#TheWalkingDead Season 8 Episode 12 "The Key" In-Depth Recap Plus Questions

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

"You are beautiful, Baby!"

*WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS EXPLICIT DETAIL FROM SUNDAY NIGHT'S EPISODE "THE KEY." IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN IT, TURN BACK NOW. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!*

AMC has done nothing but surprises its viewers this season. From the wipe-out of the Kingdomers to Carl's unexpected death, they have been pulling out all the stops. Tonight's episode was no different. By all rights, they're still trying to make up for the significant loss of Carl Grimes. So, let's get to it, shall we?

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'The Key' started where episode 11 left off; Negan smiling at the thought of his sadistic plan of action. Simon was acting shady as before, attempting to hide the fact that he and his men killed the Scavengers minus Jadis. Dwight seems irritated, probably thinking about Tara and her hypocritical decision to turn the tables and force him to leave. When he's in his room alone, he empties his last cigarette from his pack that also contains his and Sherry's wedding bands. Negan comes and welcomes him back. He tells him that he needs his tops guys. Dwight thanks him. Suspicion is all over Negan. Dwight plays it carefully and tiptoes through the test. Negan tells him to drink a beer and put his best vest on. In the next scene, Saviors are seen gathering blood and guts from the walkers along the wall. Negan is excited. Simon prepares his people for the intended message: to get with the program. No headshots, only flesh wounds. Afterward, Simon requests that Dwight ride with him. He obliges. They drive out single file, Negan is in the last car. Negan puts Lucille in a pail of Walker guts and blood and says, "You are beautiful, baby."

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In the next scene, Rick and Michonne are seen arriving at Hilltop. Maggie and little Judith welcome them, Daryl lingering just to the left. He watches over Rick and eventually meets up with him while Rick is over a grave. He tells Rick that he thinks of the ones that passed and the ones that remain. He thinks it's unfair. He apologizes for his irrational plan to wipe out the Sanctuary and everyone in it. Rick says that at the time, he didn't want innocents killed but now it doesn't matter, only their people matter. Daryl mentions Maggie has lookouts every half mile. Rick begins to map out a plan. Then, he tells Daryl he's "okay," but he follows it with "I'm gonna be okay." He thanks Daryl for getting everyone to The Colony. An SUV heads out while Maggie and Rosita take watch. She asks if he'll come back from it. Rosita says she will work through it. They look back at Michonne and Judith, and she tells Maggie that they'll be okay. Maggie spots something in the distance. Simon and Dwight talk while they drive. Simon requests Dwight's opinion about their little 'plan.' Dwight says he doesn't get paid to think. Simon says he values his opinion. He doubts their road trip will work. He says they keep fighting and they don't scare. Rosita drives an SUV with the mysterious package. The note requests food or records in exchange for "The Key" to their future. Everyone but Michonne thinks it's a trap. But, after talking it over, Maggie decides to go. Enid and Michonne tag along. 

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Rick spots the Saviors and jumps into the car and follows. Soon after, he runs Negan's car off the road, and it's he and the villain in hot pursuit. Simon and the others radio back and forth on what to do. Simon and Dwight get out and inform the others. They head out. Next, it shows Negan's car on its side and him disoriented. He gets out, and Rick starts to fire. He runs into a building nearby, and Rick follows. When Rick enters, Negan swings and he almost knocks Rick's head off. Rick shoots, and Negan runs. He runs up a flight of stairs and Rick shoots, but he's out of bullets. So, what does the man who made a flashlight silencer do? Improvises with an axe. He throws his infamous red handled axe and knocks Negan off the walkway balcony until he's dangling. Rick retrieves the axe and knocks Negan and Lucille from the banister.  

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Michonne, Maggie, and Enid arrive at the designated rendezvous spot. Two people stand outside of an SUV. When they get out, a woman emerges from the vehicle. She introduces herself as Georgie, a leader of Knowledge in so many words. She introduces her "friends" and tells her purpose of their meet. She hopes that the records are good for they won't accept speech records. Maggie asks what's in the trade for them. Knowledge. Wait, is that correct? Yep, knowledge. Georgie promises to deliver knowledge, but this doesn't please Maggie. Instead, she sicks Enid and Rosita on them. Discovering goods, Maggie decides to take in the newly discovered people, and they go back to Hilltop. Negan rifles through the darkness in search of his beloved Lucille. Rick searches for the villain. A walker drops in, and Negan runs. Rick asks about his people. Then he says he's going to die. Negan asks Rick what's so deeply wrong with him adding on to the fact of the obvious. Then he asks why he didn't just let him save him. He says he saved the other communities before Rick Grimes. Rick finds a wall labeled "EATERS" while Negan continues with his tantrum. He tells Rick he's a wasted leader. Then, Rick says he'll make one more deal in honor of the one person he actually respects: Carl. If he can get the other communities to fall back in line and resume the original order of things, the percentage of traded good will drop from 50% to a measly 25%, and he'll forgive all, but Rick has to come work for him. Rick asks why he would believe him after the stunt pulled with Jadis' people. Negan is genuinely shocked at the mention of this fact. Rick asks Negan if that's his he saves people. Negan growls and Rick finds Lucille.

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Simon walk and talk. Simon says Dwight must've thought about clipping Negan. Dwight playfully and sarcastically responds, "No, never." Simon admits that he doesn't agree with Negan's ways. He gives Dwight coodo's and says maybe they should just move on. They come across Negan's car. It's smashed and bloody. Simon is leaning towards Negan being dead, but Dwight believes it's the bucket of blood and guts. Simon names off all the possibilities. He gives Dwight an ultimatum in so many words. Before long, Dwight makes up his mind. His action? He flicks his cigarette, and Negan's car is engulfed in a giant ball of flames. Simon says a good answer.

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Jerry informs Maggie of the recent things going around outside. She tells him to prepare for the Saviors' forthcoming. He leaves, and Michonne comes in. She wants Maggie to release the new find. Maggie doesn't want to let valuable resources slip through their hands. There are too many mouths to feed, and they have much-needed food. Enid favors Maggie and believes they should take the food. She asks Michonne why they should give a shot about people who don't give a shot about themselves. Michonne says Carl did what he did and now the Hilltop has a doctor. Enid says "and now he's dead." Michonne warns her and Enid steps back. Shortly after, she leaves. Maggie tells her that things don't always work out. Michonne is optimistic. She thinks that they shouldn't give up. She and Michonne meet with Georgie. She gives Maggie "The Key" to a better future. What is that, exactly? Diagrams, logs and other key information to build a stable, well-founded community (windmills, gardens, etc.). Georgie and her people leave. Enid confesses to Maggie that she killed Syndy's grandmother because she was going around killing everyone she came across. Michonne thinks that what Carl meant wasn't to stop fighting altogether, but to get to a better future; it's going to take something 'after.' 

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Rick tells Negan that what he had wasn't going to last forever. "Eventually, you'd run into someone like me." He tells Negan he can't save anyone, says he's nothing but a user. Rick says the only thing he cares about is 'this' bat and he couldn't even save her. Negan tells out for Rick not to touch her, but he pours kerosene on her and lights her up. Rick tells Negan he'll make him a deal, he can kiss her goodbye. Then, he starts pounding on the 'Eaters' wall. Soon after, Negan comes barreling around the corner, knocking them into space. Rick grabs Lucille and swings. Negan avoids him every time except for once. Walkers are beginning to light up as the two dish it out. Rick gets the bat knocked from his hands, and Negan retrieves her. Soon after, Negan ducks out a window and Rick follow, but he is nowhere to be seen. 

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When Simon and Dwight get back to the others, he informs them of the recent findings. They ask what they're to do. Simon asks who they are and they repeat "Negan." Simon says they're still Negan no matter what. He says that no matter what happens to Negan, they need to reset order within Hilltop. But, not just reset. They need to expunge. This makes Dwight nervous. Simon says once that's done, the message will be crystal clear. The mistake needs to be erased. For Negan. The final scene transitions to a sleeping Negan. When he wakes, he's being held at gunpoint by a very ticked off Jadis. He laughs, and she knocks him out. Night night, Negan!

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Man, this episode was awesome! What did you think? Let me know by liking this post and commenting below?

What does this new change of direction mean for The Hilltop? Will they be able to take them out? What is Jadis' plan with Negan? Is she taking him to Rick? Back to the Junkyard? Maybe she'll hold him hostage at the Hilltop. Will Dwight be able to inform the Hilltop Colony of Simon's recent decision? Will Rick arrive back at The Hilltop in time? And, will Georgie become a permanent part of the show ahead of her scheduled arrival? Let me know below! Thanks for reading, everyone! 

Author/Editor: Joeleen Gatlin