It’s a haunted house.
The episode begins with, at long last, Virgil and Connie on the run at night. Virgil spots a mailbox and suggests they find a potential home, but Connie signs that they should keep running. They elect to find the house and end up at a mansion with walkers milling about. They struggle to hold off the walkers long enough to bust open the door and seal it behind them. More walkers descend upon the mansion…
In Alexandria, Carol and Aaron discuss how they’ll find Connie. Well, more like Carol wants to go out on her own, while Aaron believes they can cover more ground with a larger group. Rosita suggests splitting the search party into teams of two. Not an unrealistic plan, but before they can consider this, Magna arrives and asks if any of them have seen Kelly.
Well, turns out Kelly didn’t get the memo, as she’s riding out on her own.
Connie, meanwhile, watches the walkers outside before looking at her makeshift map. Virgil searches for anyone upstairs and, upon finding no one, tells Connie that they’re alone. He suggests that Connie, who hasn’t slept in days, gets some rest while he keeps watch. Soon enough, they’ll find her friends. Connie, however, refuses, writing that it’s not safe to do so. She then goes to search the house again.
We jump to the Reapers, where one member tortures Frost for information. Daryl isn’t bothered by this- he’s done worse- so Pope suggests that he have a go. Daryl goes in and starts strangling the beaten man, but soon backs off and tells Frost to just give them a location. A good offer, but Frost suggests that the Reapers eat shit instead. This gets him a punch from Daryl.
Well, at least it was just a suggestion.
Time to up the ante. Leah hands Daryl a knife, and Daryl tells Frost that he knows he’s close to the leader and where her group is hiding. As Daryl holds one of Frost’s fingers, he again asks for a location, telling him that no one needs to die today. To prove he’s serious, Daryl cuts off one of Frost’s fingers and demands a location. Before Daryl can take another, Frost finally mentions a yellow house.
Pope instructs Leah to take a squad and scope out this location, just to see if Frost is telling the truth.
We jump back over the mansion as Connie explores the house. As she notices that the eyes in the portraits have holes in them, the volume dips. Connie then spots a hole in the bathroom wall.
As she approaches it, something behind the wall stares back at her.
She rushes downstairs and signs to Virgil that something else is there with them. Of course Virgil can’t understand what Connie is telling him, so Connie, too frantic to write it down, takes his blade and carves “NOT ALONE” into one of the portraits.
Leah’s group approaches the house Frost spoke of, and she gives the order to enter from the front and back. Phrasing. Keeping a distance from the others, Daryl pulls on a wire a few times, which Maggie spots.
By the time the Reapers enter, they find the house empty. Daryl suggests they keep looking, but Leah opts to search the neighborhood first, in case the targets are nearby.
Out in the woods, Kelly happens upon an abandoned camp site and, among the deserted items, Connie’s notepad. She goes through the pages before grabbing the bag and leaving.
Virgil inspects the spot Connie indicated and finds nothing. He suggests that they sweep the house again, but no way in hell is Connie staying here any longer.
But as the two leave the bathroom, a door shuts behind Connie, separating her from Virgil. As we re-enter Connie’s point of view, the sound dips again as she navigates the mansion on her own. As she makes her way through, she’s suddenly chased by some ravaging, growling human that rushes behind her on all fours.
As the Reapers continue sweeping the neighborhood, something gets Daryl’s attention- the trap door in the floor. He suggests that they keep moving, but one Reaper notes that at the last house, Daryl wanted to stick around and make sure they didn’t miss anything. But at this house, he’s ready to leave? Which is it? Not an unfair question.
Leah breaks up the argument and instructs the Reapers to keep searching. When alone with Daryl, she reminds him that he’s with or against them. So what can he do now? For starters, stop pissing off Carver.
Oh, is that his name? Well, whatever. All the while, Maggie, Negan, Elijah, and Gabriel remain in hiding.
Magna, Rosita, and Carol catch up to Kelly just as a horse lets her fall into some mud. Perfect timing. Kelly shows Connie’s notepad, which indicates that she’s with some guy who knew Michonne. More than that, she thought the two of them were being followed them. Well, time to keep searching. Never mind that Kelly’s covered in mud.
Speaking of Connie, how’s she doing? Well, when the calamity and growling from the other side of the door stop, she explores the basement, which is littered with skulls and bones. She makes her way through a vent and winds up back upstairs.
She spots Virgil also trying to hold back another of the savages, so she bangs on the wall to get his attention. She then also spots one of the savages slowly approaching Virgil just as he’s approaching the wall. Connie bangs and bangs, but the savage overtakes and starts strangling Virgil.
Connie bangs on the wall loud enough to distract the savage, giving Virgil an opportunity to stab the man. With his attention back to the wall, Virgil, uncertain what lays on the other side, starts stabbing into the wall.
Before he can potentially stab Connie, she tears through enough of the wall to allow Virgil to tear down the rest. The two are, at last, reunited.
Back with the Reapers, Daryl tells Carver that whoever they’re looking for ran. Plus, they probably won’t come back, given the Reapers’ numbers. Leah also opts to move on, but something seems off to Carver. His instinct is to look out for Leah- or Shaw, as he keeps calling her- but what about Pope locking her in the cabin and setting it aflame? Was Carver looking out for her then, too?
Carver tells Leah to wake up! Everything’s a test and Daryl doesn’t give a shit about the Reapers. That much Daryl agrees is true: he doesn’t give a shit about any of them, except for Leah. He made mistakes, but he’s here right now. Maybe he’ll be better if the Reapers give him a chance. He admits that Pope scares the shit out of him, and Daryl’s not trying to end up in the fire. But if Leah says to trust Pope, then Daryl will.
However, Carver then notices the trap door under the carpet. He pulls it open and finds…nothing.
Why? Because Maggie, Negan, Elijah, and Gabriel have already fled.
As a storm approaches, Carol, Rosita, Magna, and Kelly arrive at a split path. Carol suggests splitting up, but Kelly ends up picking the path she thinks that Connie would travel. Wait, wasn’t Aaron’s point last episode to check during the day so they don’t end up in the situation that they’re in right now?
Whatever. Back in the mansion, Virgil notes that he’s never seen people that far gone before- people that actually herd others like prey. Someone should fill Virgil in on the Hunters. He gives Connie his blade and tells her that, no matter what, she has to keep going. With or without him. Connie refuses, and she won’t accept his blade. She signs that if they’re getting out, then it will be together.
Virgil has no choice. He lost himself for a long time and made choices that he can’t take back, but Michonne gave him another chance. She pointed him back to the road, and this road led right to Connie. So Virgil has to pass on that chance, or it means nothing. Still, Connie is adamant that they will get out together. That’s not even a question.
Time’s up. The two make their way through the mansion and cut down any savages they encounter. One manages to stay Virgil in the back a few times, but the two end up downstairs near the entrance. As one of the savages approaches, Connie gets the idea to cover herself in walker guts.
Why? Because when she flings open the door, the walkers ignore her and feast on the savages instead. The savages may be…well, feral, but that won’t give you the edge in a fight with the dead.
Connie and Virgil end up outside, but not all of the savages are dead. As one rushes towards the two, it’s put down by Kelly, who embraces Connie in a tearful reunion.
Carver, Leah, and Daryl report to Pope that they went to the location that Frost spoke of, but the targets fled. Pope isn’t disappointed, though. In fact, he’s quite elated. When the others left, he had a chat with Frost, who wasn’t too talkative. But Pope got everything he needed.
Where’s Frost? Well, he’s a walker now, of course, and chained to a tree. As Pope and the others head inside for the night, Daryl and Leah once more share a look as the episode comes to a close.
It’s rare that The Walking Dead plays into the fact that it’s a horror show. Sometimes it will, like Season 6’s “First Time Again” being in black and white, akin to old movies. “On the Inside” does this as well in the way it plays with sound. We’ve seen things from Connie’s perspective before, like in the Season 9 episode “Bounty,” but this episode takes it to another level.
Here, the creators had the smart idea to have Virgil’s moments play with sound, while having next to no sound with Connie. On first viewing, I thought I’d lost sound. Even turning up the volume, I found the sound was there, but very low. Then it hit me what the creators had in mind, and I do have to applaud them for this decision. It’s a creative way to put you in both Virgil and Connie’s points of view.
Connie, like Lauren Ridloff, is deaf, so of course she wouldn’t be able to hear anything. It wouldn’t make sense for us to hear what’s happening when she’s alone, but she can’t. More than that, Ridloff is great when she’s running through the mansion. You really feel like you’re watching an old horror movie.
More than that, I enjoyed how much Connie refused to leave Virgil’s side. After his encounter with Michonne, Virgil has made his way back to the very people who once thought him hostile. His running into Connie allowed him to right his past wrongs. That said, you never think he’s about to sacrifice himself. Not so soon after he returned. But Connie had family looking for her, while Virgil’s is gone.
So if he can stay behind to give Connie a fighting chance, then that’s his way of atoning for his past. Luckily, he and Connie made it out of this mad house alive and Connie finally got her heartfelt reunion with Kelly.
But…what are these people? Are these feral folks meant to represent people who are that far gone? They feel like what you get if a Wolf and a Hunter reproduced. They’re just as vicious as the Wolves, but just as hungry as the Wolves. But I can’t even say this is out of the realm of possibility in the world of The Walking Dead. It’s something I wouldn’t expect to see in the series, but not out of the question.
I did like the threat they posed and their monstrous appearance. They always seemed to gain a second wind, thus making it harder for Connie and Virgil to escape. Though Connie covering herself in walker’s guts to mask her scent so the walkers could eat the savages was a smart move. More so considering she didn’t have a lot of time to make that decision.
At long last, Connie is reunited with the others. I admire Kelly not giving up and going as far as to search on her own. There’s no need for her to feel sorry, though. Carol deserves the blame for Connie winding up missing in the first place. But I get Kelly feeling guilty for not finding Connie sooner or not being able to save her when she could have. Still, them being reunited was a great scene.
Like the Claimers, Daryl is doing what it takes to prove he’s one of the Reapers. At least back then, he never had to torture Rick or Carl. Like he told Pope, he’s seen worse than what happened to Frost. But as he told Frost before, they’re not friends. That had to be a ploy to keep up appearances. You know, to buy enough time to get the information needed to potentially save Frost’s life.
At the same time, Daryl ingratiates himself with the Reapers, even those like Carver, who still have it out for him. Carver has every right to be suspicious, and he wasn’t wrong, but when he pulled up that trap door and found it empty, Daryl proved that yes, he can be one of them. But at the same time, him talking out loud while Maggie’s at the house feeds her information about the Reapers that she otherwise couldn’t get.
If Daryl went easy on Frost, they could both possibly wind up dead. Daryl bought himself more time to maybe give Frost a fighting chance- minus one finger. But like Pope tossing that one Reaper into the fire, Daryl may not have been prepared for Pope killing Frost anyway. Daryl lives one more day, but he’s seen once again how far Pope is willing to go for his cause, even if means murdering one of Maggie’s friends.
So…besides Elijah, all of Maggie’s comrades, who were all introduced this season, are dead. Aren’t you glad we spent time with them?
Either way, Maggie and company are free from the Reapers…for now, while Connie has finally been reunited with the others. For now, things seem to be looking up. “On the Inside” was good. The haunted house vibe and both the use and lack of sound made for a cool setpiece. Daryl’s loyalty being tested put him in a bind, but paid off, at the expense of Frost’s life. No real loss there.
See you all in the next episode.