Someone in the music department at The Walking Dead missed a trick by not soundtracking this week’s episode with Faithless’ ‘Insomnia’. After all, sleep is the last thing on anyone’s mind at Alexandria. Across a period spanning 49 hours, our heroes forego rest in order to put down wave upon wave of walkers swarming the northern and southern gates of their community. Where’s Maxi Jazz when you need him?
Is Alpha making the walkers attack?
It seems that none of our survivors can get any sleep as the all-consuming process of putting walkers to the sword is keeping the Safe Zone on high alert. Suspicion is aroused: is this Alpha’s doing? The surprise appearance at the Alexandria gates of new Whisperer lieutenant Gamma might suggest so, but last week’s sister-slayer denies the accusation that the zombie waves are dispatches from the tens-of-thousands-strong horde the Whisperers apparently have at their disposal. Our heroes are instructed to meet Alpha at the border, a request Michonne grants. “All [Alpha] wants to do is talk, and we are going to listen,” she tells the sceptical townsfolk. “It is gonna get worse before it gets better. But we are not going to get through it at all if we do not act as one.”
Sage advice from the tough-hearted survivor: what could possibly go wrong? Returning to the border where the heads of the Kingdom Fair Massacre victims were so gruesomely displayed, Carol — whose adopted son Henry was one of those to quite literally lose their head in that unsavoury episode in season nine — is gunning for revenge. So much so that she actually pulls out her gun and fires at Alpha after coldly telling her “I look at you and feel nothing”. Daryl intervenes and manages to direct Carol’s gun away from her target in the nick of time — because you’re not going to kill off the main villain in episode three of a new season, are you? “We are always watchin’,” an unmoved Alpha ominously reveals before informing them that, for the crime of crossing their border three times, the Whisperers will be taking some of their land back.
“Bitch has to die,” Carol bluntly informs Daryl after the tense stand-off ends without any blood being shed. Given Carol’s past track record for taking on post-apocalyptic villains, you’d wager that she’ll likely be the person who finally ends the Whisperers’ reign: when the time is right, of course.
Is Carol’s medication messing with her mind?
A rapidly developing addiction to pills is another thing that’s playing on Carol’s mind this week and, as the group takes shelter at an old school, the effect of the drugs start to play tricks on her mind. At one point, she sees herself on the front of an old Home Economics book surrounded by the corpse children of Sophia, Lizzie, Mika, Henry and Sam – all of whom have perished during The Walking Dead’s run. These hallucinations are ramped up after Daryl tells her a ghost story (great idea!) as she hears and then sees Henry in an abandoned classroom before turning suddenly to be greeted by a Ring-like walker stabbing her in the gut. Credit to The Walking Dead producers here: 134 episodes in and we thought we were pretty much desensitised to their brand of horror, but this was a genuinely jump-y moment.
Thankfully, this scene was all part of a bad dream and Carol doesn’t really get stabbed. But then Daryl never told her a ghost story, either: the pills are definitely having an adverse effect. There’s little time to ponder on that, though, as Carol spies a Whisperer lurking through the school corridors and follows it into the gymnasium — and right into a leg snare trap which has been left by the Whisperer, who silently grins at Carol as she hangs suspended upside down from the ceiling. A group of walkers come in, but they’re obviously no match for our heroine as she manages to both free herself and slay all of the undead.
Death averted, Michonne blames Carol’s Whisperer sighting on the pills — and yet the final scene of ‘Ghosts’ pans to the corpses in the gym and look! It’s the Whisperer, reanimating.
Is Negan a good guy now?
Elsewhere in walker world, Aaron and Negan get some screen time together (“peanut butter, meet jelly,” as Gabriel puts it), while the show continues to push the narrative that, actually, maybe Negan isn’t a bad guy after all (“I’m not that guy anymore,” Negan even says at one point). Aaron, equipped with a powerful-looking mace on his hand that enables him to simply punch walkers out of existence, isn’t too sure as he takes the former Lucille-welding villain to clear out batches of the undead, and the two go back-and-forth on the past.
“You don’t give a damn about us,” Aaron tells his new best friend at one point. “If you gave a shit, you’d leave.” Negan, full of answers as ever, retorts that mankind is programmed to protect what’s most dear to them: “I had to do what I had to do back then… It is the story of America, story of the whole goddamn world.” The two nearly come to blows as they bring up their slain partners, but all is eventually well as Negan actually saves Aaron’s life after his slight is blighted by an encounter with a walker who is sprouting hogweed.
Is that action enough to trust the former Saviors leader, though? It’s a decision that our heroes will surely have to sleep on — if only they could get a moment’s peace from the zombie apocalypse…
The Walking Dead airs on FX every Monday at 9pm.