After weeks of bizarre and horrific twists and turns this season of The Walking Dead, we finally get a definitive ACT OF WAR executed by the Whisperers as they begin their attack on the Hilltop Colony in this week’s episode, “Morning Star.”
In response, the residents of Hilltop engage their militia in a Leonidas’s 300-esque style defense to protect their home.
[As always, spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution]
The episode begins with the Whisperers, particularly Beta (Ryan Hurst), seemingly collecting harmless tree sap.
At the end, however, they turn out to be highly flammable and are used by the Whisperers basically as “water balloon” bombs, which they volley over the survivors at the Hilltop. Then afterward, shoot flaming arrows to engulf the survivors or their protective buildings and barriers in flames.
The strategy screams Negan (Jeffrey Dean Mogan) because he employed a similar one during his Savior days when he volleyed arrows laced with zombie blood and guts over Alexandria a couple seasons prior.
Negan also seems to have solidified his position as one of Alpha’s (Samanta Morton) most trusted Whisperers, and this week we get to see him rock his own WALKER MASK!Anyone else getting a bit of a Michael Jackson’s Thriller vibe?
Not that Negan in a grotesque mask is disgusting enough, he seems to have developed a sadistic / masochist habit with Alpha of whipping each other in the arm in order to make themselves bleed, similar to the one she does with Beta. (Totally one of the creepiest love? triangle to ever disgrace TV screens for sure)
However, the scariest part of the episode happens when the Whisperers, in unison, begin slowly, and quietly chanting:
“We are the end of the world . . . We take them all.”
as they lead their horde of thousands of zombies marching toward the Hilltop Colony.
As the residents of Hilltop scramble to evacuate and position their defenses against Alpha’s zombie horde, there are a number of noteworthy plot points that were explored during this episode.
- Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) and Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos) firmly define their long-standing relationship by coming to the mutual understanding that they are indeed “BFFs” because when Rosita tempts Eugene to kiss her (like he’s always dreamed of), he can not do so because he’s in love with Stephanie, a woman he has only spoken with through a radio. So Rosita confirms her suspicion and Eugene kisses her on the cheek.
- Earl and Aldin, the adoptive parents of “Alex,” Mary / Gamma’s (Thora Birch) nephew, prevent his aunt from even touching him, much to her chagrin.
- Carol (Melissa McBride) and Lydia (Cassidy McClincy) engage in a brutally honest conversation about how much Carol hates Lydia’s mom, and how Lydia does not care if either Carol or Alpha kills the other. This little talk, oddly enough, bonds the two of them and they part ways with some catharsis and better understanding of each other.
- Carol and King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) somewhat rekindle their relationship as they have sex on the eve of the battle with the Whisperers.
- Daryl expresses his mutual respect with Ezekiel, and both men engage in a pact that should either of them fall in battle, to make sure that the children their tasked to protect be taken to safety immediately.
- Daryl swings around a freakin’ MORNING STAR!
[Daryl Dixon flailing a morning star / The Walking Dead / AMC]
However, the most moving and impressive moment of the episode belongs to Eugene Porter who sings his rendition of Iron Maiden‘s “When The Wild Wind Blows” to serenade Stephanie over the radio as the camera fades and cuts to the other residents of the Hilltop preparing for the oncoming battle.
The lyrics of the song just plays perfectly to the dire situation the survivors are in, and it sets the calm before the proverbial storm.
Plus, Josh McDermitt can actually sing very well!
In the end, however, the survivors at the Hilltop find themselves between a rock and hard place as they are pinched between a zombie horde, and their home set ablaze by the attack from the Whisperers.
The episode ends on a cliffhanger as their fates are left up in the air.
Questions I’m DYING to ask:
Is Negan really going to keep being a “bad” guy again? After all the progress he made establishing relationships with Judith, Lydia, and even Daryl!
Will Carol ever get her chance to kill Alpha?
Is King Ezekiel’s “lump” really cancer or is it something else (zombie-related)?
HOW does Daryl STILL HAVE GAS for his motorcycle? When everyone else is riding on horseback now . . .
This episode was packed with a lot of plot points, and I may have missed a few good ones myself.
Although the action this time was rather slow-starting, it made up for convincing character developments, and a Spartan-esque battle scene.
King Leonidas would be proud.
That’s why The Walking Dead, “Morning Star” deserves an 8/10
The Walking Dead Review – A Princess Joins The King (10 x 15)
The death of Alpha did not stop the Whisperer War as many of the survivor communities expected.
Instead, they will face the wrath of an insane Beta hellbent on revenge for his fallen leader with the dreaded walker horde at his command.
The Hilltop Colony has fallen, and soon the horde will attack the others.
Negan is not hailed as a hero, and Michonne is out of the equation.
Leaving Daryl, Carol, and the rest of the survivors directly in the crosshairs of the Whisperers.
All this and all Eugene wants to do is to meet the love of his life, Stephanie?
As always, SPOILERS AHEAD.
THE KING MEETS PRINCESS
During the previous episode, Eugene takes up volunteers to go with him to meet up with his long-distance radio girlfriend Stephanie.
The trip presented the potential to seek help from a new community unknown to the Whisperers as well as gain supplies that could help in the war.
Yumiko, and King Ezekiel go with Eugene on his journey, but on their way, they meet a new character named “Princess” Juanita Sanchez (Paola Lazaro).
At first, the three are wary and do not trust Princess (as one should in the apocalypse), but Ezekiel grows fond of her and tries to gain her trust.
Yumiko and Eugene, however, are not open to the idea because she is carrying a semi-automatic rifle. Leaving them in a stalemate.
As a group of walkers closes in on the group, Princess tries to prove she is trustworthy by opening fire on the walkers.
Though she succeeds in stopping the dead, her gunfire also spooks the horses the trio had brought as transportation, which leaves Yumiko and Eugene frustrated.
Eventually, Princess tries her best to make up for her mistake, and lead the group into a garage full of bicycles.
Not before intentionally leading them to the “scenic route” through a minefield, but all’s well that ends well.
In the end, Ezekiel, Yumiko, and Eugene finally trust her as she comes through on her promise, and even said she has candy in her stash, much to the delight of Eugene.
They invite Princess to help travel with them on their journey, and just like that, they have a powerful new ally.
Although she has been alone for over a year, so her mental stability still remains a question, but who doesn’t get a little bit crazy during a zombie apocalypse?
Princess is a different kind of crazy though as she seems to be inertly good-natured.
Lazaro does a great job in her portrayal, and there is a definite sweetness that comes through her performance.
The scenes with Yumiko, Eugene, and Ezekiel, especially, were particularly heart-warming as they argued and then bonded with their new friend.
CAT-ASTROPHE AT THE TOWER
The Alexandrians who expected to be the Whisperer horde’s next target wisely evacuated their home.
Sure enough, Beta charges his horde toward Alexandria, but he finds that the place is empty.
After pondering his next move, he orders his zombie horde to go for Oceanside as he leads in his vengeful delusional state.
At some point, he even tries to kill another one of his Whisperers, but the voice in his delusional mind stops him. Making him truly unpredictable.
Later, it’s revealed that the Alexandrians have escaped into an abandoned hospital tower.
It is filthy, stuffy, and smells like “cat pee” as Judith points out in the episode, but it’s better than staying at Alexandria where they could have suffered a similar fate as the Hilltop Colony.
Here, Father Gabriel acts as the leader and keeps radio contact with Daryl, who’s on perimeter duty, as well as Aaron and Alden who trail the Whisperer horde to monitor their movement.
Their plan seems to be going well, but soon Beta realizes something is off and figures out where they are when a stray cat wanders in the path of the horde and goes into the direction of the tower.
Aaron and Alden are made, and are presumably captured or killed and are not able to warn the rest of the survivors that the horde is coming for them.
Let this be a lesson that cats are actually evil, and want to kill you when they get a chance.
Also, the survivors need more dogs, so they can keep those darn cats away!
NEGAN AND LYDIA
After killing Alpha, Negan seems to have been accepted back by the Alexandrians as they make him the designated cook when they’re stuck in the tower.
He cooks up some yummy possum stew who he offers to Lydia at one point, but she rejects it, and ignores Negan for most of the episode.
Negan realizes that Lydia needs to grieve the death of Alpha, her mother, despite how horrifically evil she might have been.
He coaxes emotions of grief out of Lydia by provoking her to hit him, and at first, she refuses to give in because she thinks Negan is only being selfish, and wants to be perceived as a hero.
However, in an emotionally charged moment, she breaks down and cries in Negan’s arms, and the two share a tender embrace.
Negan seems to be becoming something of a protective father figure to the children in the series, particularly toward Lydia and Judith.
Though his redemption will probably never be complete as his sins against the survivors are probably unforgivable.
The fact that he is trying to redeem himself is great to watch, and is becoming a must-see part of the show.
DARYL AND JUDITH
As Judith sneaks out of the tower, she finds Daryl patrolling the perimeter to see if anything is off.
She asks him to teach her how to do the things he does “just in case something happens.”
Of course Daryl obliges as long as she stays close and obeys his commands.
In their patrol, they encounter a lone Whisperer who has become too afraid of Beta’s unstable mental state, and claims she was merely looking to go off on her own.
Daryl distrusts her, and shoots her in the head with an arrow.
Judith is shocked by Daryl’s action, and pleads that they take her, or at least bury her.
The emotional turmoil that Judith is struggling with has been a recurring theme of her character, and this is probably because she is a lot like her late brother Carl, and their father Rick.
In a sense, she possesses qualities of both as Carl’s ideology of “there’s gotta be something after”, and Rick’s mantra of “my mercy prevails over my wrath,” resonates within her.
Truly, Judith has become the heart of the show.
The introduction of Princess comes at a great time for the survivors as they are left short of zombie-killing power with the departure of Michonne.
Ryan Hurst as Beta is incredible and gets scarier the further we go into this season.
Eugene’s quest for love is truly inspiring, and one can’t help but root for the guy.
Plus the adopted father figure to daughter scenes between Negan and Lydia as well as Daryl and Judith continues to develop into something special.
The Walking Dead “The Tower” (10 x 15) scores a resounding
The Walking Dead Review – Who Is The New Alpha? (10 x 14)
Michonne’s farewell episode last week gave The Walking Dead fans a chance to catch a breath after the intense revelations from episode 10 x 12 (“Walk With Us).
In this week’s episode, “Look At The Flowers,” the resounding aftershocks following the events at Hilltop, and Negan’s betrayal of Alpha came into focus.
There were several burning questions that were addressed and a profound reveal regarding Beta.
[SPOILERS AHEAD, AS ALWAYS]
What happens now that Alpha is gone?
In the early part of the episode, it’s confirmed in a flashback that Carol indeed unleashed Negan and sic’d him on Alpha.
When Negan succeeds, he demands that Carol escort her back to Alexandria, so he can be part of the community once again as part of their deal.
Carol does not immediately uphold her end of their bargain though because of the deaths she witnessed in part because of Negan’s mission.
Nevertheless, she got what she wanted as she places Alpha’s head on a pike at the Whisperer’s border.
She goes off to wander afterward to think about what she’s done, and tells Negan he’s going to have to wait for her.
IS BETA THE NEW ALPHA?
After Beta sees Alpha’s head, he is told by one of the Whisperers
“You are the Alpha, now.”
However, Beta is reluctant to accept the new moniker, and in his own way of grieving is unable to accept that Alpha is dead.
He still “hears” what the severed head of Alpha is saying, and makes one of the nearby Whisperers “listen” by forcing his ear closer to the head, which of course takes a bite out of him.
Then Beta takes the head off the pike, and brings it along with him in a sack.
Not that Beta wasn’t scary enough already, for him to have a psychotic breakdown makes him that much more unpredictable and dangerous.
It is also revealed in this episode that Beta was a famous country singer named Half Moon before the zombie apocalypse.
He goes to a secret location where he keeps mementos of his old life, and plays a record on a loudspeaker to collect hordes of zombies.
After going into his feelings over the death of Alpha, he finds inspiration in the lyrics of one of his songs that reads: “These 2 eyes see 1 truth.”
This prompts him to plunge a knife into Alpha’s zombified head, and tears off a part of his own skin mask (the same part that Gamma damaged previously).
Afterward, he walks out into the zombie horde he’s summoned, and is revealed to be wearing Alpha’s skinned face sewed into his mask.
Which looks similar to the Phantom of the Opera.
Ryan Hurst as Beta wearing his new “Alpha” mask. THE WALKING DEAD “Look At The Flowers” / AMC
IS NEGAN THE NEW ALPHA?
As Negan gets stuck waiting for Carol to sort out her thoughts, he decides in the meantime to fetch Lydia from the shed he kept her safe in.
Waiting for him though is Daryl, who managed to track down (as per usual) the location, but Lydia already escaped prior and is MIA.
Negan and Daryl have a light scuffle, which ends in Negan on restraints.
After Negan tells him of the deal he had with Carol, and how he killed Alpha, Daryl does not believe him.
To prove this, Daryl decides they both go on the pike border to see Alpha’s head, which of course is already taken by Beta.
At the border, they are met by three Whisperers who restrain Daryl, and proclaim that Negan, in their eyes, is now the New Alpha because he killed the previous one.
Negan pretends to relish this newly earned title, and tricks one of the Whisperers to give up their shotgun, and he and Daryl overpower them.
Norman Reedus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are buddies in real life, as Morgan has appeared in Reedus’ show Ride With Norman Reedus several times and share a love for motorcycles.
To see them together performing as “allies” after the brutal history their characters have had on the show is just a pleasure to watch.
Morgan, in particular, is magnetic in his performance since the character of Negan has grown into such a complex anti-hero at this point in the show.
It speaks volumes that he would turn down a position of absolute leadership with the Whisperers, and return to Alexandria.
Of course, that might have something to do with the disgusting and nomadic cult-like lifestyle the Whisperers have.
Compared to Alexandria, which is basically a paradise for apocalypse standards.
But did Negan make the right choice?
Should he have stuck with the Whisperers, and kept working the double-agent angle?
IS CAROL THE NEW ALPHA?
As the title of the episode suggests (“Look At The Flowers”), Carol is a crucial character in the narrative of this installment.
The famous phrase comes from episode 4 x 14 “The Grove” where Carol reluctantly kills Lizzie, a deranged child who thinks Walkers are just like humans and suggests they become like them.
(This is eerily similar to the twisted logic Alpha applies to the Whisperers)
Lizzie killed her sister Mika to try and prove this and also threatened to kill a baby Judith Grimes.
Carol in response, of course, infamously shoots her in the head to keep other people safe by tricking her, and saying:
“Just look at the flowers Lizzie… Just look at the flowers.”
After seeing Alpha’s head on a pike, like she has been dreaming of for a while, she snaps and does not know how to deal with it.
So she goes solo once again and wanders the Whisperer territory.
Unable to deal with the trauma from her decisions, she manifests a hallucination of Alpha ‘s ghost that torments her.
At one point, the Alpha ghost says,
“I respect what you did. It was Negan who drew the blade, but it was you who ended me. Like a true Alpha.”
This aggravates Carol because she comes to the realization that her actions had deadly repercussions toward her friends.
All because she wanted revenge for Henry’s death . . .
- The Hilltop Colony is gone, and many good people died
- She had to seek help from Negan, her best friend Daryl’s most hated foe
- Connie, Daryl’s only love interest for a long time, is missing
Only to name a few.
Carol then wanders into a precarious shed where she gets buried in rubble after accidentally knocking over a column in her delusional state.
She gets stuck as the Alpha ghost continues to talk to her of her past sins, and as a Walker comes close to kill Carol, the Alpha ghost repeats the phrase,
“Just look at the flowers” to Carol teasing her imminent death, but somehow she escapes, and decides she wants to live.
Carol then returns to Alexandria where he is greeted by Daryl at the gate.
- Eugene, along with Yumiko and King Ezekiel, go on a journey to meet Eugene’s romantic radio gal pal, Stephanie. But on the way, stumble across a new character named Princess, who well . . . does this (much to Ezkiel’s pleasure, apparently):
- Ezekiel bestows the legacy of the Kingdom to Jerry before he departs.
- Magna and Yumiko come to terms regarding the end of their relationship.
The Negan-Daryl buddy scenes were must-watch for TWD fans, and so were the Carol-Alpha ghost talks.
But the reveal of Beta’s past fell a bit flat, even though it is poetic with a musical theme.
Also, NO ONE IMPORTANT DIED, which is both a good and bad thing because come on, at this point, that’s what this show is all about, right?
To see who tragically dies next.
Nevertheless, “Look At The Flowers” scores a
7.0 / 10
The Walking Dead Review – Michonne’s Last Episode (10 x 13)
Michonne has officially exited The Walking Dead.
Our favorite samurai-swinging walker killing machine, was sent off in a spectacularly trippy episode (titled “What We Become”), which included warped callbacks to past episodes, a heartfelt goodbye to her children, and sets her on a path to, presumably, look for Rick Grimes (who’s still probably somewhere with the helicopter people).
Of course, like Rick, fans may not have seen the last of Michonne.
As hinted by producer Scott M. Gimple on Talking Dead, many of the characters who have left the show may return in some way in the shared Walking Dead universe, whether in an original TV movie or as Lennie James’ character Morgan did – become a mainstay of another show (Fear The Walking Dead).
Danai Gurira (who non-TWD fans may recognize as General Okoye from Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War / Endgame) has played Michonne since season 3, and was one of the longest tenured protagonists of the show.
She is beat in seniority only by Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride – the last two original cast members left.
Michonne’s departure leaves a HUGE leadership role in Alexandria, which is currently being led by a council headed by the increasingly unstable Father Gabriel, and puts the rest of the survivor communities at a disadvantage in the Whisperer War.
Not only is Michonne an accomplished fighter and leader, but her connections to the rest of the characters will be sorely missed – especially to her children Judith and Rick Jr. who are basically orphaned now with mostly “Uncle” Daryl left to look after them.
Daryl, though rock-solid against walkers and bad guys alike, has not had the best record when it comes to baby-sitting.
Some of his past duties include:
- Sophia – lost in the forest, bitten by and turned into a walker, then shot by Rick.
- Beth – let her get kidnapped after helping her find and drink booze – got himself intoxicated as well, and is shot by Dawn.
- Henry – tracked him down to save him from the Whisperers; died when he was kidnapped and got his head impaled on a pike by Alpha.
So yeah, best of luck to the Grimes siblings.
Michonne’s Last Fight
When we last saw Michonne, she went with the mysterious Virgil who promised weapons and supplies in exchange for helping him get back to his family in a secluded island.
This week, we find out that Virgil has a few screws loose (think Morgan in his “clear” mind set), and is keeping three former colleagues as prisoners in the safe-house where he keeps his supplies.
Michonne is unwittingly tricked into going inside a creepy building and slashing through a sizable walker horde that Virgil was not able to kill because, as it is horrifically revealed, he can not bring himself to do so because his family is already dead and is trapped somewhere in the building.
As Michonne swings her patented samurai at every walker in sight, Virgil is suspiciously looking at every one –checking if any of them are his slain wife and children.
Tragically, the two find Virgil’s family hung by the neck as walkers in a closed-off room. Michonne helps kill the zombie corpses and buries them.
Michonne then demands Virgil’s end of their bargain, but he delays the deal until the next morning.
An impatient Michonne decides to snoop around, and is trapped by Virgil in a room.
She finds out she is not alone in imprisonment when she hears the voices of Virgil’s former colleagues on the other side of the wall.
While imprisoned, Michonne receives and consumes an apple laced with a hallucinogenic drug from Virgil who takes the same drug to go to his “happy place.”
Michonne’s Last Trip
However, the opposite effect seems to happen to Michonne as the drug triggers hallucinations of alternate nightmare scenarios from her past.
In them she witnesses the following events:
- She lets Andrea get eaten by walkers from Herschel’s farm.
- She tries to hitchhike a car that ignores her, which is revealed to be driven by Daryl – presumably riding with Rick and Carl.
- She joins Negan and the Saviors when she is found alone in a desperate state and eventually becomes one of his generals.
- She shoots and kills Glenn and Heath when the group invaded the satellite outpost during the war with the Saviors.
- She bashes Abraham’s head with Negan’s baseball bat, Lucille, during the infamous season 7 premiere.
- She is hunted down and shot with an arrow by Daryl, and is shot in the head by Rick.
When she snaps out of her hellish hallucination trip, Michonne tricks and overpowers Virgil, then rescues and escapes with the three other prisoners.
However, they can not get off the island because Virgil has already burned the boat he and Michonne used.
Michonne’s Last Act of Mercy
With the three others desperate and enraged, they direct their attention toward Virgil, and want to kill him.
But just when Michonne gives in to the urge herself, she remembers and echoes Rick Grimes’ mantra when he spared Negan’s life.
“My mercy prevails over my wrath.”
Michonne, instead of killing Virgil, incapacitates him, and makes him help them get off the island.
By doing so, Virgil is forced to reveal a secret hidden ship he has found ashore, which he and his former colleagues managed to fix.
Inside the vessel, Michonne finds clues regarding Rick:
- Rick’s signature cowboy boots
- A non-functional smartphone with the screen engraved with drawings of Michonne and Judith along with a phrase written in Japanese
The two items, though not confirmation of Rick’s survival, gives Michonne a lead to follow.
As the ship is set to sail, Michonne invites Virgil to get off the island with the rest of them.
He refuses because he promised his dead wife that he would bring her grave flowers every day, so he is left alone in the island to live out the rest of his days.
Michonne’s Last Message
In the most heart-breaking scene during this episode, Michonne hails Judith and Rick Jr. one last time via walkie talkie to tell them that she has found a clue to potentially try and find their father.
As Michonne laments going back to her children to protect them from the dangers from the Whisperers, Judith lies saying that they “took care of them,” and urges her mother to go look for her dad because he might need her more than them.
Michonne promises to hail them through the walkie talkie every day (a similar promise Rick made in season 1 to Morgan), and update them.
Then before Michonne can even say it, Judith says,
“Listen to Uncle Daryl. I know, mom.”
What’s Next For Michonne?
At the end of the episode, we see Michonne travelling with “neutered” walkers in chains that act as wards once more.
There seems to be a small time skip as she is no longer with Virgil’s group, and is alone searching for Rick.
However, she comes across two strangers in red ponchos, one of which is injured, and trying to chase something.
After reluctantly offering her help, Michonne discovers that the two are following a large caravan of people in a tight army-like defensive formation equaling, or maybe exceeding that of the Whisperer’s horde.
Whether this new group plays a factor in the main Walking Dead show remains to be scene, but one thing is clear they are a force to be reckoned with.
Suffice to say, this episode of The Walking Dead is a landmark installment because it’s one of the show’s most popular character’s exit.
But to top it off with a bombshell revelation about Rick, and potential introduction of another group of survivors is just icing on the cake!
“What We Become” scores a
9 / 10!
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