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The Walking Dead 10.09 Review – ‘Squeeze’

February 24, 2020 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
The Walking Dead - Squeeze
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The Walking Dead 10.09 Review – ‘Squeeze’  

Welcome to Season 10 of The Walking Dead! I hope everyone had a lovely winter break and prepared yourselves for some heartbreak, frustration, and the least sexy consensual sex scene ever.

The plot! After getting lured into the horde-filled cave by Alpha, Carol, Daryl, Connie, Kelly, Magna, Aaron, and Jerry have to go through a number of precarious situations as they try to escape the cave–darkness, a maze of tunnels, tight and narrow pathways, Whisperers, walkers, and finally, a box of dynamite and Carol’s overactive drive for revenge. After miraculously coming through everything else unscathed and without losing anyone, at the last minute, Carol drops a stick of dynamite, causing a cave-in, and Magna and Connie’s fates are left unknown when an entire box of the stuff goes off and the cave seeming collapses on top of them. Meanwhile, in the Whisperers camp, Alpha is on the lookout for spies at the borders after Carol’s group made it across, but Negan suggests her problem is from within, and even pinpoints Gamma as the likely mole. Alpha sends Beta to find Gamma, and rewards Negan carnally. And yes–she leaves her mask on.

Goddammit Carol.

I almost want to leave it at that, but let’s dig in. While Carol’s actions are, of course, foolish, selfish, reckless, and have possibly gotten two of her allies killed and maybe cost her her dearest friend, I can see how and why she’s doing this. I honestly believe that when Carol promised Daryl they were on the same side that she meant it, or at least, that she wanted to mean it. But for one, we’ve seen Carol go too far many times before. Even before she exiled herself from Alexandria for being too violent and emotionless, way back in the prison days, Rick kicked her out for it when he figured out that she was the one who had burned two of the people who were sick in an attempt to save the rest of them. And this time around? Carol’s lost everything–her home, her son, her husband, her hope–and all because of one person: Alpha. And this comes after she already lost everything, including her child, once before. I can’t pretend to imagine the incredible grief and rage she must feel, or how impossible the idea of starting over yet again must seem. That she has become fixated on the one thing she has left, revenge, makes absolute sense. She can’t see anything but her pain and what looks, to her, like the only thing left that might alleviate it.

Nonetheless, she has indeed gone much too far, and this despite repeated warnings and offers of help from Daryl. Bless his heart, he did everything he could: talked to her, waited for her to talk to him, forewarned her, reminded her that people were getting hurt, took the lead, even repeatedly held his hang out to lift her from the dark, both physically and metaphorically. And what did she do? She literally blew it up. She blew it all up.

But Daryl, who just might be too good for this world, still won’t tell her he’s giving up on her.

That’s the emotional journey tonight, which was a little predictable, but also felt like an inevitability. I didn’t dislike it, but I do feel like the show could’ve done this a little better. It has in the past, certainly, and TWD is at its best when it finds those ways to perfectly develop and foreshadow an emotional turn that nonetheless is surprising in its execution. And this one just wasn’t quite that. My dissatisfaction may also come from the physical setting and execution, though. I was excited for the notion of this group trapped in the cave, on a narrow ledge in the dark, trying to figure a way out with Whisperers and walkers all around them. Instead, it got a little too…Indiana Jones. Or like I was watching a video game (specifically, I was reminded heavily of the game Until Dawn, which heavily features flesh-eating monsters and a creepy old mine). The whole hopping on rocks, scaling walls, squeezing through narrow tunnels with zombies (though that tight passage did give me the creeps), dynamite and collapsing mine shafts thing is just…not a good fit for this show. Largely because no one died. It killed the realism that TWD, again, usually has. This has slipped up on occasion–most notably for the fake-out on Glenn when he escaped by hiding under a dumpster–but this instance was the one that felt the most unrealistic to me. Not that I really wanted any of them to die, and I love Jerry dearly, but come on, he should’ve been toast at least twice in this episode, if not more. It actually makes me wonder if he’s going to die before the end of the season; if this, like with Glenn and the dumpster, was him using up the last of his get out of jail free cards. Likewise, I don’t want Magna and Connie to be dead, especially Connie, but dammit, someone has to have died from this insane excursion! So I guess my hope is that we’ll see Connie again, but that Magna died in the collapse.

Meanwhile, in the Whisperers camp, it’s a lot of politics of power. Negan is showing his usefulness and that handy talent of his for reading people, correctly pegging Gamma as Alpha’s mole. He even correctly calls out Alpha on making some of the same mistakes he did, namely thinking that everyone is 100% on board because a certain portion of them are. Alpha is smart enough to hear the truth in what he says, even if she passes it all off as her own idea to Beta. But that’s part of being a smart leader, knowing when to listen to someone else’s good ideas and insight. It’s her ‘crass reward’ that’s far more unsettling to me. Negan seems to be on board, if a little weirded out based on his rambling and delaying. It is certainly the kind of weird, blunt physicality that Alpha has characteristically displayed, right down to leaving her skin mask on. The real payoff of this, of course, will be what goes down with Beta if and when he finds out, as well as what Negan’s real intentions are here in the camp.

Notable Quotes:
* Daryl: If I only knew what you told me I wouldn’t know shit.
Carol: Look who’s talking.
* Negan: I’m big enough admit it, alright? I am not good with long, uncomfortable silences.

6.0
The final score: review Average
The 411
All told, a decent mid-season opener that certainly changes a number of dynamics among the characters. I'm glad Carol's destructive, revenge-obsessed arc seems to be at an end--even if I get why it's happening, I've seen about as much of it as I care to, especially considering we've been here with her before, more or less. Seeing the friendship with Daryl take this big of a hit is new, though, so there's that. The cave setting had a lot of potential that I think they only partly succeeded in using to its best advantage--the darkness, danger, and claustrophobia were pretty good, but not as harsh as they could've been, nor was the sense of dread as pervasive as I think it could've been. In the end, that's largely what the letdown was for me: unused potential.
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The Walking Dead, Katie Hallahan