Things are always too good to be true on The Walking Dead. In “The Rotten Core,” Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) are forced into a secret mission. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) leads a rescue team against the Commonwealth.
Last week, Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) sent Carlson (Jason Butler Harner) to retrieve a shipment that was stolen. They told Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) that it was a recruitment trip. Things turned bad really quick. Luckily Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) was there to help get Gabriel to safety and send a message to Maggie. Aaron escaped before finding out that Negan lived there. Now Carlson is preparing to kill all of the Riverbend residents to find his shipment.
Carlson starts killing residents by pushing them off the roof. He reports to Lance that they secured the building but haven’t found the shipment. His plan is to start at the top and sweep every floor, killing anyone who won’t cooperate. But he doesn’t know that Maggie, Aaron, Lydia (Cassady McClincy) and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) are sweeping the building from the bottom floor to rescue Gabriel.
Meanwhile, Daryl runs into Carol (Melissa McBride) on his way to work. They agree to meet up for lunch later. He and Rosita are sent on patrol for the day. Sebastian Milton (Teo Rapp-Olsson) has other plans for those two. He uses two other soldiers to lure Daryl and Rosita to the Northern perimeter.
Maggie, Aaron, Elijah and Lydia find Annie (Medina Senghore). She doesn’t know who they are, and she’s threatened until Negan shows up. He explains that he lives in Riverbend. Aaron says they are there to rescue Gabriel from Carlson. Negan takes him to a secret room where Gabriel is hiding with others.
Maggie asks Annie if they stole the guns and supplies. She says no, but Aaron doesn’t believe her. Especially since their boss had a bunch of skulls on a wall in his office. It doesn’t really matter who took the guns. All that matters is that they get everyone out. Annie doesn’t want to leave anyone behind. She wants to go floor by floor to find her people and get out. She asks Negan to stay behind while she and Maggie find survivors.
THE ROTTEN CORE
Sebastian’s mother, Governor Milton (Laila Robins) cut his line of credit. And there is a house on the Northside of the Commonwealth with a safe room that has lots of money hidden inside. Sebastian knows this because his friend used to live there. He hasn’t gotten it yet because there is a herd of walkers between the perimeter and the house. Sebastian wants Daryl and Rosita to retrieve the money for him. He’s seen them fight off the dead without guns so he knows they will be successful.
Daryl and Rosita decline but then Sebastian mentions their kids. Daryl holds a knife to Sebastian’s neck and tells him to never threaten their kids. Sebastian only wants to make their lives better. And he can do that after they help him. They reluctantly agree.
They cover themselves in walker blood and make it to the house easily. The power is out so they can’t get into the safe room. They hear knocking on the other side of the safe room door. A woman named April (Wynn Everett) is on the other side and says she’s been trapped there for days. She says she went to the house with 11 other people and she’s the only survivor. She’s also worried about her kids back home. Daryl leaves to find the generator so they can get into the room.
LIFE GOES ON
Lydia asks why Negan left six months ago. He says it’s what everyone needed and wanted. He found this community and married Annie. Aaron questions the character of the people Negan lives with because of the skulls in the leader’s office. Negan questions the character of the soldiers that came to kill them. Gabriel says they didn’t know what was happening. The community where they live is different than anything they’ve seen before. Lydia says it’s not. She wanted to believe they were different. They’re just like the Whisperers, only they wear different masks.
Annie calls Negan on the walkie and tells him to get everyone ready to move. Negan looks out the window and sees something shocking. Downstairs, a Commonwealth soldier drags Hershel Rhee (Kien Michael Spiller) inside the apartment building. He calls Carlson to let him know they found a truck on the perimeter and the kid was inside. Before he can elaborate, Negan hits him on the head and kills the soldier.
IN THE HANDS OF A KILLER
Maggie and Annie stop to hide from the approaching soldiers. Maggie watches Annie takes out a piece of ginger and takes a small bite. She says she’s about 12 weeks pregnant. And yes, the baby is Negan’s. Negan calls them to let Maggie know that he found Hershel. Annie says he’s in good hands. Maggie says he’s in the hands of the man who killed his father.
Negan told Annie everything he used to be and what he did. She says no one has clean hands. They all do what they have to do to survive. All they can do now is try to be better, just like Negan is trying to do. Maggie doesn’t want Negan to forget what he did. Annie assures her that he hasn’t. What matters to her is who he is now. He’s someone who will do whatever he can to protect Maggie’s son.
A BAD MAN
Hershel says his mom told him to stay away from Negan and asks why. Negan tiptoes around the subject saying something bad happened a long time ago. Hershel asks if he was a bad man and Negan says he was. The kid pulls a gun on Negan. Maggie told him that a bad man killed his father. He asks Negan if he is that bad man. Negan admits that he is.
Negan says he can’t change the past or replace what he took from them. But if Hershel shoots him now, the other bad people will find them. Negan says he might deserve to die, but the others don’t. Hershel lowers the gun. Lydia calmly walks in the room and takes the gun from him.
Daryl gets the generator started but he has to fight off a couple of walkers in the process. They get inside the safe room and head straight for the safe. An alarm goes off. Rosita tries to turn off the alarm while Daryl works on the safe. The alarm attracts walkers inside of the house. There are several walkers outside the only door to the room by the time Rosita kills the alarm. Daryl and Rosita pack up the money and put armor on April so they can leave.
Mercer (Michael James Shaw) and Carol show up, killing most of the walkers. Daryl didn’t show up for lunch, so Carol asked Mercer to help her find him. Sebastian told Mercer that Rosita and Daryl went to the house to steal money. Rosita sets the record straight saying Sebastian threatened their kids if they didn’t get the money. April says the soldiers promised them a cut of the money if they helped. Carol is shocked.
On the way out, a walker gets caught on April’s armor, causing her to freak out. The other walkers descend on April, killing her. The others have to fight off the walkers to try and save April, but it’s too late. Rosita stabs April in the head to keep her from reanimating.
CARLSON’S LAST STAND
Maggie and Annie catch up to Carlson’s group. He tells his troops to just kill everyone and then they will burn the building. Maggie hears them and calls Aaron. She has a plan. Carlson and his group end up in the apartment with the secret room. He sees dirty footprints leading to the closet. Negan prepares to shoot if they enter. Carlson hears Gabriel yell for Aaron. He tells his soldiers to follow Gabriel.
They all end up on the roof. Carlson faces Gabriel and Aaron and scolds them for turning on him. Elijah sneaks up and kills the troops, leaving Carlson alive. He calls for backup, but the remaining soldiers have their hands full.
Maggie and Annie join the others on the rooftop. Carlson tries to tell everyone to calm down saying they need to sit and talk. Aaron picks up a gun and shoots Carlson. He falls from the rooftop and lands near all of the people he killed. Carlson is still alive when he lands. The dead, reanimated residents crawl toward Carlson and he screams as he’s eaten.
Daryl and Rosita return with the money and Mercer. Carol asks Sebastian’s men how many people they sent in the house previously. They say about 30-40 people. Mercer shoots them both in the head and tells Daryl and Rosita to deliver the money to Sebastian. If they don’t, it will start a fight they can’t win. Sebastian meets Daryl and Rosita at the precinct. He’s happy about the money and notices his guys are there. Mercer says they didn’t make it. Sebastian gives them a cut of the money and says he’s glad they are friends again.
Lance is trying to reach Carlson, but there’s no answer. Carol pays him a visit to tell him about the money heist. Lance already knew about the money and the many people sacrificed to retrieve it. He says those people put themselves in a sticky situation and he gave them a lifeline. Everyone in the community plays a part. If they can’t, that’s when the system breaks down. Carol gets it. People can be either part of the problem or the solution. Lance says it’s nice to talk to someone who sees the big picture. Carol leaves with an annoyed look on her face.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
During clean up at Riverbend, Hershel stares down Negan. Negan tells him that they have unfinished business. He tells Hershel to go home and help his mom rebuild. In a few years, after Hershel has grown up a little, he should find Negan and they will settle things. Maggie saw them talking and wants to know what Negan said, but he just stares at his mom.
Aaron and Gabriel interrupt to talk to Maggie. She says they can’t go back to the Commonwealth. Aaron says they have to. Lance will want to know what happened. Gabriel says Lance will come for the Riverbend residents. He still thinks they stole the guns. The big question is, if Negan’s people didn’t steal the guns … who did?
TWO WEEKS AGO
Two Commonwealth soldiers lay dead on the ground with boxes of guns next to them. A third soldier crawls away, but someone approaches her and slits her throat. It’s Leah (Lynn Collins).
The Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC. You can watch new episodes early on AMC+.
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