Spoiler Alert! This recap gives full spoilers to the events on The Walking Dead episode 811 "Dead or Alive Or." Catch up with last week's recap here.
Daryl, Rosita, Tara and Dwight lead the group of Alexandrians to the Hilltop, avoiding Saviors at every turn. Tensions are high, but worst between Tara and Dwight. She wants to kill him, and makes no secret about it. Dwight tells Daryl that the Saviors have been instructed to avoid the swamp. Tara thinks it is a setup, but Daryl decides to chance it. The only thing Daryl and Rosita find in the swamp are Swamp Thing zombies. Unfortunately, we don't get nearly enough time with the Swamp Thing zombies.
While waiting behind for the scouting team, Tara volunteers Dwight to go with her to kill a few rogue zombies wandering around. He goes along willingly, and apologizes for Denise's death. "I don't expect forgiveness. I just wanted you to know." When he looks up from killing the last zombie, Tara has her gun trained on him. He insists he hates Negan, but Tara doesn't care. She fires. Dwight dodges and she gives chase. Tara catches up with him at the road, and Dwight knows he is dead. "I knew it was going to happen. I just wanted to help you win first." Voices cause them to duck back into the bushes; a handful of Saviors are nearby.
Dwight jumps out of the bushes and claims he was ambushed and spent the entire night hiding in the woods. The Saviors are looking for the runaway Alexandrians, and want to check the swamp. Dwight insists he just came from there and leads them in the opposite direction. Tara returns to the group in the swamp, and Daryl is furious with her for letting Dwight get away. Tara actually defends him, promising Dwight led the Saviors away.
Dr. Carson and Gabriel are trying to find their way to the Hilltop, but they are lost. Their map is useless; their car won't start; and Gabriel's infection has started to attack his eyes - he is nearly blind. Luckily, Gabriel losing his sight has turned him into Daredevil. He swears he hears a chiming sound, and leads Carson to a small, rundown house. The former occupant was a radio operator, and had tried to find other survivors. It didn't work, and Carson finds him suicided in the back room. Luckily, the pills the occupant hadn't swallowed by the handful were antibiotics. It doesn't take long for Gabriel's fever to break, but his eyesight still hasn't improved. Gabriel isn't concerned; he believes his god is leading him. And maybe that is true, when Gabriel knocks over a piggy bank and Carson finds car keys and a map.
The two go outside and head to the garage. Gabriel hears that metal clinking noise again and squints really hard to read a large metal sign, warning of traps. Too late. Carson steps in a bear trap. His screams draw zombies to them, and while most get stuck in the traps, one does not. Gabriel is crawling on his hands and knees, and he finds a gun. He squeezes his eyes shut, then squints and takes aim. Somehow he manages to hit the zombie atop Carson and not Dr. Carson himself. The two make it to the car, but before they can get in, they are surrounded by Saviors. The Saviors truss them up, ready to take them back to Negan, when Carson decides to be a hero and grabs one of his captor's guns. Another Savior shoots him dead on instinct. He is in trouble - Negan really wanted the doctor back. Gabriel sobs as they drive off. He failed at his one job - to get Dr. Carson safely back to Maggie.
Things aren't going well at the Hilltop. Their supplies are running low, and everyone is on quarter-rations. Carol and Morgan have Henry on an unofficial lockdown, keeping an eye on him, and occasionally debating whether they should tell him about the truth of Benjamin's death. (Technically, it was a Savior who killed Benjamin, but it was Morgan who stabbed him to prevent reanimation.) Maggie's prisoners are getting restless. One just wants some time outside of their pen for good behavior. Maggie doesn't have the resources, and cuts off their rations. "My people come first."
Daryl's group finally arrives at the Hilltop. Carol is eager, and runs to him, a big smile on her face - until she notices the grim look on his face. There is no dialogue, but you can see Daryl say "Carl." Carol is speechless. Enid collapses in tears, and Maggie tries to console her. As everyone settles in, Henry asks how Carl died. "He was helping a stranger," Carol tells him. Morgan finally decides to tell Henry the "truth:" it was Gavin who killed Benjamin. "You got him," Morgan says, hoping it will put an end to Henry's pain. Siddiq thanks Maggie for her hospitality, and offers his help at the infirmary. This seems to bring about a change in Maggie. She returns to her prisoners, informing them that they will be taken out in pairs, under armed guard, and expected to work. They will also be given the same rations as everyone else. Gregory suggests they evacuate. Maggie barely has time to react. A call comes out: "Open the gates! It's Rick!"
Negan is upset with Eugene. Though he doesn't seem to know anything concrete, he blames him for letting Gabriel and Carson get away. As "punishment," Eugene is going to get his own outpost, to make bullets. Negan is basically banishing him. He promises he will have anything he needs, including some ladies from Negan's whorehouse. Eugene doesn't care and treats one who starts flirting with him like dirt. After Gabriel has been brought back to the Saviors, Negan takes him into Eugene's bullet workshop. Eugene is afraid that Gabriel will rat him out, but he is just there to be put to work. Negan is not happy to hear that production of bullets has slowed, so Eugene suggests launching pieces of the dead at Rick's group, more of a psychological attack than anything else. This gives Negan an idea.
Back at the Sanctuary, Negan holds court with a couple zombies tied to the fence behind him. He beats up a zombie with Lucille, making sure to drench his beloved bat with zombie blood and goo. His plan is basically biological warfare: dip their weapons into zombie guts and injure the Alexandrians, then let the zombie virus do its job.
This was another middling episode. Not terrible, but not particularly engaging. I am really tired of Gabriel's blind religious devotion, and the arguments that arise with those who don't believe in religion anymore. Tara's anger seems rote and trivial. That may just be because, for audiences, Denise's death happened over a year ago. For Tara, it was just a few days or weeks. (I have no idea what the timeline is in this show.) And while I give Negan credit for creative ways to wreak havoc, it doesn't seem like a very efficient way to kill the opposing army.