The Walking Dead mid-season premiere finally has our heroes back on offense. Rock in the Road is the official start of the rebellion against the Saviors. The episode begins with Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) on watch. He makes his security rounds through the dark streets. Suddenly we see him nervous and hurried. He goes to the pantry, collects all of the remaining food and weapons. He fuels a car. As he gets in to drive away, a shadowy figure pops up in the passenger seat. This unseen culprit owned the boat looted by Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Aaron (Ross Marquand). He's taken revenge and a captive.

At the Hilltop, Rick tries to convince Gregory (Xander Berkeley) to join him against the Saviors. His cowardice holds true. Gregory isn't lifting a finger to help them. He tells them to leave through the back. This meeting never happened. On their way out, several Hilltop colonists approach Maggie (Lauren Cohan). Enid (Katelyn Nacon) has rallied them to the cause. They want to learn to fight, but the Alexandrians are still vastly outnumbered. Jesus (Tom Payne) says it's time to meet King Ezekiel (Khary Payton).

Jesus takes them to the Kingdom. The Alexandrians marvel at the numbers and relative safety inside the Kingdom. They are stunned to find Morgan (Lennie James) there. He tells them that Carol (Melissa McBride) is safe, but still remains a recluse. Ezekiel is angry that Jesus has told Rick of the deal with the Saviors. Rick tells Ezekiel the fable of the rock in the road. The King is not impressed. He asks for Morgan's opinion. True to form, Morgan doesn't want a war. He thinks they might be able to win by just taking out Negan. Ezekiel decides to sleep on the matter.

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Young Ben (Tyler Chase) goes out into the woods alone. He stumbles upon Carol, who chastises him for being out so late by himself. He tries to give her food and water. Tell her that people need to protect each other. She sends him away. That night he implores Ezekiel to join Rick. They have a chance to be heroes. The Alexandrians will fight without them regardless. Ezekiel appreciates his counsel.

The next day, Ezekiel tells Rick he cannot endanger the Kingdom. But he will grant asylum to Daryl (Norman Reedus). The Alexandrians leave with disgust. Rick tells Daryl to stay. It is safer for him to remain. He might convince Ezekiel to change his mind. The group jumps back in the car and continues towards the Sanctuary, the headquarters of the Saviors. Jesus has a stolen walkie-talkie from the Saviors. They listen as Negan eulogizes the man Daryl killed.

The Alexandrians finally come to the road that leads to the Sanctuary. It has been blocked by cars. As they move the cars, the come upon another impediment. Razor wire with explosives also protects the road. Rick realizes this is too good to pass up. Rosita (Christian Serratos) begins to disarm the ordnance. The group collects the dynamite, grenades, and RPG shells. They turn around to see a huge herd of walkers coming towards them. Rick tells Carl (Chandler Riggs) and the others to set back the roadblock, then get in the car. He and Michonne (Danai Gurai) grab the remaining dynamite. They mow down the walkers using the razor wire between the cars. On the walkie-talkie, they hear that Negan has dispatched men to Alexandria to find Daryl.

Rick and the group make it back just before the Saviors. Rick claims ignorance as the Saviors search every inch of the settlement. With Daryl nowhere to be found, the Saviors buy the ruse. Rick is stunned that their supplies are gone. When the Saviors leave, he's told of Father Gabriel's disappearance.

Rick refuses to believe Gabriel would abandon them. He finds Gabriel's bible on the floor, alongside a journal with the word "boat" written in it. He and Ross know where he's been taken. The group leaves again to find the boat. As the come upon it in the woods, they are suddenly swarmed by dozens of heavily armed people. The last scene has Rick smiling as a gun is thrust into his chest.

Rock in the Road was an obvious culmination to the first half of the season. We finally have all of the settlements somewhat on the same page. The Hilltop and Kingdom aren't truly ready to fight. But these new attackers, along with the ocean settlement Tara (Alana Masterson) found, are armed and ready to fight. It all seems very pedantic to me. It's also annoying that Carol has not reconnected yet. It's going to happen, but is just being dragged out. The Walking Dead entertains by its unpredictability. The mid-season premiere has Rick fired up, but it all seems so rote. Let's hope the remainder of the season has more surprises in store on AMC.

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Julian Roman