With Negan MIA, his plan to infect the Hilltop proceeds as planned ... only with a lot more casualties.
The people of the Hilltop got a rude awakening on Sunday night's episode of "The Walking Dead," when Negan's plan to infect the community with walker sickness was put into motion. Though the Big Bad had only wanted to take out a few of the survivors to send a message, his absence left Simon leading the charge instead, with devastating consequences.
By the hour's end, there was another major power shift between the Saviors and Team Rick, with both sides losing quite a few members to the army of the undead.
Here are the 3 most shocking developments from "Do Not Send Us Astray":
RIP Half of Hilltop
Most of the action tonight revolved around the Savior's siege on Hilltop. As we mentioned above, Negan only wanted to infect a few of Maggie's followers with their walker gut-covered weapons to get them back in line. But when he disappeared, Simon took control of the operation and made it about pure annihilation instead -- vowing to wipe out the entire community in revenge.
"You and you people are going to have to pay," Simon proclaimed to Maggie when they arrived at Hilltop. Maggie attempted to talk him down by reminding Simon she had 38 Saviors captive, but he didn't care. "The Saviors you're in possession of up there are damaged goods ... screw them," he said. Alden, the hot Savior whose name we now know, heard that and wasn't too thrilled. More on that later, though.
Despite Dwight trying to talk Simon down from his total annihilation plan, the Saviors attacked and the fight quickly escalated. Using poisoned arrows and other infected weapons, they went in hard against the community. The Hilltop, however, was ready to fight back and eventually pushed them to retreat. Unfortunately, the damage was done -- but the Hilltop survivors wouldn't know it for a few hours.
In the downtime after the battle, Carol reconnected with Tobin, the guy she dumped with a goodbye note before leaving Alexandria. She confessed part of the reason she left was because she was starting to have real feelings for him and wanted to get out before anyone got hurt, literally and figuratively. They debated why they're fighting groups like the Saviors, with Tobin saying it was for the "end of the fight." Carol's pessimistic view: "Living just means we get tomorrow. Maybe one more night. Maybe one more morning. After that, no guarantees."
For Tobin, those words couldn't have rung more true. In the middle of the night, he succumbed to the infected wound he sustained in battle ... and he wasn't alone. Freshly-turned walkers woke up all over the Hilltop and had a sleeping buffet ready for them. Dana, the doctor of the community, was also one of the many late night snacks.
In the end, Carol was the one who had to put Tobin down, and though it's unclear how many others were killed, it was clearly more than Negan had planned.
Henry Accidentally Saves the Saviors
Just as walkers were starting to get the munchies, Henry kicked off a plan of his own. The kid, still out for revenge on whoever killed his brother Benjamin, stole a rifle earlier in the day and brought it to the Savior pen in the middle of the night.
First, he woke up Gregory, asking if he knew which of the bad guys killed his sibling. Then Alden tried to talk him down, to no avail. "Somebody better tell me now," Henry said, pointing the rifle, "Be a man, step forward so I don't have to kill your friends."
Just as he was about to shoot, one of the Savior prisoners turned and attacked. Henry dropped the gun in the scuffle and Jared got a hold of it instead. Gun in hand, he and a huge group of the Saviors -- and Gregory -- escaped. Good job, Henry.
It's worth noting a handful of Negan's followers stay behind though, including Alden. He was seen later helping Siddiq kill the walkers who turned overnight and told Maggie, "You saw what we mean to Negan and Simon. Those of us that stayed, stayed, we had plenty of chances to run."
So, while Hilltop did lose quite a few people in the battle, they also gained numbers in the war. Having a few additional soldiers who know the ins and outs of Savior behavior can't hurt, right? Especially with Dwight on the outs right now.
Which brings us to ...
The Fight Over Dwight
It's pretty clear to viewers that Dwight doesn't want anything to do with Simon, and seems to only be following him to 1.) stay alive and 2.) thwart his plans from the inside. Too bad all the survivors don't see it that way.
During the skirmish, Simon nearly nicked Tara with his infected axe, but didn't get the chance after Dwight first shot her in the back with an arrow. Daryl saw it all happen and thought Dwight tried to kill her, while Tara saw it as Dwight saving her from certain death at the hands of Simon.
But, when it was later revealed that all the weapons the Saviors used were poisoned, Tara's mind turned -- and thought it was karma getting back at her for trying to kill him when he just wanted to be one of them. We don't think Dwight's arrows were actually tainted, but only time will tell, as the episode ended before viewers got to see whether Tara wound up getting sick.
Other Moments of Mention
Morgan is clearly going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs again, seeing dead Gavin pop up multiple times this episode. "You know what it is. You were supposed to. You were supposed to!" the dead Savior kept repeating to him. Will Lennie James' character be able to shake it off again, or could he isolate himself from the group for their protection, in a move that could be what brings him to "Fear the Walking Dead" for that show's fourth season?
- Looks like Carl made the right move trying to save Siddiq, since he became the lead doctor of Hilltop after Doctor Dana became a midnight treat. Though he's only done a few surgeries, he's the best they've got right now -- and even Rick got to see him in action, and left him to it.
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays on AMC.