The illusion of safety was the theme of this week’s season premiere episode of The Walking Dead. The final two episodes of last season were called “The Calm Before” and “The Storm,” but that really felt like it could be the title of Episode 10×01.
With the Whisperers nowhere to be seen since the snowstorm of last season, life has moved on in the communities. But everyone is holding their breath, waiting for them to return. And they do, at the very end of the episode. But more importantly, we get a lot of great Caryl moments.
The show was kind enough to break this episode up into named segments this week, so my review will follow their pattern. Let’s dig in:
The groups have used their time away from fighting bad guys to coordinating their efforts in taking down walkers. They have a whole militia-style setup, including marching! The combined communities take down a “ghost ship” that has been marooned on the beach.
The whole thing felt a little extra to me, and way too organized for what would happen if they encountered walkers in the wild (which they do, later in the episode and fight all willy-nilly).
They cut off the face of one of the walkers and it lands in the sand – not subtle in the reminder that the Whisperers and their face-stealing ways are out there.
Back at Oceanside, everyone’s working together. Luke gets his flirt on, and it’s kind of cute. Is this the start of a new ship since they killed off half of them last year? Nothing is more romantic than flirting over stinky fish.
And – gasp, the kids find a Whisperers face skin in the in their beach buckets with their seashells. I don’t know though, at first I thought it was the one they just hacked off the zombie – so maybe their foreshadowing was a bit confusing. I thought Judith looked appropriately terrified. I think they did a good job in this episode showing her as a bad-ass girl, but a kid at the same time
Commercial note: Is the new The Walking Dead series this spring all teenagers? That’s kind of cool!
Aaron calls Alexandria on the radio and tells them about the skin and says they should go on lockdown. Michonne cancels that order like a boss and says just to be cautious. She doesn’t want fear-mongering and panic and the Whisperers may not be back.
Aaron is like “sounds fake, but okay.”
So they split up on horseback to investigate. Michonne looks like a warrior queen with her sword on horseback – I’m just going to throw this out there.
Aaron is very philosophical in this episode – asking Michonne if they are the good guys, or possibly the villains in someone else’s story. He’s over being nice, because all his friends are dead. “Nice never got me anywhere, but being smart did,” Michonne responds. She later in the episode tells him that they are on the good side, and all the friends that are dead were good too, but that the moment they start to question it, they start to drift over into dangerous territory.
Michonne has a PTSD moment when Aaron runs to go fight Walkers on the bridge. Dude – don’t you remember that Rick was lost on a bridge. She’s not over it. (Neither am I, Michonne)
The groups meet up and find a naked dead dude in the woods, and a Whisperers campsite with skin hanging to dry. But they don’t know how old it is. The cynics are still in denial that the baddies are back, while others are like “we should be legit concerned.”
Michonne’s back on her “fear is dangerous, squash it” bandwagon, and Aaron’s reminds her that sometimes fear can make you safe. Sorry, Michonne, I’m with Aaron on this one. You can’t keep burying your head in the sand.
Judith breaks my heart by telling RJ stories about the “brave man” AKA Rick, and how he sacrificed himself to save them all. “He lives inside our hearts and makes us brave too.” I’m NOT crying…it’s just allergies.
A crash sounds and the satellite falls from the sky – and we hear that Eugene is on the radio and needs to talk to Michonne, stat.
Next, we jump to Alexandria, pre-satellite, and see Father Gabriel receive Aaron and Michonne’s code yellow message about the Whisperers. (I still hate Father Gabriel. No regrets)
Eugene is hilariously being scientific about baby-rearing, making flow charts of her care. And the baby loves rock music. Can we have a Three Men and a Baby spin off with Rosita and the fellows? I’d watch that all day. “She’s a baby, not a science experiment,” Rosita says after Eugene congratulates them for having a baby with a regular poop schedule. We see from the chart that the baby’s name is CoCo, which is hella cute.
Gabriel comes to tell them all the bad news about the Whisperers, and they have a big council meeting to discuss. They kick all the school kids out, including Lydia, who gets the stink eye from the community for her past.
This garners her from fellow former villain Negan – who is on work release from jail to garden some tomatoes. He tells Lydia to watch her back.
Siddiq has some PTSD flashbacks of his time when he witnessed everyone get murdered by the Whisperers. Then this super-weirdo new doctor named Dante comes in and checks on him. Who is this guy? Where did he come from? His voice sounds like Jason Lee, and he says doctors are gods in the apocalypse. Those kinds of people don’t usually survive long or make the best decisions on TWD. And then he asks Siddiq to kiss him? That whole part is weird.
Negan is gross about regurgitating wisdom into Gabriel’s mouth like a mamma bird – telling him that boogeyman is back and people are putting their shitting pants back on. He recommends Gabriel does something to help the people feel secure, even if it’s just for show. There are a lot of similarities between Negan and Michonne’s speeches in this episode, which I find very interesting.
The group sees the satellite and Eugene rushes to the radio.
The group is on the beach, pulling something out of the water, and Kelly is starting to have hearing problems like her sister. Connie, being tough as nails, tells her they are going to be fine. Kelly worries about who will take care of Connie if they both speak sign language and there is no one to interpret. “It’s not a disability, it’s a damn superpower,” was her amazing response.
There is a whole flirty flirt thing between Connie and Daryl. As a Daryl/Carol shipper I kind of hate it, but also I don’t? I don’t know, I’m conflicted because I really like Connie, and seeing Daryl learning sign language “with a southern accent” is kind of precious. Don’t murder me, please, Caryl shippers. Carol has had a few other relationships, and I’m not opposed to Daryl having some love on the way to endgame as well. And endgame usually means death in TWD, so I’m content to wait.
Carol has arrived back from her voyage on a fishing boat, and there is an awkward reunion with Ezekiel. She’s all “it’s great seeing you – oh hey, is that my friend Daryl calling me? K bye!” Caryl’s reunion is super cute. HE LIFTS HER off the ground and she giggles and asks if he missed her. I’m fine, this is fine.
He calls her out on wanting to hunt down Alpha and her trips not being about fishing. She doesn’t want to be caged in, basically. So he asks what she wants to do with her time there – and they go on a freaking joy ride on his motorcycle.
This is all wonderful Daryl/Carol time. They fight Walkers together. A deer goes across the border into Whisperers territory, and Daryl tells her it’s too late. Carol is super pissed because that animal could have fed 200 people. “I’m sorry I pissed you off,” says Daryl, to which Carol responds “I’m sorry you pissed me off too.” I love them so much.
Daryl calls Carol his best friend and she teases him about it so much, asking if they should have friendship bracelets. They talk about running away into the sunset. To be honest, they can just make the rest of the season that show and I’d watch it. At the end of the scene, it is revealed that Daryl was making her a friendship bracelet the entire time.
I think Caryl shippers could interpret this scene in a few different ways. The pessimists can lament that this scene is the showrunners permanently friend-zoning these two. The optimistic may think that friendship bracelets are foreplay for wedding rings. I will be cautiously optimistic – any focus on their relationship is a good thing and this might build to something later.
Lines we cross
Eugene’s urgent news was that the crashing satellite has started a forest fire. How he figured it out so quickly, we’ll never know. The group debates for a few seconds as to whether they should cross the boundaries into the Whisperers land to put it out. Because if it spreads, it will destroy Oceanside.
We learn that the suckiest thing about returning to a medieval lifestyle is that firefighting technology is basically a bucket brigade. I mean, they are good at it. But basically, it is the worst.
Of course, walkers are attracted to the fire. The scene of the people fighting them with shovels and whatever chaotic thing they have near them is in stark contrast to the beginning of the episode, when everything is so regimented.
Daryl takes down a Walker with an ax in a bad-ass move. Carol wisely cuts the neck of one of the walkers and lots of real blood shoots out, so she knows that there are some Whisperers among them. LumberDaryl throws his ax at a burning tree and it falls on some walkers.
The fire is out and Michonne is super nervous about them still being in Whisperers territory, but Eugene wants to salvage the satellite. Aaron hopes that the firefighting buys them goodwill with the Whisperers. Methinks he is wrong.
Carol and Daryl go to the location of where they last saw the Whisperer’s walker hoard and they are not there. He asks her to stay, or he’s going to punch holes in all her boats. Alpha comes out of the woods, happy to be home. She locks eyes with Carol and there some mutual nonverbal hate expressions going on. I’m looking forward to seeing those two face off.
The episode ends and we know we are in for some more creepy Whisperer time next week. Overall, I thought it was a good episode that set up the rest of the season nicely.
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The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
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Julie Maurer is a freelance writer and journalist who lives in the suburbs of Phoenix with her husband and three kids. She also published several romance novels on Amazon (under the pen name Julie Brookman), and is a member of the Romance Writers of America. She began her fangirling lifestyle very young, as a card-carrying member of the Official Star Trek Fan Club (yes, there were indeed cards to carry). Her fandoms throughout the years have included Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Wars, Veronica Mars, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Arrow and Game of Thrones.