Looks like TWD really isn’t pulling any punches this season, and I’m definitely excited to see what’s coming next. The show has picked up the pace since the mid-season premiere and we haven’t had a dud yet… hopefully they won’t break the streak until the season finale (knock on wood)!

Even though the opening scene suggested we might get a filler episode this week, it was anything but. As soon as that RV full of supplies rolled in, we were in for an awesome ride. We even switched genres this week – from a dystopian horror/drama to a full-on action sequence, with plenty of character development thrown in, Not Tomorrow Yet was yet another stellar episode.

For one thing, Carol is back! She was absent throughout most of the season, aside from her head-to-head with Morgan, so it was definitely good to have her back, albeit in Martha Stewart mode. Acorn and beet cookies? Who knew! She’s even getting some action, although I do have to question Tobin’s pick up line. Badass warrior and inventive cook, yes. Mom to everyone in Alexandria? Really? Judging by the fate of poor Sam, she’s probably the worst mother figure in the history of the show.

However, am I the only one concerned that she may be off her game a little bit? As reassuring as it was to watch her go through her coded kill list in her diary with what looked like remorse, maybe I don’t want Carol to be in touch with her humanity just yet. The old Carol would have gone public with her Morgan story. At this point he’s a parasite in Alexandria, living off the others and not pulling his weight. If one of their most skilled fighters isn’t willing to contribute, then what use is he? Rosita was right to be pissed. None of them wanted to go on a murder spree, so why does Morgan get a break?

Still, by covering for him, she’s also covering for herself; that Wolf she killed was trying to help Denise, after all. Maybe she’s letting Morgan get to her? Whatever it is, she doesn’t seem 100%. The old Carol wouldn’t have allowed herself to get caught. She managed to evade the Termites, launch a one-woman attack on Terminus and single-handedly rescue her people a couple of seasons ago, but somehow she got herself and Maggie captured by a couple of Negan’s crew?

And why was Maggie even there? This makes as much sense as attacking Negan’s compound as soon as they did. Why the rush? Why not stake out the place a couple of nights, establish patterns, make sure there aren’t any more of Negan’s people in the perimeter? More to the point, why bring a pregnant woman along in the first place? Just because Maggie struck the deal with Gregory isn’t reason enough to put her in danger. It’s just as idiotic as expecting Deanna to fight off the walkers who came through the Alexandria walls just because she was their leader.

As for Gregory, how exactly did they manage to find not one, but three lookalike walkers with most of their faces intact so fast? I call bullshit on that one, especially since most walkers this season have been portrayed as severely decomposing and with not much flesh left on their bones. Ah, I’ll buy it just because watching Rick use the head as a punching bag and deliver yet another hilarious ‘what?’ afterwards was deliciously funny.

Also funny (and a pleasant surprise!), father Gabriel’s redemption – at last! Watching him turn from wimpy priest with questionable morals to badass warrior was a joy. And was the scripture-quoting kill a nod to Jules in Pulp Fiction? If so, well done, TWD writers. (Now if only Tarantino would stop with the westerns and make a glorious zombie movie that would be perfection. That Rodriguez-directed second part of Grindhouse was just awful).

I know it’s perverse of me to find so many elements of such a disturbing episode funny, but there were a few more that had me in stitches: one, the Hilltop dude’s awkward dialogue explaining Gregory’s mangled nose to the two guards. It helps that it was followed by a wonderfully choreographed stealth attack by our group.

Two, Abraham’s one liner about dingleberries. Alas, not even a funny line was enough to save him from being an absolute douche this week. I get how he’d want a clean break, and obviously he’s not the most subtle (or tactful) guy in the world, but dude, really? First of all, worst timing ever. Second, he didn’t even have the decency to have an actual conversation before packing his stuff? Third, we get it, he’s all about the Sasha love now, but the whole “I thought you were the last woman in the world. You aren’t” line was not just hurtful and stupid, it was downright cruel. He and Rosita had been steaming up the shower just the day before. Girl deserved an explanation and an apology. And four, god bless Eugene and his unfortunate choice of t-shirt. I was actually shocked Rosita didn’t go apeshit on him and his cookie.

Romance may be dead in Rosita’s case, but that wasn’t the case for Tara and Denise. Those two are cute together, but someone needs to tell the doc to make like Abraham and not procrastinate in the apocalypse. Tell Tara you love her back! You don’t know if you’ll have another day with her, let alone what happens in two weeks’ time!

And from budding romance to budding friendship, the writers and actors did a good job of driving the main point home: even though the decision was made, even though it was deemed necessary, killing people in cold blood should never be easy. It was hinted at when Carol tallied her victims, it was evident on Rick’s face when he plunged his knife into his first victim at the bunker, and it was discussed openly between Glenn and Heath, who have somehow made it through the apocalypse without having taken a human life. Glenn’s cherry was popped this week, and he graciously spared Heath the horror of murdering a sleeping man, albeit a sociopath who keeps collages of snuff polaroids.

By the way, even though it’s only normal to give the newer characters more screen time, it just makes me anxious about the original group; does this mean we should be prepared to lose one or more of them? Probably, so I guess the only question is who. The fact that Maggie and Carol are now captured only make me worry more about the fate of Daryl and Glenn. Also, the fact that Abraham was probably the least likable character of the episode makes me worry less about his potential demise, unless they develop his storyline with Sasha enough by the end of the season.

Which brings me to the epic firefight at the compound: it was like a scene straight out of classic action hero movies, and I loved every minute of it. I fully expected the group to be surrounded by Negan’s people when they emerged victorious at dawn, but the reappearance of Daryl’s bike was a nice touch. So does this mean this place was just the drop off point or a bunker of sorts for some of Negan’s crew and his actual compound is elsewhere, full of yet more trained and heavily armed fighters? How many people are actually in his ‘army’? It looked like our group took care of quite a few of them this week, so if this was just a small sample of the Negan camp population, maybe Rick and co. really have bitten off more than they can chew.

Also, what is Morgan welding? If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say he’s taking yet another cue from Eastman and building a jail cell. You know, just in case the Rick et al bring someone back alive?

So many questions. If Negan won’t show up until the season finale, where does this leave our group for the next 3 episodes? Are we losing someone soon, or will Negan’s people try to strike a deal similar to the one they had with Hilltop and keep Maggie and Carol are collateral until the big show-down in the finale? Did the Alexandrians kill enough of Negan’s men to weaken his position? We’ve already met a couple of not-too-willing followers of his back when they stole Daryl’s stuff. Are there more like them wherever Negan’s main compound is, and how much of a threat are they?