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'The Walking Dead' recap: Kill or go hungry? Easy call for Rick

Faced with the choice of committing homicide or succumbing to famine, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and company morph into mercenaries on “No Tomorrow Yet,” Episode 612 of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

Under an arrangement negotiated by Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan), the thriving Hilltop Colony would share half its provisions with the hungry Alexandria Safe-Zone residents.

In return, Rick and his fighters would slaughter the Saviors, a ruthless gang of predators led by sadistic Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

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“We do this for the Hilltop, it’s how we keep this place,” Rick says of Alexandria. “It’s how we feed this place.”

And besides, Rick adds, eventually the Saviors would find Alexandria and “try to own us,” meaning a preemptive strike represents the best chance for survival.

When Rick calls for a vote on the kill-for-food proposal, the only dissenter is peace-loving Morgan Jones (Lennie James). He wants to reason with the Saviors and request their surrender.

“We try to talk to the Saviors,” Rick cautions, “we give up our advantage, our safety. No, we have to come for them before they come for us. We can’t leave them alive!”

The night before the perilous raid, pregnant Maggie tells her worried husband, Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun), that it’s her duty to join the fray, since she struck the deal with Hilltop leader Gregory (Xander Berkeley).

“It wasn’t my idea,” Maggie says of the bloody pact, “but I led us into this. I have to come.”

As a compromise, Maggie intends to remain on the outskirts of the fight under the protection of formidable Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride).

Elsewhere in Alexandria, Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) angrily breaks off his relationship with Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos) while she sobs in disbelief.

“When I first met you, I thought you were the last woman on Earth,” Abraham snarls. “You’re not!”

A much happier interaction takes place between Carol and Tobin (Jason Douglas). He emphasizes that Carol is a strong mother figure to most Alexandrians but she’s “something else” to him. With that, they share a tender first kiss.

When it comes time to formulate his battle strategy, Rick draws on the guidance of Hilltop colonist Andy (Jeremy Palko), who delivered food to the Saviors and has a basic knowledge of how their compound is laid out.

Rick’s plan involves attacking the Saviors while they’re asleep and then seizing the armory. To penetrate the compound’s locked and guarded entrance, Rick devises a ruse.

“They want Gregory’s head, right? We’re gonna give it to ‘em,” Rick says.

By that he means Andy will hand over a severed zombie head that resembles Gregory. And after the Saviors release their hostage, a chef named Craig (Myke Holmes), the Alexandrians will silently murder the sentries and sneak ninja style into the compound.

The assault works perfectly, at least initially, as the Alexandrians knife their sleeping victims room by room. Suddenly one of the Saviors discovers the intruders and sounds an alarm, causing Carol and Maggie to react from the periphery.

“You’re staying here,” Carol yells, demonstrating those motherly instincts in trying to save Maggie and her unborn child.

Now a brutal firefight erupts in the compound, with Rick and his crew enjoying the element of surprise. They prevail without a single casualty.

But after Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) wounds and then pummels an escaping foe (Jimmy Gonzalez), a female voice blares over a walkie-talkie.

“All of you, lower your weapons right now,” the woman orders.

Show yourself, Rick urges, and we’ll talk.

“We’ve got a Carol and a Maggie,” the woman haughtily says. “I’m thinking that’s something you want to chat about.”

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