‘The Walking Dead’: Strangers in a Strange Land

The Walking Dead
“Who Are You Now?”
November 11, 2018

So we are now some years into the future — I’ve read anywhere between 2 to 6 years (I’m going to go with 5 or 6 myself based on the fact that Judith appears to be around 10 years old) — and you can tell because Carol has grown out her Pixie Grief haircut into long, luxurious silver locks. She wakes up next to King Zeke, smiling, apparently very content in her home and marriage.

Carol finds Jerry doing some sort of repairs and he calls her his “queen” which she does not like ONE BIT thankyouverymuch, but he notes she’s married to the King and is the mother of the Prince, what are they supposed to call her? (Well, technically, when Prince Charles becomes King — that, of course, being predicated on the notion that his mother Elizabeth will die before him, or die ever — his wife Camilla will not become the Queen of England. She will become the queen consort. Which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.)

Their conversation about titles is interrupted by some clanging in the “steam room” and Carol and Jerry hurry over to find Prince Henry trying to repair a pipe that is about to blow with some duct tape. He succeeds, but is irritated and gives King Zeke some sassy sassiness about how the place is falling apart and they need someone with some training to be able to fix things before leaving in a huff.

And the short version of what is happening here is that Prince Henry wants to go to Hilltop to apprentice with Earl, that guy who tried to kill Maggie that one time, and King Ezekiel doesn’t want him to go because he’s a dad and he’s not ready to let go of his kid. But Carol talks King Zeke into it and Prince Henry promises his father that he will be back at the Kingdom before “the fair,” whatever the hell that is.

Consort Carol takes Prince Henry to Hilltop herself, but not before explaining that they will be taking a detour. Just then they hear a woman scream for help, and Prince Henry jumps off their wagon and rushes off to save her without thinking because teenagers are dumb. Sure enough, it’s a trap set up by those former Saviors led by Billy Walsh, and Carol and Prince Henry are captured with ease.

Billy Walsh exposits for the audience that the Sanctuary fell, as predicted, and things have turned increasingly more desperate for the former Saviors who refused to join other communities because they love the hobo lifestyle or something. Anyway, they’ll be taking all of Prince Henry and Carol’s supplies now (they’ll let them keep the horse and wagon because they’re nice that way) and Carol’s wedding ring please and thank you. This pisses off Prince Henry who whacks Billy Walsh with his Jedi Stick because, as noted before, he’s a dumb teenager, but they are outnumbered and Carol has to hand over her ring in an effort to spare Prince Dumbass’ life.

Later that night, Prince Henry gives Carol shit for not standing up to the former Saviors and she insists that she was doing what she had to keep him safe.

But later that night, once Prince Henry is asleep, Carol slips out of their camp, somehow finds the former Savior’s camp and after retrieving her wedding ring, gives the former Saviors the ol’ Karen and David treatment.

Don’t fuck with Carol, yo.

carol walking away from fire twd the walking dead.gif

The next day, as Prince Henry notices that Carol has her wedding ring back, the pair head towards that detour: DARYL CRAZY OLD MAN IN THE WOODS DIXON.

In the main storyline, Michonne is busy talking to “dead” people out in the woods, near the apparently never-repaired bridge:

Hey. I know you’re here. I’m still here, too. Maybe you already knew that. But it hasn’t gotten any easier. Sun keeps rising. Days keep passing. World keeps spinning. Time … it just keeps moving forward. Weeks, months, even years go by … while you try to make sense of it all. Try to find where you belong. Try to look ahead to a better future. But the truth is the path ahead has only grown darker. It’s harder to see. You can feel so lost… so alone … so desperate for something, anything that might show you the way. But even now, after all this time, surrounded by darkness, there are still flashes of light, tiny beacons that shine out, calling to us. It’s not enough to light the way ahead, but it’s enough to keep going. Keep trying. Keep fighting. Keep dreaming. So that’s what I do every second of every day … for you, for us. I haven’t given up, and I never will.”

OK.

While Michonne is busy talking to Rick in floridly poetic nonsense and finding cowboy toys that remind her of Officer Grimes, their daughter Judith is busy saving strays. Judith introduces the people she rescued in the previous episode who appear to be led by Lady Gaga and the ne’er-do-well uncle from The Goldbergs to Aaron, Dr. Mullet, Rosita, and Laura the Former Savior Who Tried to be Reasonable When Billy Walsh was Busy Being a Dick. The adults are like, “Yeah, you can’t bring home these strays, Judith,” but she insists and after about two seconds, they relent.

Way to stand up to the 10-year-old, guys.

The group puts hoods on Lady Gaga’s group and lead them into Alexandria, where Judith assures them they will be safe. Once inside, Siddiq takes one of Lady Gaga’s group, Yumiko, to the infirmary to treat the head wound she suffered before Judith saved them.

Soon after, Michonne returns to Alexandria and she is NOT HAPPY to find these new arrivals. After Michonne frisks the group, Aaron tries to claim it was his idea to bring the group to Alexandria, but Judith soon confesses that it was her idea. Aaron then points out that they’re here now, so Father Gabriel suggests they hold a council meeting the next day and vote on whether or not they should be allowed to stay. Michonne orders the group to be placed “in holding.” Her cowboy figurine then falls out of her bag and Judith picks it up.

The next day, the council meeting is held — the council being manned by Michonne, Gabriel, Aaron, Siddiq, Laura, and a couple of red shirts — and the council asks Lady Gaga’s group a series of questions about their past. We learn that Lady Gaga was a truck stop waitress; Uncle Marvin was a music teacher; the nice deaf lady, Connie, was a journalist and her teenage son daughter, Kelly, was a teenager. Uncle Marvin argues they can be trusted but Michonne is all, O RLY?

Michonne then approaches Lady Gaga and insists that she show everyone the prison tattoo on her hand, before demanding that Lady Gaga hand over the knife she has hidden in her belt buckle. And everyone is all, “OH DAMNNNN.”

Later, Judith spies on Michonne talking to Rick about how she needs to protect their family. Michonne catches her and orders her to go do her homework, they’ll train later.

So Judith takes her math book out to the porch where she reads a problem involving Airplane A and Airplane B approaching each other midair to Negan who points out that she’s never even seen an airplane and probably never will, and she should probably worry about real-life problems. Judith tells them about bringing Lady Gaga’s group to Alexandria and how Michonne doesn’t want them to stay. This prompts Negan to tell a particularly gruesome story from his own childhood about bringing home stray dogs. It doesn’t end well for anyone involved, and Negan’s lesson for Judith is that just because someone looks nice doesn’t mean they are. In response, Judith is all, “And look how well that worked out for you.”

Over in the infirmary, Siddiq informs Lady Gaga’s group that their friend Yumiko should be fine to leave in the morning. When the group asks him about how he came to be at Alexandria — YOU KNOW, BROUGHT IN BY ONE OF RICK GRIMES’ KIDS — he’s all, “Uh… things were different then.”

That night, Lady Gaga’s group gives her grief for not being upfront with Michonne about her secret knife, and demands that she hand over Yumiko’s knife necklace that they know she took from the infirmary. She argues they should take Alexandria’s supplies and fight their way out, but the rest of the group is like, “that is a terrible idea.” And it is. It’s a terrible idea.

So Lady Gaga hands over the necklaceknife …

… but not for long. Soon, Lady Gaga has it and is spying on Michonne and about to sneak into her house, when she sees Michonne hug a small boy, “R.J.”

OH LORDT, RICK HAD ANOTHER SON AND HE NEVER GOT TO MEET HIM.

This changes Lady Gaga’s plans altogether, and she heads to the front door, knocks, and when MIchonne answers, explains that Michonne was right about her and hands over the necklace knife. Michonne assures her that they’ve all done things — that’s how they’ve all survived. When Michonne closes the door, she finds Judith sitting on the stairs with Rick’s gun, somehow, even though he “died” with it? So I guess they found it but not him after? I mean, sure.

ANYWAY, the point is, Judith tells her that Rick would have been proud of her for bringing Lady Gaga’s group to Alexandria, and Michonne agrees. That said, Michonne still hasn’t changed her mind about Lady Gaga’s group staying, and insists that one day Judith will understand. Judith then adds that she knows Michonne still talks to Rick and Carl, but that she is beginning to forget their voices, giving Michonne a sad.

And I’m going to interrupt here and say that the line was intended to be sad but I just found it stupid — of course she can’t remember what their voices sounded like, she was three or four when they died. It’s remarkable that she remembers much about them at all. BUT I DIGRESS.

The next morning, Michonne gets dressed, revealing a large X scar on her back. What the what?

As the rest of Alexandria says their goodbyes to Lady Gaga’s group before they kick them back out into the wilderness, Michonne rides up and explains: New Plan. She and Siddiq are going to take them to Hilltop. They know the leader there, maybe she’ll take them in.

Finally, in the C storyline, Father Gabe is puttering around in a room filled with radio equipment, which is where Rosita finds him. There he tells her he thinks there might be more survivors out there — ALTHOUGH A FAT LOT OF GOOD THAT WILL DO WITH MICHONNE “EVERYBODY OUT” GRIMES OVER HERE — but that he needs to set up an amplifier to boost his radios’ signals. Rosita offers to do so with Dr. Mullet and kisses Father Gabe because apparently it’s like that now.

Rosita and Dr. Mullet head out to some water towers and on the way, Dr. Mullet is all, “You should date me instead of that priest,” but in his stilted and obtuse way.

Dr. Mullet installs the amplifier on the water tower, only to see that a herd of walkers is headed in their direction. Rosita screams for him to come down, the horses get spooked and run off, and then the ladder under Dr. Mullet breaks off, forcing him to jump to the ground from too high up, injuring his knee in the process. So everything is GREAT.

Rosita and Dr. Mullet hobble into the woods, but the walkers are too close, and they are forced to jump into a creek bed and cover themselves in mud to escape. As they lie there, the herd shuffles by and Rosita and Dr. Mullet hear some of them whisper to each other: “Where are they…?” “They must be close…” “Don’t let them get away…” 

WELL, THINGS ARE JUST GETTING BETTER AND BETTER BY THE GODDAMNED MINUTE, AREN’T THEY.

A handful of quick thoughts and one thing that I missed in the previous recap that made me go “HUH.”

Alright, see, this, grumpy, dour, “WE CAN’T POSSIBLY TRUST THESE NEW PEOPLE BUT MAYBE WE SHOULD” nonsense was tiresome three seasons ago, and is exactly what I was talking about in my last recap when I argued that if this is all the show can manage to do, it’s time for it to end. This, combined with stupid characters doing stupid things (what, exactly, was Lady Gaga’s plan when she went to Michonne’s house with that tiny little knife? irritate Michonne to death with it? and Henry attacking the Saviors? HOW’D THAT WORK OUT FOR EVERYONE THE LAST TIME YOU DID THIS EXACT SAME THING, YOU IDJIT? OH, DID IT END WITH A BRIDGE BLOWING UP AND RICK GRIMES BEING KIDNAPPED BY A HELICOPTER? BECAUSE IT KINDA DID.) for no other reason than to arrive at a particular result in the narrative — Michonne “forgiving” and Carol setting shit on fire.

With the time jump, the show had an opportunity to do something unexpected, something different, but instead, we just get the same ol’ same ol’, just with new characters.

That said, the show did tease some interesting developments that happened since Rick’s: that X scar on Michonne’s back — where’d that come from and is that why she’s such a worrywart now?; the fact that we, the audience, know that Maggie is no longer on the show, but Michonne doesn’t seem to have any idea she’s gone; the relationship between Judith and Negan is almost cute; and Father Gabe! Who knew he was such a stud?

Speaking of Gabriel, Father Gabe’s radios (which is a callback to the episode in which he and Dr. Carson escape the Sanctuary and find the house with the long-dead radio operator in it), it’s curious that he would be so determined to continue seeking other survivors considering Michonne seems to unwelcoming to newcomers. I suspect that will happen is that somewhere down the road, Michonne will discover that Gabriel has been working on searching for others on the radios and be upset with him for violating their security protocols. After that, one of two things will happen depending on how early in the story this potential conflict occurs: if the two of them fight about the radios sooner rather than later, there will be some sort of O. Henry-esque twist maybe in one of the Rick Grimes’ movies that he was trying to communicate with Alexandria via the radios and Michonne turned them off. But if it happens later rather than sooner, Gabriel’s radios might be the very way Rick is reunited with his family. Because irony. And hope. Or something.

As for the biggest twist in the episode: how about those talking walkers? SUPER CREEPY, RIGHT? This is a development that the fans of the comics have been looking forward to almost as much as they were looking forward to Negan. Even though this episode is two and a half weeks late and most of you know exactly what happened in that mid-season finale, I’m going to spoiler-font this next part because it’s only polite. In the comics, Lady Gaga (or Magna, if you want to be ALL TECHNICAL) and her group are found by Jesus after the All-Out War with Negan. Three issues later, the Whisperers, a nomadic group of survivors who dress as walkers and move around with them, are introduced. So, it’s safe to say that walkers haven’t developed the ability to talk, but instead, Rosita and Dr. Mulllet overhear the next great enemy/threat. As for Lady Gaga’s group, four of the five characters we are introduced to here are still alive in the comics, so it looks like they’ll be around for a while longer. (H/T Warming Glow)

As for that detail that I didn’t notice in the previous episode, credit goes to Warming Glow for this one as well. Towards the beginning of “What Comes After,” Jadis is driving an RV to meet the Helicopter People — an RV that was maybe(?) last seen in season seven when Tara and Heath went out together, but were separated by a herd of walkers on a bridge — a bridge that Tara falls off of. Once Tara finds her way back to the RV, Heath is nowhere to be found as he went to go star in the 24 reboot. There is some speculation based on the fact that Jadis is now in possession of the RV that Heath might be one of the people she traded to the Helicopter People. Might we see Heath in one of those Rick Grimes movies?

The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sundays at 8/9 p.m.

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