After the last two pulse-pounder eps this one starts with a pastoral montage of the monotony of safety in Alexandria: changing of the guard, checking the pantry, patrolling the wall and what not. Carol is still finding solace in religion, counting the rosary while seemingly advancing her romance with Tobin. Morgan's DIY project is revealed - a prison cell, because THAT worked out so well for him before! Rosita has drifted into bed with Spencer, in response to her brutal dumping at the hands of Abraham. Daryl works on the bike he retrieved from the Saviors, and admits to Carol that he should have killed Dwight and the others in the burned forest rather than help them. Carol sighs and reluctantly agrees.
Dr. Denise has decided in her infinite wisdom that being the only doctor in A town isn't enough, that she MUST go out on a run to an apothecary nearby to retrieve needed drugs for the community. What follows is a series of VERY dumb decisions made by Denise, Daryl, and Rosita. Denise insists that she go along on the run, because she needs to ID the drugs that need to be taken. Even though Daryl and Rosita tell her she is not battle tested enough to go out on runs she refuses to back down. So they agree to babysit her. DUMB. Any rational thinking person would just send Daryl and Rosita to the location, take EVERYTHING, and sort it out back in A town. But this is a fundamental weakness of the show, which is very frustrating to me. Human life should be precious with so many threats both living and dead, yet the strong characters continually put the weak characters in danger. I presume it is to set up 'shocking' deaths to keep the Twitter stream flowing. It is weak and manipulative storytelling IMO. We all know where this is headed now, don't we? (sigh)
The B side of the ep involves another weak character feeling his oats. That would be Eugene, who is trying to change from 'business in the front, party in the back' to all business, even pulling the mullet back into a ponytail. What's next, a rat-tail? We can only hope! He's out on a run with new partner Abe, since Sasha ditched Abe for sniper duty.
Eugene takes Abe to an abandoned metal shop for his next attempt to contribute to the group. And what would that be, you ask? Well Eugene wants to make bullets from scratch to keep the arsenal stocked, much to Abe's delight- because you can never have enough bullets! A walker invades, and Eugene calls dibs on killing this one. Problem is the walker's head is covered in lead, so icing him is difficult.
After a series of failed attempts by Eugene to kill the walker, Abe steps in and does the deed. Eugene is none too happy, and lets Abe have it - 'I called dibs!'. Abe is incredulous, dropping the classic line 'You had a better chance of picking up a turd by the clean end' than killing the walker. Eugene erupts, telling Abe that his protection services are 'no longer required'. Abe reacts as he is wont to do-he storms out and leaves Eugene alone. Again, the strong character compounds the dumb decision by Eugene and leaves, putting the weak character in mortal danger - total manipulation.
Back to the other story line. Denise is exploring the apothecary, and finds a key-chain with the name Dennis (presumably the name of her lost brother). Further in she comes upon locked room with a walker and a drowned baby in a sink, and the word HUSH smeared repeatedly on the wall. She predictably freaks and flees the building. They make it out, and on the way back to camp comes ANOTHER dumb decision made by Denise. She spies a cooler inside a car with a walker and decides she wants the cooler. Even though Daryl and Rosita tell her it's a terrible idea she does it anyway, putting all of them in danger. And for what? A can of orange soda for her sweetie Tara - well that's worth endangering everyone's life, right?
What follows is a Denise lecture on what's important, and now comes the payoff for all the manipulation - an arrow flies into frame and impales Denise through her eye (what is it about people losing eyes on this show?).
The death is shocking, but sadly it was telegraphed from the very beginning. That is another flaw in the show structure - we know from the beginning of each episode who is the focus, and therefore who is most likely to die. Death is the only plot device that the producers seem to want to utilize - it has become, in Eugene's words, 'The coin of the realm'.
The arrow came from Daryl's stolen crossbow, wielded by Dwight. the man Daryl saved. And what became of Eugene? Well he was taken captive by Dwight's crew (of course).
In keeping with Negan's philosophy, a person (in this case Denise) is immediately killed, followed by a 'negotiation'.
Dwight demands that Daryl and Rosita lead them back to A town and let them take whatever they want or Eugene, then Rosita, then Daryl take a dirt nap. Eugene sees Abe hiding in the background, and devises a strategy. He tells the Saviors that someone (Abe) is lurking, and Dwight sends his minions out to investigate.
This leads to the WTF moment of the season so far. While Dwight is distracted, Eugene turns and clamps his choppers down on Dwight's, uh, nether region! In the ensuing chaos Daryl, Rosita, and Abe get the better of the Saviors, as Eugene keeps a chompin'. Half of the Saviors are killed, and Dwight retreats with the ones left alive. Eugene is grazed by a bullet, and the crew hurriedly takes him back to camp.
Back in A town Eugene gets his wound taken care of, and Abe ambles over to Sasha's crib. He tells her he's made his choice, and now she needs to make hers. She smiles and invites Abe in.
Daryl and Carol bury Denise, and Carol sadly tells Daryl that she knows that killing humans is the new normal. Cut to Tobin as he reads a note from Carol. Her crisis of conscience has reached it's boiling point. She has concluded that she can no longer kill humans, even if it means protecting those she cares about. So Carol's gone.
The ep ends with Morgan plaintively staring at Carol's empty porch, while behind him carts of weapons are being moved for the inevitable war to come. My guess is that Morgan will find Carol and maybe a bond will form between the two.