A lot of this season of The Walking Dead has felt like the series’ takes on other films. We’ve gotten Halloween one week and The Cave in another. Morning Star definitely offered up some Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers vibes without Gandalf coming in to save the day.
They are the world
It wasn’t all action though as this episode built up that pending sense of dread expertly. Initially, I was worried we were due for a major tease and letdown with all the setup, but it played out well in the long run as it further established what everyone had to lose in this battle with The Whisperers. The creep factor in this opening scene was high long before the big pay off of Negan lumbering in with his Whisperer mask. One of us….
10-4 Good Buddy
Eugene proposes a meet up with his radio girlfriend, but Rosita stumbles up to his radio tower and scares her off for a moment. Rosita and Eugene have what’s easily been the weirdest friendship in The Walking Dead. He’s basically a stalker/voyeur who turned traitor on her and still manages to be odd and weird around her. In a normal setting I’m pretty sure she would have a restraining order on him in the real world.
In Walker World however, they’re BFFs and Rosita is thrilled he’s got someone else to obsess over. She’s so happy she offers him a kiss…considering The Whisperers are about to kill them. Yeah, that was weird. Eugene stays faithful to radio girl. Turns out to be the smart move as she responds to his song and offers a meet up time and location. Why does she need a week to rendezvous? Is makeup that hard to find in West Virginia (this seems like a rhetorical question) or is she planning something with her people? I still think she’s shady, but I’ll see how it plays out. “Let’s get this over with, I’ve got a date” was a great line.
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Heading out of Hilltop
Daryl, Aaron, Ezekiel and the rest of the Hilltop council debate on fighting Alpha and crew or roll out and fight another day. Maybe it would be heroic, but the odds are well against them and they work on an evacuation/regroup plan at Oceanside. That’s a smart plan right up until they reach a closed off road. Daryl quickly recognizes Negan’s handiwork as it’s a move out of The Saviors’ playbook. In fairness, Negan wasn’t exactly getting much forgiveness from the communities after nearly a decade in captivity. Looks like it’s staying and fighting after all.
Ezekiel finds Carol giving the hermit life a try and brings her back to Hilltop. This would be a good time for the return of a Terminus Carol. Right after she gives Zeke a “I’m sorry you’re dying of cancer and maybe tonight from The Whisperers” final romp, Carol has a heart to heart with Lydia. Seems like Carol is preparing to get her affairs in order if she isn’t able to kill Alpha.
Alden stops Mary/Gamma from saying hello to her nephew, which goes against Aaron’s promise to set up the family reunion. I know a deals a deal, but Alden made a pretty good point as to why there’s no chance she will come anywhere close to him. Gotta figure Alden is gonna get killed or severely incapacitated so Mary can show she has the best intentions.
Time for war
Why did it have to be rats???? Or mice. Honestly the second I heard the squeaking I looked away. Sorry guys. My efforts to provide a quality review end right around the time rats or mice start slinking on screen. Then it’s right back to turning away or using the fingers as shields.
Daryl makes peace with Ezekiel and they agree to get the kids out if the other gets killed. Naturally, Judith wants to fight, but she remains a likeable kid instead of the bratty one who cutely pouts until she gets her way. The show’s refusal to play the TV rules with children has always been one of its strong suits.
Aaron is at the center of the defense — his emergence as a real leader has been a mild revelation this late in the series. Daryl is on the fringes of the formation and he’s carrying a morning star for some flailing action. It’s a cool weapon, but it seems like the crossbow is always a more effective weapon.
It took a while for the action to start, but the action definitely delivered. Director Michael E. Satrazemis staged the battle scenes very coherently and with an emphasis on showcasing the overwhelming nature of The Whisperers. This was before they surged past Hilltop’s makeshift electrical fence and started launching arrows and gas bombs with their human catapults.
The final salvo of flame arrows goes beyond Hilltop’s retreat and reaches the structure itself. That’s not good. Hilltop starts getting engulfed in flames as the episode wraps up in an ominous note for one of the enduring locations in The Walking Dead.
I really appreciate looking forward to the next week’s installment of The Walking Dead again. This season has been solid with the build to the Whisperer War and I can’t wait to see the continuation next week.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: AMC