Time to make contact.
The episode begins with Carol getting ready for the day. Before leaving, she considers grabbing her gun. She’s almost outside of Alexandria’s gates when she’s stopped by Daryl, who asks how she’s doing. Carol tells Daryl that she’s going to do another sweep for Negan, and in the interest or providing company, Daryl decides to tag along.
In the woods, the two wonder if Negan crossed into Alpha’s territory- they couldn’t follow him there if he did. Carol stops and decides on the spot where she and Daryl will keep watch, though Daryl points out that Negan isn’t dumb enough to just wander around and let himself get spotted. Neither is Carol. This is also true. So Daryl asks why they’re actually out here, and Carol confesses that they’re looking for Alpha’s horde.
Why? Because they’re going to find and destroy it. Good luck with that.
Back at the Safe Zone, Dante examines a resident, Cheryl, while also stating that they’d make a bitchin’ couple. Good luck with that, Dante. She wants a second opinion, and this is when Siddiq arrives with Baby Coco. But turns out that she’s just down with a case of the stomach bug that’s going around- seven cases now. All that can be done is keeping everyone hydrated and waiting out the bug.
Dante suggests that Siddiq take the baby out for a bit. If Rosita needs a check in the meantime, Dante can handle that. I bet he can. He’s happy to make sure that she’s on the mend. And with that, Dante crosses another boundary. Yes, there are boundaries.
In the woods, Carol tells Daryl that she’s been tracking the small waves of walkers along the border and figures some may have Whisperers in them. They all connect in the general area where Carol and Daryl are now. So why not stake out this spot and see where the Whisperers go? That way, the Whisperers may lead the two to the horde’s spot. But Alpha would need a big spot and the canyon isn’t occupied now.
Carol swears that they only need to tell the council once they locate the horde. Daryl asks why Carol wasn’t honest with him before, but after the border incident, she didn’t want him to worry. She apologizes, but Daryl understands. He’ll stick around to help Carol track some things as she’s picked up a few skills over the years.
So the Whisperers have blindfolded and bound Negan, who is all too interested to learn about this survivalist group. However, he’s far too chatty, which tempts Beta to cut his throat. Negan then properly introduces himself and tells Beta that he’s spent the last eight years locked up by Beta’s enemy. So if Negan is taken to the Whisperer leader, he will say everything that he knows.
Intriguing, so Beta removes Negan’s blindfold, only to then use it as a mouth gag. If anything, Beta is at least resourceful.
The reconstruction over at Hilltop continues, as Nabila brings some more supplies for Eugene. He thanks her for the assistance in getting the radio started back up again, in part thanks to the materials from the downed satellite. She’s unable to join him in the first transmission, so Eugene will be flying solo this time.
Luckily, he does receive a transmission from Rosita, who is calling just to see how he’s doing. She asks if he’s coming back to Alexandria anytime soon, and he’s not sure as of now, but he’s still happy to hear her voice. Some of Eugene’s equipment starts to go on the fritz, so he’ll have to end this call, but the two will talk later.
Daryl and Carol pass time by tossing acorns at the person behind the camera while trying to knock over a can. Daryl manages to hit it, but this apparently doesn’t count because he’s supposed to knock over the can. Carol’s rules, not mine. She does manage to find a double-capper which Daryl pockets.
She asks how things are at the Kingdom, specifically how Connie is doing. Daryl insists that there’s nothing going on between them, but Carol suggests that he at least try since there aren’t a lot of people left in the world. He can’t spend his entire life with Dog forever.
Anyway, Daryl manages to finally knock over the can and decides that it’s time to eat. After Carol gives him some bread, Daryl spots some walkers in the distance. Noticing that they’re just milling about in the same spot, he concludes that there must be a Whisperer among them.
With Negan in Whisperer custody, Beta suggests that Alpha just kill him now, as he can’t be trusted. However, Alpha wants Beta to test Negan. If he fails, only then will Alpha kill him. Beta doesn’t think that wise, prompting Alpha to bring up that Beta has been frequently challenging her opinions as of recent.
She asks if it’s time for the Beta to become the Alpha, but Beta does not. He kneels to his leader. From a distance, Negan watches with a curious look on his face.
So yeah, Beta is stuck watching over the talker that is Negan. The former Savior leader asks if there’s a thing going on between Beta and the Whisperer leader, but switches gears and shares his admiration of the kneeling thing. After all, Negan did once have people kneel before him, but he’s never taken part in the action himself.
Siddiq brings Baby Coco to drop off with Gabriel, but he finds Rosita on the couch instead. Turns out that Gabriel is out on an overnight watch. Well, Siddiq decides that Rosita and the baby will be taking a field trip to the infirmary. Yay?
Because Rosita is headed to the infirmary, she can’t follow-up with Eugene, who then decides to transmit to any open channels out there in hope of a response. We’ll come back to this.
The walker swarm gets bigger as Carol and Daryl continue keeping watch. It would help to get closer because if it gets dark, it will be harder to keep track of where the Whisperers are going. Daryl asks if this is just Carol trying to get another shot at Alpha, but she’s confident that getting rid of the herd is their shot. Fair, but Daryl says that if they’ll do this, they have to be smart. Also, no backup. Just the two of them.
This prompts Carol to ask when has the two of them never been enough which, to be fair, is a valid point. Daryl points out that if they screw this up, everyone will pay the price, but Carol reminds him that they’ve already paid and keep paying no matter what side of the line they’re on.
When Carol goes off to take a leak, Daryl decides to go through her bag- as she seemed quite protective of it earlier. She returns and asks if he found what he was looking for, prompting him to ask if she brought the gun. Carol claims to have used up all the ammunition, but Daryl knows that there’s some ammo left in storage.
Carol is adamant that she did not bring the gun, so she and Daryl finally decides to get in closer to the walker swarm.
So just what does Beta have Negan do? Well, he goes through a full day of Whisperer activities which amounts to: digging, skinning, more digging, killing an animal, and more digging. It’s a far cry from the grand tour that Carl gave Negan, I can tell you that much.
The infirmary is filled to the brim with sick already when Siddiq and Rosita arrive. When Dante comes out, Siddiq lashes out at him, regretting his decision to have Dante handle this on his own, even though this bug is spreading faster than they could have anticipated. Still, Rosita reminds Siddiq that Dante is just trying to help. That said, Siddiq gets to work.
While Daryl and Carol arrive at one of the border points, Negan is ready to chow down on some pig with the Whisperers…until Beta informs him that only those who have earned the right to walk among them are allowed to eat. Negan feels he’s earned a right since he helped kill the pig, but Beta isn’t having that. He tosses Negan to the ground, and just when it looks like Negan may strike back, he spots Alpha watching him.
Negan backs down and sits with another Whisperer who offers some of their food to him. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Beta.
Tater Bug continues over the airwaves as Eugene keeps trying to make contact. He even boosts the signal, but to no avail. Just when it seems like all hope is lost, someone does respond to Tater Bug and asks if he’s really out there.
Out in the woods, Carol makes a bit of noise to attract the walkers and draw them away from the pack. Daryl, not too far, also hides as he hears some Whisperers among the herd heading his way.
So the woman on the other side of Eugene’s transmission also considered giving up, seeing this as a waste of time, but now she’s met this individual. Eugene tries to start off with some questions, such as where is this woman located and how many people are with her. Understandably, the woman doesn’t feel comfortable answering that just yet, so instead, they’ll talk about their histories.
Eugene goes over his life in Dallas, while this woman grew up in Strasburg, PA. Eugene, turns out, is familiar, as his parents once got him tickets to the 1995 Train Fan Expo at the Railroad Museum in Strasburg. The woman even remembers the ice cream shop that Eugene mentions- The Inside Scoop. Not gonna lie, I like that name.
Going by the old-fashioned method, Daryl snaps a walker’s neck and cuts it open as it’s guts spill out. He covers himself in enough walker blood to go unnoticed as some walkers and Whisperers pass him.
Cheryl’s condition isn’t getting better, but she does notice that while she’s the sick one, Siddiq looks as glum as the Grim Reaper. As Dante prepares to leave, Siddiq is ready to apologize, but Dante understands. After all, their options are limited and simple shit can suddenly become a big deal. That said, Siddiq does still appreciate Dante’s help.
As Siddiq rests with Baby Coco, he nods off as he starts hearing voices. What started off as Siddiq in the infirmary transitions to him outside on a windmill.
While a Whisperer swarm makes its way through the woods, Negan picks this as another time to talk with Beta about squashing their beef. Beta is adamant that Negan will never be one of them because he’s too loud, too weak, and too full. However, Negan just wants Alpha. So no matter how much of a fit Beta throws, Negan isn’t going anywhere. That much, Beta agrees with- Negan won’t be going anywhere.
What does Beta mean by that? He guts a nearby Whisperer and heads off, leaving Negan to fend off the approaching walkers by himself.
Daryl meets Carol at the border and is surprised she has taken a Whisperer hostage. Apparently he saw her, so Carol’s plan is to take him back information. She’s even got him bound, even though Daryl didn’t see any such material in her bag.
Eugene’s talk with the woman on the radio goes well until he tries to get into further details, prompting the woman to pause. After all, they could both be a threat to one another and people are dangerous. Eugene knows this, but he believes this woman is good, despite not knowing her.
With that, Eugene decides to give his full name and proposes that the two continue these conversations on a regular basis. With the woman’s interest, anyway. After a long silence, the woman agrees to this, but with one condition: this must stay between the two of them. If she hears anyone else, then she’ll know that she can’t trust Eugene.
Well, it’s a real pity that Negan died, though. While Alpha expected more, Beta at least gets to be right that Negan was weak.
Oh wait, no, Negan’s perfectly fine. He strolls into the Whisperer camp with a bloody tree branch draped over his back. Negan marches towards Alpha, formally introduces himself, drops to one knee, and promises Alpha that he is all in. Well, looks like Alpha’s got a new recruit on her hands.
It’s interesting that we have four separate storylines in this episode, none of which connect with one another, and still must contend with the greater, ongoing plot with the Whisperers. With so much to juggle six episodes into the season, this episode shouldn’t work, but it manages to while advancing the narrative in each separate story. More than that, each thread ties into the episode’s title of “Bonds.”
Take Siddiq, for example, since we get the least from him compared to the other three. He’s attempting to solidify his bond with Dante, but it’s on rocky ground due to how he perceive’s Dante’s competence as a doctor. He doesn’t stick around to help because Dante seemingly has it under control, and once he sees the infirmary filled with patients, he lashes out.
Siddiq talked about setting boundaries, and Dante’s seemingly incompetent work should be the last straw. However, I said ‘seemingly.’ As Dante points out, this bug is hard to contend with when the doctors have limited resources. To be fair, we hadn’t heard of any stomach bug prior to this or anyone getting sick, but it doesn’t take much for a sickness to spread.
I do wish we’d gotten at least one person under the weather at Alexandria to establish that there was a flu or bug going around. Then again, we did see Gamma contaminating the waters, so perhaps that’s what it is.
At the same time, I’m not bothered by this. After all, Dante is doing the best he can. There’s been no indication that he’s a bad medic. I’m more willing to blame Siddiq lashing out at him due to the many things on his plate.
He’s taking care of Rosita and Coco, still dealing with the horrors from the barn, and he just learned that Ezekiel is on limited time. All of that would take a toll on anyone, and since Siddiq hasn’t fully opened up about what he’s going through, it makes sense that he’d lash out at Dante. We’ve seen that Dante already seems to get on Siddiq’s nerves, so maybe Dante was just an easy target for him.
Nice that he follows-up and apologizes for lashing out at him, though. For all of Siddiq’s talk about not wanting everyone to look to him for leadership, he’s not pulling away from his duties. He only spend time with Coco and Rosita because Dante said he could handle the patients- not because he forced Siddiq away.
That said, he’s still having nightmares and I’m not sure what to make of him at the windmill at night. With what Siddiq is still processing from the barn, I’m curious if we’ll go back there and maybe see something take place from his perspective. We saw Alpha with the bloody blade, yes, but who is to say we won’t actually see her decapitate one of the survivors? It’s anyone’s guess.
While Eugene is still on good terms with Rosita, despite not being able to be with her, he’s now fostering a new friendship with this mysterious woman on the radio. For one, it’s great that he’s not only made a new contact, but hey, he made contact! This plotline feels like it should have been saved for another episode rather than put into this one because it’s a rather big deal.
For all the trouble of coming across the radio equipment, trying to establish contact, and the voice we heard in the Season Nine finale, finally hearing someone else out there in the world is a huge step towards connecting with another community out there.
However, I enjoyed Eugene speaking with the woman. His techno-talk didn’t turn her off and he established a good rapport with her. I’m sure it won’t last long, though. Not because of what I know from the comics, but the fact that the woman said she wants this to stay between her and Eugene means it probably won’t. I don’t think Eugene will spill, but I have a feeling that someone may find out by accident.
Until that comes, their conversation was warm and light-hearted. The two were able to open up despite the caution they both had. It felt like Eugene opened up more than necessary this early on, mostly through giving away his full name, but it’s the first person on the radio who he doesn’t know after finally establishing contact outside of the communities we know. I’d chalk that up to eagerness than him being naive.
Like the woman, Eugene understands the risk because this is just talk over the radio. This woman doesn’t know him and he doesn’t know her. For all they know, this could be a trap, so I appreciate that the woman is a bit apprehensive on sharing too much about herself. That could change over time as the two get to bond more, but for now, nice to see this plot line move forward.
Carol and Daryl. The most powerful friendship in this series for my money, made all the better by the great chemistry between Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus. With all they’ve been through, even this bond is on shaky ground due to Carol’s actions and desire to see Alpha dead. We’ve seen her take action by attempting to shoot Alpha, thus putting everyone in further danger.
This is a Carol who is taking initiative and taking the battle to Alpha, rather than waiting for something to happen. These are the sorts of actions that led to Rick banishing Carol in Season Four, and if Rick were still around, I imagine he’d still caution Carol against being so rash. That responsibility now falls to Daryl as he tries to keep his best friend from making a fatal decision.
Luckily, that doesn’t happen and Carol knows Daryl well enough to know that he wouldn’t stand in her way. He accompanies her because, as we’ve seen throughout the series, the two of them can accomplish anything on their own because they’re survivors. This doesn’t mean there’s no distrust between the two, as seen when Daryl goes through Carol’s bag or when he asks if this plan is about her wanting Alpha.
That Carol has taken a Whisperer hostage is proof that, while she’s fine working with Daryl, she’s not sticking 100 percent to the plan. The idea was merely to track the herd, but taking a Whisperer hostage didn’t need to happen, as far as Daryl is concerned. This lone Whisperer has no idea who Carol is, but then again, Gamma doesn’t know Aaron’s name, yet she and Alpha identify him as the man with the metal arm.
So in that regard, I get Carol bringing back a hostage. Plus, this Whisperer would have more updated information about Alpha’s current plan since Lydia has been at Alexandria this entire time.
It was nice for Carol and Daryl to have another heart-to-heart, especially Carol asking Daryl about his potential feelings for Connie. While I’m sure that Daryl is keeping things strictly platonic, it’s hard to ignore the growing bond between the two. Hell, the story he shared with Connie about Merle might be the most animated we’ve seen Daryl in a long time.
There’s clearly something there, and sure, Daryl may not be interested in a long-term plan that involves settling down with someone, but it’s hard to deny the growing bond between him and Connie. Only Carol would be able to get him to open about that, even if just a bit.
Negan with the Whisperers. In a way, this felt like a twisted reversal of when Negan gave Carl a tour of the Sanctuary. Here, Negan is the outsider and trying to impress this strange group. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was great here as he gave us more of the animated Negan from Season Seven. Not to say the more methodical, mature Negan has been bad, but I always enjoy seeing Negan trying to put on the charm.
Problem is that you can’t charm someone like Beta, who was all too eager to see Negan fail. Obviously these two weren’t going to bond or have any sort of friendship when Beta hoped to be rid of this man. But Alpha seemed to see something in Negan. What that is, I don’t know, especially since there’s no telling what his real motivation is.
But at the end of the day, Negan proved himself by staying alive in the face of danger. Even without Lucille, he managed to fight off the walkers when Beta left him for dead. Now that he’s seemingly won Alpha’s good graces, the question remains what he will do now. While Negan looks like he’s ready to join the Whisperers, I don’t see him turning on the survivors, especially after all he’s done to prove himself.
But we shall see. So again, a solid episode that pushed the narrative forward in a big way, in particular Eugene making contact with another person out there. Carol capturing a Whisperer could be a good thing or potentially put the communities at further risk, same with Negan walking among the Whisperers, but we’ll have to see how this continues to unfold. See you next week!