As the threat of the new group, known as the Whisperers, emerges, tensions arise within the Hilltop after Carl loses his sanity. Many start to question both him and Maggie's leadership. Meanwhile Jesus, having captured a member of the Whisperers, realises the full scale of the new threat placed on the Hilltop.
Carl Grimes wakes up at this bedroom inside the Barrington House at Hilltop. After not being able to find any free bathrooms, he returns to his room and reads the letter from Anna. In the letter, Anna explains how she thinks Carl is special, and apologizes for her behavior, saying she was just doing it for him, so he could notice her. Finally, she admits she does like Carl, and wants him to like her, too.
He finishes reading and smiles, and puts the letter in a drawer.
In Alexandria, Andrea continues to tell Magna and her entire group about the events that occurred before their arrival, specifically the events of the herd, and how Carl got shot in the face but survived thanks to a now-deceased surgeon that resided in the safe-zone. When asked about Carl being her son, Andrea responds that he is her apocalyptic-my-boyfriend-hasn't-actually-proposed-yet marriage, and that she has washed his underwear - a teenager's underwear, and that makes them a family.
Kelly asks about the guy in the basement and how things worked out after the war, Rick's leadership and what happened to The Saviors - they are still active and are led by Dwight, and are part of the network of communities.
Paul Monroe knocks on the door, asking Andrea if everything is alright, she replies it is, and that they're just getting to know each other a little. Paul then announces that he and a group will take the horses and return the following day, and then leaves. Andrea asks with a smile if they want some coffee.
At his house, Eugene is sitting on a couch after a bad night of sleep. Rosita tells him she's sorry and he asks if it isn't his. She replies that she didn't love him and he didn't love her, and that it was stupid. It is revealed that Rosita cheated on Eugene and is pregnant with this person's baby, although Eugene agrees to raise the baby as his own child, and that no one will know.
Back at the Hilltop, Rick and Carl bid each other goodbye, and Carl asks if he could deliver a letter to Anna, and Rick jokingly says he'll only do that if he is told what is the letter's content. Rick then leaves The Hilltop.
Elsewhere, Dante is confronted by a disguised survivor. He pleads with the survivor, not to shoot him, and that he didn't know the "zombies" were real people. The survivor says he'll ask questions, and Dante will be the one answering nicely, and asks him to keep his voice down, as it'll alert the other zombies - the real zombies.
Dante realizes he's surrounded by a group of disguised zombies. The survivor says that he entered their land, killed their kind, and now they will explore his land, learn about his people. That they will know them, and that they will fear them.
Somewhere on the road, Paul Monroe and a group of survivors meet up with a road guard and is briefed on the roamer situation. After finding out a patrolman has gone silent, they rush to his last location. Unbeknownst to them, they are being followed by a "herd" of disguised survivors.
Back at The Hilltop, Carl is working with Earl, and makes his very first spear. At the end of the day, all dirty from his work, Carl walks back to the Barrington House and is greeted by Sophia, who notes that he "smells like shit". After showering, Carl and Sophia go eat together.
Paul Monroe and his group continue to search for the missing patrolman, when they are about to go back, one of the disguised roamers stabs one of the riders in the back. Paul tries to back away with the others, but they are swarmed by "living" roamers, who brutally stab all survivors to death, except for Paul, who is now surrounded by the living "zombies".
Back at the Hilltop, Gregory confronts Maggie about the disappearance of Dante's group who have been gone for two days. He insists they send out more parties to search for them but Maggie declines. She informs him that they still don't know what's going on and until they know more, she won't risk anyone. Gregory is upset by this and states that she is being irresponsible and states that he'll step in if he needs to and go out himself to search for Dante and his men. Maggie obliges and tells him to go ahead. She then asks if he can even ride a horse before storming off.
Carl and Sophia are eating together outside reminiscing about how the undead look sad when they are attacked by two boys. One of them slams a brick in the back of Carl's head and grab Sophia. As Carl runs off, the bullies call him a coward and then start beating Sophia. Just then, one of the bullies is struck in the back of the head by Carl with a shovel, who then proceeds to viciously beat one of them before turning to the other, who begins to beg for his life before being struck down by Carl in the same manner. Sophia looks on in shock as Carl repeatedly beats the kid with the shovel.
Jesus soon arrives at the Hilltop and sends Darius to see Carson. Maggie looks on in disbelief at his prisoner when Carl and Sophia call out to Maggie. An injured Carl helps a severely beaten up Sophia stand up, and he says they got attacked by two boys, and that he thinks he killed them.
Sophia passes out after revealing what happened. Maggie carries her out to the hospital, leaving Jesus alone to deal with the prisoner.
Sophia is being treated by Alex as Maggie and her fellow citizens get into a serious discussion about the situation with the parents of the boys who Carl beat up standing up to their leader. Carl claims self defense, explaining to them that the boys were trying to kill Sophia and he had to stop them, but the parents do not agree. Maggie takes Carl away from the hospital.
Elsewhere, Jesus questions the Whisperer, 16-year-old Lydia, who reveals that her group tries to cooperate with walkers and that they do not kill them. Lydia informs Jesus they have to work with them or they will be killed.
Maggie takes Carl into a cell, and tells him they won't kill anymore as Rick figured out after the war. She leaves to inform Jesus that Darius will survive, and takes him away from Lydia. Lydia greets Carl with a large grin on her face.
While discussing how to handle Carl, Gregory informs the bullies' parents that there is a solution, and that it involves killing Maggie.
Gregory tells the bullies' parents that the best solution would be to kill Maggie and have himself be the leader again, saying that their kids were nearly killed and Carl will be at dinner like nothing happened. The parents refuse Gregory's plan.
At the medical office, Marco explains to Maggie and Paul Monroe that he had left Ken to die, and that he'd heard at least three Whisperers. Jesus deducts that it's the same group of people he had encountered, but it was odd that the group was so far away from where he'd been attacked. He then lets Marco know that the people were wearing suits of walker skin, and that he was is not crazy.
Meanwhile, in the holding cells, Lydia asks Carl what he did to get imprisoned, or if he's just there to spy on her. Carl fills her in on the attack with Sophia and her bullies, and Lydia chimes back that the group makes less and less sense for throwing Carl in jail for defending their leader's daughter. Carl tries to defend his point by explaining to Lydia that his group is above killing now, and Carl reassures her that she will be forgiven. Lydia reveals that she was on her first outing and started to attack Jesus and his men because the rest of her group was attacking. He tells her that it was a misunderstanding and that maybe if she can tell Maggie more about the Whisperers, they can work things out. Lydia says that she wants to believe Carl, but she's too afraid.
Sophia wakes up with Maggie by her side and asks if her bullies are dead. When Maggie says no, Sophia insists that her doors be locked. Maggie asks Sophia to tell her what happened, and after she hears Sophia's story, she walks past the bullies' room where they are sleeping and says that she can't wait until they wake up, and calls them "monsters".
Maggie opens Carl's cell and allows him to go free, but informs him that he will still be punished for what he did. As the two walk down the hall Carl asks Maggie to let Lydia go and to give her a chance to be a productive member. Maggie, however, denies the request after the ambush on Paul's group. Carl then pleads that they at least untie her as she is alone and her cell is locked.
In the forest outside of the Hilltop, two Whisperers keep watch over the community. One of them asks whether the Hilltop is the place that one (Paul) of their members was heading. The other assures him that it is and states that their leader is coming and that Lydia is strong enough to take care of herself as they wait in the bushes.
Meanwhile, back at Alexandria, Andrea and Magna are in the middle of harvesting corn for the winter and the upcoming festival when a worried Eugene walks past them. Andrea explains to Magna who he is and his situation with Rosita's pregnancy. Magna is curious as to why Eugene would be worried about with the world the live in now when Andrea insists they drop the topic. Rick shortly appears after returning from the Hilltop and admits that he is a little worried about leaving Carl on his own and that it was hard for him to let him go. He is pleased to see Magna and Andrea getting along and asks how everything is going.
The father of one of the bullies who attacked Carl stares down Carl as he works with Earl. Earl lets Carl know that there is a bit of gossip going on about him and, though this is normal, he better watch himself. Carl goes back to the cells to talk with Lydia where he comforts her about her chances in Hilltop. He leaves her for a moment to collect something.
The vengeful father makes his way to Gregory's trailer and tells him that he is willing to help Gregory reclaim his leadership position, but that they have to kill Carl as well.
Sitting outside Lydia's cell, Carl reminisces how he has survived the apocalypse and the obstacles he and his group have overcome. He states that because he has overcome some impossible odds, he has felt almost invincible. He tells her that he knows how insecure and scared she must be and that he has felt the same many times. He finishes that he doesn't believe in magic, but he can't ignore what he's lived through and the security it has brought him. He assures Lydia that if it has worked for him, then maybe it will work for her. Lydia smiles and tips Carl's hat as she thanks him for his advice.
Carl asks Lydia if she likes his hat and if it makes her feel better. Lydia responds by saying she does not like the hat but likes talking to Carl. Maggie and Jesus enter finding Carl and Lydia talking. They stress Carl into questioning what they need to do. Carl defends Lydia by arguing that if the group treated her better and did not imprison her, that she may open up to them. Carl also says although Lydia's group killed people, they have killed people as well.
Maggie and Jesus begin to question Lydia but she does not respond. Alex enters and informs Maggie that the two boys that attacked Carl and Sophia have awoken in the infirmary. Maggie goes back to the infirmary to greet an angry mother upset that Carl is able to walk free when her son is lying injured. Maggie explains that Carl will be punished but also her boys. The mother begins to threaten Maggie who suggests that the family relocates. Gregory enters and calms the situation down while Maggie thanks him. Gregory invites Maggie to his trailer later to discuss a solution to the problem.
Maggie returns and asks Jesus if Lydia has spoken any more but it has not happened. Maggie appears to have an idea.
Sophia returns Carl's glasses to him as Carl promises to Sophia that nothing will happen to her while he is around. Maggie enters and asks to speak with Carl.
Carl enters Lydia's cell and informs her that he will be letting her out on one condition. Lydia is solely Carl's responsibility and if she does anything wrong, Carl will be held accountable. Lydia promises not to cause any trouble. Carl impresses on her that if she tries anything to hurt his friends, family, or people, he will kill her. Carl says he wants to trust Lydia. Lydia promises not to hurt anyone as they leave the cell.
Maggie arrives at Gregory's trailer to discuss the situation with the boy's and their families. Gregory invites Maggie in and offers her a glass of wine as Maggie accepts. Gregory then inserts some type of powder into the drink and hands it to her. They begin their conversation.
Meanwhile, Carl is showing Lydia around The Hilltop. They pass a large chicken coop and Lydia asks to sit down near the chickens as she likes the sounds they make. Carl asks Lydia what The Whisperers ate while inside of the herd. Lydia explains that they ate wild berries, and vegetables grown from wild gardens. She also tells him that they ate dead animals as well. Carl asks if Lydia has eaten anyone she has killed and she denies that she has.
Carl explains their encounter with The Hunters and how Dale had died. He tells Lydia that his father and the group had to kill them. Carl tells Lydia why they had to kill the people who threatened them to get to where they are now. He explains the no killing rule implemented by Rick back at the prison, and how it has changed over time. Lydia counters by saying that Carl had threatened her earlier and Carl responds by saying that he only did it to make sure he got his point across and that he was sorry.
Lydia says she is cold and begins to cuddle into Carl's arms. Lydia tells Carl that she likes him and Carl says the same in return. They begin looking at the Hilltop together.
Back at Gregory's trailer, Maggie begins to feel dizzy and light-headed. She realizes that Gregory has poisoned her. She tries to fight back but Gregory says that fighting back will make the substance work quicker. Maggie passes out and Gregory menaces over her gloating. He says that Maggie would not take over forever and that is all right with the world again. Gregory does not look behind him in which Jesus is standing with a horrified look on his face.
Lydia asks Carl to take his glasses off so she can get a better look at him. Carl assures Lydia that she does not want to see his face. Lydia asks why one lens is darkened and the other is not. Carl explains how he got his eye shot out. Lydia gently removes Carl's glasses and begins touching his face.
Lydia begins to approach Carl and licks the hole in his face, informing him that she feels the hole is sexy. Carl is very shocked. Lydia licks her lips and pushes Carl to the ground while climbing on top of him. Carl is in shock and asks Lydia what she is doing. Lydia asks Carl if he had ever had sex before. Carl is at a loss for words as Lydia whispers into his ear that she can show him how.
Carl gazes into Lydia's eyes, pauses, and agrees. Carl and Lydia both hold each other's hands near Carl's hat.
Jesus kicks Gregory to the ground, and with a now bloody nose, Gregory exclaims "What the fuck!?" He starts to persist that Jesus has the wrong idea and that Maggie has passed out, but Jesus isn't convinced, and while hurrying to pick up Maggie, he threatens to kill Gregory if anything happens to her.
Maggie urges Jesus to set her down, and says that she'll be fine. She asks Jesus to lock up Gregory. When Gregory starts to protest, Maggie snaps back telling him to shut up, and that he's incapable of being a leader if he can't even poison her correctly.
Lydia and Carl lay in the field while Lydia says "that was nice", explaining how their intimacy was slow and clumsy compared to what she usually experiences. When Carl gets defensive, she further explains that members of her group would thrust it upon her even if she didn't want to, leading Carl to conclude that she'd been raped. She denies the phrase and tells him that it's basic animal nature and is only considered wrong by the standards of the "old world".
Lydia tells Carl that she's enjoying the way of life he's shown her, and that she doesn't want to go back to her group. Carl tells her that he won't allow her to be forced back into her group of Whisperers. When Carl tries to put on his glasses and get her to go tell Maggie about this, she tells him not to put on his glasses because he shouldn't hide who he really is, and leans in to kiss him.
After locking up a still resistant Gregory, Maggie and Jesus is approached by a very frantic Oscar who tells them they need to follow him to the gate, where a group of nearly two-dozen Whisperers stand behind their leader, who asks if Maggie is in charge. Maggie says yes, and that while the size of their group is impressive, the Hilltop is capable of defending themselves as well in case of conflict. The Whisperer leader says that there will be no conflict as long as Maggie's group stays off of their land and doesn't kill their people. The leader removes her walker mask, and introduces herself as Alpha, and states that they've come to retrieve her daughter, Lydia, in exchange for Ken and Dante.
After assuring each other that none of the captives have been harmed, Maggie goes to retrieve Lydia.
Carl is defiant of giving up Lydia, arguing that she had told him she doesn't want to go back, but Maggie explains that there's a small army outside offering a trade for their unharmed Hilltop members. Lydia steps in and tells Carl that she will go back to her group and gives Carl a kiss, telling him that they are her people and she needs to go back to them, and that she misses them. Carl still argues saying that the Hilltop could fight them off, but Lydia refuses. Back at the gate, Carl pleads to Maggie saying that he knows Lydia, but Maggie says otherwise telling him he'd only known her for one day.
Lydia walks over to her group saying "I'm sorry mom. Thanks for coming to get me", and is answered with "You call me Alpha like the rest," and Lydia obliges. With a final look back at Carl, the group of Whisperers make their way back towards the woods.
Back inside, Carl continues to carry out the argument with Maggie, saying that she'd sent Lydia to a horrible group and that Maggie had basically sacrificed her. Maggie counters with the argument that Lydia could have been a "murdering savage" for all she knew. After another remark from Carl, Maggie declares the discussion over and tells him she needs to drop the subject for now.
Maggie walks into the medical office and asks Doctor Carson how Dante and Ken are, and Carson says that they're in great health, and whoever set Kens leg really knew what they were doing. Dante and Ken explain that they were well fed with meat, and from inside the tent they were kept in, they could hear the Whisperers slaughtering the animals for food. Dante tells Maggie not to cross these people, saying that from what he heard, it sounded like there were thousands of them.
Sophia knocks on Carl's door saying that her mother wanted her to check up on him, and when she opens the unlocked door, she calls out Carl's name once more while looking at an empty room.
While walking with Alpha, Lydia is told that she needs to stay towards the center until they can get her a new walker suit. Lydia assures her mother that she tried to keep the suit safe, and Alpha tells her daughter that she was very strong and she is proud of her. They continue walking into the woods, keeping their voices down.
Carl is seen outside the walls without his hat or glasses, which implies he is chasing after Lydia and her group.
- This volume has the most absences of Rick Grimes, those being Issue 134, Issue 135, Issue 137, and Issue 138.
- The last issue of this volume and first issue of Volume 24: Life and Death are both released on the same month.
- This is similar to the last issue of Volume 22: A New Beginning and the first issue of this volume releasing on the same month previously.
- This is the first volume that Sophia has a speaking role in every issue.