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The Walking Dead Recap: Barbarians at the Gate — Plus, 'It's Movie Time!'

the-walking-dead-season 9 episode 11 recap

In Sunday’s The Walking Dead, Alpha made Daryl and the Hilltoppers an offer that they couldn’t shouldn’t refuse. “Your people crossed into our lands,” she said. Yet “there will be no conflict. Your people killed our people. There will be no conflict.” But if they didn’t hand over Lydia to the Whisperers PDQ, oh baby, “there will be conflict.” And was there? Read on and find out.

the-walking-dead-season-9-episode-11-recap‘I’M GONNA BE A DADDY, YOUR MAJESTY!’ | As “Bounty” began, we flashed all the way back to before Jesus’ death and even Maggie’s departure to join Ezekiel, Carol and Jerry as they awaited a rendezvous with Jesus and Tara. Killing time, Jerry swore his majesties to secrecy, then revealed that he and Nabila were “bunned up.” Sorry, come again? “Up the pole.” One more time? Pregnant! And didn’t that just put the “Ah!” in “Hurrah!” Shortly, Jesus and Tara arrived to pick up the medical supplies that were needed at the Hilltop, and Tara shared that she wouldn’t be returning to Alexandria. No longer a Michonne fan, she’d even made off with the Multi-Community Charter of Rights and Freedoms that Rick’s significant other had drafted, only to abandon after the as-yet-unknown incidents that caused her to disown their family of friends. “I haven’t given up on the idea this embodies,” said Ezekiel, ever the dreamer. And apparently, he never did, either, because when we next joined him in present-day, he was still ogling the document. After ascertaining that Carol wouldn’t be staying behind to prepare for the much-ballyhooed fair but joining his highness, Dianne and Jerry (by then a father of two, the busy bee!) on the hunt for elk that would feed the masses, the king made the grave mistake of suggesting that “it’s all going to work out.” Which I think we are all well-versed enough in TWD tropes to know means that in no way, shape or form is any of it, much less all of it, going to work out!

the-walking-dead-season-9-episode-11-recap‘BRING ME MY DAUGHTER’ | From there, we picked up exactly where “Omega” left off, with Alpha demanding Lydia’s return… or else. F— that, Daryl more or less replied. So the Whisperers’ leader informed him that he’d chosen the “wrong answer” and signaled for a bunch more of her goons to emerge from hiding. While all that was going on, Enid treated Earl for a minor horseshoe-making injury, and he poopooed Tammy Rose’s suggestion that he retire. Once alone with the “doc,” Tammy Rose explained that the work helped distract her husband from the void he’d felt since Kenneth’s demise. And now, with Alden missing, that hole in his heart had grown all over again. Apparently, Earl had been like a father to Alden and Enid, though it might have been nice, if we’re supposed to care about those relationships, to see them develop, er, ever rather than just hear about them. Anyway, Enid and Tammy Rose were soon drawn to the drama at the front gates of the Hilltop. There, Daryl was telling Tara that he knew what Alpha did to Lydia and wouldn’t be sending her back. Uh-huh, but “pissing her off can get [Alden and Luke] killed,” responded Tara (to whom people should really listen more often). As Henry panicked over the prospect of Lydia being cast out and Enid panicked over the prospect of Alden being killed, Daryl stepped forward to have a private-ish one-on-one with Alpha.

the-walking-dead-season-9-episode-11-recap‘WE’RE GIVING THE GIFT OF JOY AND LIFELONG FRIENDSHIP’ | After a successful elk hunt, Ezekiel tried to send Carol back to the Kingdom with their entree for the fair. But what was he going to do? she wanted to know. And, for that matter, “why are you scared to tell me?” In response, the king said, “Scared? Whaaaa?” (And I hope I’m not the only one who thinks they’re a pretty hilarious, adorable couple.) By and by, Ezekiel confessed that he’d planned a side mission to pick up a certain item for the fair: a film-projector bulb from a theatre that could have been the long-lost twin of Riverdale’s Bijou. Though Carol frowned upon the idea of breaking into a cineplex full of walkers, of course, she was still in. Ezekiel insisted that they could beat the approaching herd, and get in and out as fast as a cobra strike. And plus, Henry used to love movie nights — and the younger kids didn’t even know what a movie was! But he was preaching to the converted — or at least the agreeable. Carol didn’t share his excitement over “bringing cinema back from the dead” or the idea of bonding the communities through celluloid and popcorn. Nevertheless, “I’m not gonna not keep you safe,” she said. So as the king and his subjects cranked up Eddie Harris’ “It’s All Right Now” to draw away walkers, Carol entered the theater right along with them.

the-walking-dead-season-9-episode-11-recap‘IT’S A GOOD TRADE, WHICH IS WHY YOU’RE GONNA TAKE IT’ | Back at the Hilltop, Daryl told Alpha that she couldn’t have Lydia. On the other hand, “if it’s a fight you’re looking for, we got enough firepower to light you up right here and now.” Checkmate? Not even close. Alpha simply had a henchwoman come forward to reveal that they had a baby out there. What the actual hell? “We’re animals,” she said, her eyes colder than anything in my freezer. “Animals live out here. Animals have babies. So we have babies out here. Now, what were you saying? You seem to want conflict.” While Daryl tried to think of just the right way to say, “Crap, lady, you are one sick f—,” Alpha proposed trading Alden and Luke for Lydia — a two-for-one deal. “I wanted to kill them,” she added, “but I want my daughter more.” As the dead joined the Whisperers, Alpha ordered (I think) Beta, her No. 2, to keep them away from the prisoners “for now.” Speaking of the hostages, Luke spotted Connie hiding in the cornfield and began speaking to her via sign language (neat trick with his hands tied behind his back!). Meanwhile, Daryl went to retrieve Lydia — he had no choice, as he saw it. Only she’d gone missing. As had Henry. What a coincidence, eh?

the walking dead season 9 episode 11 recap‘MAYBE SHE’S SORRY?’ | When the Whisperer’s baby refused to stop crying for its masked mother, Alpha shrugged at the woman as if to say, “Whatevs. You know what to do.” (Arguably, that look was scarier than anything we’ve ever seen from Negan, no?) As the woman put down the baby in the field, Alden freaked the freak out. What? “If his mother can’t quiet the child,” said Alpha coolly, “the dead will. Natural selection.” (I’m just gonna say it: Alpha is the show’s best villain ever. She. Is. Horrifying! And I’m living for it!) Within the Hilltop’s gates, Daryl had no sooner discovered that Henry and Lydia had snuck out than Adeline had revealed that she knew where he’d probably have taken her, and Enid had insisted upon tagging along. So off they went as everyone at the gate tried to draw the walkers away from the baby Whisperer in hopes of keeping its onesie from becoming a donesie. Finally, Luke alerted Connie to the baby’s presence, and she made a mad dash to save it. Afterwards, she’d have been done in herself by the walkers that had swarmed the cornfield, had Daryl, Tammy Rose and Earl not intervened. (For their troubles, the oldies, it later appeared, were going to get to keep the baby themselves.) Meanwhile, at the younguns’ love shack, Lydia marveled that her mother had broken her own rules to come for her. “Maybe she misses me,” she suggested to Henry. Mm-hmm, and maybe somewhere out there, there’s a vegetarian walker. Sure.

the-walking-dead-season-9-episode-11-recap‘THERE’S GOTTA BE ANOTHER WAY’ | Lydia was just getting used to wearing clothes that didn’t smell like walker rot when Daryl, Enid and Adeline arrived. How were they going to live with it, asked Henry, a portrait of smitten earnestness, if they just handed Lydia over? At that, his former crush Enid explained that after she’d seen her parents die, she’d become all about just surviving somehow (JSS FTW). Then she’d lost someone else close to her (Carl shout-out) who, before passing away, had left her a note reminding her that there was more to living than just surviving. So “you live with it by staying who you are,” she concluded, “by not letting the bad things change you.” Overhearing, Lydia volunteered to return to the Whisperers. “They’re my people. I miss ’em,” she said, adding to Henry, “I’m gonna miss you, too.” With that, she gave him a goodbye kiss that made me hope they hadn’t been eating worms again. Next thing we knew, Daryl had delivered Lydia to Alpha, who greeted her with a fierce slap, a hug and a reminder not to call her Mama but “Alpha like all the rest.” Oh, and Alden and Luke were released. But I’m not sure any of us were ever super worried about them — I mean, new guy and a dude whose romance has taken place pretty much entirely off screen? Meh.

the-walking-dead-season-9-episode-11-recap‘MY SIDE MISSION HAS A SIDE MISSION’ | Back at the Bijou, Jerry managed to find a bulb in the projectionist’s booth but dropped it into the theater when he and Dianne were caught unawares by a walker in the dark. Downstairs, Ezekiel revealed to Carol that he wanted more than the bulb, he also wanted to make off with a frame in which he could keep the charter after all of the communities’ leaders signed it at the fair. Yeah, um, about that… said Carol. Maybe they should talk to Jesus about the Hilltop taking them in if things kept getting worse — you know, just till they found someplace new. But what, asked Ezekiel, could be better than the Kingdom? “Surely a dreamer could dare to dream of such a place,” Carol suggested. But it was pretty much a bummerama of a conversation. And it only got more depressing when Jerry reported that he’d lost the bubble-wrapped bulb between rows R and W. With a herd approaching, Ezekiel knew that there was no time. He was ready to give up the dream. “Shouldn’t the queen’s call count for something?” piped up Carol. Unable to bear the sight of Ezekiel so crestfallen, she argued that they could clear out the 30-40 walkers in the theater. “It’s just a few kills each.” And so they did, retrieving the bulb and making it out safely. See? she told Ezekiel en route home. “I’m only a killjoy some of the time.” Still, he acknowledged that she was right to argue that they should be prepared for any circumstance. However, he added hopefully, “Maybe we’re done losing for a while.” Oh, Ezekiel… it’s like you’ve never seen this show!

‘WE LIVE WITH IT’ | As the hour drew to its conclusion, Henry told Daryl that he got why they had to return Lydia. But that didn’t make it OK. And since he’d seen the scars on Daryl’s back, he added, “I think you know better than anyone what we just sent her back to. How can you live with that?” You just do, Daryl said. “Look, the world is just s— sometimes, and you live with it.” #truth What about Alexandria, then? Henry asked. He knew what Daryl had done to help when things went bad. “No, you don’t,” said Daryl. “Not really.” Argh — stop teasing us, TWD. Just tell us what happened already. Better yet, show us! Later, Adeline approached Daryl with a note she’d found in Henry’s room. “Couldn’t live with it,” the letter read. “Left to find Lydia.” So off Daryl went to find Henry. As luck would have it, he passed Connie along the way. Writing notes back and forth, she expressed to Daryl her desire to go, too. Because… ? “I can’t live with it, either,” she scribbled. So, though Daryl clearly didn’t want her tagging along with him and Dog, there was no way he was going to shake her. (And while I’m still iffy on Luke, I gotta say I kinda dig the women in his group — they strike me as big-hearted badasses one and all.)

So, what did you think of “Bounty”? Alpha’s baby stunt? Her reunion with Lydia? Ezekiel’s cinematic gamble? And was I the only one that the promos left terrified that Jerry was a goner? I never wanna hear, “It’s funeral time!”