Tonight on THE WALKING DEAD, everyone got stupid. That's nothing new, of course. TWD's writers have made nearly every inch of plot progression in the bulk of the show's run entirely dependent upon and occurring as a consequence of the characters being stupid. Typically not just run-of-the-mill stupid; we're talking profound cretinism so beyond the bounds of credible as to constitute an open, ongoing insult to and mockery of viewers. No one is this Stupid, and no one so unfailingly, relentlessly Stupid would survive very long in a zombie apocalypse. There are other problems with "The Key," tonight's installment, but this is the one that towers over all others.
Negan's forces are going to attack Hilltop and Negan has come up with the idea of coating their melee weapons in walker grue in the hope that those cut by them will then die and zombify, so there's a sequence of the Saviors cutting up zombies and getting their knives and axes good and gooey. It's an idea that came from the comics but there, guns and ammo were, by this point, a lot more scarce and fighting with such weapons much more common. Simon barks Negan's orders to the troops: cut some of 'em and make 'em turn but don't kill them all--they're going to go back to work for us when this is over. How, exactly, are the Saviors, who are supposed to be getting low on ammo, ever going to get close enough to cut people barricaded in a walled fortress on a, yes, hilltop, particularly given that those people have guns--fully automatic weapons--to keep any attackers well at bay?
It turns out there really is a benevolent benefactor behind this but there's no reason it couldn't have been a Savior ambush. How stupid are the Saviors if they can't easily overcome people this stupid?
Rick puts in a turn on lookout duty, watching the roads for any approaching Savior activity and--can you believe the coincidence?--he ends up watching the very road Negan's forces are taking. He sees their convoy, sees Negan bringing up the rear and starts to give the signal to alert his own people of the enemy presence then decides, instead, to leave them in the dark about the approaching danger, jump in his vehicle and launch a hopeless solo attack on Negan's car that somewhat succeeds and doesn't get Rick killed solely because the writers decree it.
This ridiculous nonsense goes on for a while--the two end up in a dark basement talking smack to one another, fighting some zombies then escaping the building without ever causing each other any harm. Negan, in an amusing twist, is captured by Jaydis of the Garbage People.
Meanwhile, Simon is salivating over this being his opportunity. He'd been trying, in a roundabout way, to recruit Dwight to his cause. When Rick attacks Negan's car, Simon bottles up the Saviors in an alley, tells them this could be a trap--in which case bottling them up in an alley in which they could be fired upon from buildings on both sides is just about the worst possible idea--and that they should set up a perimeter while he and Dwight will go see if Negan needs a hand. Comically nonchalant about the whole thing. Dwight and Simon come upon Negan's smashed up car. Negan could be hurt or dead somewhere nearby, they could kill him without being observed but instead of looking for him, and despite the consequences that will befall them if, as is likely, he turns up, they just decide to write him off. Simon goes back to the Saviors and tells them that after this attack on their leader, they should go to Hilltop and kill everyone. Despite the obvious consequences of such an act, they think this is a great idea.
And that was "The Key." Dumbassery and Decay and the Stupids held illimitable dominion over all.
 This line of thought emerged when the writers, 7 1/2 seasons into the show, suddenly changed the rules and made zombie grue toxic, making Father Gabriel get very sick from covering himself in it. It makes sense that it would be toxic, of course, but the long run of TWD has seen countless characters--even characters with open wounds--absolutely covered in zombie gore, their faces and eyes spattered with it, etc. and no one has ever gotten the least bit sick from it. While Negan thinks people will get die and zombify from wounds from treated weapons, Gabriel himself didn't and, treated with antibiotics, seems on the road to recovery, other than having lost a lot of his eyesight. Negan, of course, knows this: Gabriel is his prisoner.
 And, in fact, Negan learns of it in this ep.
 I'm old enough that it sounds weird for someone to call records that.
 It's a bizarre--and very Z NATION--fairy-tale character named Georgie who promises knowledge in exchange for music. She offers a collection of schematics for windmills, watermills, aqueducts, etc.--what she describes as "a book of Medieval achievement, so that we may have a future from our past." She says she will one day return and when she does, she'd better see great things. A glimpse, perhaps, at the ultimate end of the series?
 At one point, Rick does bash Negan with his own zombie-infected barbed-wire-wrapped bat but Rick was kind enough to set it on fire beforehand, presumably cauterizing it and leaving Negan non-infected.