Movies & TV / Reviews

The Walking Dead 10.01 Review – ‘Lines We Cross’

October 7, 2019 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
The Walking Dead - Lines We Cross Michonne
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
The Walking Dead 10.01 Review – ‘Lines We Cross’  

Welcome to Season 10, everyone! Can you believe it? 10 seasons! That’s a huge accomplishment for any show, and especially one like this. So first off, a well-earned congratulations to everyone ever involved with this show on making it happen. And also congrats because they’ve already been renewed for Season 11!

Tonight was different in many ways from previous seasons and episodes. From the highly unusual opening shot of a satellite in space, circling the Earth, to the chapter-like format of the episode, to this being the first season to open without Rick (but I did love the memorializing of how he sacrificed himself on the bridge in the credits), this is a new and bigger world than we’ve seen before in this show. But we are still in the middle of the Whisperers plot, so let’s recap and talk about what happened tonight in particular.

The plot! Rather than the usual interwoven storylines, tonight the episode conveniently broke itself into chapters of a sort for us. After the opening shot of the satellite, we see training exercises at Oceanside. The group is well-practiced and works together very well against both a small stream of walkers and the larger group of them. But when the kids dump out the shells they’ve gathered at the beach, there’s a skin mask in AJ’s bucket, and this sets off some panic. Riders head out to scan the forest, but don’t turn up anything conclusive beyond a skin that may or may not be old. Meanwhile, in Alexandria, we get a montage of Rosita and Three Man and a Baby, catch up with Lydia as she learns to read, and get to hear some classic Negan-isms as he tries to advise Gabriel on how to use the truth most effectively. After flirting a little with Connie, Daryl greets his BFF back from her sea travels. Daryl and Carol spend their time biking into the forest, taking out walkers, making friendship bracelets, and talking about running away together–you know, like friends do! But everything is interrupted when that Russian satellite falls out of the sky and crashes into the forest just over the Whisperers borderline. But determined to not let the fire spread and devastate more of the forest they all depend on, the good guys rush in and spend all night putting it out. Eugene then argues for transporting the remaining tech, and Daryl and Carol go take a look at the valley that once held the Whisperers herd. It’s completely empty, yet just before Carol walks away, she looks again, and sees that Alpha has returned. And she is not happy to see her borders have been violated.

The first episode of the season is often used to set up the themes for the season, and this one is no exception. They did most of this up-front, however, with the conversations between Michonne and Aaron. Some of these were a little clunky and obvious, but by the end, the conversations got more interesting. Aaron is worried about whether they’re the good guys, and are the things they do justified, or do they make them the villain in someone else’s story? Aaron asks in no small part because of all their recent losses, and because he’s always been the nice guy, made the good choices, and he’s getting real sick of what that’s gotten him. This fits, of course: there’s a reason that Aaron was the one looking for people for Alexandria and feeling them out to bring them in (or not). Michonne’s eventual answer that they are the good guys because they’ve made the choice to be that, to be better, even when it’s the hard choice to make (a big theme in Season 8 and somewhat in 9). If they start to question that ideal, that’s when they could lose sight of that goal, that’s when they could slip. So the question really becomes, as the title implies, what lines do you cross to save the people you love and keep them safe?

This is echoed by Judith’s story of “the brave man” to her little brother, AJ–or, as we know, the story of how their father sacrificed himself to save everyone he loved. Michonne echoes that she would do the same to protect them (which makes me a little nervous), because sometimes that’s what you do when you love someone that much. And sure enough, though Daryl and Carol don’t cross the border to quickly get a deer, a valuable food source, no one hesitates to go in and put out the fire to save the forest at large. Even more notable, perhaps, is that they also don’t let the fire spread into the Whisperer’s territory. Granted that I don’t know much of anything about controlling a forest fire, but the group was prepared for this situation, so while the thought isn’t entertained on-screen, it does feel like something they could’ve done–cripple the enemy that they hate and fear so deeply. But if they had, at what potential cost, not only materially, but morally? I expect we’ll hear and see a lot more about hard choices and what lines are crossed as the season goes on.

The rest of the episode is largely focused on character and plot arcs moving forward. We get a number of quick looks into the lives of some characters: Siddiq is struggling with PTSD, to the point of sometimes blacking out on what’s actually happening around him. There’s a new doctor, Dobson, and he is…kind of weird, to put it mildly. Eugene is sort of adorably obsessed with Rosita’s baby’s progression and schedule and doing some serious house-husbanding. I have no idea what their actual living situation is, but no doubt he’s over there a lot. Luke and Jules, an Oceansider, are flirting in the early scenes and that’s pretty cute. Connie and Daryl are also definitely showing some chemistry. I love that he’s still working on learning to sign, and also loved her joke that he does so with a Southern accent! Connie and Kelly also have a great scene talking about how Kelly’s hearing is starting to get worse. They both worry about the other, and once again, I loved watching the scene of the two of them only communicating through ASL. Just like the extended scene like this at the fair last season, there is still just as much emotion, personality, and character as any scene with spoken lines. Again, this is the kind of scene you almost never see, and I also loved the callback from Connie to being deaf not being a disability but a superpower.

We also got a quick look at Lydia, frustrated at her progress with learning to read and still feeling like an outsider. Once he heard the news about the mask, Negan warns her to watch her back, as he’s getting some premonitions about what’s coming: fear, panic, anger, and a lot of us vs them. Which is a justified mindset, but he’s probably not wrong in that he and Lydia will become targets for those panicky emotions. His advice to Gabriel about manipulating the truth to make people feel more calm and secure is also along the lines of that question of what lines are okay to cross. Gabriel is a man of the cloth, and has seen lies do a lot of harm before, so he has a vested interest in honesty for many reasons. But does Negan have a point? If creative wording keeps people from panicking and doing something stupid, does that make it okay? And on top of that, taking leadership tips from Negan just can’t feel comfortable.

Finally, Daryl and Carol get a lot of adorable bonding in. These scenes were great, as are pretty much any with these two. But the whole best friends conversation, the talk of running away from all this together to get away from the life of fighting, the friendship bracelets that Daryl makes! Still love this relationship. I also love seeing the changes in these characters. Daryl sticking hard to being part of the community and fighting for it, and asking her to stay. Carol needing to escape after what she’s lost, and wanting to get away from it all. But this isn’t like when Carol went off to be a hermit a few seasons ago. It’s not entirely unlike that, either, but the fact alone that this time Daryl doesn’t hedge on asking her to come back and telling her everything that’s going on is a big sign of how things have changed. Once upon a time, Daryl hid how bad things were with Negan from Carol so that she shouldn’t leave her isolation, because he could see how much she needed it. This time, they need her more. He needs her more.

As usual, a strong season opener overall. I enjoyed the different format, with the events that linked them up–the radio call and the satellite crash–with the named chapters in between. I don’t know if this format will continue, but for now, I enjoyed it. It feels like a different show than it has been in the past, and that’s good. The world of the show is very different than it has been in the past. They are more than just survivors, they’ve got stable communities and are well-trained for all manner of situations and dangers. That said, they still have to face an enemy they can’t defeat with the same tactics they’ve used before. But hey, you can’t keep going for 10 years by doing the same thing all the time, and The Walking Dead is nothing if not an evolving story.

It was good to get a taste of where everyone is at and have the confirmed return of Alpha so we can get right into that conflict again. But one burning question remains: what’s going on at Hilltop? That was the only community missing entirely tonight–not even a mention of them. It was a little strange, but then, we got very little of Oceanside last season, so maybe this is just the trade-off.

How about you? What’d you think of the episode? What do you think is coming this season? Let’s hear it in the comments!

Other thoughts:
– Anyone else see the trailer for the new upcoming spin-off that looks a bit like teenage TWD? Thoughts?
– I admit I fell off watching the back half of Fear this summer, but any thoughts or summaries of what happened there, let’s hear it! I do know someone’s fate is not looking good right now as of the final shot in the season…
– I’m betting that satellite tech is going to come in handy with connecting our heroes with the voice we briefly heard on the radio at the end of last season.
– Jerry’s kids are also all adorable.
– Poor Ezekiel. I don’t know if I see things getting better between him and Carol at any point, but you gotta feel for the poor guy after that awkward greeting between them!

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
As usual, a solid season opener. While we once again had a strong presentation of the theme of the season--what lines are we willing to cross?--it wasn't quite as heavy on it as some. It was a little clunkier in places with the dialogue, though. But, there were some cool, unique action set pieces, good character moments, and a heavy promise of things to come with that final shot.