Following the meeting with Ezekiel and Negan's man, both Rick and Jesus return to their respective communities to bring those close to them into the plan. Both are faced with difficulties managing who to bring into their conspiracy. Maggie continues to settle in at the Hilltop and its local politics.
Lots of set up for the inevitable clash with Negan, but Kirkman is managing several interesting subplots and expanding his universe. He's also attempting to develop some new characters, which is a good thing, given Rick's group seems to be growing ever smaller with Glen's death and Abraham's before him, and no one has stepped up to fill the void. I've been hard-pressed to remember most of the townspeople's names.
At the Hilltop Maggie is mourning daily over Glen's grave, but meets a new friend in Brianna, who makes the observation everyone currently alive can say they know how someone feels who has lost a loved one. Her choice to bury Glen (rather than cremate him) has given many pause for thought, as it allows them a place to come and spend time with their departed.
Next she heads to the doctor to check on her baby, which appears fine. Only they're interrupted by the unwelcome intrusion of Gregory who seems to want to flirt with her, though he doesn't even remember Sophia's name. Back at their apartment, Maggie is met with Sophia's resistance at their new accommodations and wishing to return to Alexandria.
Jesus abruptly appears, having snuck into town on a special mission to advise her of Rick's plan, as well as the promise that Glen will be avenged. He's going to bring Gregory into the loop, as he'll need a contingent of men to train for fighting, but he certainly doesn't trust him, and would like Maggie to be his eyes and ears inside while he's away. If anyone talks, he asks her to go to Kal who mans the wall.
In Alexandria, Andrea is happy to learn that a plan is afoot to unseat Negan. Carl overhears, but rather than warning his son off, Rick advises him he wants him by his side. Michonne is less accommodating. Not only is she offended that he kept her in the dark in order to keep her from acting alone, she's been longing to hang up her sword for good. Rick assures her that after this last mission she can. But she warns him about making promises he can't keep.
Negan is due for another tribute, and as he reviews the stores with Olivia, Rick determines they must make a large scale supply run in order to keep him appeased. Spencer walks in looking for a fight, commenting that Rick is hardly ever in town anymore and that he's scared of Negan. Spencer suggests his father putting Rick in charge wasn't a permanent solution and likely wouldn't have allowed it had he known it would lead to both his death and his wife's. Rick declares he knows what he's doing and stares him down.
Gregory is mortified to learn of the plot, and believes Ezekiel is arrogant and crazy. When pressed to have some men, Gregory admits he doesn't even know how many people live at the Hilltop. Jesus confides in Kal about their inside man with Negan, then brings Maggie to meet the blacksmith, Earl. He needs him to make Maggie a knife for security purposes, and the two seem to hit it off. When Jesus comments he has to meet with Kal before he leaves, Earl informs him he abruptly left to go on a perimeter check. Jesus can't believe he was so stupid.
This was a decent set up issue, putting the wheels in motion for the plan to defeat Negan. I like all the multiple variables in play—Spencer, Kal, Gregory—factors that will almost certainly screw up Rick and Jesus' plan and lead to blood and destruction. I doubt any of those three will last for very long when the fight begins.
Kirkman continues to build his world, with further character introductions at the Hilltop, and it was good to catch up with Maggie and Sophia. Jesus seems to be the logical choice to succeed Gregory. It will be interesting to see if what we get out of this is a leadership triumvirate composed of Jesus, Ezekiel and Rick.