In “Not Tomorrow Yet,” the attack on the Saviors is discussed, planned, and carried out. The moral quandary of killing other humans hangs heavy throughout the episode. The assault is not without its complications, and the capture of Maggie and Carol throws a wrench into what had initially appeared to be a very successful attack. In “Not Tomorrow Yet,” The Walking Dead gives us an action-packed episode that also manages to be very emotional and thought-provoking.
“Not Tomorrow Yet” gives us lots of Carol. How we’ve missed her. We see Carol collecting acorns, baking, and delivering beet and acorn cookies throughout Alexandria, while “Weeds or Wild Flowers” by Parsonfield plays in the background. It turns out that Tobin is a fan of Carol and her cookies. Carol shows her strength of spirit with her cookie baking as she copes with her feelings of loss and guilt by focusing on the task at hand and doing something for others.
Rick and his companions return to Alexandria with an RV full of food and supplies from the Hilltop. Rick tells Sasha to call everyone for a meeting. When he tells Carol “We’re gonna have to fight,” she looks tired. She’s willing to do what she needs to in order to protect the community, but it’s taking a toll on her.
As Carol hands out cookies, Morgan approaches her, pointing out that it’s been weeks since they talked. He wants to know why Carol didn’t tell Rick about the Wolf he captured. She wants to move past it, but Morgan is concerned that by keeping his secret that she’s carrying the guilt of what happened. He doesn’t realize that she also carries the burden of seeing that the Wolf had begun to change, just before she killed him. Morgan expresses the concern that by not telling anyone, “It’s kind of like you did it too.” She harshly denies this, turning to walk past Sam’s grave, where she’s left a cookie.
We’re suddenly hit by the sadness of Sam’s death, as well as the guilt carried by Carol. Not everyone was a Sam fan, but we loved him from the moment he realized Carol could protect his family from an abusive patriarch. Also, he was just a scared little boy, which makes his death that much more heartbreaking. It’s the first moment since “No Way Out” The Walking Dead has provided a moment to mourn someone from the Anderson family.
Rick calls a meeting and we’re surprised to see how few people are there. We count 22 Alexandrians at the meeting, plus Jesus and Andy from the Hilltop. Is that all the people left in Alexandria, with a handful more out keeping watch? Or are most of the residents just not up for a meeting? Rick explains that in return for the food and supplies they received from the Hilltop, they agreed to kill Negan and the Saviors. As Rick points out that the Saviors would’ve eventually come for Alexandria, we see Tobin nodding. It seems that what’s left of Alexandria has pretty much come to embrace Rick’s philosophy. Not even Father Gabriel has an objection.
Predictably, it’s Morgan who expresses dissent, suggesting that they try to talk to the Saviors before taking the extreme action of killing everyone. Morgan points out, “Where there’s life, there’s possibility.” Morgan doesn’t get any support for his viewpoint. Aaron says, “What happened here, we won’t let that happen again. I won’t.” Rick decides that it’s settled and tells everyone, “We know what this is. We don’t shy from it. We live. We kill them all. We don’t all have to kill, but if people are going to stay here, they have to accept it.”
At home later that night, Carol is making a list of all the people she’s killed—she figures that there are 18 people who’ve died at her hand. Her list includes:
- Ryan Samuels, Lizzie and Mika’s dad, whom she killed out of mercy when he was close to death from the prison flu.
- Karen and David, whom she killed with the intention to protect others at the prison from the influenza epidemic.
- Lizzie, whom she told to “look at the flowers” when she realized Lizzie was too mentally unbalanced for this world after the girl killed her sister Mika.
- Three people in the courtyard at Terminus.
- Four people inside Terminus, including Terminus founder Mary, whom Carol killed in the memorial room that was filled with candles.
- Seven wolves during the attack on Alexandria.
Carol’s guilt keeps her awake and she goes for a walk. She stops to share her cigarette with Tobin, who can’t sleep either. Tobin says he’s not going on the raid, but he assumes Carol is going. He talks about Carol’s strength as a mother.
Tobin: “You can do things that just terrify me.”
Carol: “How? How do you think I do those things?”
Tobin: “You’re a mom.”
Carol: “I was.”
Tobin: “You are. It’s not the cookies or the smiles. It’s the hard stuff. The scary stuff. It’s how you can do it. It’s strength. You’re a mom to most of the people here.
Carol: “To you too?”
Tobin: “No. You’re something else to me.”
Carol gives Tobin a kiss and points out that it’s not tomorrow yet. Carol and Tobin—that feels like a good thing.
Maggie and Glenn are also feeling conflicted about the upcoming attack on the Saviors. Glenn wants Maggie to stay back in Alexandria, but she tells him, “It wasn’t my idea, but I led us into this. I have to come.” Seems like a bad idea. At what point do Maggie and Glenn put their baby ahead of the community?
Abraham is packing his stuff. He tells Rosita that he’s leaving her, and he does it badly. She is taken completely by surprise by his break-up. When she asks why, he responds with one of his unusual expressions, telling Rosita, “Why are dingleberries brown? That’s just they way shit is.” When she demands a real explanation, he tells her, “When I first met you I thought you were the last woman on earth. You’re not.” Not great, Abraham. After Abraham leaves, Rosita finds Eugene standing outside the door eating a cookie. He begins to tell Rosita how chewy the cookies are and she shuts the door on him. Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita have traveled together for a long time, but Abraham is breaking up the band, leaving Rosita behind with Eugene.
Denise asks Tara if she’s worried. Tara avoids a direct response to her question. Instead Tara tells Denise that she loves her, but assures Denise she doesn’t have to say it back. Tara will be going on the Savior attack, then leaving directly from there to go on a two-week run with Heath. To show her faith that Tara will come back, Denise decides not to declare her love until Tara returns.
They’ve driven to a point outside the Saviors’ compound where they prepare for their attack. Carol, Rick, Maggie, Glenn, Heath, Sasha, Tara, Rosita, Abraham, Aaron, Michonne, Sasha, Father Gabriel, Jesus, and Andy have all come to take part in the assault. That could be like half of Alexandria for all we know.
Father Gabriel has joined the raid. He tells Rick, “I wanted to learn. You taught me for a reason.” When Rick asks why he continues to wear his cleric’s garb, Father Gabriel explains that it’s part of who he is, and it provides useful camouflage at night. What’s with all the humanizing of Father Gabriel? Who will we vilify at Alexandria if he becomes likable?
Rosita talks to Carol about Morgan’s objection to the attack on the Saviors. Having recently pondered her own feelings about killing people, Carol is sympathetic to Morgan’s stance. She points out that Morgan just doesn’t want to kill anyone. Rosita responds, “We don’t want to kill. We don’t like it. It happens.”
What happens when no one wants to do the hard work that keeps everyone alive? The alternative question, which Morgan poses, is whether or not this is the only path they have to safety. Preemptively attacking and killing other groups of survivors is a big leap from defending yourself. They’re definitely crossing a line. Mercenary work in exchange for food and supplies, even with the justification of a preemptive strike, falls somewhere on a continuum to leads to Gareth’s defense of cannibalism.
Glenn and Heath have the job of finding a walker whose head they can make to look like Gregory. Yuck. Heath and Glenn are dreading the attack on the Saviors. Hard as it is to believe, neither has had to kill a living person yet, as they’ve both been “lucky” so far.
Carol confronts Rick about Maggie being part of the attack. When Rick points out it was Maggie’s choice, Carol tells him that Maggie never should’ve been out there in the first place.
She decides to stay back at the RV along with Maggie. It’s not clear if Carol’s goal is strictly to keep Maggie safe, or if she also hopes to avoid adding more bodies to her list.
Andy and Jesus are examining the heads brought by Glenn and Heath. Gregory’s nose is a different shape, so Rick punches the decapitated head. Andy tells him, “The Saviors—they’re scary, but, those pricks got nothin’ on you.”
Attack on the Saviors
That night, Andy arrives at the Saviors’ compound with the decapitated head. The guards come out to greet him and check out the head. One guard is easily convinced, while the other is more skeptical initially. When one of the guards goes inside to get the captive Craig, Daryl slits the throat of the other. They drag the body away and hide. When the other guard comes back out with Craig they kill him as well. Michonne, Rick, Daryl, Aaron, Abraham, Sasha, Rosita, Heath, and Glenn head inside for the culling.
They find a man sleeping whom Rick kills with a knife to the head before he even wakes. That’s cold. Heath and Glenn find two more sleeping men in a different room. They’re not as emotionless about the whole thing as Rick. Glenn cries as he stabs the first man in his sleep. Heath stands reluctantly with a knife over the second man’s head, but Glenn comes over and does it for him. These guys sleep heavy—real heavy. On the wall above the bed, they see a series of Polaroids of people with their heads bashed in, which seems to affirm that these are some bad dudes. Perhaps Glenn and Heath shouldn’t feel too badly about killing these guys.
Andy, Jesus, Tara, Father Gabriel, and the newly freed captive Craig are out in the car. When Tara asks Father Gabriel if he’s still a priest, he tells her that Rick and Carl trained him so he could contribute, but he’s still a priest. Rosita confesses that she wasn’t honest with Denise about her fears, but she was honest about loving her. Jesus tells her, “So you know what you’re fighting for.”
Abraham and Sasha find a locked door, but a sleepy man surprises them in the hallway. Though Sasha stabs him in the stomach several times (why not the head?), he has enough time to hit the alarm that goes off throughout the compound.
Carol and Maggie hear the alarm. Maggie begins to run towards the compound, but Carol stops her. Carol tells her, “You’re supposed to be someone else.” Maggie is insistent the others need their help, but Carol physically blocks her, telling Maggie, “You’re staying here.”
Tara hears the alarm and tells Jesus that they need to get Craig back to the Hilltop because she wants to ensure they keep up their end of the deal with the Hilltop. Jesus tells Andy to take Craig back and he joins Tara and Gabriel for the fight. Tara is worried about the Saviors seeing Jesus, since they know he’s part of Hilltop, but he covers his face.
Inside, Aaron kills a man, then says, “If it wasn’t us, it was going to be you.” Sounds like Aaron is working through his own guilt.
Outside, Tara and Gabriel kill the Saviors who come running out of the building. Gabriel holds his gun on a man who has made his way outside. The man asks the priest if he’s going to kill him, and Gabriel begins to recite John 14:2 over the man:
“Let not your heart be troubled. In my father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would’ve told you. I go prepare a place for you.”
As Gabriel prays, the man warns, “You’re all dead. Blood’s coming.” Gabriel finishes his verse and shoots the man. He adds, “Amen.” It seems like Father Gabriel has turned some kind of corner, and we like it.
Heath and Glenn fall back into the weapons room, continuing to shoot through the closed door at the advancing party. They stop shooting and it’s quiet. When they open the door they see four bodies lying in the hallway. One man is still alive, but before he can shoot, Jesus kills him. Jesus says, “This is the next world,” a callback to his initial meeting with Daryl and Rick in “The Next World.”
By the time Rick and the others make it into the interior of the Saviors’ compound, the sun is rising. The courtyard appears empty and for a moment we believe they’ve succeeded with no casualties of their own. But we should’ve known The Walking Dead would never give us such a victory.
Heath leaves with Tara for their two-week run. They take one of the Saviors’ vehicles, which seems like a foolish idea in case they end up captured by some escaped Saviors. But perhaps they’re confident the Saviors are all dead.
Michonne wants to know which one of them was Negan. Just then a man tries to escape on a motorcycle, but Daryl stops him. He yells at the man, asking where he got the motorcycle, because it turns out to be Daryl’s stolen bike. Let’s hope he’s reunited with his crossbow soon as well. As they hold a gun on the man, they hear a voice on his radio telling them to lower their weapons. It turns out that some of the Saviors escaped into the woods and they’ve captured Carol and Maggie. So much for Carol’s plan to keep Maggie safe.
“Not Tomorrow Yet” gave us some of what makes The Walking Dead such a beloved show. The story was filled with great characters who struggle with impossible choices in a dangerous world. The first half of the episode showed the moral quandaries that both the community and the individual characters faced, while the second half was exciting and suspenseful. Melissa McBride, Lennie James, and Steven Yeun provided outstanding performances. Director Greg Nicotero helped make “Not Tomorrow Yet” an immersive and emotional episode.
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