It’s back! Back, like the freshly reincarnated corpse of a recently killed individual. Snarling and clawing at you, intending to digest your brains. It’s The Walking Dead.
This particular gap felt a lot longer than most that have come before; probably because I was super invested in where we left off. Unlike most shows, I haven’t forgotten the terrible events of the eight episode of this season, “The World Before.” If your memory isn’t as awesome as mine, then check out my recap of said episode.
Here’s a quick summary: we learned about the origins of Dante, the Whisperer spy who was living in Alexandria, posing as a doctor. He killed Siddiq when he discovered the truth about Dante. Gamma, a recently-anointed Whisperer leader, is slowly losing faith in her leader Alpha. Gabriel, in a fit of grief and rage, kills Dante. A mysterious man shows up at Oceanside and claims to want to return to his family. After some convincing, Michonne agrees to go with him since he’s staying at a base which apparently is filled with weapons. Carol, Daryl, and a few others follow a tip from Gamma as to the location of Alpha’s horde of walkers. They find nothing, but Carol spots Alpha watching them from the distance and instantly gives chase. They follow her into a cave but it’s a trap, falling through the ground into an underground cavern.
“Make sure they don’t get out.”
Carol, Daryl, Connie, and the others are trapped in the cavern with no way out. One of the group spots Alpha on a higher ledge, watching them with a torch in her hand. She leaves the cave and drops her torch on the grass outside.
The group is attempting to get to higher ground but they just can’t manage it. Daryl and Aaron spot some rocks that lead to the other side of the cave, where water from the outside is leaking into the cave. One by one they hop onto the rocks, carefully avoiding the hungry hands of the walker horde just below them. Kelly’s injured ankle nearly causes her to topple over, and a walker grabs hold of her leg. Jerry unsheathes his machete and cuts its hand off, which Daryl uses as a torch. He asks the gang to stay put while he looks for a way out, lighting a match to see if wind is blowing from any direction.
While he’s doing this, Magna decides to pick a fight with Carol who’s having a hard time adjusting to the thin corridor since she’s claustrophobic. Magna asks Carol why she ran off on her own and got everyone into this mess, but before things can escalate, Daryl enters the fray and says that he found a way out.
“They have failed.”
At the Whisperer camp, Beta and Gamma gather to hear what Alpha has to say. She informs them that their enemy went right to where the horde was being kept, so she assumes they’ve been sending spies to scout the place. Alpha tasks Gamma with going to their scouts and telling them that they have failed. Negan, munching on some food, watches Gamma leave.
“We fight for our future. We don’t fight for revenge.”
Daryl and Carol finally have a one-to-one talk now that things have quieted down. He wants to be there for Carol, but she isn’t letting him and he genuinely has no idea what to do anymore. He points out their current situation, that the people she’s with are feeling the consequences of her actions. She acknowledges that despite knowing she shouldn’t be acting alone, she can’t help herself. It’s beyond wanting to kill Alpha at this point; she wants to destroy her, to turn her into an apologetic mess before ending her life.
Magna borrows some of Daryl’s matches and goes off in search of some wind of her own. She’s suddenly attacked by a Whisperer, and the whole gang gathers to save her. Many more Whisperers appear and some ass is kicked in the process. Jerry finds a sign of where the exit may be, and they proceed.
“I had people. I had a system.”
Negan walks in on Alpha doin’ her business in the woods, and wishes to present an alternate theory as to who the spy may be. He thinks it’s someone in the camp rather than an outsider; that it’s not Beta since he’s immensely loyal. That it may be Gamma, who is close enough to Alpha to know exactly where the horde is, and who scouts close enough to the enemy that they could have poisoned her mind. Alpha listens intently, and seemingly believes his theory when she makes him swear not to speak a word of it to anyone.
The gang finds a pretty thin crevice that they’ll need to go through in order to make any progress. Two characters have a bit of a conundrum: Carol, with her aforementioned claustrophobia, is freaking out but is subsequently calmed by the always awesome Connie. Jerry, however, is a big guy and thus has a hard time getting through. He’s the last one to enter, and wouldn’t you know it, some walkers are right on his tail the moment he becomes stuck? Reader, I can’t begin to relate to you my anxiety during this scene. As a larger man myself, I felt very sympathetic to Jerry’s plight but the walkers chasing after him was transcendentally scary. Luckily, Aaron recommends that he take some of his gear off which saves his life; Jerry’s free.
They find themselves facing a huge drop, with some more cave on the opposite side. Magna overzealously wants to get a good look but nearly falls. In an effort to see exactly what they’re dealing with, Daryl drops the torched walker hand below to get a good look at the enormous crowd of walkers. They find another path, one that looks like an old mine. Magna impatiently asks why they’re just standing around, but Connie points out that if they move too quickly then they could damage the support beams and bring the entire cave down on them.
“Bring her to me.”
Alpha asks Beta as to the whereabouts of Gamma. He says that he sent scouts after her but they weren’t able to locate her. He thinks that the enemy may have gotten to her, but Alpha says that she may be the spy. In furious anger, he huffs off to find her.
“That thing’s sweatier than I am.”
Kelly finds some dynamite and excitedly brings a stick over to show the gang. Jerry acknowledge her excitement but points out that it was likely left there for a reason, and that she needs to carefully put it back where she found it.
Meanwhile, Magna and Aaron are clearing some debris so they can get moving. Aaron asks if she wants to take a break but says that she left things rough with her friend Yumiko, and that she needs to make it right.
Negan and another Whisperer are working on something when Alpha walks past him, asking for his presence. She leads him through the forest and insists he keeps moving whenever he looks back at her. At this point he’s fearful for his life. She asks him to stop and take his clothes off. In a hurried, desperate moment, he tries to plead for his life before she asks him to turn around and sees that Alpha is naked as well. She wants to reward him for telling her about Gamma’s lies, and they get to work.
“We can’t save them if we’re dead.”
Back in the mines, the gang make a lot of progress and even have some light shine into the dark tunnel. Daryl asks where Carol is and finds that one of the dynamite sticks are missing. Carol is placing a stick of dynamite near a rock, presumably to blow it up and crush the walkers below. She tries to light the fuse but trips and nearly falls, holding on for dear life. Daryl comes and grabs her hand, but they can’t grab the stick and it falls, blowing up and destabilising the cave.
The cave is falling apart but Connie goes off to find Carol and Daryl. She brings them back but goes to fight some approaching Whisperers with Magna. Everyone except them leave the cave, which is when the cave blows up, trapping them in.
Kelly cries out and Daryl immediately rushes to the debris, clearing out every rock he can. Aaron tries to stop him, but Kelly interjects and says that the noise will have been heard by every walker and Whisperer nearby, and that they need to get out of the area as quickly as possible. Carol is a whimpering mess, but Daryl ignores her and goes off to find another way into the caves.
So, that was a pretty great episode. At this point, Carol is pretty unforgivable, right? She’s constantly acted in her own best interests and her actions have trapped Connie and Magna underground in Whisperer territory. Daryl is clearly cross at her. I bet this is the season where Carol bites it. It feels like an end-of-character arc to me, but you can never tell.
Catch me here next week for my recap of the next episode, “Stalker.”