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The Walking Dead - Chokepoint - Review



The Walking Dead “Chokepoint” was written by the team of Eddie Guzelian and David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and was directed by Liesl Tommy, whose other credits include Insecure, Dietland, and Queen Sugar – and not much else. She does a terrific job with the showdown between Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Beta (Ryan Hurst), however, even without a lot of obvious experience. The episode also introduces a new group – the Highwaymen.

The episode picks up right where we left off last week with Daryl and Connie (Lauren Ridloff) trying to get Henry (Matt Lintz) and Lydia (Cassacy McClincy) away from the Whisperers. Henry can’t even run through the woods at night without falling flat on his face, but he does finally realize that they aren’t headed back to Hilltop. Daryl points out that taking Lydia breaks the deal between Hilltop and the Whisperers, so they can’t go back to Hilltop – unless they want to bring a war down on Hilltop. Guess you are never going to learn how to be a blacksmith, Henry…. In fact, it’s quite astonishing how he’s completely ready to abandon his family and community for one kiss – this may be the stupidest plotline the show has ever done.

Lydia finally admits that there are a lot more Whisperers than she ever let on. Daryl is angry that she didn’t tell the truth, but she points out that he kept her in a cage and she wasn’t going to betray her own people – sound familiar, Daryl? At least you gave her clean clothes…. There’s no way that Daryl is going to send her back. Lydia at least has half a brain and realizes that she can’t survive with just Henry when he offers to go off just the two of them. Daryl would never allow it – because of Carol (Melissa McBride). I loved the fight over which way to go between Daryl and Connie, especially when even dog follows Connie! Reedus’ sigh and head drop are perfect at the end of the scene.

Back with the Whisperers, they are cleaning up the camp. Beta comforts one of the bitten (Ben VanderMey), who seems to be ok that he’s going to turn – and Beta tells him that he’ll always be with them – in the pet herd. We also meet their tracker (Terri James) – who has a distinctive set of dreadlocks on her mask so we can easily identify her – but they also eerily reminded me of Michonne – and be association, Michonne’s pets. Beta tells her that Lydia will walk with them again or all of them will walk with the Guardians – clearly their name for their pets. Did we learn that in the last episode – “Guardians” – because I don’t remember hearing it…

At the Kingdom, final preparations are going on for the fair. Did anyone NOT love the gigantic Shiva statue? I also loved that they had banners for each of the settlements – a la Game of Thrones! Carol and Nabila (Nadine Marissa) share a moment. Carol clearly had doubts it would happen – but Nabila never did, making her the perfect wife for Jerry (Cooper Andrews). Nabila tells Carol that the fair is a symbol of them becoming different people – not warriors – and she’s not ready to give up after all they’ve been through to get to this point.

The two are interrupted by the return of Jerry and Dianne (Kerry Cahill) – without their armor and with Jerry with a cut on his face. Dianne tells Carol that they have to speak to the King (Khary Payton).

Jerry and Dianne report to the King – and Queen – who are sitting on the stage in the theatre. Jerry tells them that they were jumped and given a note to give to Ezekiel. It’s from the Highwaymen who say that they are now in charge of all the roads leading to the Kingdom. They want to be paid to let people pass to come to the Fair. Jerry blames himself – they must have overheard him talking about the Fair, but Ezekiel points out that the trade fair is hardly a secret.

Ezekiel points out that they don’t have enough to pay them even if they wanted to. Dianne offers the theory that it might be a renegade group from the Sanctuary. It’s hilarious when she mentions Jed’s group – and Carol just brushes it off – and we know that she’s already taken care of Jed’s group! Ezekiel points out that the Saviors don’t write notes, but he also brings up the point that if Jed’s group was out there, they aren’t now and because they aren’t, it’s allowed the Highwaymen to take their place – unintended consequences.

Interestingly, it’s Jerry who insists that they have to do something. It’s not surprising, however, that he’s the one who wants to protect their friends – the ones they’ve invited. Carol agrees – the Fair is important. Ezekiel gives the order to gather every fighter they can spare. I loved the look on Carol’s face as Ezekiel watches them leave and says “it never ends, does it?” Carol clearly is concerned that anything is preventing Ezekiel’s dream of a peaceful future and worries about him losing the hope of his vision.

Tara (Alanna Masterson) and her group are on the way to the Kingdom when they encounter a tree and car blocking the road. As the group works to remove it, we see that Earl (John Finn) and Tammy (Brett Butler) are with them with the Whisperer baby. Apparently, they are bringing the baby to find it a new home. Tammy has clearly already bonded with the baby, however.

Kelly (Angel Theory) worries about Connie, but Tara tells her that she’ll be fine because she’s with Daryl. It’s hilarious when Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) follows that up with Daryl’s going to be ok because he’s with Connie! Even Magna (Nadia Hilker) tries to make Kelly feel better.

Connie has lead the others to an apartment that she’s stayed in before. They can use the building to create a chokepoint. Henry, of course, doesn’t understand. Daryl explains they go up to separate the living from the dead. Lydia is worried that they’ll be trapped if they go up. Alpha (Samantha Morton) won’t send an army – she’ll just send Beta. Daryl asks if he’s their best, and then declares that he’ll kill him first.

The Kingdom finds the Highwaymen’s hideout. Anyone else wondering how there is still so much spray paint left in the apocalypse? I did love that the team has still got it as Jerry, Dianne, and Carol assess the guards – only two but they have guns – and their tactics. Dianne refers to taking them out as “just like old times” – underscoring again how tired they all are of the fighting. Carol just takes it in.

Carol next checks in with Ezekiel. She tells him about the guns. She knows that losing any more of his people will be devastating for Ezekiel. He tells her that the Fair was meant to be a symbol – like the Shiva statue and the banners – a hope for a better future. Carol sees how troubled Ezekiel is that they can’t seem to leave violence behind them, and she suggests that they try talking to them. Ezekiel asks her why she things that “thugs like this will listen” – and Jerry points out that they took his sword! But Carol points out that they could have killed them – but they didn’t. AND they sent a grammatically correct letter. I adored how much she got out of that letter!

If it was grammatically correct, they are likely dealing with someone who has some higher level education – and who may be interested in culture… and civilization. Jerry says it was a grammatically correct death threat, but Dianne points out that it wasn’t. They just said visitors wouldn’t be allowed to pass – not that they’d be killed. I love how the women are taking the lead here – finding more nuance in the exchange and not getting all testosterone… we have enough of that in the other plotline! Ezekiel insists these “pirates” have their knives at their throats! What if Carol is wrong? And then Carol is still Carol. She promises that if they don’t listen, then they’ll kill them.

When Daryl and the others get into the apartment, it’s clear that a lot of the work has already been done to fortify it – because Connie has stayed there before and has a stash of supplies there. Daryl is impressed. She also shows him a map of the defenses, and Daryl figures out how to set a trap. He’s hopeful it will work. Connie wants to then what. Daryl says then they go. Connie wants Lydia to stay with them, but Daryl insists that if she stays, and they go back, their friends will die. And Connie points out that they have friends and the girl doesn’t.

In the Highwaymen’s hideout, it’s clear that they have a lot of “stuff” that could be useful. I loved the ambush they set up by standing in with the mannequins. A voice comes out of the mannequins, saying that the meeting was to be with the King alone. Ezekiel points out that the King and Queen rule together. When their leader says that wasn’t the deal, Carol points out that they didn’t have a deal – she wants to know if they’re going to do business or not. The leader – Ozzy (Angus Sampson) steps forward. And Sampson is a terrific addition to the cast! It’s immediately clear – to Carol – that she’s got another smart guy who likes to cosplay on her hands. They are called the Highwaymen – and he’s even wearing a cowboy hat! And he talks with a drawl.

Ezekiel proposes that they discuss alternative solutions. Ozzy doesn’t immediately suggest that the alternative is to kill them. Instead, he proposes taking them all hostage in exchange for food and clean water. Ezekiel tells him that they need what they’ve got. When the Highwaymen show themselves, the rest of the Kingdom warriors come out of hiding and take them hostage. Ezekiel tells them that they need what they have and they’ll fight to keep it. Ozzy says he’s listening. Ezekiel and Carol offer them the job of keeping the roads open – and Jerry wants his sword back.

Ezekiel is willing to give Ozzy and his people access to the Kingdom and the Fair. Ozzy just laughs. Ezekiel points out that there’s no good in the things they steal if they can’t trade for what they need. Ozzy pulls Jerry’s sword and tells them that they’ll have to do better than the trade fair. Everyone is ready to fight – and Carol steps in with cookie-Carol face and asks when the last time it was that any of them saw a movie? Ezekiel is puzzled – but Ozzy is clearly immediately interested! I really, really hope they’ve got a western on tap! And then Ezekiel finally realizes that he’s dealing with a kindred spirit.

At the apartment, they all make preparations. Henry has made a spear for Lydia, but she still doesn’t want to kill her own people. McClincy really impressed me in this episode. Henry promises to try not to kill any of her people. She asks Henry why he’s risking his life for hers. It’s a no brainer for Henry – she didn’t want to go back. But Lydia thinks it is stupid. Alpha will kill him, especially since Henry made her look weak. And Henry gets another kiss for offering to abandon his own family for a girl he’s known for less than a week. Daryl breaks it up. He knows which brain Henry is thinking with and he still doesn’t trust Lydia.

Tara’s group is overrun by walkers. It’s not just walkers that they are worried about now, of course. They also have to worry about the sickos in skins! Earl is almost taken out – and Tammy puts the baby in a treasure chest – with holes in the lid! – to protect it while she saves Earl. I just freakin’ love Brett Butler in this.

And then, complete with western theme music, the Highwaymen ride in! I loved Tara asking who the hell they are, and Ozzy saying, “We’re the Highwaymen… at your service” – complete with at tip of his hat. Masterson’s face is perfect! What the…????

Henry and Lydia are watching when the Whisperers arrive. Daryl immediately pisses Beta off by killing the Whisperer who was turned at the beginning of the episode who Beta promised would stay with them. Beta tells his followers to leave them no way out – and recognizes Daryl’s trap. Daryl tells the others to get ready – and locks Lydia in a closet with Dog. He knows she won’t want to fight her own people, but he doesn’t leave her completely defenseless either. He tells her to run if someone else opens the door – and he locks her in. She knows he’s trying to help her and thanks him.

Henry is useless in an actual fight, but Connie is amazing. To her credit, Lydia does break out of the closet to come to Henry’s rescue. If he’d gotten Dog killed, I would have been very upset. And of course, him being wounded makes for all kinds of more trouble for them.

Daryl and Beta are the best, however. I loved Beta shielding himself with a door as Daryl waits with his crossbow. I loved the use of the hanging plastic for Daryl to be able ax the Whisperer. The fight between Daryl and Beta is epic! Hurst is awesome, and I love how the show uses his height to make him even scarier. Daryl is clearly outmatched physically, but he’s one tough son-of-a-bitch and has been through so much pain in his life that it simply seems to wash over him. Of course, Beta casually pulling the knife out of him is pretty impressive too.

As they fight, Beta monologues – he talks a lot for Whisperer – while Daryl remains characteristically quiet. Beta wants the girl. Daryl isn’t giving her up. Beta tells him that they mean nothing to him – their world is already dead. It’s a nice contrast to the Fair and how the others are striving to build a new world – hence the symbol of the baby too. Daryl takes advantage of Connie’s hiding space to ambush Beta and shove him down the elevator shaft. This really reminded me of Beth and the elevator shaft at the hospital. It was a bit over the top to have Beta survive that drop – with nothing to break his fall. I don’t think that they needed to stretch our credibility that far.

Back at the Kingdom, the Highwaymen arrive. Jerry isn’t super happy to see Ozzy, but I think the two could become fast friends – or Jerry may become jealous if Ozzy and the King get along. Ozzy tips his hat to the Queen. Nabila welcomes Earl and Tammy, and is all over the baby – you know a baby-magnet when you see one! Earl tells her that they’ve brought the baby to see if they can find someone to take him in, but Earl tells him that she’s not letting go of him! Earl isn’t really surprised – and is clearly pleased.

        Carol and Ezekiel welcome Tara – and Carol immediately wants to know where Henry is. Tara tells Carol that they were supposed to meet Daryl and Henry there. And of course, Carol wants to know where exactly they are. Momma-grizzly is about to come out….

At the apartment, Connie draws the walkers off by shooting out car windows. Daryl is taking Henry to Alexandria – and then they’ll all leave together. Henry wants to know where they are going, and Daryl repeats – there’s a whole world out there. So, they are all ok with just abandoning their friends – who are more like family – for this one stupid girl??? This is the stupidest plot development on the show – ever.

There was lots to love about this episode – the Beta/Daryl fight, Ozzy, Carol’s brilliant assessment of the Highwaymen – but please show, find a better solution to the Lydia problem. If Lydia is the reason they are promising us “shocking deathS” coming up, I am even less happy about this. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!



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