Two lives are left hanging in the balance after Carol goes too far ... again.
While it's been three months since "The Walking Dead" mid-season finale left us all wondering how the hell Carol, Daryl and the rest of the gang would escape from a cave full of walkers, no time has passed for them -- and they were just as screwed as we left them at the top of Sunday night's premiere.
Most of the action this week followed Carol, Daryl, Connie, Kelly, Magna, Aaron and Jerry as they -- or, most of them, at least -- made their big escape.
Right off the bat, Magna was pissed at Carol for getting them into this mess -- as Carol was the one who booked it into the cave after Alpha, in a rage for revenge. Daryl wasn't too happy with it either, pleading with Carol to let him be a sounding board for her problems, before she gets more people hurt with her wild and reckless antics.
"I don't wanna just kill Alpha, I want to hurt her. I want her to beg for forgiveness, then I want to kill," Carol told him, as he agreed he'd be just as angry if he were in her shoes. That being said, he knew Carol would be able to talk him off the ledge and he hoped he could do the same for her.
After jumping across the zombie-filled ravine on a number of conveniently placed rocks, the group found a narrow tunnel up. In the episode's most intense moment, they all crawled their way through it, with walkers on their tail. At one point, Jerry got stuck, zombies biting at his feet as he threw off his supplies and eventually wiggled his way out. He was hyperventilating, we were hyperventilating. Thankfully, the walker teeth didn't break through his shoes.
The tunnel came out directly above the pit of the undead and -- again very conveniently -- led them to a mine shaft with old, unexploded dynamite in it. As Kelly made her way out of the shaft and into the sunlight, Carol grabbed a stick of dynamite and ran back for the horde.
While Daryl saved her from falling into the pit, he couldn't stop her from making one last go at the dynamite, which exploded below them after she dropped it. Connie, who clearly has a thing for Daryl, doubled back to help -- with Magna joining her. While Daryl, Carol, Jerry, Aaron and Kelly all made it out of the tunnel, Magna and Connie weren't as lucky. The ground collapsed from above, trapping them inside.
The question now: are they still alive?
Daryl made it clear he's going on a mission to find another way into the cave system to look for them, breaking away from the rest of the group. This sure feels like the show's way of saying they aren't dead yet and to keep hope alive. It would be a shame to not see Daryl and Connie have a real romance, while Magna and Yumiko really haven't had much time to shine -- it really just doesn't feel like the end for them.
That being said, the situation certainly isn't going to help things between Daryl and Carol, who will hopefully see this as one helluva wakeup call and not push her completely over the edge.
And what about all those walkers? Is Alpha's horde gone for good?
Speaking of Alpha, over in her neck in the woods, the Whisperer leader realized she's got a spy in her camp. While she sent Gamma to let the "eyes around the border" know they failed their leader, Negan noticed how squirrelly #3 has been acting and told Alpha she's the one to watch out for.
Though Negan spoke from experience as the failed leader of the Saviors, it's clear Alpha doesn't like being told what to do. Holding a knife to Negan's crotch, she admonished him for speaking out of turn, but also took him up on his advice.
Later, after sicking Beta on Gamma, Alpha brought Negan to a field and told him to strip. He did, only to turn around and find Alpha also standing nude before him -- with her skin mask still on. "You're a crass man, I reckon you might appreciate a crass reward," she said to him, before telling him how much "courage" it took to share his concerns about Gamma.
Her sign of appreciation: a roll in the proverbial hay, while she rocked someone else's dead, decayed flesh on her face. Ah, romance!
Will these two become a real power couple or will Negan eventually turn on her? And what will happen to Gamma if Beta finds her?
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays on AMC.