Warning: The following contains spoilers for Sunday’s Season 10 premiere of The Walking Dead. If you’d rather watch first, read later, you “argh” hereby advised to look away.
Haters be damned, there’s still a lot of life in The Walking Dead. The AMC drama kicked off Season 10 Sunday with an artful but exciting episode that deepened existing relationships in some lovely ways, introduced two new characters, set the stage for an epic smackdown, served up some spectacularly ghastly walker-dispatching and threw us a curveball the size of… On second thought, keep reading to find out how big a curveball it was.
TRAINING DAY | As “Lines We Cross” began, it made us think we’d tuned in to the wrong show by depicting a Russian satellite hurtling toward Earth from outer space; this would become super important later. Following that prologue, the plus-sized hour was broken into seven parts, each with its own title, so that’s how I’m going to break up this recap. In “Training Day,” our heroes, now armed with the kind of medieval weaponry you’d expect them to pick up at a Game of Thrones rummage sale, practiced fighting as a unit against moldy walkers that they released from the ghost ships that washed ashore in Oceanside. Although we never really got the sense that anyone was in danger, I still have to give props to showrunner Angela Kang, who also wrote the episode, and director Greg Nicotero, because they made the scene downright thrilling to watch (and fantastically gross, too!). Afterwards, it appeared that Luke had caught the eye of an Oceansider named Jules, who rather hilariously made it clear that yes, she was, in fact, kind of flirting with him. Nearby, the youngsters were having a great time collecting shells when — ruh-roh — Judith found a Whisperer mask.
SKIN | Immediately, Aaron radioed Gabriel back in Alexandria and suggested that the community go into lockdown in case the Whisperers were back. Michonne, reluctant to start a panic, instead advised that they just remain on alert. She also headed up a search party to look for signs that the walker-skin-wearing sociopaths were in the area again. While Luke and Alden went in one direction, and Yumiko and Magna another, Michonne took off with Aaron, who wondered, “Are we the good guys?” and recognized that “we’re the villains of someone else’s story, a threat to their survival.” Michonne’s take: “I don’t give a s— about the Whisperers.” Succinctly put. When Aaron spotted some walkers on a bridge, he rode off to dispatch them, crossing Alpha’s border to do so. He didn’t care. He was tired of pretending that looking over their shoulders was normal. “Eric is dead,” he said. “Jesus is dead. And I’m goddamn sick of being nice.” Which was fine with Michonne, “’cause nice never got me anywhere,” she said. “But smart did.” He had to remember that the Whisperers “have a nuclear weapon, and we don’t.” Wait, what? They do? Before they headed back to Oceanside, they rendezvoused with Magna and Yumiko, who wanted to show them what they’d discovered: a campsite, a dead body and a large walker skin. “So,” Aaron deduced, “at least one of them has been on our side of the border at some point.” Dun-dun-DUNNN! Once the group returned to Oceanside, Michonne warned Aaron against letting fear tear the communities apart again. Also, she’d decided that not only were they the good guys, but “we have to choose to be the good guys, even when it’s hard. And the minute that we start to question that… that’s when the answer to that question starts to change, and that’s scarier than any skin mask.” Shortly, she overheard Judith telling RJ the story of their father’s heroic death, and kaboom! The satellite came blasting into view overhead.
BIRD WISDOM | From there, we flashed back to Michonne and Aaron’s radio talk with Gabriel and this time stayed in Alexandria, where we saw how very Mr. Mom Eugene was being with Rosita and Siddiq’s daughter Coco. (He also creepily tried to get a peek when his crush was breastfeeding. What can I say but “C’mon, Eugene, you’re better than that… right?”) Off his talk with Michonne and Aaron, Gabriel kicked a struggling, illiterate Lydia and the schoolkids out of their classroom for a meeting of the community leaders. When it broke up, Negan, now a well-guarded gardener, asked Alpha’s daughter, “Why are folks giving you the side-eye?” Both pariahs in their own way, the two of them were clearly kindred spirits. Later, Siddiq was caring for Coco when flashbacks indicated that he was suffering from some serious post-traumatic stress from his near-death experience with the Whisperers. His waking nightmare was only interrupted by pal Dante, who appeared to be another doctor (or at least someone who looked very at home in a lab coat). As the day went on, Gabriel found Negan in his cell earlier than he needed to be; with the community on alert, the Saviors’ former leader didn’t want folks remembering that they hated him and moving him from the “kinda us” category back to the “them” one. He also offered to “baby-bird a little bit of my wisdom into that pretty little mouth of yours.” Which translated to advising Gabriel to lie a little to make people feel securer than maybe they actually were. The preacher had no sooner ignored his advice than the satellite whizzed overhead and Eugene radioed Oceanside to warn that “something of grave importance is about to happen.”
SEA DOGS | On the beach, Kelly was upset by a reminder that her hearing was worsening. Sweetly, her main concern was who would take care of Connie if she couldn’t interpret for her sister. Rather than let Kelly fret, Connie signed a spirited pep talk. Deafness is “not a disability,” she insisted, “it’s a damn superpower!” When just then Daryl and Dog passed by, Kelly flashed a look that told her sister she was thinking exactly what we all were: Connie likes Daryl. The feeling appeared to be mutual, too: Daryl was working hard at learning sign language to communicate better with Connie. Her review of his efforts: “Not bad,” she teased. “You sign with a Southern accent.” Just then, Carol arrived from a fishing expedition and shared an awkward reunion with Ezekiel. Of note: She reported that there had been no letters from Maggie at the dock where such missives were usually picked up. Hmm. Daryl suspected that his pal had been out searching for Alpha, but she countered that she hoped they’d never see the Whisperers again. Which was unfortunate, since he then had to tell her that they’d found a walker mask that very day. Since Carol was headed out to sea again on the next boat, she and Daryl spent the day tooling around on his bike.
NEW MEXICO | On Daryl and Carol’s travels, they shot a deer, but he wouldn’t let her retrieve it, as it made it across Alpha’s border before dying. Though that created a little tension between them, it was very little, really, and easily forgotten. When they stopped for a spell, he asked her to come home. “I’m a sea dog, man,” she joked, leading into the cute scene from the Comic-Con trailer that got us (at least me) all hyped up for Season 10. When he admitted that he didn’t like the idea of his best friend spending her whole life at sea, she mercilessly teased him and offered to make them friendship bracelets. “Should we make a matching collar for Dog?” she added. Getting serious, they pondered whether this was all there was, just existing from fight to fight, war to war, scare to scare. Daryl, the surprising optimist, said that he understood what Maggie and Georgie were doing with their community-building; there had to be more people like them out there… right? After balking at the idea of joining her at sea and being pirates, he suggested that they instead bike to New Mexico… and presented her with a friendship bracelet that he’d made on the spot. (All together now: Awww!) Just then, they heard the boom of the satellite entering the atmosphere that by this point was pretty familiar to the rest of us.
LINES WE CROSS | When the satellite crashed, it started a fire — and not just a forest fire (which would have been bad enough) but a forest fire on the Whisperers’ side of the border (which was way worse). Nonetheless, our heroes had to put it out — if they didn’t, their hunting ground could be destroyed. Oceanside could be destroyed! While battling the blaze, Yumiko sensed that Magna was spinning out. At daybreak, the fire was still going; Ezekiel, less so. Finally, the erstwhile king, despite recalling that a blaze had been the beginning of the end for the Kingdom, let Jerry spell him, lest he collapse from smoke inhalation. Soon, our heroes began running out of water… oh, great! Just in time for the walkers to descend en masse!
EMBERS | What ensued was a fabulously gross mini-montage of our heroes taking out walkers. My favorite bit had to be Carol slitting a walker’s throat to use the blood that spilled out to put out the fire on another walker. And I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Daryl has great aim, no matter the weapon, but I was still impressed that he was able to throw an axe at a falling tree in such a way that it landed splat (!) on top of a row of walkers. When at last the blaze was reduced to embers, Michonne granted Eugene — or Eugenius, as Luke called him — five minutes to try to figure out how to get the satellite onto their vehicles; its tech, he argued, could be invaluable to their development. When Luke asked about radiation, Eugene grumpily pointed out that they had already been exposed to radiation, which was why they all turned into zombies upon death. “I get it, man,” said Luke, backing off. “No one’s getting superpowers today.” While the gang got ready to go home, Daryl and Carol stole away to the perch from which (I believe) Alpha once showed him her horrific border wall. There, Daryl admitted that he needed Carol to stay. “Otherwise, I’m gonna have to punch holes in all them boats.” Left alone for a moment, Carol spotted below her… aw, s—. Alpha! In turn, Alpha spotted her. And man oh man, it could not have been more on!
So, what did you think of the Season 10 premiere of The Walking Dead? Grade it in the poll below, then hit the comments.