“East” opens with a look at Carol as she prepares to depart Alexandria. She’s deep in thought, likely contemplating life as she knows it, where it will lead her and where she’s been. She’s been through the gamut, forced to kill on numerous occasions. She’s evolved so much since her days as a victim it’s wild to see her now. Now, for whatever reason, she’s decided to move on. She slips out undetected while Sasha is on watch. The Walking Dead is off and running.
There’s a montage of all those in Alexandria in a relationship. We see Glenn with Maggie, Abraham with Sasha, Rick with Michonne. Everyone is covered, and it’s heartwarming, but we know that won’t last long, season six is drawing to an end. Insanity is inevitable.
Daryl takes off, clearly on a mission. No one likes it, but Daryl has always marched to the beat of his own drum, and most home viewers are probably thinking the same thing: He’s going after Dwight. We’ll soon find out, as will Glen, Michonne and Rosita, who take off after the resident rebel.
Rick soon learns of Carol’s departure. His feathers are ruffled, as he can ill afford to lose another warrior. In seconds Rick and Morgan are on the road, attempting to find Carol.
We cut to Carol, and see her traveling, by car, toward an essential wasteland. While on the road she passes a truck loaded with rugged guys. While passing one another gunfire erupts and Carol’s vehicle is hit. She spins out and comes to a dead stop, now forced to face these mysterious men. And these mysterious men aren’t exactly polite.
First, they demand to know who she is and where she’s coming from. Crafty Carol comes up with a story, but these guys aren’t buying it. And they’re clearly set on the idea that Carol isn’t going to walk away from this. The moment that one of them makes it known that there will soon be bloodshed, Carol mows them down, a hail of bullets chopping through the men.
We jump to a look at Rick and Morgan in another vehicle, on the road in pursuit of Carol, who we learn has headed east, opposite the direction of the Saviors’ compound. There’s something of a heart to heart between these two, although we don’t get too deep in this particular moment. There’s just enough dialogue to remind us of Morgan’s philosophy, and Rick’s opposing train of thought.
It isn’t long before Morgan and Rick find the car Carol departed in. They see the carnage left behind and understand that there’s a very real chance that these hoodlums are Saviors. They also understand that, whether Carol is there or not, they’ve got to follow the blood trail they find in hopes of catching up to her, saving her life if need be. During this sequence we get an awesome moment of wisdom from Morgan who makes sure that Rick understands that he “started something” with the Saviors. And that’s very true, our lovely heroes took the initiative, and fight to the Saviors, long before they ever acted in aggressive fashion. The “good guys” sure do look mighty bad right about now.
Unbeknownst to Rick and Morgan, one of the men from the incident on the road has survived. He emerges from the foliage on the side of the road, and takes off after the daring duo.
We finally catch up to Daryl and the small group following him. Glenn, Michonne and Rosita head into the brush to try and find Daryl, who’s already got a clean lead on them, trekking through dense wooded areas, Dwight at the forefront of his mind. The man wants to do what he should have done long ago, which is kill that skinny little prick before he has the chance to kill anyone else.
The search party eventually catches up with Daryl, who lets his frustration be known. He feels responsible for Denise’s death and he aims to rectify the matter by burying Dwight. But will he have the chance? Can the group talk him down? They certainly make a valiant effort, Glenn telling the man that the group in Alexandria needs him, Michonne promising that they’ll “square it” with Dwight. But it shouldn’t be happening now, in the woods, where the villainous bunch can potentially get the drop on them. Daryl, knowing he’s making the wrong decision, simply cannot let it go, and he storms off deeper into the woods, Rosita following. Michonne and Glenn head in the opposite direction.
In a matter of seconds Glenn and Michonne find themselves surrounded. They’re considerably outnumbered and every man in sight is armed. They’ve got no option other than surrender or death. They opt for the former, just as Dwight pokes his filthy head from cover.
We get back to Rick and Morgan, who are engaged in a brilliant conversation about the prison incident, when Rick sent Carol away after killing two ill members of their camp. Morgan’s beginning to sound like the clichéd wise man, but it really works, and it’s right in line with the personality we know. Simple but effective lines like “people can come back, Rick” are part of what makes The Walking Dead so damn amazing. Many of us may disagree with Morgan’s mentality, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t really, really grow on you.
And, just as we think we’re really starting to love Morgan, even if he seems to be a left-field thinker, we get another reason to truly adore the man, as he confesses housing one of the Wolves in Alexandria, the Wolf that ended up saving Denise’s life, who in turn ended up saving Carl’s life. It’s a conversation that clearly touches Rick, who looks like he’s beginning to get a better understanding of Morgan. The two reconcile, and Morgan sends Rick back to Alexandria, ensuring him that he’ll find Carol and bring her back with him. It’s another mushy sequence that fits into the grand scheme of the episode wonderfully.
The episode comes to an abrupt and disturbing conclusion. After Rick returns to Alexandria he has a brief chat with Abraham, the two men admitting a few of their fears. Somehow this brief (three minutes, at best) exchange hits the heart, the burly Abraham coming across as profoundly likable. But that moment doesn’t last long, as we jump back to Daryl and company, who find themselves ensnared by Dwight and his goons. The closing seconds provide a gunshot and a whole lot of blood spatter. Daryl’s been shot by Dwight, who ensures him that he’ll live as the screen goes black, leaving us to wonder just how bad off Daryl is, or where – precisely – he’s been shot.