Look at the flowers? That’s not a good sign.
The episode begins with a flashback. Carol pops by Negan’s cell and asks if he wants forgiveness, but Negan acknowledges what he’s done. He won’t get on his knees. He’d at least like his last meal, but Carol says that Negan doesn’t have to die. She’s not speaking on behalf of the council- just for herself. Negan doesn’t get why Carol is coming to him when her priority should be Alpha.
Well, that’s why Carol is here. Negan knows that while Carol is a badass, she missed her shot at Alpha. If Negan fucks this up too, that could make things worse for the people in Alexandria. Despite what people think of him, he’s not down with what the Whisperers are cooking. Carol needs this done, knowing it will help everyone. But what does Negan get out of this?
Carol knows that everyone won’t forget what he’s done unless he does something to make them forget. If Negan brings Alpha’s head to Carol, then she will make sure that’s how he is remembered. So long as Negan does it fast, then he has Carol’s word.
Jump forward to the present as Carol places Alpha’s reanimated head on one of the pikes. Negan asks if this is what she wanted, and it is. Negan’s ready to head back to Alexandria, but Carol wants to know what took so long. But Negan points out that he wanted to get out of this alive. Shit like this takes time.
He wants to open up a new chapter in The Book of Negan- available now at select stores- but Carol isn’t going back to Alexandria. Not yet. Negan knows that if he returns to Alexandria without Carol, he’s as good as dead, so Carol proposes that he just wait. Right now, Carol just needs to be alone. Since Negan is free, he can do as he pleases.
The Hilltop crew recovers, and all of the kids are alright. Ezekiel notes that they got lucky, but he still feels like a failure. Mistakes these days seem to stick harder than the triumphs, but Jerry suggests that his boss take it easy.
Magna, who looks like she bathed in-between episodes, returns with Yumiko and Eugene. Jerry is overjoyed to see Magna alive and well, and she assures him that she’s fine.
Rosita, meanwhile, apparently got bruised up during the Hilltop battle. Eugene tends to the wound on her abdomen and suggests taking her to see Alex, when they find Alex, but Rosita tells Eugene that he has to go to his meeting. It doesn’t help that he hasn’t told everyone yet that he’s established contact.
So it’s time. Eugene gets everyone’s attention and informs them all that he’s been in radio communication with someone outside their sphere of friends. They’ve set up a time to meet, but before Eugene can explain more, he’s immediately bombarded with questions. Most important of all: how long has he been keeping this from everyone?
However, Ezekiel trusts Eugene’s instincts and advises that everyone hear him out before jumping to conclusions.
Since Eugene relocated to Hilltop for a fresh start, he buried himself in work and community duties. This manifested in hearing Stephanie’s voice. People may believe that he’s foolish for believing in future alliances, but after what they’ve just been through and lost, he’s willing to be the fool. He just asks that everyone not deride him for taking a risk in meeting potentially good people.
Outside, Yumiko suggests that Magna go with Eugene and even offers her horse. After all, Magna never liked to be cooped up, so she can get back out on the road and have an adventure to look forward to, not back. Magna likes it here and believes a routine could be good for her, so someone else should have this adventure. Yumiko would be leaving at the worst time, but Magna tells her that there’s nothing she needs to fix.
Jerry, meanwhile, doesn’t want Ezekiel to go. Not because he’s sick, but because he’ll miss him. Still, Jerry knows that he can’t stop Ezekiel, and even Ezekiel is willing to believe in future friends. That may be all it is, but it’s enough for now. Besides, the Kingdom needs Jerry, and Ezekiel wants Jerry to make sure that their legacy lives on.
Soon enough, Beta and two other Whisperers arrive at the border and find Alpha’s reanimated head on one of the pikes. One of the other Whisperers notes that Alpha was last with Negan, and with her dead, Beta is the Alpha now. Beta isn’t exactly overjoyed to hear that, especially since Alpha can hear him. He orders the Whisperer to take off his mask.
The Whisperer does, and Beta asks him if he hears what Alpha is saying. Does he hear what a decapitated head is asking? Perhaps, but just in case, Beta moves the man closer until Alpha takes a bite out of his face. Beta then removes Alpha’s decapitated head and cradles it in his arms.
Negan heads to the cabin where he hid Lydia, but finds it empty, save for a surprise ambush by Daryl. He demands to know where Alpha is, and Negan explains that he killed her. He got close enough to the Whisperers so he could slit her throat and even takes out Alpha’s mask as proof. After all, it’s the entire reason why Carol let him out of that cell.
Speaking of, Carol does what she does best: be by herself. She goes through the woods until she hears what appears to be Alpha’s voice all around her. She turns around and sees a hallucination of Alpha standing behind her. What does Alpha say? She’s always watching.
Beta and the unmasked Whisperer walk through an abandoned town when the unmasked man coughs. This gets the attention of a nearby walker, but before the man can kill it, Beta guts him instead. He falls to the ground and becomes lunch for the walker.
Having placed Alpha’s head in a sack, Beta listens to what she’s apparently telling him as he heads into a nearby hotel. Inside on a table, he finds a note which reads “These 2 eyes see 1 truth.” Did Edward Nygma write this or something? Nah. That’d be too easy. He pockets the note and then finds a gun on the ground, as well as blood splattered on a nearby flier on the wall- a flier about a musician’s concert.
Enraged, Beta picks up a nearby guitar and starts laying waste to the room. I assume he just wasn’t a fan of the man’s music.
Alpha continues to haunt Carol, telling her that she’s lost- as is her boy who was sent away and never came back. He died alone and afraid, just like Sophia. Well, when’s the last time you heard that name? Alpha tells Carol that there’s no taking of her head unless she takes her own. She respects what Carol did. It was Negan who delivered the killing blow, but it was Carol who ended her, like a true alpha.
Carol at last responds to the hallucination that’s not really there and tells her to stop. Not that she regrets what she did, but Alpha taunts her: people were hurt in the name of vengeance, and now Carol can’t go back because they won’t accept what she’s done. Maybe they will if she apologizes? Alpha knows that Carol has tried the whole “being out on her own” before, but she always gets dragged back into the fray.
Those people always want more love, motherhood, and eventually death, but they don’t know what Carol truly wants. So Alpha asks: what does Carol want?
It’s enough of a distraction for Carol to finally notice the ninja walker behind her. Again, how do these things not make noise to the point that someone should be able to hear it from a few feet away? Whatever. Carol tells Alpha that she wants to be alone, but Alpha says that’s the wrong answer.
So Eugene, Yumiko, and Ezekiel hit the road, Jack, with Eugene asking the most important question of all: will these people have candy? What made him think this? He thought about his mother, who grew up near train tracks like the one the three are riding by right now. He was trying to remember something kind about her, so he thought about the chocolate bunnies that she would buy around Easter.
They were delicious as hell, but eating the heads upset Eugene as a child. He came to associate them with family. Now of course, this isn’t a journey to find chocolate bunnies, fun as that would be. No. They’re on a journey for the future hope of mankind. Still, candy would be nice. I tend to agree.
Eugene offers to dig into his impressions in order to cheer up Ezekiel, but the king is not the best audience at the moment. Besides, there’s something suspicious up ahead: two walkers in a cage. Yumiko assumes this is the Whisperers’ doing, but this doesn’t seem like them. Still, the three realize they may not be alone, but don’t know who would do this. It’s at least worth taking a few minutes to investigate.
Ezekiel heads into a clearing and gets a coughing fit, but not bad enough to keep him from taking out a few stray walkers. He then hears Yumiko yell that they’re all clear where she is as well.
Back to Daryl, who has Negan walking with his hands behind his back. It’s familiar to how things went with Alpha. Negan surmises that Daryl is upset that Carol didn’t let him in on the plan, and Negan is upset, too. Lone wolves don’t think about the pack. Daryl, though, might be upset because the kids at Hilltop almost died because of Negan.
So that was a scene.
Back at the hotel that time forgot, Beta looks over the fliers and records of the musician once known as Half Moon. He plays one of the records, pumps up the volume, and lets the music blast. All at once, the walkers are drawn to the sound.
At the very least, Ryan Hurst has a great singing voice.
Carol heads to an abandoned cabin as Alpha continues to taunt her, saying that Ed was right to call her brainless. There was no peace on the ocean for Carol because she was always thinking about Alpha. She even wrote that letter to Maggie about Alpha. If Alpha knows the truth, then so does Carol.
Carol, meanwhile, is trying to pull down a boat on the wall, but fails, causing everything on top of her to come crashing down.
Negan and Daryl arrive at the border, but find no sign of Alpha’s head. Of course, Daryl draws his crossbow, but Negan tells him to think about this: why would he stash Lydia away unless the entire point was to keep her safe and use her as bait to get Alpha alone? As he said to Carol, Negan admits that yes, it took him some time because he had to get Alpha to trust him because he wasn’t on some suicide mission.
Daryl figures that maybe Negan liked being among the Whisperers, but speaking of, three Whisperers emerge from the darkness and hold the two at gunpoint. One of them tells Negan that Alpha is dead because of him. As such…the Whisperers will kneel to the new Alpha.
The walkers continue to gather at the sound of Ryan Hurt’s amazing singing voice while Beta takes off the torn part of his mask. Thanks, Gamma.
So now Daryl is the one bound and checked by the Whisperers, as this is just Negan savoring the moment. As rain continues to fall, he tells his new followers that if he is indeed Alpha, then he’s the one who should be holding the shotgun. As such, the Whisperer holding the gun hands it to Negan.
He likes the weight of the gun in his hands. While he never had a kid, he figures that holding a gun is the equivalent to holding a newborn. Except his baby kills people by spitting bullets. He orders Daryl to kneel and admits that Daryl was right- he did like it. This goes like you’d expect it to: instead of Negan killing Daryl, he takes out the Whisperers instead. Once the deed is done, Daryl orders Negan to untie him.
As Ezekiel, Yumiko, and Eugene make camp for the night, Ezekiel hears one of the horses whining in pain. He inspects the horse and finds a bite mark. As he pulls out his blade, he tells the horse that it won’t be in pain anymore. With that, he puts the horse out of its misery. He takes blame for coming, even though Yumiko assures him that this was just an accident.
Ezekiel wants the other two to promise him that they’ll leave him behind if he falters. After all, if his horse wasn’t strong enough to make the journey, maybe he isn’t either. Yumiko suggests that they could always turn back because of what might happen, but Ezekiel knows that it’s for the best. Still, they don’t know what lies ahead. Yumiko had tons of plans for her life and clung to them so hard…for what?
No one cares what you have in mind for the future. They’re here to find out what’s possible and what they can’t predict or imagine. They need the man who built a kingdom in the apocalypse.
Day breaks and Carol has not freed herself. Alpha says something that her mother used to say: everything works out the way it’s supposed to work out. As a walker crawls Carol’s way, Alpha reminds Carol that it would always end this way- with no one coming to save her. Not Ezekiel and certainly not Daryl. Not after what she did to Connie. Alpha wants Carol to stop fighting. No matter what she does, she still loses people.
Sophie, Lizzie, Mika, Henry, and Ezekiel, to name a few. If Carol goes back, Daryl could be next. While Carol would never let that happen, her track record doesn’t inspire confidence. Alpha could’ve been anyone, but Carol chose her because she gets the job done. Alpha wants Carol to just relax and look at the flowers. Roll credits.
No dice. Carol frees herself and puts down the walker as she tells Alpha that it’s never too late.
Meanwhile, now with two horses, Ezekiel, Eugene, and Yumiko continue towards their destination.
Daryl and Negan continue to wait for Carol, but as far as Negan believes, she’s not coming. When Negan said that he liked it, that wasn’t part of the act. That much Daryl already knew. After being locked up, he lost everything and spent seven years staring out that window. It got so bad that even his memories had bars painted on them. So when Alpha took him in, he admits that he liked it.
For once, he mattered to someone again and felt respected, but Alpha took it too far. You don’t kill people that don’t deserve it, and you never kill kids. Obviously that’s not going to make Daryl like Negan. Daryl decides to head off, even though Carol hasn’t arrived.
She eventually does- back to Alexandria and is welcomed by a silent Daryl. So just Daryl.
Eugene, Yumiko, and Ezekiel explore the town around him, knowing it’s possible that the city might not be empty.
I’ve gotta say…this town is something else. It looks like a party that time forgot, with people still dressed up like they’re ready to celebrate. At the very least, Ezekiel finds it hilarious.
Then she appears.
Well, we’ll get to this mysterious character in a moment. Back to Beta. He takes out Alpha’s reanimated head and thanks her before pulling out a blade and putting her down for good.
Beta, having made another half for his mask, leave the hotel and begins leading the walker herd onward as the episode comes to a close…
Well, after last week’s farewell for Michonne, we jump back into the main storyline as we approach the end of the season. This episode provided some good, immediate follow-up on Alpha’s death, but only as far as a few characters are concerned. Jury’s out for now on how the communities will react to this.
As such, this episode juggles both that plot and moves forward with Eugene searching for Stephanie and establishing a bond with this faraway community.
Oddly, given the episode’s title, this isn’t as much of a Carol-centered episode as you’d think. It’s a clear callback to when Carol was forced to kill Lizzie, but beyond a name drop alongside other characters, there’s nothing in this episode that serves as a direct callback to “The Grove.” Nor does this episode tread any new territory as far as Carol is concerned.
Too many times has this show focused on Carol’s isolation. Not every episode focused on her needs to deal with this. We as an audience have seen, time and time again, that Carol is dealing with a lot of guilt. She feels and knows that her actions have gotten people killed. Even when she’s not the culprit, Carol often believes that the blood is still on her hands.
Coupled with her often choosing to be alone and cut herself off from the others and you’ve got a formula for a Carol episode. Not to say that other interesting things haven’t been done with the character. They absolutely have, but this episode doesn’t take us anywhere new as far as her character.
Alpha taunts Carol which as, at best, is mildly amusing, but her telling Carol that people may not accept her is something that Carol herself already knows. We already saw Rick exile her from the group when she took matters into her own hands at the prison.
This should have something deeper, and if it is for you, no problem at all. But Alpha following Carol throughout the episode didn’t tell us something about Carol’s character that we couldn’t already tell or infer. Hell, I found myself wanting more interactions between her and Negan when she bailed on their agreement.
What does she learn when she finally frees herself? To keep on going? Again, we’ve been down this road before. Carol ultimately returns to Alexandria in the end anyway, so I don’t get her motivation for going off on her own again.
Her being the one to free Negan is something we all saw coming. What I don’t entirely get is why Negan had to kill Alpha in order for everyone to accept him. No one would forget him killing Abraham and Glenn, among others. But by this point, he’d saved both Judith and Aaron, as well as defended Lydia when people in Alexandria were giving her crap.
Would people ever fully get over what Negan did? No. That’d be ludicrous. But at this point, he’s turned a new leaf. Perhaps him killing Alpha would symbolize that this is a different man, but Carol and Daryl ought to understand that working your way into the good graces of someone like Alpha takes time.
Hell, Dante was a Whisperer all this time and no one ever suspected him. That shows the amount of time it takes to integrate yourself among strangers and earn their trust.
Negan feeling accepted again feels right up his alley after being locked away for so long. He used to be a leader of men and women, but Alpha saw something in him that few others did: value. Even though it was a long con, he found himself in the position of his fellow Saviors by serving a leader for their greater good. He disagreed with Alpha’s goals, sure, but he at least got to be of use to someone.
Daryl distrusting Negan, even after he’s done things like help Judith, makes sense. After all, Negan did escape and until now, Daryl had no idea that Carol was the reason behind that. Of course he’s going to treat Negan like a hostage and wouldn’t trust him any more than he can throw him. Though I did enjoy their conversation towards the end now that Daryl understood Negan’s motivations.
Beta taking on part of Alpha’s face, tearing down traces of his past self, and immediately refusing to become the new Alpha when “she” was still alive shows his continued devotion to Alpha, as well as his rejection of the old life. His old life. The series does a better job at explaining Beta’s past earlier than we learn about it in the comic book, what little was there.
It’s a great way to add another dimension to Beta’s character and shed some light on who he was before the world went to hell. Him holding the Whisperer’s face so Alpha could bite it, him cradling her head and thanking her was creepy at times, but not out of character for what we know about Beta. In death, Alpha has made Beta stronger and now a piece of her will literally always be with him.
Now we wait and see what he does with the herd that he has amassed…
As for Eugene, it’s great that he didn’t keep the secret any longer. It makes sense that people would be suspicious. These people don’t have the greatest track record when it comes to meeting new people or introducing themselves to one another. Just ask Aaron. At the same time, as Ezekiel pointed out, Eugene’s judgment is sound. He’s not out to deceive anyone and he wouldn’t endanger everybody by revealing everything.
Plus, in light of the Hilltop battle, it doesn’t hurt to have a little bit of optimism. Normally that would be Ezekiel’s role, but we know his situation right now. Between the talks that Eugene has had with Rosita and Carol- though the latter didn’t add much- he’s ready to make a risk and believe that there are others out there who can help.
I quite enjoyed the moments we got between Eugene, Yumiko, and Ezekiel. It’s a trio I didn’t imagine I would enjoy as much as I did. Between the goodbyes with Jerry and Magna, Ezekiel having to put down the horse, and Eugene talking about the chocolate bunnies his mother would buy, I could’ve done with more of these scenes.
Same goes with the three heading into the city, as it had some unexpected levity with Ezekiel having a laugh at the walkers. Not sure what was so funny, but for Ezekiel in particular, it was nice to see him in good spirits. Plus, the town did look like the people died in the middle of Mardi Gras.
Then we get the newcomer. Now this character does have a name and she is based off of the source material, so we’ll get to her in a moment, but I’m curious how she translates to live-action. We shall see.
We’re in an interesting point in time with The Walking Dead. Like so many other shows at the time of writing this, the series has been impacted by the coronavirus. As such, the original air date for the Season 10 finale has been postponed and next week’s episode will be the last one we get for the season for awhile. No idea when we’ll get the actual finale, and who knows how long this virus will continue gripping the world.
Things are up in the air right now, but for the moment, we do have at least one more episode to go before we go on a bit of a break for The Walking Dead. See you all next time.