The Walking Dead has shifted quite a bit. People have divided themselves into functional communities and they are even trading with each other and holding fairs. Rick is still in charge at Alexandria, though all of a sudden he's griping about being an old man and losing touch. Things settled into a sort of normalcy and so of course, this couldn't be allowed to continue - enter The Whisperers who are a group like none our merry band of survivors has ever had to face.
In A Call to Arms
, the infamous Negan escaped his prison and decided that his version of proving that he had turned over a new leaf would be to infiltrate the Whisperers. Quite unsurprisingly, this the prelude to disaster and ends up being the spark that begins a new war. Because of his injury, Rick is forced to sit on the sidelines and so he puts Dwight in charge of their forces. Vincent is sent out to the other communities to ask for help in defending Alexandria. Of the communities that are trading with Alexandria, only The Hilltop and The Kingdom agree to participate in the war. Of the two who send forces, only The Hilltop seems to do so without any problems in their community. With Ezekiel dead, many members of the Kingdom see no reason to rush to Alexandria's aid, particularly knowing that Rick believes that he can just install Michonne as their leader. There's plenty of resentment towards Michonne, because people rightly believe that she abandoned their community and broke Ezekiel's heart. At the end of the day, the only reason The Kingdom agrees to participate is because they fear that if Alexandria falls, so will The Kingdom.
Rick may be seen as a saviour by many but this also comes with a lot of resentment. I think that at this point, Rick has so bought into his own hype he cannot see the ways in which people bristle under his leadership. When Rick passes a law in Alexandria, he expects every community to follow it even if it doesn't apply to their situation. The perfect example is his rule on death penalty and his response to learning that Maggie had ordered an execution. The problem with being a supreme leader is that there's always going to be a resentment and you cannot rule people unless they agree to be ruled.
The only person Rick bothers to check in with is Andrea and she's the only one he shows weakness around. At first it seems humbling to think that Rick Grimes could actually have some doubts about his leadership abilities or the decisions he makes but it's really about his physicality and fear that he may just be usurped by someone else. Andrea is forced to spend them majority of her time in this volume acting like a fluffer and constantly boosting Rick's ego. When Rick asks if he did the right thing when he decided to leave Negan to roam free and to fight on the front lines, rather than continuing in her objections to Negan being alive at all, Andrea simply says that she trusts Rick and is therefore fine with his decision. What the ever loving hell? Is Andrea ever going to think for herself again? At one time, Andrea didn't even want Negan imprisoned and now she's fine with him being paroled when he played a large part in why they are in this mess. Yes, the fault still largely lies with Carl; however, Negan's actions escalated the situation into war.
Carl really isn't much better though his excuse is that he's younger than Rick. If we look back at how this whole thing got set in motion, we can trace it right back to Carl not having the sense of a concussed penguin because he found himself attracted to a Lydia, the Aphpa's daughter. Sure, common sense flies out the window when teenage hormones are involved but there should be limits. Now that Carl is forced to deal with the consequences of his rash decisions, he still wants to play wrong and strong. Michonne heads to The Hilltop to ask Maggie to chip in some forces to fight against the Whisperers, and of course, Carl is offended that he's not asked to come along and even goes as far to suggest that if he chooses to go, there's nothing anyone can do to stop him. At this point, I really want to see Carl fed to the zombies. Michonne has to placate Carl by pointing out that The Hilltop won't have a lot of strong warriors left behind and that she's leaving Carl there to help deal with any problems that arise. Yes, Michonne pretty much had to stick a dummy in Carl's mouth.