The Walking Dead‘s midseason premiere Sunday night, “No Way Out,” picked up where the midseason finale left off – with walkers taking over Alexandria and the chance of escape slim.

The Walking Dead S6, E9 Recap

Outside of Alexandria, Daryl (Norman Reedus), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) encounter a human roadblock of motorcycle gang members associated with Negan. The leader of the group insists on them handing over their weapons, which they do. He then insists on a thorough search of the truck for more weapons. Before the search is over, the leader pulls a gun on Abraham, and then Sasha too.  Is he going to kill them both? He holsters his pistols, but as he goes to pull them back out, Daryl whips out his grenade launcher and finishes off the whole gang. “Nibble on that,” Abraham spits as the leader’s decapitated head lays aflame on the road.

Meanwhile, back in Alexandria, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is leading the gut-covered group of Carl (Chandler Riggs), Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge), her sons Sam (Major Dodson) and Ron (Austin Abrams), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) through the walkers. Rick, realizing his initial plan isn’t going to work, says that they’ll need to pick the cars up by the quarry. While they do that, Father Gabriel promises to take Judith and keep her safe at the church, claiming he was meant to. Though Jessie wants Sam to go with Gabriel as well, Sam insists on staying the course with the group.

As for Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Tara (Alanna Masterson), they’re trapped in a building with Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James), who is just regaining consciousness. Tara wants to go try and save Denise (Merritt Wever), but Rosita insists that it’s not practical. Carol takes over Rosita’s gun so that she can check the perimeter of the brownstone, while Morgan comes to the realization that the Wolf he tried to save took Denise. When Morgan approaches Carol later, attempting to appeal to her humanity, she insists that she should have killed him when she had the chance.

Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon), who’ve returned from outside the walls, end up in the church. Inside the church, Glenn and Enid have a talk about keeping loved ones alive inside you by staying true to yourself. The conversation seems to do the trick in convincing Enid that there’s no other option but to help save the people of Alexandria. She wants to assist Glenn in saving Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and gets to work finding the Bible glock as well as to fashion a device to help Maggie descend the watch tower.

As night falls, Rick is still leading his group through the horde of zombies. Mid-walk, Sam starts to panic. His lips are quivering and he begins to cry. Before long, zombies take notice. Jessie implores him to be brave, but it’s to no avail. The walkers overtake him. Unable to let go of her son, it’s only a matter of time until the walkers take Jessie as well. For a moment, Rick looks poised to snap, but Carl gets him to realize that Jessie still has a grip on his wrist. With no other course of action available, Rick hacks off Jessie’s hand, freeing his son. In the action, Ron picks up Rick’s lost pistol, and aims it at him. Michonne takes out her sword and rams it through Ron’s back. Ron had just managed to squeeze off a round – but instead of hitting Rick, it gets Carl through the eye.

Denise has managed to stay alive with the help of The Wolf, who is trying to get them both out of Alexandria. He ends up dying while trying to save Denise. She gets back to the infirmary just in time to treat Carl. While Denise gets to work on him, Rick walks out the front door with his axe. One by one, Rick takes out the walkers. After Denise puts in the last suture, the rest of the gang inside the infirmary goes outside to help Rick.

Watching the half dozen citizens defend the town, Alexandria’s other citizens are motivated to join the fray. Carol rallies Tara, Rosita and Morgan. And even Father Gabriel and Eugene and the nameless longtime residents pick up weapons to fight. “God will save Alexandria, because God has given us the courage to save it ourselves,” Gabriel tells his congregation. Glenn, meanwhile, has started to distract the walkers away from Maggie by firing off shots.  He urges Enid to climb the watch post to save her while sacrificing himself. Just before the walkers take Glenn, Abraham and Sasha pepper them with machine gun fire.

Daryl decides to take charge, letting out the truck’s gas tank into the river as the town people continue to fend the zombies off. After Daryl launches a grenade into the gas-filled water, many of the walkers turn away, drawn to the flames that soon engulf them. As the sun rises the next day, the streets of Alexandria are filled with slain zombies. The people of Alexandria are covered in their blood, but alive. Rick is overcome with hope of the future, and the possibilities of the community. “I want to show you the new world, Carl,” he tells his bandaged and unconscious son.

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