I really thought that after the brutal, annoying season premiere, the follow-up episode introducing the Kingdom, Ezekiel and his tiger would be the extent of the show’s absurdity. It turns out I was wrong. Absolutely, delightfully wrong.
There are basically only two things going on in “Go Getters” — the reveal that Maggie and her baby (and Sasha) are OK following their encounter with Negan, and a check-in with the last of our communities, Hilltop Colony. The Saviors show up and pull their shtick, and Hilltop’s leader Gregory ups his levels of bumbling evilness to cartoonish levels, but that’s essentially it. Oh, and Enid and Carl show-up for the C storyline, which is exactly as gripping as it sounds.
But these story beats provide a framework for some of the most ridiculous individual moments I’ve seen in TWD since that time Carl ate a 15L can of pudding out of spite. But there were so many! It was like Carl ate a dozen giant cans of pudding!
The episode echoes Carol waking up in the Kingdom, as Maggie wakes up in Hilltop. The post-apocalypse’s last OB/GYN tells her that her baby is safe, but she needs to stay in Hilltop until the baby arrives. Jesus, making a welcome return (as Jesuses are wont to do), is happy to have them, but Gregory, in a cold but utterly reasonable decision, demands they leave the next morning in case the Saviors come back and realise the deal Hilltop made with Rick to (attempt to) wipe out Negan’s army.
But in the middle of that night, the Saviors — using their Joker-in-Dark-Knight-levels of preparedness to perform elaborate acts of dickery — open Hilltop’s gates, sets some fires and roll in a car that’s not only blaring Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” (the Saviors have good taste) but whose windows are covered in welded grates preventing anyone from breaking into it to shut off the radio. Obviously, zombies start pouring into Hilltop. I always love when the Saviors are basically omnipotent, but it’s what happens next that’s so good.
Since everyone in Hilltop is useless besides Jesus, it falls to him, Sasha and Maggie to stop the car radio and take out the mini-horde. Sasha simply starts killing zombies like she’s playing on easy mode, while Jesus needlessly shimmies down the side of Gregory’s mansion to begin kicking zombies in the head. I repeat: Jesus kicks zombies in the head. And it works! As for the car, well, Maggie simply gets on a tractor and drives over it like a goddamned monster truck. (And a lot of zombies, too, who helpfully line up in the tractor’s path.)
The next day, Negan’s right-hand man Simon and an enormous pile of Saviors enter the town to check on Hilltop, with the clear implication that they think Hilltop had something to do with the murder of everyone at the Saviors’ outpost Rick and crew took out. I’ve gotta say, I really enjoy Simon; he’s like a Negan who doesn’t vary wildly between genial dickishness and psychotic aggression. Simon has obviously gone to the Negan School of Post-Apocalyptic Charm, but he isn’t smug, and when he issues threats it’s done in a much more measured manner.
However, it’s Gregory who’s the real revelation here, as he’s practically Harvey Korman as Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles. Yes, he refuses to allow the ill Maggie and reasonably healthy Sasha to stay in Hilltop — which is again, probably a smart idea for the town and its people — but he also utterly refuses to learn Maggie and Sasha’s names, either getting them wrong (almost certainly purposefully) or calling them “honey” or “dear” in the most patronising tone possible. He sleazily implies he’ll let them stay with some “one-on-one time” with Sasha, and then when she calls him out on it acts like she’s the pervert for even thinking he meant something so improper.
That’s just the beginning. When Simon arrives, Gregory is weaselly and obsequious; when Simon starts asking if perhaps Hilltop had anything to do with the murder of the Saviour output, Gregory pulls all the “lying badly” tropes, from darting his eyes around nervously to stuttering to even sweating. He tries to give up Maggie and Sasha to the Saviors, and only fails to do so because Jesus hid them in a different closet from what he expected. (Another sign this episode is very silly: Sasha and Maggie hide from the Saviors in a closet.) And after Maggie punches him in the face for trying to betray them, she discovers he even stole Herschel’s watch off of Glenn’s grave after Maggie placed it there in memoriam at the beginning of the episode. That is hilariously, pettily evil.
Unfortunately for Gregory, Jesus, who objected when Gregory refused to let Maggie and Sasha stay, thinks Hilltop might need a change in leadership. Unfortunately for Jesus, Gregory reminds him he apparently has a problem committing to Hilltop and keeps leaving, which is a problem that has never before been mentioned and is resolved by the end of the episode. Because after Jesus does finally depose Gregory — sort of by just saying “you’re not in charge any more” — he elects to stay, as do Maggie and Sasha. No one else is put in charge of Hilltop, which seems problematic, but Jesus starts giving the new arrivals a bit of side-eye, probably because they’re main characters and are more competent than everyone else in Hilltop put together.
Although it doesn’t provide quite the joys of seeing Maggie crush a car with a tractor, even the Carl-Enid storyline had a few laughs. After Enid leaves Alexandria yet again, this time to get to Hilltop to help Maggie (somehow), Carl eventually goes with her. This is mainly an excuse for Carl to keep telling Enid he won’t do things that he inevitably does (“I won’t come after you. I won’t try to kill Negan. I’m going home to Alexandria.”) and for the young couple to finally share a shockingly chaste kiss. But after Carl finds a suitcase containing roller skates from approximately 1974, we’re treated to the sight of the post-apocalypse’s lamest teens skating down the road, laughing and holding hands as if roller-skating across uneven asphalt was the most delightful activity in the world.
Still, it’s the episode’s final moment — the delicious cherry of silliness on this delicious sundae of ridiculousness — which may be my favourite moment of all. Sasha asks Jesus to find out where the Saviors’ main compound, and thus Negan, are located so she can eventually kill him, like pretty much all the other main characters. Jesus, whose miracles include serious sneaking-onto-truck skills, sneaks into the final truck of the Saviors’ convoy.
Where Carl is somehow already waiting.
How did Carl get in there? No idea! Is he really trying to sneak around while wearing his dad’s enormous sheriff’s hat? He is! What’s he planning to do? Well, kill Negan of course, despite the fact he has an army, and is surrounded by that army, and also Carl doesn’t even have a gun because the Saviors took them all last week.
It was all very silly, and it was all very welcome. Since we all know The Walking Dead is leading up to an Alexandria-Hilltop-Kingdom war with Sanctuary, we’re basically marking time until the three communities meet and unite, but I find this is a perfectly acceptable way to spend the time until that happens. I’m sure the show has probably already gone from trying to lighten the mood after the double-murder of the premiere to trying to pre-lighten the mood for whichever main character(s) are dying in the mid-season finale in a few weeks, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. And hopefully next week, after scouting out Sanctuary, we’ll be treated to a scene of Carl and Jesus, laughing and roller-skating their way back to Hilltop.
• Nothing that Maggie did with her dad’s watch made sense to me. First she leaves it on Glenn’s grave, which would be more understandable if it had been Glenn’s watch. But it’s her dad’s. It may be a family heirloom of sorts. It has — or should have — meaning to her beyond the fact her dad gave it to Glenn.
• Then, after Maggie gets it back from Gregory, she just gives it to Enid. I know the message, such as it were, of the episode is “it’s the memories you have of people that are important and not physical items” but hey, you know who might want some sort of memento of Glenn? His unborn child. Instead Maggie gives it to Mopey McKeepsleavingalexandria.
• You know what? It’s also weird that Herschel gave his family watch to Glenn as his son-in-law instead of giving it to one of his daughters. Maybe no one in the family cares about the watch. Maybe Herschel won it at church bingo or something.
• Speaking of Glenn’s grave, how did Glenn and Abraham’s bodies get to Hilltop? I assume I’m forgetting something — and you’ll let me know in the most aggressive way possible — but I really thought Rick and the others put them on the camper. But even if they didn’t, how did Sasha and an insanely sick Maggie drag two bodies to Hilltop? Sure, they didn’t have heads, but that wouldn’t make them that much lighter.
• Here’s something that made me laugh out loud: Carl being hilariously bad at darts, not even hitting the board. And then I realised he was trying to get his depth perception back after having his eye shot out and I felt bad. Sorry, Carl. If I had an oil drum full of pudding, I’d give it to you.
• Quote of the episode, courtesy of Simon, discussing the state of the Saviors at the outpost Rick hit: “Very very dead. Extremely dead.”
• Simon prefers gin to scotch, making him automatically the evilest and most depraved character on the show.
• The Saviors take half of what Hilltop has upon leaving, as per usual, but somehow that still allows Maggie, Sasha and Enid to make like eight grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. Plus soup!
• I have zero knowledge of pregnancy, but Maggie looks like she’s been pregnant for about 15 minutes. If she has to wait to leave until she has the baby, it seems she and Sasha are going to be staying in Hilltop for quite a while.