The Walking Dead comic may be over, but the series lives on. Let’s jump into the Season 10 premiere: “Lines We Cross.”
The season begins with, of all things, Judith’s narration. As a satellite makes its way through space, we jump to “Training Day.” Probably not the Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke film, I’m guessing. Turns out that everyone has assembled at Oceanside. Ezekiel opens the door of an abandoned ship as walkers stream out.
Our survivors have erected shields that they use to protect themselves while the archers pick off the walkers.
Aaron leads the charge as more walkers are taken out by spears, swords, you name it. Eventually, the door is too much for Ezekiel and Jerry, so they back away. Michonne implores everyone to stay in formation, per their training. In case you didn’t get it, they know how to kill walkers.
Back at the main village, Luke chats and flirts with a woman named Jules, played by Alex Sgambati. Nearby, Michonne and Daryl admit that Oceanside is doing well with the training- so well that Tara would be proud. Michonne’s glad she made the trip so the kids could see the ocean.
Speaking of, we jump over to the kids. They go over what they found by the water, and it turns out that RJ found, among other things, the face of a walker. Judith is spooked, and for good reason, but I have to imagine that she’s seen worse come out of the water.
Next up is “Skin.” Following RJ’s discovery, Aaron radios back to Gabriel in Alexandria about what the kids found. This could suggest that the Whisperers have returned and, as a result, Aaron suggests that Alexandria go on lockdown. Michonne, however, says that they have no evidence to suggest that this means the Whisperers have returned. Her official recommendation is that everyone stay alert until further notice.
Michonne understands Aaron’s concern, but they don’t need to start a panic. Still, no one saw Alpha’s herd move out, so maybe no one saw them move back in either. It may just be one mask, but there could be other hints that the Whisperers are out there, and Aaron believes they need to assure everyone that nothing’s wrong.
Michonne ultimately concedes to send a group out in five minutes. Daryl will stay behind, but Michonne wants him to let “her” not to leave again without saying goodbye.
Indeed, Michonne leads a group of six out. They split up, with Aaron asking Michonne if they’re the good guys. Strange question, but he’s thought a lot about the fact that they’re the villains of someone else’s story. Michonne doesn’t give a shit about the Whisperers, but Aaron isn’t just talking about them.
The search continues with no sign of the Whisperers, but it’s possible that they’ve well covered their tracks. Aaron charges towards some walkers on a bridge and though one grabs his foot, he and Michonne make quick work of them. She lashes out at Aaron rushing in headfirst- nothing that she also lost Rick on a bridge- reminding him that they agreed not to cross Alpha’s border or start anything without a reason.
If those walkers were Whisperers- and even though they weren’t- Aaron could have died for nothing. He’s tired of holding his breath for months- this isn’t normal. He’s been keeping his cool for long as the nice guy. But Eric and Jesus are dead. Aaron’s sick of being nice. That’s fine for Michonne. Nice never got her anywhere- but being smart did. The Whisperers have a nuclear weapon, but they don’t.
I mean, they’ve got Negan. That should count for something. It’s not about being nice or good, but keeping their people alive and not having them die over nothing. Michonne hates this just as much as Aaron does. She radios to the others that they’re circling back, but Yumiko informs her that they’ve found something.
The two join up with Yumiko, Magna, Daryl, and Alden in what appears to be a campsite, but this isn’t the discovery. They happen upon the bodies of some campers that must’ve gotten in a fight with the walkers. Further along, they find a decomposing body, but this also isn’t the discovery.
Finally, they find some skins, indicating that at least one Whisperer has been on their side of the border all this time.
Back at Oceanside, Michonne tells Aaron that they need to squash this new threat before it starts. Otherwise, fear could drive them apart. Well, again. However, fear could keep them safe, Aaron says. Michonne was telling him to be smart, not afraid. She’s been thinking about who they are now, and the truth is that they are the good guys.
She knows who Rick and Carl were. Same for Eric and Jesus. They have to choose to be the good guys, even when it’s hard. The minute that they start to question that, the show gets cancelled. I mean, they lose sight of that. That’s when the answer starts to change, and that’s scarier than any skin mask.
Michonne overhears Judith telling RJ the story about a “brave man” who led a group of walkers across a bridge to save his friends. He blew up the bridge, sending all of the walkers into the river and saving his friends in the process. RJ asks Judith if the brave man went to his friend’s house after that, but Judith says that the brave man died and went to Heaven. Well, at least one of the Grimes’ kids believes in Heaven.
Anyway, Judith continues, saying people like the brave man are never really gone anyway. He lives in their hearts and makes them brave. You’re still talking about Rick, right? Not Santa Claus?
Michonne joins and greets the two children, just in time for RJ to complain about the story. He didn’t like that the brave man died and wants to know why he did that. Michonne explains that you love some people so much that you’d do anything for them.
Same goes for RJ’s father. The three hug, but it’s quickly interrupted by a boom. Up in the sky, objects fall from space, as if a meteor shower had suddenly occurred. Rachel alerts Michonne that Eugene needs to talk to her now.
Next Chapter: “Bird Wisdom.” We cut back to Aaron informing Gabriel about the mask, but this time we stay with Gabriel in Alexandria. Meanwhile, Rosita trains her ass off on a punching bag while Eugene treats Rosita’s baby like a science experiment- charting her growth and eating habits. He shares these results with Siddiq when Rosita points out that the baby is just that- a baby, not a science experiment.
It could double as both. Siddiq may not use any of this information, but he’s grateful for it nonetheless. Rosita tells Gabriel to move the radio out of the house, but the recent news has stunned him into silence.
After we find out that Lydia’s reading comprehension skills suck, Eugene, Rosita, Siddiq, Gabriel, Laura, and Nora arrive at the schoolhouse and demand the room. Laura, though, wonders if Lydia should stick around for this.
Apparently yes, because we cut to Lydia training. This doesn’t go unnoticed by a Negan, who asks how she’s doing. He wonders why people are giving her the side-eye, but Lydia notes that he receives similar treatment, as seen when a resident tells Negan to get back to work. Lydia tells Negan that the communities are on alert because someone found a skin, but Negan tells her that “alert” simply means watch your back.
Once the council exits, Siddiq lays the baby to rest, playing a bit with the mobile above her crib. As he leaves, he has flashbacks of the people Alpha and the Whisperers killed. He’s even spooked by a nearby spider, remembering there was also one in the barn where his friends were murdered.
He’s snapped out of his nightmare by newly introduced medic Dante, played by Juan Javier Cardenas, who heard the baby crying from the infirmary.
Dante informs Siddiq that he reorganized the meds in the infirmary. He asks about this alert business and the Whisperers, but Siddiq again his glimpses of that fateful day. He tells Dante that he needs to get the baby to sleep, so Dante leaves. The final flashback we see is of Alpha admiring her bloody blade after the deed has been done.
Well, damn. We have to talk about this.
Gabriel visits Negan in his cell, surprised that he left work early since he apparently likes the great outdoors. But Negan just acknowledges that it’s starting. He decides to drop some wisdom on the pastor: people tend to get mixed up on about who they hate. Yesterday, he was public enemy #1, but now he’s the guy who picks the vegetables and takes out the trash. He’s fine with this for now.
Until this thing passes, he’s keeping his head down so people don’t moves him from the “us” category to “them.” Gabriel affirms that this isn’t what’s happening, but Negan is certain that day will come. The Whisperer boogeyman stuck his head out from behind that closet door and people are putting their shitting pants back on. Why? Because pants-shitting is definitely happening with this “alert” shit.
Negan tells Gabriel that they need to make the people feel secure, even if it’s just for show, sort of like how Negan has someone watching him when he’s gardening. Negan isn’t telling Gabriel to lie, but at most strategic omission or minor misleading. Think of it as using the truth to manipulate, but if that keeps people alive, then what’s the harm? It’s not entirely bad advice, and I think that Gabriel knows this.
He heads out and tells everyone to double up security and lock the gates for the night. But then they hear the same boom that Michonne heard over in Oceanside.
Eugene immediately rushes inside and radios to Rachel in Oceanside, telling her that he needs to speak with Michonne and the community leadership now. Something of grave importance is about to happen.
Next up is “Sea Dogs,” as it becomes clear that we’re playing Rashomon. After once again hearing Aaron’s report to Gabriel, we follow Daryl and Dog to the ocean, where a few survivors are dragging items from the ocean. Kelly, not hearing a warning, almost injures herself on some rough rocks. Connie signs, asking what’s been happening with her hearing, noting that it’s probably getting worse.
Kelly assures Connie that it’s fine, but points out that when there are a lot of voices and sounds, she can’t predict if someone is talking to her and when it will happen. Connie assures Kelly that they’ll keep preparing to make sure she’s ready, but Kelly wonders who will take care of Connie if she can’t interpret. It’s a fair question. Connie isn’t worried, though.
This isn’t a disability, but instead a damn superpower. Daryl and Dog approach, and Kelly notices Connie eyeing Daryl…
Daryl then joins Ezekiel at the pier, with Ezekiel telling him that when he used to work at the zoo, birds freaked him out. Lions and tigers, that’s fine. Daryl suggests that Ezekiel just eat more birds to show them who’s boss.
Connie arrives with Dog, as well as a note to Daryl, saying that he lost something. In his best attempt at sign language, Daryl responds that Dog just likes Connie better.
She then writes that Daryl signs with a Southern accent. The bells of an approaching boat get their attention: Carol has returned. She’s greeted warmly by Daryl and Connie, but her time with Ezekiel is shorter than he would have wanted.
Carol tells Daryl about the backbreaking work she’s endured at sea, as well as how she sailed to a dock where Oceanside picked up letters from Maggie, but there was nothing there. Daryl hasn’t heard from Carol from awhile, and he figures that she went looking for Alpha. Carol’s tried to forget about the Whisperers, so it’s perfect that one of their masks washed up on shore.
He extends an invite for Carol to join Michonne’s search party, but Carol isn’t staying for long.
So what does she want to do now? She wants to go Ride with Norman Reedus and kill some walkers in the woods. We remain with the two as we jump to the next chapter: “New Mexico.” Daryl manages to get a shot at a deer and the two follow it into a clearing that also happens to be one of the Whisperers’ borders. Daryl cautions Carol against firing at the approaching walkers, saying it’s too late to capture the deer anyway.
Carol wonders why they’re respecting borders that they never agreed to when Alpha isn’t even here, pointing out that the deer could’ve fed 200 people. That’s a very kind estimate, Carol, but I’m not a butcher. Daryl later apologizes for pissing off Carol, saying that they don’t have to start shit if it’s not necessary. They all agreed to this after the storm. So it’s just as well that Carol left. Daryl’s been thinking about that.
He’d like her to come home, but Carol is a sea dog at heart. Now she is, anyway. Daryl just doesn’t want his best friend to spend her life on a boat. She pesters him about the “best friend” line long enough for him to decide that they should just eat and not talk. Still, Carol’s suggestion about a matching collar for Dog isn’t a bad idea.
Carol asks Daryl if this is all there is, running into people, killing each other until whoever is left says enough. Daryl thinks that they just survive one fight to the next, but it’s been like that for both of them before all of this. He’s sure that there must be other people like them. He understands what Maggie’s doing with Georgie, while Carol suggests that Daryl join her on the boat this time.
Daryl isn’t one to be kept up in a cabin on a boat all day, but if that doesn’t work, they can just ride on his motorcycle out west. Only if it’s to New Mexico since, as Daryl says, the people there will give you bracelets. He’s up for getting on the bike and going west to see what else is out there. Carol’s all in on that idea. Then the two also hear the boom in the sky.
Next chapter: “Lines We Cross.” Night falls as everyone assembles to check out the wreckage that has caused a fire in the forest. They may end up caught on Alpha’s side of the border, but a fire is a fire and if it’s not put out, that could spell problems for Oceanside and the hunting ground. The fire, caused from the satellite early in the episode, is small enough for everyone to get to work on containing it.
In the middle of all of this, Yumiko asks Magna what’s been eating at her, as she’s been spinning out as of recent. Magna insists that she’s fine, and she proves it by taking out a walker with a single axe to the head, decapitating it.
Aaron orders the diggers back because they need to burn the stray fuel by the control light so the fire doesn’t spread. As day breaks, the fire is dying down. Jerry cautions Ezekiel to pace himself, but Ezekiel reminds him that a fire was the beginning of the end for the Kingdom. That same fate won’t befall Oceanside. Even still, Ezekiel is pushing himself very heard to the point that he exhausts himself, so Jerry will take over for him.
As people start running low on water, a swarm of walkers emerge from the woods. Now we enter “Embers.” The survivors take on what walkers they can, but there are still far too many of them, so they fall back. Eugene warns everyone to steer clear of a burning tree that’s about to fall, but Daryl has his action moment as he tosses his axe at the tree. This causes it to fall and smash some approaching walkers.
After enough hack and slash, the walker threat and fire are extinguished. Eugene scavenges the satellite for whatever he can. He argues with Michonne that they should bring it back with them, and though she wants everyone to get the hell out of there, she orders the others to help him. He gets five minutes. Luke asks Eugene about radiation, but Eugene tells him that there’s radiation all around them, including this satellite.
Aaron tells Michonne that they did the right thing and, hopefully, this buys them some goodwill with the Whisperers since this fire also could impact them. As far as Michonne is concerned, helping their people is enough good for her today. One question, though: where are Carol and Daryl?
Daryl has taken Carol to the same spot where Alpha showed off her herd- though the herd isn’t present at the moment. Again, Carol is adamant about leaving. Tomorrow. But Daryl needs her to stay. Right now, just think about it. Otherwise, he’ll have to punch holes in those boats. Daryl heads off, but Carol sticks around long enough to notice someone emerging from the trees and staring her down.
Welcome back to the world of The Walking Dead. Once again, we’re jumping forward in time from the last season and getting acquainted with the new status-quo for our survivors. Much like when Negan made his first appearance, the survivors find themselves living on edge because they don’t want to cross Alpha.
The difference between the Saviors and the Whisperers is that Alpha’s followers can and will blend in as silent watchers, whereas Negan preferred brute force to make a point. This makes the Whisperers much more of a threat because, as the discovery of the mask showed, you can never know when or where they’ll pop up.
Fear is a powerful weapon, and it’s what united the communities against the Saviors. That same fear could be used to unite everyone against the Whisperers. But again, going back to comparisons, the communities have seen what Alpha is capable of doing. As a result, everyone is more guarded in this premiere, always keeping their eyes open not just in case the Whisperers are nearby, but so they’ll be ready.
Not that they would ever lull themselves into a false sense of security. But unlike Negan, the Whisperers have established their territory. As Carol points out, they didn’t agree to this, but what are their options? Do they cross the woman who executed 10 people and left their heads on pikes? Or do they keep their heads down and bide their time?
As we see, they’ve chosen the latter, and while it’s a shitty way to live, none of them like it. Some are better at masking how they feel, like Michonne, while others like Aaron and Magna are showing their frustration. It’s nothing that would split up the communities- as of now- but they either have to deal with this division or it could cause a problem.
Or, as Negan suggests, they can turn this fear into a weapon. Similar to a conversation he had with Rick back in issue #149, Negan suggests fudging the details just a bit. Not necessarily lie, but say the right thing that makes people feel safe. People are scared, but they aren’t raring to challenge Alpha, so the best thing the leaders can do is provide some semblance of security.
Negan, having been on the “them” side of things when he led the Saviors, knows what’s brewing, so it’s good of him to offer some advice not just to Gabriel, but Lydia as well as far as staying alert.
Right now, the Whisperers are “them” and the survivors are “us.” The survivors want revenge, but right now, they’re better off feeling secure. If that lets them sleep well at night, then who cares if certain details have been omitted? The greater good should be making sure the communities feel safe rather than always being on edge.
But does playing with the truth make them bad as a result? This episode talks a bit about whether the people we follow are the good guys. It’s a thread that we’ve followed since the start and, per the episode’s title, has them question the lines they’ve crossed. As Michonne told Magna last season, they’ve all done things to get here. Hell, Rick punched out Aaron, but turns out he was telling the truth all along.
Yes, they’ve done terrible things to get here- things they aren’t proud of- but things they’ve done to survive nonetheless. That survival instinct has gotten them to this point, but against the Whisperers, their strategies must change, as seen by the training with Oceanside at the start of the episode. Plus, this benefits Oceanside in a great way since, as we’ve seen, they can’t aim for shit.
I like that the bulk of this episode takes place at Oceanside. For one, it keeps them relevant to the plot, as they’re still an integral part of these communities. They weren’t directly affected by Alpha’s actions, sure, but bringing the other community members here allows us to see how they were affected without cutting from one community to the next.
The fire sequence is another good way to rope in Oceanside because the blaze directly affected them. The question aside of the odds of this satellite crashing in that specific area, it was a good scene. The communities were racing against the clock to contain the blaze, but also remaining cautious about whether they would cross Alpha’s border, not to mention the approaching walkers.
But hey, at least Eugene will hopefully make good use of the satellite’s parts. It’ll give him something to do in addition to babysitting Rosita’s daughter.
Jumping over to Alexandria, I was surprised to see that the episode dealt with Siddiq remembering the murders. But it makes sense that he would still be processing that. After all, he was there and left alive as a witness, whereas in the comic, the murders took place off-panel with no survivors. I welcome this change because seeing Alpha decapitate 10 people isn’t something that Siddiq should just gets over.
He doesn’t talk about this to Dante and I’m guessing he hasn’t opened up about being there outside of his speech, so I’m curious to know what’s going on in his head. Plus, I appreciate that we get a glimpse of what happened in the barn after Alpha arrived, without us having to see the actual decapitations. I hope we get more of Siddiq processing all of this as the season continues.
Carol’s bond with Daryl continues to be, for my money, the strongest connection in the show. She’s been out sailing the seas and being free, but like the others, she’s still stung by what Alpha did. So I wouldn’t rule out that Carol has been searching for her. But for now, she’d love for Daryl to join her. Or, at the very least, she’s willing to go wherever Daryl goes.
While I ultimately don’t see either leaving- but I could be wrong- I do think the two will grapple with it. At the very least, Carol may not fully leave until Alpha is dead. She and Daryl are on the same page about doing more than just surviving until the next battle. They both want to cross their own line to see what’s waiting for them out there in the world.
In between all of this, there were some smaller moments here and there like Connie’s concern over Kelly’s hearing, the fact that Daryl has picked up some sign language, Luke flirting with another of the survivors, Carol and Ezekiel’s relationship being on the rocks, and Judith keeping her father’s memory alive through the story of the brave man. Sounds similar to something Carl does in the comics, but I’ll leave it at that.
Also, more talk of Maggie. Coupled with recent reports of Lauren Cohan’s return, we’ll soon have Maggie back, especially sine Whiskey Cavalier was unfortunately canceled.
Still, a solid start to the tenth season of The Walking Dead. Even though Alpha only appears at the end, the presence of the Whisperers is still very much felt throughout the communities. When will they stop biding their time and fight back? Will they decide to light a fire up everyone’s asses just to make them feel safe? We’ll see in the weeks to come. With that, welcome back to The Walking Dead and see you next week!