Stradivarius might have been the least exciting episode of the season, but it was still eventful enough to feel like something was happening. That wasn’t always the case last year so we’ll take these small victories.
The most intense moment was the opening scene where a bloody Rosita was alone in the woods hearing the talking walkers trying to find her. I loved how Director Michael Cudlitz — Abraham returning behind the camera this time — shot this scene as it wonderfully captured Rosita’s terror at being tracked by walkers.
We finally check in on Hilltop, which is still thriving despite the change in leadership. Maggie has left with Baby/Preschooler Herschel and joined Georgie’s community. Given the mysterious tension we keep getting teased between Maggie and Michonne, this revelation was disappointing. The showrunners have announced Lauren Cohan won’t be back this season so we’re not likely to get much of a payoff on that subplot.
Jesus is now in charge, but a very reluctant leader. He’s happier to go running off and shirking his responsibilities. Tara is his right-hand woman and is doing more of the actual Hilltop maintenance. This fits in with Jesus’s mindset as he really should have taken control of Hilltop from Gregory years before Maggie showed up.
One thing Jesus is down with is reuniting the communities. He’s been helping Aaron train and keeping the lines of communication open. I’m tremendously impressed the writers haven’t taken the lazy route and just paired Aaron and Jesus up because they’re the show’s two gay guys. They find Rosita, who reveals she left Eugene at a barn.
Carol and Henry head to Casa Dixon, which is basically camp grounds by river beds. Daryl is still operating on the no body, no death mentality regarding Rick’s ‘death.’ For now, he’s living off the wild with his trusty dog, Dog, bringing over random walker body parts. At least they burn well in the campfire. Carol wants Daryl to keep an eye on Henry at Hilltop.
Henry is awful at listening and taking orders, so an apprenticeship with Daryl would be helpful. But even after all these years, Carol is still the Daryl whisperer and he decides to tag along. Big revelation of the night: Daryl has the same X brand as Michonne. The Walking Dead hasn’t been a big flashback style series, but with this time jump, it really seems like we’re due some catching up episodes from the in-between years.
Michonne is still trying to figure out if she can trust Yumiko’s crew. I love how the crew can do some basic sign language communication with Connie as it’s a great way to communicate in secret. Given the amount of doctors that randomly show up in the series, I won’t question the logic of ever sending the doctor out on a mission. But Siddiq probably needs more screen time so we can let it ride. Siddiq is trying to convince Michonne to ride with him and DJ (Matt Magnum) the whole way to Hilltop.
At least Michonne is satisfied with Yuimiko’s story about their camp, which got overrun by a herd. We really need a flashback on Bernie and why his death hit the group so hard. While taking shelter for the night, Michonne’s distrust of the group results in one casualty — Luke’s Stradivarius. Maybe Michonne needs to switch to decaf?
Luke’s convictions about music and arts manages to convince Michonne these guys aren’t a pack of psychos. And seeing Magda and Yumiko cuddling up probably helped her view them as decent people with something to lose. That trust goes a long way as a mini-herd invades the shelter space.
Connie heard the rumbling and gave them an early warning. I like that the writers are not making Connie a helpless liability, but a useful asset. And the way she and Kelly handled those slingshots was very effective. That’s a very useful skill in this walker world. Yumiko’s crew gets rattled when they see walker Bernie lumbering along. Michonne mercifully kills him as they head out.
Siddiq is in with the inner secret group as he tells Michonne that Maggie is gone with Georgie at another community. Hopefully we’ll get some explanation why no one else wanted to go with Maggie like Enid in particular. She was super loyal to Maggie.
A pair of Hilltop riders (C. Thomas Howell sighting!) tell Michonne they’re en route to tell Alexandria that Rosita is recovering. Michonne finally decides she will go to Hilltop now.
Henry pulls an Attack of the Clones era Anakin line asking Carol if she thinks Enid remembers him. She did look pleased to see us. Daryl immediately rolls out with Jesus and Aaron to find Eugene for what might be one of the series’ most bad a$$ trios.
As a lead-in to the midseason finale, Stradivarius was largely used as a setup episode. After an already very busy first half of the season, this didn’t need to be epic and lays the foundation for a strong cliffhanger next week.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Photo Credit: AMC