If you read my last post about the state of ‘The Walking Dead’, then you know that the current season 7 leaves a lot to be desired. I haven’t exactly been excited to watch the show’s midseason premiere, but I took the leap anyway and watched it when it aired yesterday on AMC. Prior to any spoilers, I can say one thing, I was pleasantly surprised.

They’ve come a long way since the season premiere, which after airing caused a strong decline in ratings. No surprise there since it was such an over-the-top, violent episode. To make matters worse, the episodes that followed weren’t exactly noteworthy, many focusing on a single character or storyline. With the exception of the opener, I myself have been fairly bored (and annoyed) thus far, but I think that’s all about to finally change.

First of all, Gregory is an idiot. He’s an idiot in the comic, and he’s even more of an idiot on the show. ‘The Walking Dead’ does a really good job portraying just how stupid Gregory is, and that’s basically where they kicked things off (aside from Gabriel’s weird departure). Talking from both sides of his mouth, Gregory refutes any possibility of The Hilltop joining in the fight against Negan and the Saviors.

As soon as Rick and company leave Gregory’s office and walk out the front door, however, they find everyone from The Hilltop waiting for them outside. Long story short, they (the people from The Hilltop) want to do whatever they can to help fight Negan, just so long as Rick and the gang think they can win; which, of course, they do.

King Ezekiel, on the other hand, isn’t so sure that war is the answer, so he decides to opt-out for the safety of The Kingdom. Still, he offers, to house Daryl since he has a target on his back ever since escaping being tortured by the Saviors. King Ezekiel tells Daryl, “You will be safe here, the Saviors do not step foot inside our walls.” Let’s be realistic for a moment, though, we all know that this arrangement won’t last. Eventually, the Saviors will find a reason to harm the people of The Kingdom however they want in order to maintain dominance and control.

Hopefully, while Daryl is staying at The Kingdom, he can talk some sense into King Ezekiel, who most assuredly has the best interest of his people in mind (even though he seems to be making bad decisions right now). My best guess for what’s going to happen is that Daryl, who already has some first-hand experience with Negan, is going to convince Morgan how necessary it is for them to defeat Negan and the Saviors. Then, Morgan is going to plea to King Ezekiel to join the fight, but then again, that may be wishful thinking. One way or another, though, The Kingdom is going to join Rick before all is said and done.

While all of this is going on, and in true character, Carol manages to threaten yet another child. Okay, it wasn’t all that serious, but these short clips of Carol that could fit in a Snapchat video are getting pretty old. Her story has gotten stale, which is unfortunate because she was my favorite character for the longest time. What happened?

Luckily, things get a little more interesting when the group finds some rigged dynamite. After investigating, it appears that the explosives were hooked up to a heavy-duty tripwire which led them to believe that they were meant for herds of walkers. Apparently, Rosita has some military experience because she ends up directing everyone as to how the dynamite should be disarmed. She also decides to leave one behind because she “didn’t like the look of that shit at all.” Good thing, too, it exploded, and as far as I can tell, that means the Saviors aren’t going to have any idea that anyone was there in the first place. It will look like the explosion was caused by a herd of walkers.

In typical ‘The Walking Dead’ fashion, they encounter a serious problem and have to improvise. As a herd of walkers closes in on them, Michonne and Rick hop into the two old, beat-up cars that were connected by the tripwire. Miraculously, the engines turn and the tanks are somehow still gassed up (TV is great). They proceed to ‘floor it’ whilst still connected by the strong metal cable, thus allowing them to mow down probably over a hundred walkers, cutting them all in half along the way. It was beautiful. It was majestic. It was epic. It was literally the singular reason why I left this episode with such high hopes for the show again. They gave us a glimpse of what we fell in love with, teamwork against the dead, and close calls.

The Saviors end up in Alexandria looking for Daryl, so naturally, they terrorize and harass everyone in the community. They don’t find Daryl, of course, but they make sure to tear the place apart before they leave. I’m appropriately anxious to see some of the Savior characters meet their end, and I have no doubt that it’s coming.

Everything ends when Rick and a small number of Alexandrians are surprised, and surrounded by, a new, unfamiliar group of people. Quite a large group, actually, and all of them with their weapons drawn and pointed at the good people of Alexandria. Rick smiles. Are these the soldiers he’s been looking for? Does he finally have the resources he needs to take on and defeat Negan and the Saviors? I don’t know the specifics, but I believe Rick is about to make some powerful new alliances. I’m actually looking forward to episode 10 now (New Best Friends), which airs next Sunday, February 19, 2017, at 8:00 PM, on AMC.