First it was Tyrese, now Carol’s seeing ghosts on the aptly named “Ghosts.”
The episode begins with Hour One at six in the morning. At the Alexandria Safe Zone, Carol heads out for the day while Eugene spots approaching walkers. At Hour Four, Laura and not-Henry take down walkers outside the gates when Laura radios back. Time passes as the two meet up with a group, led by Aaron, to take down the walkers. When Aaron returns to the Safe Zone, he spots another group of approaching walkers.
Later, he tells the others that the walkers keep coming in waves from the direction of the border. Carol immediately figures this is Alpha’s doing. Michonne tells them to lock it down. Much time passes and even well into the night, the survivors are still fighting the approaching walkers.
When Michonne heads home, Judith reminds her that it’s not good to go to sleep until it’s safe. Before Michonne can confirm whether it’s safe, she gets a radio transmission. As she heads outside for a look, she finds more walkers approaching the Safe Zone. The tide doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.
On the ground, Eugene updates her on how long until the next waves hit. His best guess is that they’ll be fighting late into the night again. Heads up, though, as one Whisperer approaches: it’s Gamma. She tells them to head to the North border, lay down their weapons, and wait for Alpha. Daryl wants the walkers called off, but Gamma insists that this isn’t the work of the Whisperers.
Following this, we get a town hall in Alexandria. Michonne asks Lydia if this is Alpha’s doing. Lydia isn’t sure, but she does know that since the survivors crossed into Alpha’s territory again, they’ll be dealt with once more. They could always not go- they’re under attack anyway- but Lydia acknowledges that if Alpha wanted them dead, she’d send the entire horde instead of just a few.
Then a member of the Highwaymen who we didn’t see at all last season speaks up. This is Margo, played by Jerri Tubbs, and she tells everyone that the Highwaymen want justice. That’s nice, Margo, but who the hell are you? Anyway, all Margo wants to hear is that they’ll be going to the border and taking Alpha’s head. Siddiq, feeling another episode coming on, heads out for some air.
Michonne asks Daryl how many walkers her saw in Alpha’s horde, and his response is that they numbered in the tens of thousands. As expected, no one has a plan to deal with that, so Michonne reminds everyone that if Alpha unleashes that herd, they’re essentially fucked. Right now, all Alpha wants to do is talk, so that’s what they’ll do.
Everyone else, meanwhile, should deal with the immediate threat coming in from the North and South.
She acknowledges that yes, everyone is tired and on edge, but if they don’t act as one, they cannot defeat this threat. So Michonne divides up the tasks: Gabriel will keep watch of the group advancing from the North, while Aaron will handle the South. That just leaves Michonne, Daryl, and Carol for the border. Carol isn’t a fan of going in unarmed, but Daryl reminds her that they don’t have a choice.
But come on. Did you really think that Carol would go unarmed? Nah.
However, Aaron’s soldiers are tired, so Gabriel suggests that Aaron bring Negan along. Negan would prefer to stay back. Everyone is on edge and he doesn’t want any bad vibes thrown his way, even if it is coming from Aaron. Still, Gabriel puts his foot down and tells Aaron that yes, Negan is coming with him.
Okay, so Negan’s tagging along, but Aaron doesn’t have to like it. Outside, Negan comes across a handy-dandy crowbar, but Aaron tells him to drop it and focus on the approaching walkers. Despite Negan’s best efforts to make things right, Aaron isn’t in the mood for pleasantries.
Night falls as Michonne and company approach Alpha’s border. Everyone lays down their weapons, but don’t ask Carol if she’s holding onto a gun.
As the battle rages on in Alexandria, Alpha and her Whisperers finally approach. She unmasks herself and reminds the survivors that there is but one rule between their communities: stay where you are. Daryl tells her that the fire would’ve destroyed her land, not to mention that it would’ve wiped out Oceanside, but I don’t know how many people would lose sleep over that.
Still, it’s natural for fire to burn, and Alpha has no qualm with nature. Plus, this isn’t a one-time incident. There was a crossing during the fire, the storm, and Alpha knows that Michonne crossed the border when she was with the man with the metal arm. Indeed, the Whisperers are always watching. However, Alpha considers context, and as such, there will be no bloodshed. So just what the hell does she want?
Land. The creek that winds into the valley is the new southern border. The Whisperers will mark the new border to the north. Carol points out that this will cut off the hunting ground for the survivors. She’s in no mood for this bullshit and lets Alpha knows that, so before the survivors can leave, Alpha wants Carol to lower her eyes to her. She tells Carol that she should fear her, but instead, Carol looks at Alpha and feels nothing at all.
Well, let’s fix that by getting under Carol’s skin. Alpha taunts her by saying that the blonde boy screamed out Carol’s name before he lost his head. Carol does manage to get out her gun and fires, but Daryl interferes, causing the bullet to hit the ground instead. Michonne immediately apologizes on Carol’s behalf, telling Alpha that they haven’t slept.
From one mother to another, Alpha forgives Carol, but she tells the survivors to get lost, as this is their territory now.
Later on, Michonne tries to reason with Carol, but the only thing on her mind is Alpha’s impending death. After Carol leaves, Daryl tells Michonne that Carol hasn’t been the same since she got off that boat. He thinks she’d be better off on it since she found some peace. It doesn’t help that Carol isn’t sleeping either since she spends so many nights looking for the Whisperers.
As Carol loads her gun, she spots three Whisperers and gives chase, but they escape. Michonne orders everyone into action with orders to capture, not kill.
Negan finally makes some use of the crowbar to put down a walker. Since Aaron was adamant about him not using it, he orders Negan to tie himself together so he can be taken back to Alexandria. Negan will return, but he won’t go like some captive. After he trips Negan, Aaron tells him that everything would be better if he left since he doesn’t give a damn about the others. Plus, there’s no reason why Eric had to die.
Negan points out that he’s proved his worth and he did what he had to do back then. One simple rule kept the Saviors alive when he ran that show: if you don’t protect what belongs to you, then sooner or later, it belongs to someone else. It’s your job as a man to protect it. That’s the story of the world as far as Negan is concerned and no one is changing that.
Aaron spins this, though. He points out that if he failed Eric, then Negan failed his wife. Negan does say something in response to this: “Behind you.” More ninja walkers surprise Aaron, but he manages to overtake them, however his vision is suddenly blurred. He yells out Negan’s name, but gets no response.
Michonne, Daryl, and Carol fail to spot the Whisperers, so Michonne asks how long Carol has been popping those pills. Turns out she’s been taking them since she got back, but it’s fine since they’re like coffee. Not the best descriptor, Carol. Since they can’t stay in the open, the three opt to find a place to hole up for the night.
Everyone reconvenes and takes shelter in a nearby school. As they explore inside, Carol finds a cover of a volume on home economics. Upon further examination, she sees herself on the cover alongside all of her now dead children and children by proxy, from Sophia all the way to Henry.
Okay, I have to admit that this is a cool image. Anyway, everyone splits up. As you’d expect, Carol and Daryl are paired together, so Carol decides to take the first watch. She pops in one of her last two pills as she takes watch.
While Aaron’s desperate search for Negan continues, Daryl talks with Carol about his trucker father who told him and Merle about his crazy trips. One time, he was flying through Kentucky when it was pitch black. He saw a woman on the side of the road and it looked like she was crying. As Dad got closer, the woman stepped right into the freeway in front of his truck.
Dad slammed on the breaks, calls the local police department, and looks for the girl.
But she’s not there. He looks everywhere, but she’s not around and there’s no sign of an accident. Turns out there was no girl. Daryl’s dad didn’t sleep much either. He would stay up for 24 hours to make one of his runs. You stay up that long and you start seeing things. Carol stops herself short before calling Daryl’s father a meth snorting truck driver. Daryl’s still not wrong, though.
As the timer goes off, ending Carol’s shift, she pops her last pill. Daryl implores her to sleep, but she can’t.
Again, back to Aaron’s misadventures. Two walkers are drawn to the noise Aaron makes. They force themselves in, knocking Aaron down, but as you’d expect them, Negan makes quick work of them with the crowbar. He checks in on Aaron and explains that the flowers growing on the walkers is hogweed, which causes rashes and blindness. It’s not always permanent, as long as Aaron washed his eyes.
But Aaron’s vision is still bad, so Negan decides that they’ll be staying in this house for the night. Negan heads out to keep watch.
Back at the school, Carol stalks the hallways and finds a bloody trail inside one of the classrooms. Then she has a vision of Henry calling out to her. She then sees someone getting ready to stab her before she awakens back in her original spot.
Daryl asks where she went, as she was gone for half an hour, but Carol tells him that she just went to patrol the hallways. She then says that she’s fine, as this is nothing like Daryl’s dad seeing a ghost. However, Daryl’s dad wasn’t a truck driver and he has no idea what the hell Carol is talking about. Either way, her shift’s up. Like before, she pops her last pill and will keep watch for one more hour.
This time, though, Carol spots movement outside. She makes her way through the school and ends up in a gymnasium. However, she takes one step too many and walks into a trap, as she finds herself suspended upside down from the ceiling. A Whisperer approach and easily dodges Carol’s attempted stabs.
Walkers approach, but come on, this is Carol we’re talking about. She stabs one walker while still suspended but manages to cut herself down and take down the remaining dead. By the time she’s done, the others have arrived. Nice timing, guys. Time to head back to Alexandria.
Michonne and Daryl bring Carol to Siddiq and Dante. The doctors get to work pulling out the glass shard, but Siddiq has more flashbacks to the murders in the barn. Noticing Siddiq’s jittery behavior, Dante offers to do the cutting while Siddiq pulls out the shard. It’s successful, though because Siddiq is still quite nervous, Dante delivers the good news to Michonne and Daryl.
Also, Aaron’s vision is back. Huzzah.
While Eugene and Rosita regale over the battle, Eugene asks where baby Coco is, and it turns out that she’s with Barbara. Not a huge concern, but Eugene points out that the child shouldn’t be without her mother. Catching what Eugene is getting at here, Rosita reminds him that they won’t be a thing and he isn’t Coco’s father.
She quickly apologizes for her rash reaction, noting that she feels drunk, but Eugene points out that a drunk mind often speaks a sober heart. Sleep deprivation lowers inhibitions. To be fair, Rosita has been trying to tell Eugene that they won’t be a thing, but Eugene just didn’t listen. He thought that, one day, there’d be something special between them, but he realizes there never was.
This bothers Rosita, who asks Eugene if he felt their friendship meant nothing. Now it’s Eugene’s moment of clarity: their friendship, to him, was partly based around the hope that she would, in his words, re-zone him into Lovetown. But what kind of friend is that? He apologizes before leaving, but as he exits, he passes Siddiq without a word.
Michonne has a word for Siddiq, though. Several, in fact. She asks how he’s holding up, given the look he had at the meeting, but he doesn’t come clean as to what’s really on his mind.
Now it’s Dante’s turn to talk. He brings a drink to Siddiq and talks about the combat he saw in Iraq as a field medic. He doesn’t like talking about it unless he has to. You go in as one person and come out as another. One of Dante’s friends, for example, was cocky and broad-shouldered. He never broke…until he did when he lost his squad in Fallujah and blamed himself. He returned with the shakes and flashbacks.
So what happened to this guy, Siddiq asks? Turns out that Siddiq is having a drink with him. I do not know what to make of how the show is translating Dante from comic to screen.
As “Care of Cell 44” by The Zombies kicks in, Carol awakens and heads downstairs to find Daryl making breakfast. She realizes they’ll need jam, so Daryl gives her some money for a quick trip to the store. She wonders if the store is even open now, but there are no arms on her clock. Also, Henry is here.
Okay, time to wake up for real. Carol again heads downstairs to no Daryl or breakfast- just Michonne. Carol’s injury still hurts, but she pins that on Alpha and says that Michonne shouldn’t have stopped her. Still, Michonne had to think of the others at the border with her. Carol is adamant that she saw three Whisperers, but apparently only she did.
Judith again asks Michonne if it’s safe, and it is, for now. So with that, the three rest on both sides of RJ and finally get some shut-eye.
Carol meets up with Daryl, telling him that Michonne doesn’t believe her. She asks if Daryl does, and while he acknowledges that he does, Carol isn’t so sure.
However, we return to the school and follow a trail of blood as we end up on the body of a wounded Whisperer. Their eyes suddenly flicker to life as the episode comes to a close…
Considering the episode’s title, I would’ve thought we’d spend more time with Carol, given what we learn about her. But turns out that she’s one of several characters who gets a bit of growth in “Ghosts.”
It goes without saying that Carol is one of the toughest characters in the series. Like Alpha, she maintains a tough exterior, but is more willing to lower her defenses than the Whisperer leader. Here, we see that despite how calm and relaxed she’s been on the open sea, she’s still processing the loss of Henry to the point that she’s seeing him as a ghost.
I would question why we only see Henry when the photo shows all of the children Carol has cared for, but Henry was the most recent and, arguably, had the most disrespectful death, so I get why we’d see just him instead of pairing him alongside Sophia or anyone else. It shows how Carol keeping her awake is causing her to slowly lose her grip on reality.
Michonne and Daryl don’t seem to believe that she saw three Whisperers, but by episode’s end, it’s clear that she saw something. But then, the episode plays with our heads a bit as far as showcasing what’s real and isn’t. Daryl’s heartfelt conversation about his father, for example, ended up not being real, so who knows what else Carol might be imagining?
If there’s one thing we know for sure, though, it’s that Alpha has to die. I’m curious who, if at all, will give Alpha the killing blow. Within the context of the show, you can make a case for Carol, but I’d also like it if we stuck to how the source material handed this. We’ll get to that eventually. But the face-off between Alpha and Carol was a tense moment.
It’s similar in execution to Negan’s first trip to Alexandria, where Carl’s actions with a gun led to Negan imposing even stricter rules on Alexandria. Here, though, not just because of the border crossings, but Carol bringing and firing a gun led to Alpha moving the borders. In effect, this makes things even harder for the survivors. Like Rick, Michonne has to bite her tongue and just take it.
Good that Carol’s actions didn’t get anyone killed, but it doesn’t cast her in the best light. Everyone feels the exact same way that she does, but she’s quicker to react rather than just biding her time. Perhaps she’s confident that Alpha’s mega herd will be no problem, but then, Daryl is the only one whose seen it for himself.
Carol, like everyone else, is on edge and it’s not helped by the fact that they’re fighting throughout the entire episode. However, this is merely a step above the night-long fight from “No Way Out.” As Lydia points out, if Alpha wanted to send out her massive herd, she would have. A few waves is a pain in the ass, but not impossible. They won out in the end, so at least they should be a bit better prepared for when the true herd comes.
As with “The Storm,” Negan continues to prove his worth to the survivors. You’d think that Aaron would’ve brought up the loss of Eric at least once before this, but apparently he picks now to grill Negan over losing his boyfriend. It sucks that Eric is dead, yes, but he was a casualty of war. I don’t think Negan even exchanged two words with him. That doesn’t absolve Negan of it, but I would think Aaron would’ve addressed it by now.
This isn’t Negan bashing in Glenn and Abraham. For that, Maggie has a reason to be upset because she was there. Negan wasn’t even around when Eric died in “Monsters.” My point is I find it strange that this, after all this time, is why Aaron is giving Negan the cold shoulder. He saved Judith and he’s been on his best behavior. Sure, people haven’t forgotten about who he is, but he’s changed his ways.
In the end, he ends up proving himself yet again not just when he comes clean about doing what it kept to keep the Saviors alive, but also keep Aaron alive as well. Him knowing what hogweed is makes sense, as he’s been working in the garden all this time, so it’s possible that he would know about what plants cause blindness. So that’s one more person who can now trust in Negan.
Eugene and Rosita…just why? There’s no reason for Eugene to still hold out the hope that Rosita will love him. They’re friends and that’s the extent of it. I thought he’d gotten over it and just accepted being extra support for the baby, but no. He’s still pining over here and I don’t know why.
Okay, I do know why. It’s because Rosita is a beautiful bombshell. But she’s with Siddiq now and as far as she’s concerned, Eugene isn’t Coco’s father. So, case closed.
Also, I hoped that we would continue dealing with Siddiq and him seeing Alpha’s murders. We do and I hope that he comes clean to the others. I understand him keeping that bottled in, but by the same token, someone’s going to figure out that he’s bothered by something. Hell, Michonne already may have an inkling, but Dante’s prior war experience allows him to understand what Siddiq is going through.
That said, I don’t know what to make of Dante’s characterization as of yet. That’s me bringing my knowledge of the character’s comic counterpart into this, I know. Not everyone is going to translate the way I’d want them to, but something about Dante here just feels off to me and I can’t pin down whwat it is. Juan Javier Cardenas is fine in the role, but I think it comes down to how Dante is characterized here.
Perhaps that will change when Dante inevitably crosses paths with Maggie, but for now, Dante isn’t really grabbing me. Having said that, his skills as a doctor come through when he helps Siddiq work through saving Carol, so he’s a great addition to the community.
“Ghosts” kept the characters on their feet all episode long and crossing Alpha’s territory has just made their nightmare even worse. It was a good character-building episode with some tense scenes when we were with Michonne’s group, it gave Aaron finally a reason to trust Negan, and the nonstop walkers here were just a minor sampling of what’s to come.