-block made of cars, Michonne sees something in the distance. As it turns out, the Saviors have set up a trap in the form of dynamite. The explosives are attached to a cable and a pressure plate. Carl remembers hearing something about a herd in the area, and this is apparently the Saviors’ way of dealing with that. Rosita manages to disable the pressure plate, but they still have to remove each stack of dynamite one by one. This takes an extremely long time. While they are working, the herd of walkers is moving toward their position.  

As the herd gets closer, Rick tells Sasha and Jesus to head back to the Hilltop on foot. Rick and Michonne are still working on removing the last of the explosives, while Carl, Rosita and Tara start moving the cars back into place. (Rick decides it will be good to have the herd trapped on the road.) Rick and Michonne then hot-wire the cars, keeping the cable in place, and drive them through the herd, essentially cutting most of the walkers in half. The group escapes from the remaining walkers, and one of the explosives Rosita left behind goes off as they make their exit.

After narrowly escaping the herd, Rick and Michonne share a sweet moment where Michonne reminds Rick, “We’re the ones who live.” (It’s great to see these two back in sync.)

The Saviors Come Calling

Rick and the others arrive back at Alexandria just as Simon and his henchmen show up looking for Daryl. Rick plays innocent and claims they didn’t even know Daryl was missing until Simon told them. Simon then has his men search the community from top to bottom. When they get to the pantry, they see that it’s been cleared out, something that is clearly news to Rick. Simon tells them to put in extra effort to make sure they’re stocked up before the next tribute is due. Simon and his men leave, but Simon makes it clear that very bad things will happen if they ever find Daryl with Rick’s people.

Once the Saviors leave, Rick asks his people what happened to their supplies. They don’t know, but Father Gabriel went missing right before the supplies were taken. Rosita and some of the others assume that Gabriel just betrayed them and left, but Rick isn’t so convinced. He finds that Gabriel has left behind his bible as well as a possible clue: the word ‘boat’ scrawled in a notebook. Rick and Aaron wonder how Gabriel could’ve known about their recent outing, but they decide to follow the clue he left behind.

Before leaving Alexandria yet again, Aaron and Eric have a bit of an argument about Aaron’s continued trips outside the walls. Eric has figured out that Rick and the others are planning to fight the Saviors, and he doesn’t want Aaron involved. Aaron doesn’t think they have a choice, but Eric says that he wants them both to survive. (The show hasn’t done much with the Aaron-Eric relationship since season 5, so it’s nice to see this little scene of them together.)

A New Group

Rick is right to be suspicious about Gabriel’s supposed betrayal. In the opening scene, we see Father Gabriel on watch duty. He then heads to the pantry, and we hear a crash. The next thing we know, Father Gabriel is raiding Alexandria’s supplies and taking one of their cars. If you watch closely, though, you can see someone in the car with him when Gabriel drives away from Alexandria. I think we can assume that this was the same mysterious, boot-wearing person who was spying on the group in the winter finale. (If I had to take a guess, I’d say this person probably ambushed Gabriel and forced him to steal those supplies.)

As the episode comes to an end, Rick and the group head back to the boat to look for Father Gabriel. Rick finds tracks in the area, and the group follows them to some kind of encampment. Rick and company are then surrounded by a bunch of strangers wielding weapons, and the episode ends with Rick smiling at the sight. (I assume Rick thinks he’s found more soldiers for his fight against Negan, but I don’t know that he should be so quick to smile about that. His first two attempts at recruitment didn’t go so well.)

What did you think of The Walking Dead winter premiere? Who is this new group and can they be trusted? Can Daryl convince Ezekiel to join the fight or will something drastic need to occur before the King decides to take action? Are you disappointed that Morgan kept his word to Carol and didn’t tell the group she was there? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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(Image courtesy of AMC)

Megan Cole

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV