-- "The Walking Dead" returned Sunday night, and as the midseason finale hinted in a wordless closing sequence in December, Gang Grimes is reunited and ready to rumble with Negan's Saviors.
Sunday night's premiere begins with Father Gabriel, who has found his bravery of late, raiding Alexandria's food stores before stealing gas and a car and driving off.
Rick's crew, meanwhile, is at the Hilltop colony, trying to convince the community's spineless "leader," Gregory, to get his folks to join Alexandria and take on Negan's army. Gregory, as wormy as ever, rebuffs them, but to Rick and company's surprise, Enid has found a band of Hilltop's folks ready to resist the Saviors.
Rick and company think they have to get back to Alexandria in case Negan's gang comes looking for Daryl -- but Jesus reveals he swiped one of the Saviors' walkie-talkies when he sneaked into their compound, so he'll get a heads up if any Saviors go on the move. With that in hand, he tells Rick, "It's time you met Ezekiel...King Ezekiel."
They decamp to Ezekiel's Kingdom, where they're reunited with Morgan, and meet the eccentric leader of the medieval-like compound. Gang Grimes pleads its case, and it's here that Morgan learns, devastated, that Negan killed Glenn and Abraham.
As much as King detests living under the Saviors' thumbs, his deal with them -- and past losses fighting walkers -- makes him hesitant to join the fight. He does offer shelter to Daryl, however, to which the tracker agrees only at Rick's insistence. "Try to talk to him," he urges Daryl about the self-crowned king.
On the way back to Alexandria, however, Rick's folks hit a literal snag: a roadblock of cars parked across a highway span and a tripwire hung between two cars, littered with dynamite that Negan's folks used to shut the way down from the wandering walker herd.
"We need those explosives," Rick urges, and Rosita goes about disarming the ordinance so they can steal the dynamite in relative safety -- relative being the operative word. As they feverishly work with the unstable stuff, they're racing the clock for the chance the Saviors will come to Alexandria for Daryl, and also trying to avoid the massive herd, which begins shambling in their direction.
The heroes scramble, with Rick and Michonne hot-wiring the cars on opposite sides of the highway that have the cable stretched like a clothesline between them. In a synchronized bit of driving, they both gun their engines, and send the suspended cable slicing through the crowd of walkers.
The heroes make a narrow escape and roll back to Alexandria just in time for Negan's key toadie, Simon, to come knocking, looking for Daryl. Rick pretends he hasn't seen him since Negan snatched him. The Saviors search Alexandria room-to-room, but come up empty.
Simon and the rest leave, and that's when Tobin tells Rick about Fr. Gabriel's fleeing; they insist it doesn't add up. Their suspicions are confirmed when they find his beloved Bible left behind, and a clue in a notebook: the word "BOAT" scrawled across a page.
This leads Rick and company to the houseboat where Rick and Aaron had discovered a ton of firearms -- and where they were being watched by a mysterious boot-wearing person.
As Gang Grimes searches the surrounding area, the team suddenly finds itself surrounded by a group of heavily armed survivors. While his allies are fearful, Rick sees potential. He smiles.