‘The Walking Dead’ Season 10 Episode 1 recap: Is the Whisperers’ truce over already?

Spoilers for 'Lines We Cross' lie ahead

Of all the settings you could have brainstormed for where the tenth season of The Walking Dead might begin, outer space probably wouldn’t have factored too highly in your thinking. After all, the near decade-long zombie apocalypse surely would’ve shut down NASA for good by now?

And yet space is where season 10 of the hot-and-cold AMC show commences, as the first sight we’re greeted with in ‘Lines We Cross’ is a disintegrating Soviet satellite falling out of orbit. Its explosive re-entry into the walker-ravaged world is a sight to behold for our characters, starved of air travel and everything-but-basic technology. The crash-landing of the spacecraft also conveniently brings together our intrepid survivors’ groups for the first time as they embrace their inner firefighter to combat the fiery destruction of hunting land which their developing Age of Empires-style communities depend on (more on that shortly).

Before the Soviet space relic comes crashing in through the door, there’s a bit of catching up with old friends to be done. The harsh winter seen in the season nine finale has passed, and the gang is back to doing what they do best: slicing up walkers in the sunshine. The survivors are first seen practising 300-style battle tactics and formations, with the introduction of spiky shields and an archery division showing that they mean business. Michonne is still here — for now anyway, as Danai Gurira is set to leave the show after season 10 — and slicing away at the undead with her trusty katana blade.

The Walking Dead season 10 Episode 1

Credit: AMC/FX

Elsewhere, there’s a look-in at Alexandria home life with Rosita, Siddiq (whose crippling PTSD from the Kingdom Fair massacre in season 9 is introduced for the first time) and, er, Eugene, who is more than happy to help raise the couple’s newborn baby. Daryl, meanwhile, is learning sign language to communicate better with a smitten Connie (who tells him he “signs with a Southern accent”) and is also elated to be reunited with his seafaring BFF Carol, who can only offer poor ol’ Ezekiel a lukewarm greeting. Back together at last, Daryl’n’Carol go off on a bike ride, shoot a deer and talk things over: namely, the crackpot idea that they should abandon their fellow survivors and make a fresh start in New Mexico. It may be a flight of fancy, but TWD fans could be forgiven for fearing the worst: if Rick can leave, then anything can happen.

As ever, though, there’s more pressing business to attend to; foreshadowed earlier on in the episode as Carol jinxes everything by declaring: “We’re lucky we don’t have to worry about those skin freaks ever again!” It’s almost like she’s learned nothing from the nine seasons preceding this one. But yes: The Whisperers, the survivors’ quite literally grim-faced foes from season nine, are actively dropping clues about their plan to renege on the ceasefire which was struck up after the Fair massacre. There’s a washed-up skin mask here, grim evidence of Whisperers crossing the DMZ-style border there, a weird throwaway reference to the faux-dead baddies “having a nuclear weapon” yonder. Wait, what?

On the basis of that choice of language alone, everyone should be “shittin’ pants,” as Negan so elegantly puts it. And they are: paranoia reigns over the apparent return of the Whisperers, who are surprisingly good at blending in with packs of walkers (remember: watch their hands). So, when the USSR satellite happens to crash on the Whisperers’ side of the divide, our heroes feel compelled to cross the line, put out the fire and preserve their precious hunting ground. Naturally, the fire and the rescue response draws a shitload of bogeymen to the party – but they’re no match for our battle-trained heroes (special shout-out to Daryl for his flying axe skills).

Fire finally doused and Eugene in his nerdy element inspecting the downed satellite, you’d think that was quite enough drama for one week? Well, not quite: there’s just about time for a fierce stare-off between Carol and the Whisperers’ terrifying leader Alpha, who seems to have emerged from some sort of weird, walker-induced hibernation. And she looks… well, not best pleased. Shit’s about to go down quicker than an untended Soviet satellite.

The Walking Dead airs on FX every Monday at 9pm