The Walking Dead has been building to the confrontation with Negan's Saviors since the midseason premiere. "Not Tomorrow Yet" has the dramatic showdown, but the results are decidedly negative for the Alexandrians. Tensions during the episode rise as multiple characters cement new relationships while ending others. You get the ominous feeling that the producers are softening up the audience for a major blow.
The episode begins with Carol (Melissa Suzanne McBride) baking cookies to lift everyone's spirits. She dutifully hands out Tupperware with beet and acorn cookies, stopping to place one on young Sam's (Major Dodson), grave. Morgan (Lennie James) approaches her. Carol has not told Rick (Andrew Lincoln) or the others about Morgan hiding the leader of The Wolves. She's also convinced Rosita (Christian Serratos), Tara (Alanna Masterson), and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) to keep quiet. Morgan implores her to speak the truth, accepting his fate, but she shuns him.
Rick and the group that went to the Hilltop Colony returns. He holds a meeting with everyone at the church and explains the deal that was made. They get rid of Negan and the Saviors, strike first, secure themselves and a desperately needed food source for Alexandria. Morgan, whose always seeking the path of nonviolence, begs the group to talk to them first. Aaron (Ross Marquand) emphatically states that he will never allow Alexandria to be attacked again. Rick refuses to give up the element of surprise. The plan is a go to kill the Saviors.
The B-plot of Not Tomorrow Yet is almost like a soap opera. Carol has gotten friendly with Tobin (Jason Douglas). They kiss after he calls her the town's 'mom'. Hot stuff indeed. Then we have Tara expressing her love to Denise (Merritt Wever). She's going on a two week supply run after the raid on the Saviors. The coldest turn of the episode is Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) walking out on Rosita. Devastated, she asks why. His response, "When we first met I thought you were the only woman on earth...you're not." Ouch!
Jesus (Tom Payne) and his fellow Hilltop Colony cohort have surprisingly little information on the Saviors compound. They sketch a crude map while Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus) hammer out a plan. Once again the specter of hubris, overconfidence, takes over the group. Daryl and Rick have such faith in the group's abilities, the audience can already sense that all will not go according to plan. A fascinating scene has Carol filling in a list of her human kills. She has her body count at eighteen. Shows how much of a badass Carol really is, I thought this was a low number.
Maggie (Lauren Cohan) accompanies the group on the raid. Carol chides Rick for allowing her to come along while pregnant. Rick decries that she made the Hilltop deal and wants to see this through. He comes up with a ruse to gain access to the Saviors at night. The team kills and beheads a walker that looks like Gregory (Xander Berkeley). This was the payment the Saviors demanded. Rick even smashes the face in to make it less recognizable to the guards. The Hilltop Colonists on the mission are aghast at Rick's brutality.
The team makes it to the Saviors compound that night, leaving Maggie and Carol behind as cover. The severed head trick works. They kill the guards, rescue the captured colonist, and then stealthily make their way through the building. They go room by room, stabbing the sleeping Saviors in the head. Glenn (Steven Yeun) weeps as he dispatches his victims. His gaze turning to a wall, where pictures of smashed faces are lined up like trophies. This is a nod to Negan's favorite method of dispatching people via a baseball bat. I sincerely hope this scene is not alluding to Glenn's fate.
The silent take down of the Saviors end. One of them escapes from Abraham and pulls a fire alarm. It's a maelstrom of bullets as the Alexandrians methodically wipe out the remaining Saviors. Even Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) lays down some lead while spouting bible verse. It seems that Carl's (Chandler Riggs) training of the priest has finally paid off. A distance away, Maggie and Carol hear the alarm. Maggie's efforts to join the battle are shut down by Carol. They stay put as the fracas continues.
Dawn breaks with the Alexandrians victorious. Michonne (Danai Gurira) is concerned. Which one of these guys was Negan? The reverie is interrupted as a Savior attempts to escape on Daryl's long stolen motorcycle. They knock him down. But as Rick is about to deliver judgement, his walkie talkie screeches to life. A female voice dictates that they all drop their weapons. The Saviors have Carol and Maggie.
The look of dread and shock on Glenn's face sums up the climax. The Alexandrians had known that they would pay a price for being on offense. Carol and Maggie are now hostages. That doesn't mean they're doomed, but it's looking quite apparent that the Saviors are about to strike back. "Not Tomorrow Yet" had its tender moments and a harsh break-up. But we still haven't seen a whiff of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan. The emotional weight of the group's actions are about to become an anchor. Someone near and dear to our hearts looks to be on the receiving end of Negan's pinewood retribution.