*Spoilers below for anyone who isn’t all caught up with The Walking Dead Season 8. *
One scene in “Do Not Send Us Astray” saw Maggie and Rick standing next to each other in mid-battle, both spraying bullets in the Saviors’ direction, and in that moment, Maggie looked ready to burn the world down with her normally closeted rage. But while she rode an anger high for most of the episode, things ended on a far more subdued note, with Maggie coming to grips with how dangerous and deadly her idealized goal to kill Negan has been. As such, it could very well be Maggie’ conscience-bound morals, and not Carl’s influence, that will close out the All Out War.
After the events of Season 8’s mid-year premiere, it seemed as if Carl’s death-by-accident would be the giant kick in the ass that Rick needed to be drawn out of his Savior-eliminating mission. That Rick might look at Siddiq and see a beacon of hope and change, rather than a breathing memento of the day Carl died. But one of the first things Rick did after that tragedy was attempt to loop Jadis back into the fight, and he soon after denied her any help, because her lack of an army made her useless to him. And he then impulsively tried to take Negan out with a vehicular attack. These are not the moves made by someone seeking peaceful resolutions.
More to the point, Rick made it clear in “Do Not Lead Us Astray” that he attempted his botched assassination attempt on Negan as a favor to Maggie, who was truly grateful for his efforts. It became all the more clear that Rick isn’t necessarily capable of letting his mercy prevail over his wrath, because it isn’t just his own wrath that he’s aiming to squash. In some ways, he continues bringing the fight to the Saviors as a way to provide justice for everyone who’s lost loved ones to the dreaded villains. Not that it works very often, but that particular sense of dedication is perhaps a telling sign that Rick can never be the person to usher in harmonious outcomes.
Since Rick is so often on the offensive, he isn’t always faced with the brutal and irreversible consequences of the myriad attacks that go down in this world, and being forced out of Alexandria took him away from the still relatively fresh graves that this War was built atop. But within the still-standing walls of the Hilltop, Maggie has received and appears to have accepted a much bigger reality check than Rick is used to. Because of this big battle, she saw to the interment of a slew of Saviors and Hilltop citizens, and then had to deal with a host of new corpses after the Saviors’ weapon plan turned numerous heroes into walkers far quicker than expected.
As bothered as Maggie was by all the dead bodies on her doorstep and beyond, one might have thought a have dose of compliments would soothe her, but no. For each person that remarked about how great of a leader Maggie is, she took another step back to view the entire situation from a Big Picture vantage point, and realized that her leadership is not as humane and selfless as it could (and arguably should) be.
And if Maggie needed any further elements to convince her that having mercy on her enemies could be a saving grace, the seemingly reformed Savior prisoners might push her over the tipping point. She was already invested in Alden’s well-being, despite her best efforts not to be, and after seeing him and others choosing to keep the Hilltop gates intact instead of escaping, Maggie likely refreshed her formerly held belief that not all bad people remain bad people forever.
So does that mean Negan, Simon, Dwight and all the other Saviors are completely safe from facing Maggie’s red-faced rage during the rest of Season 8? Not a chance, since there will likely be more dead bodies piling up before the end gets here. But when the dust does finally settle, I fully expect for Maggie’s ideas and actions to be the reasons for such settling to occur. And I fully expect for Georgie to return at a point when things are indeed back to normal, and phonographs can be enjoyed in full.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. Check out all the episode’s biggest ramifications and then head to our midseason premiere schedule to see all the new and returning shows on the way.