‘The Walking Dead’: Hermits and crabs

The Walking Dead
“Stradivarius”
November 18, 2018

Daryl brings his visitors, Prince Henry and Carol to his sad hobo camp and introduces them to his dog, Dog. Carol worries about when the last time Daryl ate was, so Daryl takes Carol with him to collect fixings for dinner: one dead snake, one dead rabbit. MMMM, BUNNYSNAKE STEW TONIGHT!

Carol worries that Daryl has been out on his own for too long — longer than he said he was going to be. And about that: she’s taking Prince Henry to Hilltop to apprentice with the blacksmith. What would Daryl think about maybe coming with Prince Henry so as to keep an eye on him? Daryl is not a nanny, thank you very much, but Carol tries to tell him he’s got it all wrong: she wants him to toughen Prince Henry up a bit. But Daryl insists the kid will have to do that on his own.

While the bunnysnake stew cooks to perfection, Carol gives Daryl a haircut and asks if the real reason Daryl is still out in the woods by himself is because he’s still looking for Rick. Daryl doesn’t deny it and points out that he never found a body. Carol sympathizes but insists that it’s time to let that shit go because he’s not coming back for at least a few more years and two, maybe three made-for-AMC movies.

Later that night, Prince Henry wakes up to sees Daryl’s shadow pass outside his tent and he decides to follow him. Henry finds a figure that he thinks is Daryl, but SURPRISE! is a walker instead and Daryl has to save his ass. Daryl instructs Prince Henry to go back to camp, but before Henry can ignore him, Daryl hears Dog barking furiously nearby. They find Dog clearly tied to a trap and surrounded by walkers, and though Daryl instructs Henry to stay back, once Daryl goes to try to untie Dog he, of course, finds himself in trouble, and Henry, of course, saves him. Grumpy Daryl grumps at Henry that he told him to stay back, and Prince Henry snotty teenagers back that Daryl’s welcome.

Meanwhile, Carol is watching the whole thing from the bushes and lowers her bow when she realizes everyone is safe. And I’m not saying that she’s the one that put Dog in the trap just to bring Daryl and Prince Henry together, I’m just saying we’re all aware of what Carol is capable of. Right, Karen, David, Lizzie, Sam and all those Saviors from last week?

Back at camp, when Daryl changes his shirt, Prince Henry notices that Daryl has a few X scars on his back.

Daryl joins Prince Henry by the campfire where Daryl turns into a regular Chatty Cathy: they talk traps (they’re not meant for humans, only walkers, of which there seem to be more of these days), and how Prince Henry knows that Carol considers Daryl her best friend. She misses and worries about him, so if he came to Hilltop with Henry, it would mean a lot to her.

This clearly does the trick, because the next morning, Daryl has packed his bike and announces to Carol that he’ll be ready to roll in ten minutes.

Meanwhile, over in Hilltop, Jesus has been put in charge now that Maggie has apparently gone off to ABC with Georgie to help her with her community, wherever the hell it is. Jesus does not seem to care for being in charge, but since the good people of Hilltop just reelected him to another term, he doesn’t have a whole lot of choice. He pouts as Tara reads off the Shit That Needs to Get Done list and midway through excuses himself because YAWN.

Yawn.

Instead, he goes out for a horseback ride where he is ambushed by Aaron and the two “train.”

Otherwise known as “foreplay.”

After a little rough and tumble …

… the two exchange information about their respective communities because apparently communication has otherwise broken down under Michonne? For some reason? And Michonne doesn’t know that Maggie has left Hilltop? And Michonne is not interested in attending this fair that the Kingdom is throwing?

I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS “FAIR.” Is it like a state fair with animal competitions? A market? A carnival? Some sort of Renaissance Faire? I know the King has some experience with those … Will turkey legs be involved? What are we talking about here?

Anyway, the talk about the fair is interrupted by a flare in the distance and the two men hop on their horses to investigate. What they find is a wounded and exhausted Rosita who tells them she left a wounded and exhausted Dr. Mullet in a barn somewhere. Unfortunately for them, it’s getting dark and there’s no time to find Dr. Mullet, they need to her back to Hilltop RIGHT NOW.

Back at Hilltop, Tara demands to know what Jesus was doing out in the woods and he admits he and Aaron have been playing a little slap and tickle training and keeping the lines of communication open between Hilltop and Alexandria. Tara warns Jesus that people have been noticing that he goes missing. Tomorrow, she’ll be the one to go out looking for Dr. Mullet, he needs to stay here and BE A LEADER.

Finally, the A storyline: Michonne and Siddiq take their unwanted guests to Hilltop.

On the ride over Michonne notes that she knows Siddiq thinks she should have let Lady Gaga’s group stay in Alexandria but she doesn’t trust them yet, so they’re going to be Maggie’s problem. Oh, and also, Michonne won’t be going all the way to Hilltop with them for reasons.

Meanwhile, Lady Gaga is still pouting that Michonne still has all of her knives and WHO EVEN KNOWS what kind of nightmare she is delivering them to with this Hilltop business. HOW WILL THEY DEFEND THEMSELVES AGAINST THE LIKES OF DRUNK BRETT BUTLER WITHOUT TINY MANICURE KNIVES?

Yumiko apologizes to Michonne on behalf of Lady Gaga, explaining that she’s hotheaded and been on edge since they lost their friend Bernie. Yumiko then tells a boring story about Bernie’s ugly paisley shirt so you can rest assured we will see said ugly paisley shirt sometime later in the episode.

They arrive at a crate where Lady Gaga’s team kept their supplies which has been completely destroyed by a herd of walkers — and somehow walkers have ended up underneath the crate?

bethenny skeptical rhony new york real housewives confused

Anyway, while Lady Gaga becomes emotional over Bernie’s things, and Uncle Melvin searches frantically for a missing musical instrument from his collection, Michonne orders her other Alexandria dude, Coleman the bartender on General Hosptial

… to gather Team Lady Gaga’s weapons. At first they are all, “HEY, NO!” but then they’re like, “whatever, fine.”

The group then finds shelter for the night in an old factory, where Michonne stands guard while the rest sleep. At some point she hears a noise. When she goes to investigate, she finds Uncle Melvin standing over something, his back turned to her so that she can’t see what it is. She demands he drop it, NOW, and when he tries to protest that he can’t, she doesn’t give him a chance to explain. Instead, as he turns around, and she slices through what he is holding with her katana: an irreplaceable Stradivarius violin.

Later, Uncle Melvin gives a soliloquy on how art and music and irreplaceable Stradivariuses are what make us human and so while they can mock him for caring about something seemingly trivial, it’s this sort of triviality that brought humans together and helped us survive the Neanderthals. Or something. There’s a 40,000-year-old flute involved.

The next day, Siddiq tries to convince Michonne to continue with them to Hilltop, but Michonne insists she can’t risk seeing Maggie.

And that’s when Siddiq is like, “Funny story: So Maggie isn’t at Hilltop anymore and hasn’t been for a while and we all knew but none of us told you because you’re scary and dangerous.” But before Michonne can yell at him for keeping such important news from her: walkers.

Fighting all the walkers, fighting all the walkers, “GIVE US OUR WEAPONS!” “NO!” fighting all the walkers, “GIVE US OUR WEAPONS!” “NO!” fighting all the walkers, “GIVE US OUR WEAPONS!” “OH FINE!” killing most of the walkers as a group. And that’s when Zombie Bernie in his paisley shirt shows up, obviously, and Michonne gently kills him for Lady Gaga because she and her group just don’t have the stomach to do so themselves.

Back on the road, Michonne tells Yumiko that she knows the burden of worrying about and protecting one’s family, but that she knows Lady Gaga will be ok, she has to be.

Siddiq explains that Maggie is off with Georgie and has been for a while. He wanted to tell Michonne, but promised he wouldn’t. The point is, she can come to Hilltop now with no worries.

But Michonne is still a no — she needs to go home, she’s fulfilled her promise to Judith. Siddiq asks about her promise to Carl, and she’s like, “NOT NOW, SIDDIQ.”

That’s when two Hilltop riders approach with news that Rosita has been brought to their community and Michonne is like, “DAMMIT, FINE, I’LL GO TO HILLTOP, BUT I’M NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS.”

Meanwhile, Connie of Team Lady Gaga notices something in the woods but decides its nothing. Spoiler alert: It’s not nothing.

Over in Hilltop, Daryl, Carol, and Prince Henry all arrive, Prince Henry particularly interested in reconnecting with Enid.

Tara greets them and gives them the news about the Missing Dr. Mullet. Aaron suggests to Daryl that they could use a tracker to help find him and Daryl’s happily agrees to go along. And despite Tara declaring that she would be the one to go look for Dr. Mullet, Jesus insists that she stay at Hilltop, he’ll go out. He’ll hang back the next time, he ironically foreshadows.

FINE, I liked this episode more than the previous episode. It was a nice bit of character development, both with the new characters and with grieving Daryl, and while it was a little obvious, having Michonne go on a literal journey with these new people was a nice metaphor, ending with Michonne arriving at a different place with them (mostly Yumiko): begrudging admiration and recognizing a bit of herself in them.

A few other things I appreciated:

  • Lady Gaga’s group were made much more likable, and I respect anyone who is such a badass with a slingshot, Kelly.
  • Caryl 4 Eva.
  • Jesus listening to some Jesus and Mary Chain. I genuinely loved that one little silly detail and I love me some Jesus and Mary Chain.
  • DOG! I swear I will come to the writers’ room myself and kick everyone in the shins if they do anything to Dog.

As for what I’m not so happy with, as a friend said to me recently: “I don’t know what all happened during the time jump but moody Michonne can fuck right the hell off.” AMEN, BROTHER.

Here’s the thing: I love Michonne as a character — or at least I did until they reduced her to a shadow of Suspicious Rick Grimes, the Rick Grimes who refuses to let in new people because he has to protect his family. I get that she’s lost a lot in the time between Rick’s “death” and now, that she is fiercely protective of her children and clearly has been through some sort of traumatizing experience that has left her suspicious and closed off to even those who used to be her friends. And I understand that Rick Grimes is still alive in the comics and the show needs someone to fill that role now that Andrew Lincoln has (sorta) left the series. I just wish the writers and the showrunner had trusted in her character more, that they could have allowed Michonne to respond to whatever happened to her in a more original way instead of making her Rick Grimes 2.0.

And this goes back to my complaint about the previous episode: why reboot the series only to rehash the same material over and over again?

Also, and I know this is a dumb complaint, but 1. why was Luke messing around with the Stradivarius in the middle of the night in the first place and 2. HOW DID EVERYONE NOT KNOW THAT HE HAD A STRADIVARIUS ON HIS PERSON? It’s a fucking Stradivarius! HE SHOULD HAVE LET EVERYONE KNOW THAT HE HAD A STRADIVARIUS ON HIM SO THAT, OH, I DON’T KNOW, THEY DON’T SLICE IT IN HALF WITH THEIR JAPANESE SAMURAI SWORDS. There have been a lot of things on this show that have strained my credulity, but as a former violin player, this is the most preposterous one yet. Sorry, not buying it.

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

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