Thoughts with summary mixed together:
I gave this episode a 65 using Robin's scale. I felt the tension levels throughout were uneven.
These tense moments throughout the episode I felt were a dilution of the plot moving forward (ie filler).
The ending however was very tense.
Morgan spends much of the episode tracking down Carol and trying to convince her to come back to Alexandria.
He saves her life from a Savior which forces him to kill again, which may have him rethinking his new way of living he gained this season.
He encounters a new group of people on horseback; they could be Hilltop folks (by the looks of the spears.) Morgan gives back their horse to them and they agree to take him and Carol to get medical help.
Rick, Abraham, Sasha, Carl, Aaron and Eugene try to take Maggie to Hilltop via RV and are cut off each way by Saviors.
They try to decoy the Saviors with Eugene in the RV and by sneaking through the woods, however they are caught by a huge force of Saviors and finally meet Negan. (It looked they were lead to where they ended up.)
Negan has them all kneel; including Rosita, Michonne, Glenn and Daryl.
Rick looks visibly broken and Negan bashes in the head of one of the main cast members from their perspective and then we see credits.
* Rick Grimes was brought down to his knees literally and systematically in stages through the episode. This helped dilute the stalling/filler affect the episode was having on me (See the bad.)
* I liked the fact they held off who was killed. The important thing here is the 'night of reckoning' Rick and the Alexandrians are facing after dealing blows to six of Negan's groups all season and finally meeting Negan and realizing the full power and size of his forces.
* Negan is cunning; has a massive ego; chaotic, homicidal; merciless; understandable in his desire for controlling Rick and his group and getting what he wants which is half of everything they find (or own.) Jeffrey Dean Morgan I think does a wonderful job of portraying this balance.
* The fact though that he only killed one of Rick's group means his true intention is control and domination over Rick and his group. That was well conveyed. It reminded me of so many of people made examples of in so many mob movies I have seen. (De Niro in the Untouchables came immediately to mind.)
* Special effects were amazing.
* As much as seeing Rick being broken was impactful; the journey with encountering roadblock after Roadblock and the overall pacing of this very long episode coupled with the expansion of Carol's (dealing with killing for her family/PTSD) arc and her own death got tedious.
* I didn't feel like Carol was in any danger of dying. I knew somehow this was more about Morgan facing killing again more than Carol excepting her own death. It's been pretty clear to me Carol isn't afraid of dying; she's more afraid of what will happen to her soul for killing humans and her non killing life path. They should have edited down rehashing Carol's conflict with killing and gotten to Morgan's revision on killing quicker. That would have saved about 30 minutes.
* The last four minutes in my mind showed me how they can ramp up the intensity of the situation and show Rick's broken state more effectively than the previous hour and a half ever was able to accomplish.
* The excuse I have heard is the killing victim sets up a whole other story line, however if they got to this point a lot earlier in the episode they could have easily established the new storyline and set up a cliffhanger that would have been just as powerful.
* I really don't feel compelled to know who was killed as much as what the impact is on the group and how Rick looks at this whole event. I know anyone's death he will take personally because he considers everyone family, so as broken as he is he will probably seek revenge. Not knowing that I think is a loss of impact on us all for this episode and major character death. Right now there is no impact. It makes you wonder if chopping up the execution will have consequences. I am of the mind that there will be (to the audience)...
Who's last day was it on earth? Most folks believe it was either Glen, Daryl or Abraham. (I would add Aaron to the list.)
Are the people at Morgan encounters Hilltop people or another group? I hope they are another group; that would make this whole setup way more interesting.
Has Morgan now changed his way of thinking about killing?
Guesses on the victim:
The most impactful person to me would be Daryl. Glen, Abraham and then Aaron. Abraham wasn't afraid to die and Negan wants to see people squirm so I don't think it's him. If Negan killed Carl then Rick would be focused on revenge and Negan would have to kill him and not have people do his bidding; which is what he really wants.