The Walking Dead is a show about zombies that has always played very fast and loose with its own zombie rules, particularly how long it takes a person to turn into one once bitten. In some cases a character will get a bite on the finger and start snarling and hungering for brains in mere seconds; in other cases a fatal injury can be carried around and hidden from view for however long the show deems convenient to build suspense. Carl, needless to say, gets a whole lot done between his attack by walker and his final departure at the end of the premiere, including seeing the end of the Saviours' assault through to its bitter end, exchanging sentimental heart-to-hearts with his father, his infant sister, and his best friend, and imparting some words of prescient wisdom that are meant to imagine a way forward for the series as a whole. Maybe his bite was an especially mild one?
That wisdom basically amounts to "don't kill Negan." Now, fans of The Walking Dead comic books know that the Alexandria-Sanctuary war does in fact end with Rick's decisions to spare Negan's life and simply confine him to jail instead of putting a much-deserved bullet in the back of his head, and so far the show hasn't given much evidence to suggest it'll follow through with that source-material ideal. But now Carl's dying wish is for his father to retain some faith in the basic goodness of humanity and learn to do something other than just murdering anyone who opposes him. So we may see Negan spared at the end of this season after all. As if to drive the possibility home, the episode concludes with another of the season's beloved flash-forwards (or dream sequences, nobody knows for sure), this time with Negan himself gardening in Alexandria with a smile on his face, palling around with Rick and being cute with little Judith.
Meanwhile, back in the Kingdom, Morgan and Carol arrive to rescue Ezekiel from the Saviors who captured him at the end of the mid-season finale. And because for some reason Morgan and Carol have lately been designated The Walking Dead's resident unstoppable bad-asses, there's very little in the way of tension or drama as the pair whisk through town under cover of darkness with machine guns in hand, butchering one idiotic Savior after another in what amounts to an entirely predictable town-wide massacre. Nobody stands a chance. Gavin, the Savior commander once in charge of collecting Ezekiel's weekly payment to Negan, stands feeble guard of him while spouting off about how things could have been different if he had only accepted his fate and not dreamed up "big ideas" about change. Ezekiel just keeps telling him that it isn't too late to change his mind about this whole villainy thing.
This is a classic Walking Dead move: make a minor villain morally ambiguous and juice up the drama with a will-he-or-won't-he dilemma about seeing the light. Gavin does seem reluctant to send Ezekiel to his fate, and when Morgan and Carol finally reach their destination and wipe out the last of Gavin's crew in a ruthless hail of automatic bullets, it does seem like maybe he'll join the good guys. But it's not to be. Remember when Morgan was driven insane by the apocalypse and turned into a zombie-annihilating Dirty Harry? Well, he's slumping back into that routine again, now that he's abandoned his pacifism and returned to full-time butchery. After literally pulling a man's innards out of his stomach in a fist-fight midway through the episode, he marches after an injured Gavin like Michael Myers stalking helpless prey.