Last week, we took a deep dive into Alpha and Beta’s history and current dynamic, both of which were excruciating to watch. Imagine an apocalyptic version of a couple of Marilyn Manson obsessed high school kids who get reported to the guidance counselor every couple months for threatening a cheerleader and you’ve basically got the gist of it.
This week, things finally get back to the present conflict between The Good Guys and The Whisperers.
The show opens with Alexandria getting attacked by a swarm of zombies over the course of 48 hours. They come in manageable waves, but it’s still exhausting work.
The obvious culprit behind this walker incursion would obviously be the Whisperers. This gets called into question, however, when the Whisperers send an envoy (pretty sure it was Gamma) to say that the walker swarm is not their fault…and that Alpha wants to meet at the old head-on-a-stick border between their lands.
The communities gather for a town hall meeting that almost immediately goes south. Lydia insists that Alpha had nothing to do with this because if she did, all their asses would be dead right now. The leader of the Highway Men says they should meet her anyway so they can kill her. Michonne shoots that crap down by reminding her that the Whisperer swarm was infinitely larger than the one they’d been fighting off–and most likely unstoppable. Their best bet was to meet with Alpha and see what she wants.
While all this is being discussed, Siddiq has a flashback to his capture at the hands of the Whisperers and has a panic attack.
That night, the Main Character Crew (along with a few extras) meet at the border and lay down their weapons per Alpha’s request. Alpha shows up soon afterwards and chastises them for crossing into Whisperer territory. Daryl counters by pointing out that the satellite fire would’ve also destroyed the Whisperer’s if they hadn’t put it out. Alpha responds that this wouldn’t have mattered since the fire would have been nature’s way and they have “no conflict with nature.”
If I were part of the group, I would’ve pointed out that a Soviet satellite falling form the sky is about as far from nature as you can get, but I doubt it would’ve helped.
But anyway…Alpha then reveals that she knows the good guys have actually crossed into Whisperer territory three times. In addition to this proving that they are always watching, it also means that Alpha & Co. are undoubtedly going to be doling out some type of punishment. Thankfully, Alpha is feeling generous and decides that instead of killing anyone, she just wants The Good Guys to give up their hunting grounds. Carol protests, but Michonne stops her throwing hands. Alpha decides this is a perfect time to kick things up a notch by taunting Carol about how Henry screamed her name before they cut off his head. Carol responds by pulling out the gun she’d been hiding and trying to shoot Alpha. Michonne manages to stop her again. Alpha says she forgives Carol “mother to mother,” but suggests that the Good Guys beat a hasty retreat.
On their way back to Alexandria, the Good Guys decide to stop to rest for a bit. Michonne takes this opportunity to try and reason to Carol who absolutely does not want to hear about it. She’s also apparently taking the caffeine pills that almost killed Jessie from Saved by the Bell, which Michonne and Daryl definitely do not approve of.
A few minutes later, Carol spots a group of Whisperer scouts and shot at them. She and the rest of the group give chase, which leads them to an abandoned school.
While poking around the building, Carol hallucinates and sees a gothically gruesome picture of her with her dead family members/adopted children on the cover a Home Ec. book.
The group decides to stay at the school for the night. Carol continues to pop pills, much to Daryl’s chagrin. He tells her a story about the time a girl stepped out in front of his dad’s truck…except that there was no girl. His dad had been staying awaked too long and hallucinated her.
Carol snaps at Daryl and says that she can’t sleep.
Later at night, Carol goes strolling through the building. She hallucinates a partially decapitated Henry calling to her and a mysterious figure trying to stab her. Carol wakes up to Daryl coming in to check on her. Turns out it was just a dream…along with the story Daryl told her about his dad, who was not a truck driver.
Carol responds to her deteriorating mental state by taking another pill and wandering off by herself again. This time she gets caught by a rope trap in the gym. As she hangs upside down, a Whisperer comes up and stares and her, then walks off and allows a big crows of zombies to walk toward their free hanging snack. Carol manages to fight them off and cuts herself down from the rope. While it’s not clear if this is a dream or not, the glass shard she managed to impale herself on when she fell from the rope is very real and will require surgery.
This type of of medical procedure should be no problem for Siddiq. Unfortunately, he is still having panic attacks and his hands won’t stop shaking. Luckily, Douchey Dante was there bail him out. Later, Dante proves he might not be a complete douche by giving Siddiq a good pep talk about how he overcame his own PTSD from his time as a military medic.
Meanwhile, Carol finally gets some sleep, which leads to her having a dream about living in domestic bliss with Daryl and Henry. This causes her to feel even worse since she knows it’s only a dream, which in turn causes her to take more pills. Making matters worse if the fact that no one (except Daryl believes her about the Whisperer scouting party. As the episode closes, however, we see that she was totally right…and it looks like she killed Gamma (I think).
Back in Alexandria, Gabrielle calls on Negan to assist Aaron in taking out the zombie horde. Neither one of them is too keen on the idea. Negan doesn’t want to “accidentally” get killed by anyone and Aaron (understandably) doesn’t trust Negan. Also, Aaron has equipped himself with an arm mace that is all types of badass, so Negan doesn’t really seem necessary.
Regardless, Gabrielle forces them to work together. Things seem to be going well until at Negan finds a crowbar, which Aaron refuses to let him use. Later that night, Negan is almost overrun and manages to save himself with the aforementioned forbidden crowbar. This causes Aaron to demand that Negan tie himself up and and walk with him back to camp. Negan refuses and calls Aaron a poser, which earns him a hard shove into the ground. Why anyone would insult a man with a mace for an arm is beyond me, but I guess that’s Negan for ya.
Case in point: After getting back up, Negan decides that now is the perfect time to say that even thought the saviors killed Eric (Aaron’s boyfriend), Aaron was actually at fault for not defending Eric well enough. Aaron counters by pointing out that Negan couldn’t defend his wife.
Before this emotionally fraught dick measuring contest can get any testier, Aaron Before Aaron attacked by two ninja zombies. Aaron manages to fight them off, but appears to be blinded by getting squirted in the eye with zombie juice. Negan takes the opportunity to escape to a nearby abandoned building. Aaron stumbles inside and gets attacked by a couple walkers. Negan takes them down, helps Aaron find a place to lie down, and explains that the flowers growing out of the zombies (hogweed) only blinded him temporarily. He also says he’ll keep watch over Aaron until the next day to make sure they can make it safely back to Alexandria.
The next morning, Aaron awakens to find that his sight had returned. Negan asks Aaron if he can see him now. Aaron replies that he can. Hopefully you were able to catch the shotgun-subtle metaphor there.
Tenth Time’s a Charm
Eugene tries to confess his love for Rosita and gets brutally shot down…again. This theme has gone from beyond pathetic into sad and mildly disturbing territory.
I’m not really sure what to make of Carol’s hallucinations. If it becomes a theme over the course of the season (or it ends up being one facet of a general deterioration in her mental state) then maybe it could work. In the context of this episode, however, it felt pretty forced and surreal to beyond the point of believability.
Also, between Alpha’s taunts and the Aaron/Negan showdown, there was a lot of contrived baiting to create conflict where it already existed. It made for some decent shock value, but not much good storytelling.
And don’t even get me started on Eugene once again going after Rosita. I know the dude struggles with social cues, but c’mon…
Siddiq’s PTSD (and subsequent first step toward recovery) was really the only thing about this episode that felt organic and earned. Otherwise, it was another mediocre episode in what has been a big letdown from last season so far…
…except for Aaron’s Arm Mace, of course. That’s all types of cool.