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The Walking Dead 10.03 Review – ‘Ghosts’

October 21, 2019 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
The Walking Dead - Ghosts
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The Walking Dead 10.03 Review – ‘Ghosts’  

Tonight on The Walking Dead, you know it’s almost Halloween, ’cause everyone is haunted!

The plot: Following the forest fire from the end of Episode 1, wave after wave of walkers are coming at Alexandria (where the satellite was presumably taken) for 2 days straight. They’re exhausted but have to keep fighting, and then get a message from Gamma to come to the border and that these walkers aren’t being sent by Alpha. Lydia backs up this notion, saying that Alpha would just send the horde if she wanted them dead, and when others call for Alpha’s head, Michonne points out that they have no plan to attempt to deal with the 10,000+ strong horde at her command. She, Daryl, Carol, and some others go and meet Alpha, who knows that they crossed during the winter storm, the fire, and another time, specifically, but rather than calling for blood, she’s taking land, claiming more of it along the Southern border, which cuts into the survivors hunting grounds. Carol is pissed and takes a shot at Alpha, but fails, and they all scram quickly. Taking refuge in a school building, Carol abuses caffeine pills despite Daryl’s warnings, and it’s clear that she’s having trouble with discerning reality from her sleep-deprived hallucinations. Among these are haunting visions of her dead son, Henry, and also 3 Whisperers that she saw but no one else did. She ends up injuring herself when she gets strung up by a trap in the gym and kills a slew of walkers. But while no one else seems to believe her, we later see that the Whisperers were one thing she did not hallucinate. Meanwhile, Negan and Aaron end up teamed up together to clear out walkers, and Aaron is not thrilled. They exchange some angry words, though Negan keeps his cool throughout, and Aaron in the end has to rely on his former enemy when a poisonous weed nearly blinds him. And sure enough, they live through the night and return in the morning. Elsewhere, Rosita forces Eugene to accept that they will never be together, and Eugene has to consider what kind of friend he’s really been; Siddiq once again gets stymied by his PTSD, and finds unexpected sympathy in Dante, the new doctor, who was an army field medic who’s been through this before.

I’ll get to the various ghosts of this episode shortly, but first I want to say I really enjoyed the opening montage of the 48 hours of walkers straight. It’s unclear if they were sent by Alpha or not, but either way, it illustrates the kind of destructive power that Alpha has with her horde. The last time the survivors dealt with a horde of that size was back in the first half of Season 6, when the horde in the gorge got out. And back then, even with an established plan of action that had been rehearsed and organized, the horde nearly wiped out Alexandria. And that was without people inside the horde actively trying to make sure they were wiped out. The next runner up to that horde is the one that was only stopped by Rick’s sacrifice and an exploded bridge that made it impossible for them to reach the communities. So, yeah, the threat posed by the Whisperers is legit.

Moving on, ghosts! Carol’s are the most readily apparent–she’s so haunted that she can’t sleep, because it hurts so much to see Henry’s face. I appreciated the callback to all the children she’s lost when she picked up that textbook and saw her face along with the dead faces of Henry, Sophie, Lizzie, and Mika. Just in case we’ve forgotten how many kids she’s lost. It’s frankly a wonder that Carol is still sane at all, honestly, and your mileage may vary on that one. Another sign of her losing her grip, and her patience, was how she acted around Alpha. Her anger and desire to kill Alpha is absolutely understandable, but we’ve seen how crafty Carol can be. She’s played the scared mouse to a scary degree of effectiveness in the past, and that would be the best way to play this situation. But that also hasn’t been her for a long time. For 6 years, she’s been able to just be herself, to live freely and love and not have to be duplicitous and deadly. Even when she finally sleeps, her dream is of a normal, safe home with the ones she loves; deep down, that’s what she wants, even if it’s something she can never have again. On top of that time she’s spent not having to be in survival mode, the loss of Henry, her husband, and that life, have also understandably thrown her for a loop. But of course, even when Carol is grief-stricken and hallucinating, she’s still sharp as a damn tack. She not only did see the Whisperers, she accurately shot one, and then also killed a roomful of walkers while hanging upside from her ankle with only a knife!

Then we’ve got Negan and Aaron’s ghosts. I chuckled at Gabriel saying, “It’s Aaron! He’s a saint!” while Aaron gave Negan a death glare. It, and the rest of his interactions with Negan, harken back to the conversation he had with Michonne about how he’s sick of being a nice guy if this is what it’s gotten them. Here he gets to confront Negan directly about Eric’s death–a death he’s mourned and not confronted him on for over seven years–and even then, when we can see him clenched with anger, the most he does is tell Negan he should leave! Well, that and throwing his wife’s death back at him when Negan insinuates that Eric’s death was somehow his fault. It will be interesting to see interactions between these two now that Negan unquestionably saved Aaron’s life in that house while Aaron was blind and utterly at the man’s mercy. We’ve already seen how Negan has changed, but now the other characters are starting to see it. Negan has called out already how he’s still “the other” in this community, and that he has a desire to change that–whether that’s because he feels regret or because he wants to better his own chance of survival isn’t totally clear. I think it’s a little of both, personally. But ultimately, here, Negan has the same ghost as Aaron, Carol, and many other survivors: the life of a loved one he couldn’t save. And that’s not the kind of ghost anyone else can exorcise for them. Aaron’s anger at Negan won’t do it, Carol’s anger at Alpha won’t either. This is the lesson that Rick had to learn to defeat Negan, really–that one’s mercy has to outweigh one’s wrath. And the inability to learn it is what drove Maggie to leave, as well.

And as someone whose had her share of eye trauma, that whole hogweed thing kind of freaked me out, and I definitely related to Aaron’s situation, his panic, and how well he handled it regardless!

Two other characters suffer from ghosts: Siddiq is haunted by PTSD and survivor’s guilt for being the only one to escape being beheaded while he watched his friends fight, die, and their corpses desecrated. Something that would rightly screw up anyone. I’m liking his interactions with Dante about this, though, especially tonight. And while Dante’s flirting with him two weeks ago was seemingly in a joking way, I still got a vibe from the two of them this week and I’m curious if maybe that is a direction they’re taking the two doctors in after all. That would be interesting! The exploration of sexuality isn’t something we get much of on this show, so that would be different.

Which brings me to the final ghost that’s haunting one of our heroes: the notion of a romantic future with Rosita that haunts Eugene. Rosita has been very clear, more than once, about what their relationship is and isn’t, but here she lays it out bluntly enough that Eugene finally gets it. He even admits that he’s clung to that hope despite all evidence to the contrary. I appreciated especially what came next here. Rosita’s genuine statement to him that their friendship does in fact mean a lot to her, and sounding hurt that he might not value it as she does. And then, Eugene’s reflecting on himself and the fact that he’s based his friendship with her on this futile hope, and asking what kind of a friend does that make him? So, yes, we all know this is the “friend zone” plot, and we’ve all seen this end in the usual, cliche way of the female ‘seeing the light’ and ending up with the guy in the end, and along the way the guy getting angry at her ‘leading him on’ when she’s done no such thing. I’m so glad that TWD isn’t doing that here: Rosita has indeed been very clear on this, and has only treated him as a valued friend, and it’s refreshing to see Eugene question his actions rather than hers as a result. I do hope that they reconcile as friends, though, and that Eugene is able to let go of this particular ghost of his.

There were other good moments between Alpha and Carol, and the other survivors at the border; Daryl and Carol; Michonne and Carol; Michonne and Judith; Lydia and the other Alexandrians, especially the Highwaymen. Little things dripped in that will build up for later developments, but the big focus here was on these pieces of the past that define where our heroes are now, how they’re both changing and how they need to change. As Michonne says, they’ll only get through this if they can act as one, and right now, these ghosts are causing them to hide things and lie to one another and themselves, and that’s only going to make things get worse before they get better.

The final score: review Good
The 411
Another solid episode, with more awesome moments of both tragedy and badassery from our girl Carol, something I'm always a fan of. We also got more action and walker fighting, which was lacking somewhat last week. More Negan, which is always a delight, and he and Aaron had a lot of good angry chemistry, too. And the threat of the Whisperers was made clear, even if they seemingly didn't take much action directly against our heroes. But they've got the upper hand and the heroes know it, even if they don't grasp the full extent of it yet, and much of the action here is largely for the purposes of set-up for the future, rather than being major developments in and of themselves.