It looks like the extended-episode streak of The Walking Dead Season 7 isn't looking to quit anytime soon.
There were certainly moments and scenes during the earlier part of The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 9 that could have been cut down, but things seemed to pick up in engaging fashion right until that mysterious new crew showed up to surround Rick and company.
It wasn't the Saviors, but who the heck was it? People connected to the person with those fancy shoes who was teased in the first half of the season?
It was certainly a surprise ending that had you yearning for more, but it was Rick's smile at the close that really sold the moment.
This deadly-looking group of people had them outnumbered and outgunned, and Rick looked like they just won the lottery. Perhaps these are the numbers Alexandria can use to help take down the Saviors.
Plus, how often is that we get to see Rick smile about something? Clearly, that goes in the win column.
Ultimately, "Rock in the Road" was about Rick trying to find people who would be willing to take on the Saviors.
Not surprisingly, Gregory wanted no part of it. Luckily, about 10 people from the Hilltop wanted to follow Rick, but those numbers just aren't going to cut.
I've harped on the amount of people shown in the Hilltop as being next to nothing, but maybe that's what it really is?
Because when Rick and company went to the Kingdom, there were clearly large numbers of people all over the place. So it's not like the series has a shortage on extras.
It's still going to feel somewhat jarring every time the show cuts to the Hilltop, but at least when seeing some comparison in communities during the same episode, it's a little easier to get behind.
That said, Rick had a fantastic speech about a rock in the road and the person choosing not to ignore the problem and instead doing something about it. It was a great little metaphor for the situation, and while I liked that Ezekiel didn't immediately jump to join Rick, there were moments where it seemed possible that he would.
Join us in fighting the Saviors. Fighting for freedom for all of us.Rick
Him speaking to Morgan or Benjamin showed that he's willing to listen, and we've seen how he cares about his people.
But it's understandable that he would turn down Rick in teaming up. He's been burned before and many of his people were killed. That's a cross he's had to bear, and he's not willing to take the same risk when things have been working out just fine.
Clearly, he's going to eventually join, probably when the Saviors mess with the agreement, but I'm glad he wasn't willing to jump on board.
Plus, he was OK in letting Daryl stick around, which was a huge favor.
It was good to see Morgan reunite with Rick and the others and even learn of the fate of Glenn and Abraham. He's been out of touch with them for awhile. Though, it was interesting that he wanted to find another way rather than fight, perhaps even just capture Negan.
It would have been nice to see a Daryl and Carol reunion, but with Daryl sticking around, that will probably happen soon enough.
It wasn't until the big walker set piece of the episode that things really ramped up. And yes, it was a pretty neat trick of using the wire connected to two cars to take down a bunch of walkers. They were definitely using their "Fast & Furious" skills there.
But how Rick managed not to get bit at all while surrounded is a miracle besides a fact he's the main character. Seriously, if it was a character like Olivia or Denise, there's no way they would have made it out alive.
There was still a level of tension that surrounded the scene, and perhaps the beating music helped elevate that, but c'mon, Rick wasn't going to die.
I did think that perhaps Sasha might have accidently gotten blown up handling the explosives, but the crew were pretty lucky with that front as well.
Though, when was Rosita an explosives expert? I vaguely remember her having perhaps some background in the military, but it seemed pretty convenient that she just happened to have the skills necessary at that time.
Still, having explosives will be a huge help to Alexandria in the long run, as they are looking to start preparing for war.
I'm still a bit confused about Father Gabriel's plan, and hopefully that will be revealed along with the identity of the new group.
And was I seeing something or was someone in the car with him when he left?
Either way, I'm glad to see Rick is leading the charge, and I'm interested in what comes next. Sure, the episode took its time initially, but it definitely kicked things up a notch as it headed toward that surprise ending.
Let's hope that Rick's smile helps win him some new allies!
What did you think of the midseason premiere. Who are those people? What's up with Father Gabriel? Sound off with your thoughts below and be sure to catch all the action when you watch The Walking Dead online at TV Fanatic!
NOTE: The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 10, "New Best Friends," airs Feb. 19 at 9 p.m.
Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.