"A Rock In The Road"

After much anticipation, The Walking Dead returned Sunday night with an episode titled “A Rock in the Road”. While this episode won’t go down as one of the best of all time, it was a great episode that raised questions, introduced new characters, and advanced the overall arc of the season’s story considerably. All of the characteristics of a great episode were present; there was a big zombie scene, one character made a choice that made no sense to anyone else on the show, and there was a huge lack of Carl throughout (addition by subtraction). The only thing missing was a Negan scene, although the scene where he was heard on the radio made up for it.

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“A Rock in the Road” did an excellent job advancing the whole Saviors vs. everyone motif that began at the season’s start. After accepting the “life” as the characters put it, Rick’s group finally stopped talking about rising up against The Saviors and started making some moves to finally do so. The scene at the Hilltop went as expected. Gregory’s reluctance to join a rebellion was basically never in doubt, since Xander Berkely has done an excellent job portraying Gregory as the sniveling coward he is. I’d say there is a high chance a mutiny happens within the Hilltop colony (if the show is to follow the comics) and that scene might have been the very start. The scene with King Ezekial was a bit more surprising, however. It seems as though this man values his people’s lives enough to not have any of them fight The Saviors. This hesitancy could be something to watch out for later in the season. If it comes down to Ezekial keeping his people safe or losing everything (considering his group has the best deal with The Saviors by far), it is possible he sides with Negan’s crew.

" A Rock In The Road"

The scene with the Walkers was fantastic. It was a high-risk high-reward situation even before the zombies showed up, seeing as the group had to beat the Saviors back to Alexandria. Although it was very plainly stated that the explosives that were in the middle of the highway were indeed for a horde of walkers (talk about hitting the viewer over the head with foreshadowing), seeing The Saviors drive up while Rick & Co. were taking apart the explosives could have been an interesting angle to take. This scene showed how desperate the group is to get anything that could help them in their fight against The Saviors, and it provided the viewer with the heart-pounding action the show is known for.

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Although the main story progressed nicely, to me the most interesting part of “A Rock in the Road” was Father Gabriel straight up peace-ing in the middle of the night and the ramifications that it caused. Why did he leave? Who are these people the group stumbled upon? How did they manage to find enough black clothing for everyone in that new group? These are the questions that need to be answered, and it’s cliff-hanging moments like this that make this show so good. My guess? Gabriel is being coerced into helping these people. If you remember the post credit scene of episode 8, someone was watching Alexandria with binoculars. And (prepare your mind to be blown) if you notice in the beginning scene of this episode, you can see someone sit up in the passenger seat of the car as Gabriel is driving away. This unknown figure is probably someone who is a member of that group from the end of the episode and has somehow convinced Gabriel to help him/her for something not yet known.

"A Rock In The Road"

Overall, I’d say “A Rock in the Road” was a fantastic episode. There was action, there was intrigue, and there was suspense. One of my favorite parts of the episode was seeing how different Gregory and King Ezekiel’s reactions and reasons were to not helping Rick crew. Gregory’s reasoning was fairly straightforward. He doesn’t want to die. He is a very selfish character, and that selfishness is apparent. He will force others to accept subservience to The Saviors as long as he doesn’t have to put himself in harm’s way. King Ezekial’s is a much nobler reason, which is that he doesn’t want his people to die. As he stated in his reasoning to Rick, he’s put his group in harms way too many times and doesn’t seem ready to do so again. The juxtaposition between the two is very clear, and while the two leaders came to the same conclusion, it doesn’t seem like it will stay that way for long. With the episode unfolding the way it did, it is clear Alexandria is willing to go to war with The Saviors. Will they be able to? The writers of this show have been willing to take chances and divert from the source material when needed. It is my hope that in this instance they do not, and give us viewers what we want to see; the showdown between Rick and Negan.

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