Warning! SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 8, episode 13 ahead!
Let's just face facts - Maggie is a better leader than Rick. This isn't an entirely new observation, and The Walking Dead has itself teased a future where Maggie succeeds Rick as leader, but tonight's episode, "Do Not Send Us Astray," has once and for all settled the argument. Maggie has a plan, Rick has rage; while Maggie makes calm and level-headed decisions, Rick allows his emotions to get the better of him, clouding his judgement. After tonight, there's no question over who should be in charge of the Hilltop - and possibly more.
In last week's episode, Rick was acting as a lookout for the Hilltop and, were he to catch sight of the Saviors, he was meant to sound the alarm. That isn't what happened, though; in a sequence that was arguably thrilling and more exciting than anything The Walking Dead has produced in some time, Rick chose not to honk his car horn, and instead flew into a rage and attacked Negan. While it's understandable that in that moment this felt like the right move, Rick going rogue put Maggie's carefully thought out and meticulous plan at risk.
Maggie's plan operates on the idea that the Saviors will soon attack, and when they do, she and her people will bait them, lure them, and mow them all down. It isn't a surefire plan, but it's a solid strategy that demonstrates level-headed thinking. It's the plan of someone who keeps their cool under pressure and understands how to seize an opportunity. But thanks to Rick, all that planning might have been for naught. Had the Saviors chosen to turn back and actually look for Negan, they'd have discovered Rick and the element of surprise would have been lost.
Luckily, Simon is a power-hungry murderer who's hellbent on killing every single person at the Hilltop - exactly what Negan wants to avoid - and decides they'll press the attack anyway. But the Hilltop is waiting for them. After refusing Maggie's offer of a truce (something Negan likely would have done, too), Daryl springs the trap, firing on the Saviors from his motorcycle before riding inside the open gates. Being the bloodthirsty maniac that he is, Simon orders the Saviors to follow him.
Upon entering the Hilltop, the Saviors come under heavy fire and endure heavy casualties. They scatter and begin to fight back, but soon the survivors kill the lights and fall back to Barrington House. Tricking Simon and the rest of the Saviors into thinking they've fled, the Saviors leave cover and walk right into another trap. This time, the survivors blind them with headlights and fire on them from the windows of the house. It's only then that Simon and the others begin their retreat - only to run into another trap of blinding lights and a hail of bullets. This is an onslaught that Simon and Dwight only survive thanks to their plot armor, and it is an otherwise brilliant and well-executed plan that kills a lot of Saviors.
But even though they manage to kill a lot of Saviors, Maggie never even gets a chance to kill who she wants dead most of all - Negan. And why? Because Rick went rogue and let his need for revenge get the better of him! (Why she later thanks Rick for his sorry attempt at killing Negan is absolutely baffling.) Maggie also has a desire for revenge, but she uses it to design a strategy that gives her the best opportunity to kill Negan. Rick ruins Maggie's chance at revenge because he can't keep his emotions in check, and it only makes the argument that Maggie is the better leader all the stronger.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC.