Thoughts with summary mixed together:
I gave this episode a 55 using Robin's scale.
I echo your comments Ben in so many ways. After I have a run at my thoughts I will definitely check out the comments of others you refer to.
If you compare the structure of all three stories they are roughly the same; making the show feel flat in places; predictable and boring.
Here's how I saw the episode:
Two groups of characters go out to find things; don't have a problem quickly finding the things they aimed to accomplish;
Eugene finds the foundry which he will utilize to make ammo to kill people; Denise finds a Apothecary full of drugs which she will use to cure people.
Each group has members very experienced at tracking; killing walkers and humans.
Each inexperienced group members trying to find their courage to kill walkers; deal with their surroundings and also hostile humans.
I think the show runners intent was to show the shortcomings of each character by how the experienced members treat the inexperienced members.
Some of it worked; some of it didn't for me.
Abraham let's Eugene try and kill a walker that was little difficult to kill because it's head was covered in some hardened metal; and then steps in; despite Eugene's demands to do it himself.
Daryl and Rosita let Denise kill the walker as Denise makes demands to do it herself.
Both experienced groups have comments to make about the inexperienced and vice-versa.
Abraham points out what each of them are good at doing and they should help each other.
Eugene doesn't look at what Abraham does as being an occupational choice or job; he looks at as an attribute you need to have to survive in this world, so he takes it personally. The irony behind this attitude is when he voices this opinion (which is also an attribute he needs to work on; his communication) he offends Abraham, so he leaves him there.
Ultimately Eugene ends up getting captured by Dwight and his crew (which I am guessing is one of Negan's crew's).
Rosita and Daryl point out how stupid Denise is being by risking her life for a soda. Something has to be worth the risk of your life to go after in their eyes.
Denise doesn't look at it like they do. She thinks that every thing you do in this life is a costly risk (like not telling Tara she loved her) and quickly demonstrates that fact by dying while trying to tell them their shortcomings that they ironically don't realize.
Rosita is dealing with being alone and knowing she is stronger than she thinks she is.
I am not sure how to articulate what Daryl's shortcomings are that Denise was trying to convey (See the bad.)
Eugene is giving the opportunity Denise wasn't to deal with hostile humans by using his brain and his bite. His words gave Abraham the opportunity to take down some of them and his bite caused Dwight some genital pain and also enough of a distraction to allow everyone to defend themselves.
The third story line starts off a little differently because it's a reaction to the first two, however it's in the same vein.
Time passes for Carol and she seems to be having a conflict of conscience (see bad) or needs to face something on her own (like Eugene, Denise, Rosita and Daryl.) At the end of the story she decides to set off on her own.
No doubt Negan's crew will find her and the other more experienced scouts (like Daryl or Morgan) will go out and try to find her (perhaps they will get captured too right?) If I end up being correct about that; again then we have very simple set up for plots which is boring and predictable.
Abraham apologizes for his comments to Eugene and still doesn't recognize Eugene's development.
Abraham faces his fear (rejection from Sasha.)
Sasha faces her fears by allowing Abraham into her heart (at least her bedroom.)
Negan is indeed still out there and this is the fifth group of his Rick's group has encountered. It looks like Dwight's punishment from leaving the fold and stealing with his girlfriend was to get his face singed or that happened some other way.
The wooden soldier at the beginning was a nice foreshadow for Dwight being one of Negan's soldiers.
Daryl looking back and changing his opinion on his new path of kindness over killing particularly in Dwight's case at the beginning of the episode is reaffirmed when ironically Dwight kills Denise.
(SEE Thoughts.) The story structure was formulaically a bit simple.
If Carol is having a crisis of conscience about killing; why isn't she visiting Father Gabriel? How about talking to Morgan? He went through that. You would think her thoughts would have brought her closer to Morgan while her Daryl's change of attitude has caused her to go.
How is having Carol leave the camp resolve any crisis of conscience or immorality she is trying to deal with? Wouldn't she know by now having lived through this world that you can't escape your on psyche?
Twelve of Negan's men under D (Dwight) lose a gun battle on open ground with three initially unarmed Grimes crew? Wouldn't they each have the ability to fire as soon as Eugene tried something?
No reactions from Tara at the death of her girlfriend. Why?
Showing the passing of time in the beginning and later on in the show isn't an adequate substitution in my eyes for character bonding time. I need to see characters bonding so I know why Denise is able to opinions about Daryl and Rosita. Or Carol leaving her new love interest means something.
Carol observing how Daryl changes his opinion about not killing Dwight to begin with and mapping that out to him and everyone else having a *kill only policy* for everyone enemy is a bit simplistic. I think Rick's group does have a conscious and haven't become equivalent to the Saviors or the Wolves. Do you feel the same?
What is Daryl afraid of (according to Denise)? That was vague huh? Is it he shouldn't second guess his decisions?
Is it that everyone makes mistakes that could cost lives and you just have to live with that? That is something a good leader has to accept.
Is Dwight's girlfriend still alive?
Now that Denise is dead who will be the Dr. for Rick's group?
What does Tara think about the death of her beloved?
Where did Dwight capture Eugene? If it was at the foundry then I doubt that plan of making ammo is going to work because Negan will be staking that location out for Rick's crew right?