BIG SPOILERS AHEAD
The sixth mid-season premiere of "The Walking Dead" kicked off seconds after the finale ended -- Alexandria is overrun with walkers, with Rick and some of the survivors covered in guts to trying to make it to the armory. Carol and Morgan are unconscious after the Wolf, whom Morgan refused to kill, escapes with Dr. Denise as his hostage.
As the episode begins, Daryl, Abraham and Sasha remain where we left them: ordered out of the fuel truck they appropriated and stopped in the road by a group of bikers.
A ringleader orders them to surrender their weapons, explaining everything they own is now the property of Negan -- The Walking Dead graphic novel's notorious, hero-batting villain who will be played by actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
The head toadie explains the way they "usually" great strangers is to kill one right away. He rethinks his strategy not to do so, and just as he's about to execute Sasha, he, his gang and their bikes explode. Out comes Daryl holding a smoking RPG launcher from Abraham's stash found late last season.
Meanwhile, Rick's attempt to hide with his walker guts-covered group progresses, until he realizes there are too many undead around them. He decides to lead the living to the quarry, to get access to their vehicles. Jessie says the trip would be too hard to make quietly with Judith along, and Father Gabriel offers to take the baby back to the church. Rick hesitates, as the priest has proven to be anything but reliable, but agrees.
Jessie urges her youngest son, the shell-shocked Sam, to go with Gabriel, but he refuses to leave his mother's side, so Rick's human chain quietly continues. In the basement, meanwhile, Morgan and Carol start to come to, and are informed the Wolf abducted Dr. Denise. For some reason, this surprises Morgan, who put everyone at risk to give the Wolf the benefit of the doubt.
Speaking of, elsewhere, the Wolf continues to creep out Dr. Denise at gunpoint, plotting their escape.
Glenn and Enid, meanwhile, hightail it into a church, and look for stashed supplies and find a gun; Glenn bucks her up while he plots a rescue of Maggie; instead of staying put, Enid vows to help.
Night falls, and Rick and the Alexandrians continue their guts-covered hand-in-hand walk through the horde. At the worst possible time, Sam remembers Carol threatening him about "the monsters," and the boy -- arguably the worst mentally prepared person you could hope to have at your side during the undead apocalypse -- freaks out, and all hell breaks loose.
Alerted walkers chomp on his head and neck, but his mom, Jessie, refuses to let go, tying down the human chain. Walkers get her next, and a conflicted Rick is forced to chop off her hand to free himself. Jesse's eldest, the unstable Ron, watches, before Carl drops his gun in the scrum.
Ron picks it up and aims it at Rick. "You," he says flatly. Just then, Michonne stabs the teen from behind, and the shot misses, but hits Carl in the eye and Rick's son collapses.
Back in the basement, Carol is haunted by Morgan letting the Wolf go; she regrets not killing Morgan instead.
Meantime, Wolf and Dr. Denise try for the guard tower but walkers grab her, and uncharacteristically, he turns to save her and gets bit in the process. She bargains with him; she'll save him if he gets her to the infirmary. He agrees, and they make it there -- only to have Carol shoot the Wolf from a balcony, freeing Denise to get to her hiding friends inside.
Formerly meek Denise takes charge: they spot Grimes carrying a wounded Carl in his arms, and take them in.
A devastated Rick loses it decides to go all one-man-army on the horde. Michonne joins him, and little by little, other Alexandrians follow suit -- and soon everyone, even Fr. Gabriel and Eugene start to join the fray.
"We've been praying ... that God will save our town," Gabriel says from the safety of the church, handing Judith to a parishioner. He picks up a machete instead. "God will save Alexandria because God has given us the courage to save it ourselves."
In another building, Eugene is struck by the same uncharacteristic bolt of courage. "Nobody gets to clock out today," he says, steeling himself.
Glenn and Enid make it to the fence to try to save Maggie. While Enid climbs to save her, Glenn distracts the horde, which starts closing him in against the fence. Just as Glenn nearly meets an untimely end, Abraham and Sarah pop over the fence, firing away. "You wanna open the gate pal?" Abraham smiles, in his element.
Glenn opens the fence to join Daryl in the truck. Daryl plots a massive distraction by setting a huge fire with the gas from the tanker, and lets it loose, touching off the river of fuel with another RPG.
Like moths to a flame, walkers shamble right into the fire by the dozens, while Rick and the rest take on the distracted walkers in a hail of chopping and slashing unlike anything ever seen on the show.
The next day, sunlight and peace comes to a body-strewn Alexandria, as the bloodied heroes wait to see what happens to Carl.
Rick confides in an unconscious Carl that the sheriff was wrong about the people of Alexandria. "I had this feeling ... I haven't felt it since I woke up in that hospital," he says calling back the series' first moments. "I want to show you the new world, Carl."
Moments later, Carl squeezes his father's hand.
"The Walking Dead" returns Sunday, Feb. 21, at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.