‘The Walking Dead’: Seeing things

The Walking Dead
October 20, 2019

OH HI. LOOK AT WHAT I’M DOING. That’s right, I’m going to recap the remainder of the 10th season of The Walking Dead that I up and abandoned last fall when Watchmen and the impeachment decided to tag team and destroy any time I might have had. Am I going to be able to catch up with 13 episodes before the 10th season finale airs on October 4? Probably not. But what are you if you don’t try, right?

When we left this show nearly a year ago, a satellite had fallen in the woods near our heroes’ communities, and to put it out, they had to cross over the border the Whisperers’  had established somewhat arbitrarily. And of course, the entire purpose of a border is that it designates one space from another — to cross over it means something (unless you’re the English Patient, in which case: “FUCK YO BORDERS”), in this case, that our protagonists are IN TROUBLE with the Whisperers.

And so, true to her threat, over some 48 hours, Alpha sends wave after wave of walkers to attack Alexandria from all directions, exhausting the Alexandrians in the process. During a lull in the attacks, Gamma approaches the gate and informs the Alexandrians that they aren’t sending the walkers …


… and that Alpha wants to talk. They are to go to the border, put down their weapons, and wait.

In a town hall meeting, Lydia insists that this isn’t her mother’s style — if she wanted them dead, she’d send in the whole horde. As for why she wants to talk to them at the border: they broke the rules, and now they have to answer for it.

Dr. Mullet tries to make some sort of point about the satellite, suggesting that it might be responsible for the waves of walkers, but he’s shouted down by one of the surviving Highwaymen who is all, “NOT NOW, NERD.” She then goes on to yell at Michonne that she and the rest of the Highwaymen want the WHISPERER’S HEADS ON SOME PIKES, sending Dr. Siddiq out of the room on a wave of nausea.

Michonne is like, “So, just to be clear, Ms. Highwaymen, how many walkers are in Alpha’s horde? Because I saw tens of thousands. And what’s your plan for dealing with them?”

When Ms. Highwaymen doesn’t have an answer, Michonne’s like, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

have all the seats sit down shut up


Michonne organizes everyone into three groups: she, Carol, and Daryl will meet with Alpha; Aaron will take some troops to deal with the southern wave of walkers; and Father G will guard the gate against the northern wave.

Helping guard the gate are Rosita and Dr. Mullet, who fight off a small herd. The next morning, Dr. Mullet goes and ruins everything by making some offhand comment about having gone with Rosita to protect her, and she’s like, “BITCH, I TAUGHT YOU HOW TO FIGHT.” She then realizes what this is really about: his feelings for her, and she’s like, “Dude, it’s never going to happen.”

Dr. Mullet then becomes the first man in the history of men to realize that being a woman’s friend just because you want to get into her pants does not a real friendship make, which he actually says out loud before excusing himself from the kitchen and the relationship.

tell him boy bye beyonce

In the B storyline, Father Gabriel orders Aaron to take Negan along with him to defend against the southern wave, but Aaron’s all, “I DON’T WANNA.” And Negan’s like, “YEAH, I DON’T WANNA EITHER.” But Father Gabe is like, “Too fucking bad, this is part of Negan’s redemptive arc, and you’re going to be a part of it, dammit.”

that's awesome good on ya negan the walking dead twd

So the two of them are out in the woods fighting off walkers, Negan armed with only a broomstick. And you shouldn’t take a broomstick to an ax fight a walker horde. When he happens to find a crowbar, Aaron is like, “ABSOLUTELY NOT, YOU LUNATIC, DROP IT.” Negan does, but when he later uses the crowbar to kill a walker, Aaron is super pissed and begins yelling at him about the fact that Negan’s asshole followers killed the love of his life. Aaron then screams at Negan that his wife died hating him, and he’ll never see her again which is just when some walkers sneak up behind Aaron. As Aaron is fighting them off, Negan makes his escape. LATER, SUCKER. Aaron is able to kill the walkers, but his vision suddenly becomes blurry. So that’s not great.

Aaron, stumbling around blindly, manages to make his way to a small cabin where Negan is hiding. After banging around inside of it for a while and making TOO MUCH GODDAMN NOISE, Negan kills the walkers Aaron attracted and explains that some of the walkers Aaron killed had hogweed on them — a plant that can cause blindness. Most of the time it’s temporary. Negan suggests Aaron washes out his eyes and tells him they’ll go back to Alexandria in the morning, because …

redemption arc spongebob squarepants

Over in the A storyline, Michonne, Carol, and Daryl go to the border, Carol slipping a gun into her pants and popping some pills before they leave. So that’s not great. Once at the border — which is just the line of stakes where the Whisperers put their friends’ heads that one time — Michonne, Carol, and Daryl lay down their weapons as instructed and wait for Alpha.

She eventually arrives, demasks and is like, “I had one rule for you idiots, and you broke it, so now here we are.” Michonne protests they only crossed the border the one time to put out the fire — which, you know, Alpha should probably be thanking them for if she really thought about it for a minute.

But Alpha is like, “First of all, nature’s gonna do what nature’s gonna do. But also, you idiots crossed the border three times, so here’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to move the border and I’m going to take more of your land.”

Carol is not having it.

carole call bullshit on that rhony

Alpha tells Carol that she should fear her, and Carol is like, “BITCH PLEASE.” But Alpha piles on, adding that Henry feared her right before she beheaded him, and this triggers Carol, for obvious reasons. She pulls out her hidden gun, shoots at Alpha but misses when Daryl swats her arm down. Michonne apologizes to Alpha, and Alpha hisses that she forgives Carol, “mother to mother.”

Michonne, Carol, and Daryl take their leave and make camp, where Carol is like, “BITCH IS GOING TO HAVE TO DIE.” Word. Carol then stalks off for a bit, leaving Michonne and Daryl to talk about how she hasn’t been the same since she came back from her personal cruise, and that she’s not sleeping.

Meanwhile, nearby, Carol is wandering around in the woods, where she’s pretty sure she spots some Whisperers spying on them. Carol shoots at them, and misses, and reports to an alarmed Michonne that there were three. The group goes looking, but turn up bupkis.

They decide to take shelter for the night in a nearby school, where Carol offers to take first watch, and pops another pill. Daryl, concerned, tells her a story about his truck driver father and how this one time he saw a girl walk out in front of his truck. Except! Twist! There was no girl. He hallucinated the girl because he hadn’t been sleeping enough.

wide awake insomnia can't sleep

Carol’s like, “Cool story, but I’m not a meth-snorting trucker like your dad. I’m fine.” With that, her alarm goes off and Carol decides to wander around the building a bit, where she hears Henry and is grabbed by someone. Except! She wakes up with a jolt when her alarm goes off, and Daryl asks her if she’s alright. She brushes him off, explaining that this isn’t like his story about his truck-driving dad, and Daryl’s like, “My dad wasn’t a truck driver, yo.”

Carol pops some more of her No-Doz and goes wandering the building where she sees another Whisperer running through a hallway. Carol gives chase and manages to get her foot caught in a trap. So, now Carol is forced to kill off a herd of gymnasium walkers WHILE HANGING UPSIDE DOWN AND SWINGING FROM THE CEILING — which she does because Carol is a fucking badass. As she cuts herself down from the trap, she sees a Whisperer fleeing.

Eventually, the others find her and hurry her back to Alexandria where Not-Quite Dr. Siddiq starts to treat her wounds. He suddenly gets the vapors and has to be relieved by that weirdo assistant of his. Later, Assistant Weirdo explains to Siddiq that he was a field medic in Iraq and what Siddiq has is a serious case of PTSD, which he knows because he’s had it, too.

same arrested development in-same

Carol, meanwhile, has a dream in which Daryl is cooking her breakfast and Henry is at the table, explaining that he needs money to go to the store to buy more jam. Carol wakes up, finds her pill bottle empty, and has a little cry.

Carol goes downstairs where she insists to Michonne, again, that she saw Whisperers out there. Michonne informs her that she was the only one who saw them before going inside to take a much-needed nap.

Later, Carol asks Daryl if he believes her about the Whisperers and he assures her that h does.

And that’s a good thing because out in the woods, a Whisperer wakes up having crawled her way out of the gymnasium. CAROL WAS RIGHT.

carol community shirley the walking dead

We’re going to keep this brief today, but I just wanted to make a very quick observation about this episode and its themes of grief, blindness, and revelation. All three (four, if you count Siddiq) storylines involve characters coming to terms with reality.

The most obvious parallels are between Carol and Aaron, both of whom are consumed with rage and grief over the losses of their loved ones. And both in this episode literally have their vision in some way impaired or manipulated. Their grief is preventing them from seeing things as they really are: Aaron goes blind, Carol hallucinates. They are both left temporarily vulnerable in a dangerous world as a result, a luxury no one can afford. The symbolism is fairly obvious, I think. They both come out of their experiences seeing the world in a new way, they experience something of a revelation about their own grief.

That said! With Carol it is more complicated than just “her grief is making he see things” as that last shot confirms that she was not hallucinating at least some of it. If anything, it’s possible that while her grief for Henry is making her act irrationally — shooting at Alpha was probably not the GREATEST idea — it also might be allowing her to see the truth of their situation more clearly than anyone. She is the only one of the protagonists who literally can see that the Whisperers are not obeying the very rules that they have established. Carol, perhaps because of her white-hot rage and grief, is the only one amongst them that seems to recognize that the Whisperers are never going to live peaceably beside them.

Finally, there are the two minor storylines: Dr. Mullet and Not-Dr. Siddiq. Siddiq, like Aaron and Carol is dealing with his own trauma, and he is given his own sort of revelation here: he is given a name for what he is experiencing.

And then, finally, there is Dr. Mullet. While he isn’t dealing with grief or trauma, he has his own moment of clarity when he confronts his own motivations for his relationship with Rosita. It’s not the deeply symbolic gesture of going blind and regaining his sight, but it is a revelation of its own sort.

oh i get it understand i see

(Even if, at least in my 40+ years of experience as a woman on this planet, it is probably the most unrealistic part of this entire episode which I would remind you takes place in a universe populated with zombies. But I digress.)

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

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