The post-Carl era truly begins on The Walking Dead. Dead or Alive Or has the various groups making their way to the Hilltop. The result is an episode sans Rick (Andrew Lincoln), where characters deal with each other and their decisions. Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) has a crisis of faith. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) gets down to business for Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Tara (Alana Masterson) finally challenges Dwight (Austin Amelio) for murdering Denise.
Dead or Alive Or opens with a group of Saviors searching for Gabriel and Dr. Carson (R. Keith Harris) on a bridge. They move on, but the camera pans below the bridge to show Daryl's (Norman Reedus) group hiding. A walker comes after them. Tara (Alana Masterson) calls it, but then throw's the undead towards a still injured Dwight. Daryl says to keep going as they disappear into the woods.
Dr. Carson and Gabriel are lost in a car. Gabriel's infection has damaged his eyesight. They argue about faith, while a walker with a chain crawls towards the stalled car. Gabriel hears a bell. They walk towards the noise and find a house, hidden by camouflage netting. All the while Gabriel has faith that God is leading them, much to Carson's annoyance.
In the woods, Tara asks Daryl why they haven't killed Dwight. Rosita (Christian Serratos) says they just "lost the kid". The most important thing is to make it to the Hilltop. At the Hilltop, Carol (Melissa McBride), Morgan (Lennie James) and Henry (Macsen Lintz) have joined Maggie (Lauren Cohan). They are guarding over the pen of Savior prisoners. Henry wants to know which one of them killed his brother. Carol orders him to go eat, but he refuses. She tells Morgan that neither he nor Henry is fine. Gregory (Xander Berkeley) and another Savior beg Maggie for some time out of their pen. Maggie refuses.
At the Sanctuary, Negan is curious how Gabriel and Dr. Carson escaped so easily. Eugene bluffs ignorance. Negan assures him they will be caught and interrogated. He assigns Eugene to a factory to make bullets. Eugene will have his own security detail, workers, and wives to help. Eugene meekly asks what happened at Alexandria. Negan is annoyed he still cares about his former friends. Eugene changes the subject and asks if "there will be wine".
Carson and Gabriel have found an abandoned house. They find a script on a notepad beside a radio transmitter. Gabriel believes it is a sign that they are in the right place. Carson finds a walker with a bag over its head, chained to a bed. The suicidal owner has medication in his drawers. There are antibiotics that can help Gabriel.
In the woods, Dwight advises them to cut through a swamp. The Saviors have them boxed in. Tara is furious. Why should they listen to him? Dwight reminds them that he killed Saviors to protect them. He hates Negan. He knows what will happen to him once Negan is dead. Daryl decides to follow his plan into the swamp.
At the Hilltop, Maggie gets bad news about their provisions. They will have to cut rations down further. She weighs whether to stop feeding the prisoners. In the swamp, Dwight tells Daryl that Sherry released him. Walkers rise up through the muck. Daryl, Rosita, and Siddiq (Avi Nash) take the lead. Tara stays behind with the group.
At the Hilltop, Gregory tells Maggie they should run while they can. She shuts him down, and tells them their rations are cut. Her people always come first. In the woods, walkers approach the group. Tara throws Dwight a knife and tells him to get busy. At the house, Gabriel breaks a piggy bank by accident. It turns out to have a map and keys to a car.
In the woods, Tara purposely misses a walker and shoots at Dwight. He takes off running. She catches up to him, but suddenly a group of Saviors also appear. They hide, with Tara's gun on Dwight. At the house, Carson walks towards the garage. Gabriel reads a sign that says "beware of traps". It's too late, Carson's foot is caught by a bear trap. Walkers descend on him. Gabriel blindly takes a shot with a gun they found. It kills the walker attacking Carson. Gabriel still has faith that God is leading them.
In the woods, Tara and Dwight are hidden, but surrounded. Dwight stands up and approaches the Saviors. Only Laura knows of his betrayal, but she hasn't been found. Dwight rejoins his comrades, then leads them away from the Alexandrians in the swamp. Rosita finds Tara hiding. She was always watching her back. Tara tells her what Dwight did for them. They find the others. Daryl is furious at Tara. He thinks Dwight will betray them. Tara swears he saved them. As Daryl rants, he sees that Judith is getting upset. He picks her up and trudges ahead.
Just as Carson and Gabriel find the car, they are found and captured by the Saviors. Tied up in a pickup bed, Carson foolishly tries to grab a gun. He is shot and killed in front of Gabriel. Daryl's group finally arrives at the Hilltop. He is embraced by Carol and Maggie, but then tells them that Carl is gone. Enid breaks down crying. Morgan lies to Henry and tells him that Gavin, the Savior he speared, killed his brother. This lie unshackles the boy from his revenge. Siddiq thanks Maggie for taking them in. He asks if they have an infirmary. He has medical experience.
Eugene is at the factory making bullets. Frankie tries to sweet talk him, but he isn't interested. He orders her to make them dinner, and be sure to wear safety equipment. Negan comes in with the recaptured Gabriel, who has lied and said Carson freed him. A dejected Gabriel is put to work sorting bullets. Negan is unhappy that the bullets aren't ready. Eugene offers a new idea, launch the dead at the Hilltop. Negan smiles.
At the Hilltop, Maggie has decided to show mercy. She will let the prisoners out in pairs under guard. She will give them quarter rations. Gregory still wants to run. She claims that they will not lose. At that moment, Rick arrives at the gates. In the Sanctuary, Negan gathers his men around a group of chained walkers. He covers Lucille with their guts. They will try to infect the Hilltop to clear them out; hence the episode title, "Dead or Alive Or".
Negan's foreshadowed use of the dead as bioweapons actually links to a storyline from the comic. No spoilers here, but now some of the scenes from future episodes are starting to make sense. Jeffrey Dean Morgan's overacting as Negan is becoming laughable. I'm expecting him to start wringing his hands and cackling. Tune in next week as the Saviors attack the Hilltop on AMC.