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The Walking Dead - Open Your Eyes - Review

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The Walking Dead “Open Your Eyes” was written by Corey Reed and was directed by Michael Cudlitz. I have to say that I did not see this one coming at all. Stop reading right now if you don’t want spoilers! In the comic – as far as I can discern – Dante (Juan Javier Cardenas) is not a Whisperer spy. As I said last week, I was sure that Rosita (Christian Serratos) was about to die – and I was absolutely shocked to see Siddiq (Avi Nash) killed by Dante! So go show – you got me good! In a really, really bad way. As always leading up to the fall finale, it looks like things are going very, very badly for the “good” guys right now…

Siddiq is still struggling with his visions and PTSD, and of course, it’s his finally being about to face those memories that proves to be his undoing… Meanwhile, he looks after Cheryl (Rebecca Koon) who is getting much worse. We see that the water is put through a filtration system that is monitored by Siddiq and Eugene (Josh McDermitt). So, clearly, Siddiq has no reason to doubt the water –even while we do! He is taking notes and researching to try to figure out what is making people sick… in between bouts of PTSD. The hands coming out of the couch were a great horror touch!

Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) arrive back with their prisoner (James Parks) and kick Lydia (Cassady McClincy) out of the cell. She clearly recognizes him, and Carol is right after her to get information. She tells her that he’s one of the ones who watches the guardians – walkers. Lydia confirms that he probably knows where the hoard is.

Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) is furious at Carol putting them all in so much danger. Carol insists that they have to find the hoard before it shows up at the gates. Daryl, somewhat surprisingly, supports Carol. Gabriel insists that he’s going to be present for any interrogation and that Siddiq will treat his wounds first. Carol wants him to bleed until he answers, and Gabriel reminds her that it’s not her call. I loved the way he invoked Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) name – like Mom isn’t gonna be happy when SHE gets home! And the “bad-kid” look that Carol and Daryl exchange! Carol, surprisingly, tells Lydia that she can stay with her.

Carol thanks Daryl for having her back and offers to let him sit out the torturing because it’s not going to be easy. I loved the way Cudlitz shot this to emphasize the distance between these two right now. They are at almost opposite ends of the hallway with Carol about to go upstairs and Daryl going down, separated by the floors of the house too.

Daryl retreats to his own space, and I loved the detail we get here. We see that he’s busy making fishing and hunting aids on his workbench. He takes the double-capper that Carol gave him out of his pocket and lays it on the workbench. He then takes off his shirt and vest and we get a close up of all his own scars – evidence of the hurts he’s already taken on for others. There’s no real reason for him to strip down otherwise. I also loved him calling Dog – and how much the actual dog really likes him. Daryl is clearly thinking about Carol, however.

Meanwhile, Carol and Lydia are very far away from him – on the roof. Carol brings salve to Lydia for her physical bruises, but has no qualms about hitting the mental ones by asking questions about the Whisperers and the hoard. Lydia confides that she hates them, but she also knows them. It’s still turning on her family. Carol tells her that she has to choose a side. McClinchy is terrific in this scene and in the episode. I haven’t liked the character – but we aren’t really supposed to – and I’ve been a bit harsh about her performance, but after seeing her on The Talking Dead, it’s amazing how different she is in real life. It definitely shines a light on the performances she’s delivering on the show.

Lydia tells Carol that she wishes she’d left when Henry asked – and Carol agrees. At least then, Henry might still be alive. Lydia tells her that Alpha (Samantha Morton) twists people and makes them obey because they think they have no other choice. Lydia tells Carol to show the prisoner what they have and that it can survive. An idea like that is dangerous – and if it spread? There wouldn’t be anything that Alpha could do to stop it. And we see this play out in the Gamma (Thora Birch) storyline.

In the cell, Gabriel brings Siddiq and Dante to take care of the prisoner, who is sitting with his eyes closed and his face tilted up into the sun – maybe enjoying having his mask off – but also mimicking how we’ve seen Alpha gathering herself. Once Dante enters the cell, the prisoner doesn’t take his eyes off him, and when Dante tells him “Don’t try anything” – making intense direct eye contact, the prisoner responds meekly and fervently, “never.” He doesn’t speak that way to any of the rest of them ever. And hindsight is a wonderful thing. It’s clear that he recognizes Dante. I wonder if we will discover that Dante is actually “Delta” – one of the few Whisperers to be named – and they both start with D after all!

Siddiq goes to stitch up the wound and the prisoner’s tone changes as he tells Siddiq he knows him and then taunts him with the memory of that night. Gabriel tells him that Dante can take it from there, but Siddiq is ready to stay, until Dante pulls him away – after all, he doesn’t want him reliving or remembering that night. Siddiq does leave, but continues to have every more vivid memories of that night. It was sad to see DJ (Matt Mangum) back under such conditions.

At the bridge, Aaron (Ross Marquand) tries to win over Gamma. She is amazed that he has so much bread every day – so clearly, the two have been meeting for a while. They each stay on their side of the border and only their words cross to begin with. She’s eating a tiny leaf and doesn’t seem to understand how bread is made. She also points out that so much bread seems like a lot of people doing just that every day. Does she see this as a weakness or just a curiosity?

When he sees her staring at the picture Grace drew for him sticking out of his bag, he picks it out to show to her. She’s amazed that they have children – let’s not forget the plight of her sister’s baby. Aaron tells her he has just the one. Gamma tells him that children hold you back and make you weak. She tells him that she’s an only child.

Carol enters the cell ominously with a covered tray that clinks as she sets it down. This is a beautiful reveal – also a quick shout out to the lighting in this scene – with the light coming in through the high windows to the darkened cell. Carol pulls up a chair in front of the prisoner. Daryl and Gabriel come closer to the bars, worried about what comes next. We get a close up on Carol’s face as she declares “Let’s get started!” The music reaches a crescendo as she whips off the cloth to reveal….. a tray of food! It’s Cookie-Carol!

The prisoner leans forward and seems to look at the tray longingly. When Carol offers him choices, he answers that he wants all of it, and she tells him not a problem. She then goes on to talk about lunch, and it seems like the prisoner has caved already when he asks “what do you want?” It looks like Lydia’s advice is working. Carol tells him that right now they’re just going to talk and he says “pass.” Carol doesn’t get angry or argue; she tells him to eat and hands him the bread. He shoves it all in his face, looking like he might cry, but instead of swallowing, he spits it right in her face – and tells her no.

Siddiq checks on Rosita, who asks if she’s ok. Siddiq tells her yes, and that if it weren’t for Gabriel, he’d be making his move. This is a sweet scene between the two – and as we never got to see them together, helped to fill in some missing pieces. Rosita tells Siddiq not to let Gabriel stop him because Gabriel doesn’t have a jealous bone in his body. Siddiq climbs into bed with her, and she tells him she’s been thinking about Eugene. They both laugh as Siddiq describes him as her “other, other man!” Rosita is worried about Eugene thinking she’d dissed him by missing their radio date. Siddiq tells her not to worry about him – he bounces back. He also tells her that Eugene’s baby notes were on point. Siddiq is suddenly in awe of the fact that they have a kid together. Siddiq confides that he wants to do it right and be a good Dad – and isn’t that heartbreaking? Rosita tells him that they are both lucky to have him – and there’s a moment when it looks like the two might kiss, but it’s broken by Rosita coughing – and Siddiq needs to see other patients.

In the cell, Carol loses patience and resorts to her old ways, gouging her thumb into his wound. He tells her that if they were “out there” he would take her like a “bitch in heat.” Carol puts her wedding ring back on – and that has to be her original ring because it’s not the one that Ezekiel gave her – it’s fitting that she now uses it to beat someone else. She only gets in a few blows before Daryl tells her it’s enough. The prisoner declares them all weak.

That’s it for Daryl. When he moves in, the prisoner does look a little worried, especially when he pulls out his gigantic hunting knife. He tells the prisoner that he’s going to take his fingers first, then his ears, then all his teeth. The prisoner ignores him. You lie to yourselves, each other. You fight for sandwiches and ignore the truth. He tells them that he would never betray Alpha – and he sounds like a member of a cult. He also reveals that Alpha killed her own daughter for them! Carol and Daryl exchange a look. They both know how to undermine Alpha now.

Carol runs to get Lydia, and Daryl runs after her. This scene on the steps is one of the best in the episode – and a terrific Reedus/McBride moment. Carol insists that the prisoner has swallowed everything Alpha told him, but seeing Lydia alive can break her hold on him. Daryl insists that Lydia has been through enough. He’s thinking of what it will mean to her to know that Alpha told them she killed her – not to mention facing the prisoner. Daryl insists that Lydia’s been through enough. Carol’s face softens, and she tells Daryl to let Lydia make up her own mind. She also tells him that it’s the only way – and he doesn’t disagree.

Siddiq visits Cheryl again and lies to her that she’s getting better. She insists that he sit and rest. She knows he’s lying, but she convinces him to rest because others need him to help them. And I couldn’t get it out of my head that it’s stupid to fall asleep in a room where someone is dying – so is that proof that he didn’t think she was dying? Or was he just exhausted?

Back on the bridge, Gamma looks at Grace’s picture of her riding a bike. Aaron tells her that Grace is a good rider and remembers riding his own bike when he was a kid. Gamma confides that as kids, they’d always try to take the long way home around the lake. Aaron picks up on the they and asks brother or sister – without any reference to her previous claim that she was an only child. Aaron is clearly a skilled interrogator! He doesn’t push when she doesn’t answer, simply turning once again to his own story and revealing more about himself.

      He tells her about his own brother. He tells her that his brother loved cars and people – and people loved him too. He still thinks about him every day, and he tells her that he knows what it’s like to lose someone like that and that it helps to talk about it. Aaron tries to make a connection as he sees that Gamma is receptive. He admits that he knows she’s trying to dig for intel the same way he is, but what’s the point? He suggests that maybe they could just talk about things that don’t need to be reported. Gamma can’t take it and walks away, muttering Alpha’s mantra “we are free….”

        This is a terrific segue back to the prisoner who is muttering the same thing – and who is clearly sick. He begs Dante to make it stop – and when it gets worse, he lunges for Dante, but before anyone can to anything, he’s dead. Siddiq sees Hemlock in the medical bag and accuses Dante of killing him. Dante insists he thought it was yarrow and he never thought hemlock would be in the bag because Siddiq packed it! We are clearly supposed to believe that Siddiq either did it on purpose or during a PTSD bout. Siddiq’s face is enough to prove it wasn’t on purpose.

Gamma is sitting with her mask off looking at Grace’s picture when she’s attacked by a walker, which she has to kill. Alpha is there watching and is not pleased that Gamma has killed a guardian. Gamma reports that Aaron has a daughter. Alpha wants to know if Gamma asked after her sister’s child. Alpha warns her that Aaron will seek out her weaknesses and use them against her. Gamma tells her to remove her mask, and then proceeds to beat her with a switch. Telling her that they’re always being tested and must remain strong. Alpha then tells her never to doubt that she believes in her and that she is her kin. She then tells Gamma not to be seduced by Aaron’s lies.

Gabriel and Daryl stand over the dead body. Gabriel is worried that people will panic if they find out. And if Alpha finds out, it will be even worse. Daryl insists that she won’t – and he’s going to dispose of the body. Poor Daryl. Always gets the worst jobs! But Gabriel insists that he’ll help because it’s not his mess to clean up.

It’s actually Carol’s mess, but she’s already gone off to create a bigger mess. We see her on horseback with Lydia, who has already realized that they aren’t going hunting. Carol tells her that she can still help if she wants to.

Siddiq goes to check on Cheryl and finds the room empty and the cross off the wall. Siddiq finds Dante burying Cheryl – with her cross. He tells him that he was going to try to come find him – Siddiq just walks away. Of course, in hindsight, did Dante simply kill her in order to increase anxiety? Siddiq meanwhile has a total panic attack that results in him flinging himself into the reservoir/pond. As he seems to be drowning, he relives the night of the attack again – we don’t see Enid’s face, but he’s clearly reliving that. It’s Rosita that jumps in and pulls him to safety. Apparently, she’s getting better…

Rosita refuses to simply go back to bed and forces him to talk about what’s bothering him – and has been bothering him for weeks. He tells her that it’s like he’s still “there” – it’s like he’s never left, but it’s all jumbled like a puzzle and he can’t get it to stop. Rosita tells him that Cheryl wasn’t his fault and that he isn’t alone. He tells her that Dante bothers him so much because Dante is there and Enid isn’t. Rosita tells him that’s not his fault either. Siddiq insists that Rosita wasn’t there and can’t know what it’s like to have loved ones killed right in front of her. Oh the irony!!!! I really wish that Rosita had said something about Abraham – not least of all because he’s actually directing this scene!!!! – and Glenn. She does know.

Siddiq is consumed with guilt because he did nothing – he just watched. Nash is fantastic in this scene – underscoring what the show has lost. It’s one of the things that I don’t like about The Walking Dead. We have all these great actors and characters and there is just never enough time to really get to know them before they are suddenly killed off. Again, however, let’s focus on the irony of what he’s saying to Rosita – who had to watch helplessly as Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) killed her loved ones. Rosita tells him that he has to fight it and pull through – for her and Coco and everyone else who loves him. She tells him he’s not alone and he is the smartest person she knows.

Siddiq is still troubled by the fact that he can’t figure out the common denominator – the sick have nothing in common – and then, FINALLY! – the penny drops. He sends Rosita home without telling her what he suspects. My hope here is that Rosita is as smart as she says and can figure out the same conclusion – or at least tell Eugene what Siddiq said so that Eugene can figure it out. I’m also hoping that she’ll realize that Siddiq was no longer suicidal when he left her – because I’m betting that Dante sets up Siddiq’s death to look like a suicide….

Siddiq realizes that the water purifying system has been tampered with – although, initially, it would appear that he seems to think that too is his fault. Or is he simply angry that it took him so long to figure out?

Back on the bridge, Gamma insists on giving back the picture. She tells him she doesn’t want anything from him and throws it on the ground. When Aaron bends across the line to pick it up, she grabs him and puts her knife to his throat. She tells him no more games – he’s going to answer her questions. He tells her that this isn’t her – but he does try to reach for his knife. She insists that he knows nothing about her. Her questioning is interrupted by Carol who holds an arrow on her.

When Lydia steps out, however, Gamma freaks out. She’s devastated. She’s killed her own sister believing all that Alpha said. She releases Aaron and runs away. Carol then cruelly tells Lydia the truth. Lydia, in her turn, is devastated. Again McClincy is terrific in this scene. Lydia accuses Carol of just using her and of being just like Alpha. Lydia then surprises everyone when she says she chooses her side. Carol tries to stop her, declaring it to be too dangerous, but Lydia hits her with her stick and takes off over the border. Aaron stops Carol from following. Carol rides home alone, and Gamma sits alone in the dark woods with her mask off, sobbing.

Dante comes to Siddiq who tells him he wants to be alone. Dante says he’ll go but not before saying he’s sorry. Siddiq tells him it’s not his fault, it’s his alone. Dante tells him that Alexandria is special and works because it’s a village. Everyone carries equal weight. When something happens, it’s everyone’s fault, and when one of them is suffering they are all there to help. Dante tells him that it’s going to be ok. And it really seems like Dante is sincere.

And then Dante makes a weird clucking sound that sends Siddiq right back to that night, and he realizes that Dante is the one who held him and forced him to watch as Enid was killed. Siddiq turns and Dante realizes that he knows. Cardenas is great here as you see the knowledge spread over his face. Siddiq tries for his ax and the two struggle, but Dante overpowers him and strangles him with a choke hold. Dante tells him that he didn’t want this – and not like this, but he does it anyway. And what's all that about? Is he having second thoughts about Alpha too? Any hope that Siddiq might still be alive was dashed by Nash’s appearance on The Talking Dead.

It’s always tough to lose a character, but this one was another really tough one. It almost seemed like it was pointless for Carl to have been killed saving Siddiq for Siddiq to die so pointlessly. And will others die because Siddiq won’t be able to expose Dante? How will Daryl take Carol’s losing Lydia? Will Gamma turn on Alpha and try to kill her or simply leave the Whisperers and try to go to Aaron? I did like how the title worked on several levels. Obviously, it was what Siddiq remembered from the night of the murders - and specifically what Dante was saying to him. Less obviously, it refers to opening the eyes of the Whisperers to Alpha's lies. It also refers to Siddiq having to open his eyes to see what is making people sick... but again, that revelation will likely die with him.....What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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