The Key ramped up the action as Rick brings the fight to Negan with a little help from a Ford and from Lucille. Dwight and Simon have a heart to heart talk about Negan and the future of the Saviors, although Dwight may regret opening up to him. Maggie takes a chance on a stranger bearing a gift. Ratings for the Walking have been slumping this year, but The Key may just bring some of them back. Check out our recap below…
The Key (S8 Episode 12)
The Key begins with Dwight looking at his wife’s old wedding rings that he keeps in a cigarette pack along with half of a cigarette when Negan comes in to welcome him back. Dwight tells him a false story about what he went through with the Alexandrians and how he got away. Negan tells him to get dressed and get downstairs because they have work today. They are cutting open walkers and storing their guts in buckets to soak their weapons in.
Simon is prepping the group to move out. He instructs the Saviors to not kill anyone… just wound them. They will be unknowingly infected with walker blood, and they want them to turn so that it sends a message. Dwight is on his motorcycle ready to head out when Simon insists that he ride with him in the truck. The Saviors pull out and Negan follows them alone in a car with Lucille soaking in a bucket of walker guts.
Rick and Michonne arrive at Hilltop after burying Carl. He reunites with Judith then goes to pay his respects to Glen and Abraham’s graves. Daryl tells him that it’s not right or fair that their friends have died while some others still live. He tells Rick he is sorry for rushing the assault on the Sanctuary, but he just wanted to get it done. Rick tells Daryl that he was right, and he is ready to continue the fight. They agree to split up as they head out to cover more ground. He thanks Daryl for getting everyone to Hilltop as he walks off then leaves in an old Explorer. As he leaves, Maggie and Rosita talk on top of the wall surrounding Hilltop when Maggie notices a milk crate with a flag on it in the distance.
Rosita gets the crate, and finds a note that reads, “If you fill the crates with food or phonograph records, I will gladly exchange it for a key to your future.” Michonne says the crate is not from the Saviors, and thinks its from someone trying to help. She says they should check it out even though she knows that Rick may not agree it. Maggie agrees to meet the mystery person along with Rosita, Enid, and Michonne.
Maggie, Michonne, and Enid arrive at the meeting place with the strangers. There are three of them, but the apparent leader’s name is Georgie. Georgie says that she hopes the records are music because she doesn’t accept spoken word. She tells Maggie that she can tell they are strong, and says she has come to trade knowledge for their future. Georgie says they haven’t found any communities in a long time, and she can tell that their’s is special. Maggie doesn’t accept the offer yet, and says they are taking them back to Hilltop.
After they arrive back at Hilltop, Maggie is trying to decide whether to take Georgie’s offer. Michonne tells her they should make the deal and let Georgie go, but Maggie is contemplating taking the food that is in her van and Enid agrees. Michonne tells her that that they have a doctor and friend because Carl rescued Siddiq. He didn’t give up on who Rick wanted him to be and they can’t either. Maggie decides not to take their food.
She takes the trade, but Georgie says she is changing the terms. The new terms include Georgie giving them a portion of the food in their van because she can tell they need it. She then gives Maggie her key to the future, which is a handwritten book about creating means to supply energy, water, crops, and other things to build their future.
On the drive to Hilltop, Simon asks Dwight if he thinks Rick’s group will actually be swayed by their new attack. Dwight doesn’t give his opinion, but Simon says he doesn’t think it will work. Simon says they have thrown a lot of force their way, but they just keep coming… they don’t scare. As they talk, Rick watches the Savior caravan pass by from higher vantage point.
He is about to alert the group, but he notices Negan alone and takes off in his SUV. As the Saviors pass through a town, Rick blasts through an alley and clips Negan’s car. The group stops as Negan regains control and tries to outrun Rick.
The caravan stops and everyone leaves their vehicles. A Savior asks Simon which way they went. Simon says there may be more of them out there and orders everyone stay put while he and Dwight go search for Negan. They aren’t convinced, but Simon says it may be a trap and they need to create a perimeter and guard the area while he and Dwight search for him.
Negan’s car has wrecked and landed on its side. Rick has crashed into a telephone pole, but hops out firing an automatic rifle as Negan gets out of the car and runs into a building. Rick expends all the bullets and chases Negan into the building with firing his handgun after him as he runs until he runs out of bullets. Negan taunts him and Rick pulls out axe and throws at him, causing Negan to drop Lucille and fall. He catches himself on the ledge of an old staircase as he falls, but he is hanging there vulnerable. Rick grabs his axe out of the wall and swings at his grasping hands, Negan lets go and falls down into the staircase hole.
Rick is searching for Negan in the basement while Negan is frantically searching for Lucille as he avoids the few walkers that are lingering down there. Rick tells him this is where he dies. Negan asks why he didn’t let him save him. Ricks finds a boarded up door labeled “Eaters” as Negan lectures him about everything he has screwed up. Negan offers him a deal where he will be forgiven if he gets the Hilltop and Alexandria to fall in line. He also offers to take only 25% of their food and goods, but Rick also has to work for him as a janitor.
Rick asks why he should trust him after he wiped out all of Jadis’ community, and Negan finally learns that Simon disobeyed him just as Rick finds Lucille.
As Simon and Dwight look for Negan, he asks Dwight if he ever thought about killing Negan himself. Dwight says he hasn’t. Simon says Dwight did what he had to to survive, but Negan is not doing that now. He says they need to move on from Negan and branch out to survive. He asks Dwight what he thinks, but Dwight doesn’t answer. Then they find Negan’s wrecked car.
As they look at the car, Simon says he may have escaped, but may not be alive. He says they could keep looking or… they could just walk away. Dwight lights his half cigarette while he thinks about it then he tosses the cigarette into the gas leaking from the car and sets it on fire. They choose to walk away.
While Rick and Negan continue to hunt each other in the basement, Rick tells him that he can’t save him or anyone because he doesn’t care about anyone. He then pours some lighter fluid on Lucile and sets the bat on fire as he tells Negan he can kiss her goodbye. Then he bashes open the door reading Eaters as Negan comes after him.
Several walkers go up in flames as Rick hits them with Lucille. He tries to hit Negan, but he misses as walkers are flooding into the room. Negan tackles Rick and grabs Lucille then he escapes the rooms as Rick fights his way out behind him, but Negan has already disappeared when he gets out of the basement.
Simon and Dwight return to the group of Saviors and tell them that they only found blood, but no Negan. They ask what they should do, and Simon reminds them that they are all still Negan. They don’t even know if he is gone. They are to continue Negan’s plan of going to Hilltop to scare Rick’s group, but he says that is not enough so they must permanently erase them so they can move on. Dwight knows he has been duped by Simon.
As the episode ends, Negan wakes up in a car with a gun to his head. He looks over, sees that Jadis is the one driving, and laughs as The Key ends.
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Featured Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC