The first episode of the six episode mini- season AMC has released was able to answer a lot of questions in the opening scenes.
The episode began with Maggie and Judith discussing Michonne’s departure after the events of the original season finale. (episode 16). They then bump into Negan who tries to explain to Maggie why he’s out his cell and that he helped our survivors, Maggie doesn’t have time to hear it and walks away angrily as him standing free in his iconic leather jacket is too much for her to handle.
Maggie then asks if she and her group can reside at Hilltop just like old times so Carol and Daryl take her to the old Hilltop site and explain what happened during the whisperer war and the role Negan played in both destroying Hilltop and saving the survivors from the wrath of Alpha. Maggie is visibly hurt and confused as to why it had to be Negan that had saved the group and in a bid to try ease her feelings Daryl explains how Negan’s fate hasn’t been decided yet.
Daryl, Kelly, Maggie and newcomers Cole and Elijah head off to the location Maggie and the rest of her group were staying at to find it burnt to the ground, her people missing and her son Hershel missing.
They set off into the woods and find some of the group who are immediately killed 10 minutes later by a camouflaged marksman that set traps about the woods to pick them off one by one. Eventually Daryl and Maggie are able to get the hunter to drop his blade only for him to activate a grenade and say ” Pope has marked you” to Maggie. He explodes and the gang are left unscratched and covered in as what Lauren Cohan calls on Talking Dead ‘gut dust’.
Despite the theatric nature of the unnamed assailant’s death it set the stage for the newest villians to be introduced, the reapers and what can only be presumed to be their leader Pope.
Following this Maggie is reunited with her son Hershel Rhee and the group head back to Alexandria where Negan, Carol and the other residents are rebuilding the walls following the events of episode 15 and 16. Negan sees Maggie and her son who bears a striking resemblance to his father Glen and looks terrified as he knows Maggie isn’t over Glen’s death and the last time they met before this episode Maggie almost killed Negan.
The only remaining questions left unanswered from episodes 15 and 16 are what is happening with Connie? and how are things with Ezekiel, Eugene, Yumiko and Princess now they’ve met with the Commonwealth’s soldiers?
Overall the episode was satisfying to watch as it gave fans answers to questions that normally would’ve been drawn out until episode 4 or 5 and pathed the way for interesting mini story lines for the remaining episodes to come. Newcomer Elijah is mysterious but heart-warming and Cole could be an interesting character going forward.
Rating 4.5 stars out of 5