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The Walking Dead - Squeeze - Review

        The Walking Dead “Squeeze” was written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and was directed by Michael E Satrazemis. This was a terrific start to the second half of season 10 with plenty of suspense as the group trapped in the cave worked to escape and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) began to work his way up the power ladder with Alpha (Samantha Morton), resulting in that surprise reward!

The episode picks up right where we left off with the group in the cave using their flashlights to see just how screwed they are – and then they see Alpha peering down at them – so there’s clearly another way out. Carol (Melissa McBride) sees alpha and then primal screams at her – her hatred is so intense that it’s not even articulated. Alpha leaves the cave – we don’t see how she gets to the exit – and tells her people not to let them get out.

Magna (Nadia Hilker) tries climbing back the way they came, but it’s no good. Daryl (Norman Reedus) sees water coming from outside, and Aaron (Ross Marquand) sees some outcroppings that they can use as a bridge to the other side of the herd – by jumping from outcrop to outcrop. As the others jump, Aaron keeps the herd from climbing up and attacking. It’s nerve wracking as Jerry (Anderson Cooper) has to make the leaps – he’s a big guy! The most nerve-wracking turns out to be Kelly (Angel Theory) who twisted her ankle when she fell in. When a walker grabs her, Jerry chops off its arm and Daryl keeps it to use later. Daryl catches Carol who almost doesn’t make the last jump – and it’s a nice metaphor for him trying to catch her before she completely loses herself to revenge.

Daryl uses a match to look for moving air that would signal the way out. Carol is breathing heavily, and Connie (Lauren Ridloff) asks if she’s alright. Carol says she’s just winded, but Daryl chimes in that she’s claustrophobic! I can attest that my claustrophobic husband almost had to leave the room during some of these scenes as they did a fantastic job recreating that feeling for the audience!

As the group takes a beat to discuss their situation, Magna wants to talk about Carol’s responsibility for getting them all trapped down there. As much as I don’t like Magna – and love Carol – in this instance she’s absolutely right. Aaron tries to keep the peace, and Daryl tells them that they don’t have time for “this shit” – he’s found the way out.

At the Whisperer camp, Negan is watching Gamma (Thora Birch). When Alpha returns, it’s now night, Gamma and Beta (Ryan Hurst) scramble to her for an update. She tells them about the group going right to where the herd was. Gamma immediately wants to know if they found the herd. Beta tells Alpha that she’s underestimated them. Alpha sends Gamma to tell the Whisperers on the border that they’ve failed and tells Beta to set watches around the camp. Negan watches as Gamma leaves.

In the caves, the others take a rest. Carol gathers water from stalactites, and I loved Jerry watching approvingly as Aaron attaches his mace to his arm! Connie tries to comfort Kelly and keep her calm. Magna is antsy and takes a match from Daryl “to do something” – look for the next way to go.

Carol joins Daryl. She’s impressed that he knew she was claustrophobic when she’d never told him so. He tells her if he waited for her to tell him things, he “wouldn’t know shit.” And Carol throws back “look who’s talking.” They really are the perfect pair! But Daryl isn’t happy with Carol. He feels like he can’t turn his back on her anymore and has to worry about what she will do next. He also confides that he’s worried about Aaron getting close to Gamma/Mary – the “skin freak.”

Carol apologizes, but Daryl tells her that he begged her to talk to him. He wants to be there for her, but he doesn’t know what to do anymore. Carol finally seems to open up. She tells him that she can’t stop thinking about Alpha killing Henry. She knows that she has to, but she doesn’t want to just kill Alpha, she wants to hurt her and make her beg for forgiveness. Daryl tells her that after all she’s been through – he’d probably feel the same way – unless SHE tried to stop him. McBride and Reedus are just fantastic in this scene as we see Daryl’s love and frustration and get a glimpse of Carol’s despair. She’s clear fighting herself and just unable to stop herself being ruled by her emotions. Is this the inevitable consequence of her letting herself finally feel again?

Daryl tells her that she’s got to stop all this because people she cares about are starting to get hurt. Carol didn’t mean for it to happen and she knows she has to stop. Daryl tells her not to bullshit him – she’s got to promise him. He’s got to know they’re on the same team. Carol doesn’t say anything, but she leans against him and it seems like a promise.

We fight for our future. We don’t fight for revenge.

As Magna looks for a way out, she’s attacked by Whisperers who come swarming out of the dark. Naturally, the group comes to her aid and we get a great fight scene, shot with swinging flashlights and angles through the rocks. It does confirm a way out. They debate which way to go, and Carol agrees that they should stick together. Jerry, however, finds a road sign – an arrow carved in the rock showing the way out.

Negan comes to Alpha as she’s using the latrine – and EW! He apologizes for disturbing her, and she tells him that the latrine is on the edge of camp for hygiene – not privacy. She clearly doesn’t care. He’s come to start spreading doubt about Gamma – a spy in the camp. It’s the best way to move up the ladder – pull down the one in front of him. Negan tells her that he’s been where she is – and he has. His downfall came from within too. Alpha, however, insists that the two of them are very different – but Negan is right.

He tells her that he had people and a system, and he thought that they believed in it. He goes on to point out that King or Queen, if people tell you all day that your shit doesn’t stink, you come to believe it. But at the end of the day, it still stinks. And of course, the way this scene ends is perfect…

Negan tells her that based on his personal experience, she should look closer to home. He doesn’t mean Beta – that would be too big a jump. But he does point out that Gamma had all the opportunity. Negan may have slightly misjudged her attachment to Gamma as there’s suddenly a knife on his crotch. Is Negan rusty or is Alpha truly able to surprise him? She tells him that she doesn’t want him spreading paranoia and backs him up until he falls… right on her shit! And then she slowly swaggers off, seemingly unaffected by their conversation… but Negan has planted the seed – he’s started to squeeze Gamma out.

Back in the cave, the group has to squeeze through increasingly tighter spaces. Carol starts to panic, and it’s Connie who calms her down. Perhaps Connie, who really has Kelly like a child, is more easily able to sympathize with Carol too. I have to say that it seems impossible for Aaron to barely fit through and for Jerry to actually get through. And why didn’t he take his armor off to begin with??? I did love that when Aaron asks how he’s doing, Jerry points out that he’s a 6’2” dude who had trouble fitting into airplane bathrooms!

This tunnel set was amazing! And I’m betting any actors who were claustrophobic had a hard time with it! We see Carol as we haven’t seen her in a very, very long time as she starts to have a full blown panic attack and suddenly can’t move. It’s Daryl’s voice that keeps her moving as she tells her that they’re going to get through it together. He finally gets her moving, but she’s caused a delay for the others to get out…

Jerry suddenly hears something – and it’s walkers. I’ll admit it. I was screaming at the tv. They can’t kill Jerry! What a horrible way to go – but I thought, wow. This might be the catalyst that really made Carol regret her actions – after all, she loves Jerry. Jerry gets wedges with the walkers biting at his boots, and finally, Aaron tells him to take off his gear, and Aaron and Daryl are able to pull him to safety. Connie and Kelly check him over – and the walkers didn’t get through his heavy shoes!

Magna almost walks off a cliff – and Daryl uses a walker arm as a torch – it’s an incredibly long drop and the herd is at the bottom of it. The group pulls some boards out of the way to find a mine entrance. Of course, how did the Whisperers get out from the cliff if this exit was boarded up? They get to a collapsed entrance. Connie holds Magna back from charging in to move things – they have to be careful or the whole tunnel will collapse. It’s clearly why the Whisperers haven’t used it and likely why it was abandoned in the first place.

Back at the Whisperer’s camp, Beta returns, and Alpha pulls him aside. Beta tells her that Gamma never made it to the border and he’s sent scouts to find her. It’s interesting that his first thought is that if there are spies amongst them, maybe they captured Gamma, but Alpha is ready to point the finger directly at Gamma. Alpha sends Beta to find Gamma, and he’s ready to kill her on sight, but Alpha wants Gamma brought to her so that she can deal with her as the pack watches. It’s clear that Alpha is affected by Gamma’s betrayal. Of course, if Gamma is dragged back to camp, she’s going to blow the whistle about Lydia….

Back in the cave, as the others dig out, Kelly finds some dynamite. Jerry sees that it’s highly unstable and tells her to gently put it down. Connie finds a bird cage – something miners did keep to warn if the air was going bad. Magna is digging furiously, and Aaron asks what her hurry is. She confesses that she left things badly with Yumiko – and that regret pretty clearly marked her as dead.

Back at the camp, Alpha pulls Negan away from the pack and takes him out into the woods. She walks behind him. He’s clearly very nervous – and again, this is a side we’ve never seen of Negan. Is he truly stripped bare out here or has he been fundamentally changed by his time in Alexandria. Betraying Gamma certainly seems like him throwing all in with the Whisperers, but I’m sure that I’m not alone in hoping that he’s biding his time and actually plans to help our heroes.

Negan relies on his usual method of dealing with stress – talking. He wonders if he’s getting his skin suit or learning the secret Whisperer handshake. Alpha just keeps driving him further into the woods, refusing to speak, and the silence makes him finally admit that he’s not good with long, uncomfortable silences. She finally tells him to stop and keep his eyes front. He clearly thinks he’s about to be killed – and doesn’t it feel like every mob killing in a gangster movie ever? Is this what Negan’s actual background was?

Alpha tells him to take off his clothes. Is it the better to skin him? Negan starts talking. He can’t help himself. He tells her that she was right. They are nothing alike. He made himself into a monster – one the world needed. He built something. He saved people and his name meant something. So, he acknowledges that he was a monster! But he’s still justifying what he did. And really, the same could be said about Rick. And then Alpha tells him to turn around…

And she’s naked too! Not what Negan was expecting. She tells him that he’s a crass man, so she thought he might appreciate a crass reward! Sex in the woods! He’s confused about why he’s getting a reward. She tells him that it took courage for him to tell her about Gamma, and she wanted to express her gratitude. She also clearly thinks he’s hot, c’mon! At first, he asks if she’s going to take her mask off. She asks if her true skin disturbs him and he admits it’s kind of a turn on. Just as they are about to kiss, Negan asks if “this is some kind of praying mantis situation” – he’s worried she’s going to kill him right after they have sex. She doesn’t answer – which he points out, but also says he’ll take his chances! She tells him to stop talking – and we get a full body shot of them – apparently both naked!

In the cave, they are almost out, when Daryl realizes that Carol – and some of the dynamite have disappeared. Carol has gone back into the cave with the clear intention of blowing it up and trapping or killing the herd. It’s reckless and stupid. Naturally, she almost falls, and Daryl is there once more to save her – possibly for the last time. She tells him that she could have taken out half the herd, but Daryl points out that she’d also die. Carol once again breaks down, saying that Alpha killed her boy. Daryl tells her that she has to come back with him – and he means all the way back, not just back to the cave.

And then the cave starts to cave in. Kelly gets out and is immediately attacked by walkers. Connie and Magna go to help Daryl with Carol. Jerry is left holding up a beam – and really, it should have completely collapsed when he let go – but I’m happy to wave my hands at this if it saves Jerry! Whisperers attack from the tunnel and Magna goes back to hold them off. Connie goes back to get her – and the dynamite explodes, collapsing the entire entrance.

Kelly is distraught and Daryl flings himself on the rumble trying to dig them out. Aaron tries to stop him and Daryl just yells at him to help. It’s Kelly who actually talks sense. She points out that they are about to be swarmed by walkers attracted to the noise of the cave in, and they can’t save Connie and Magna if they’re dead. They need to find another way in.

We get one final incredible scene between Daryl and Carol. She begs him to “say it.” To call her out. But he won’t do it. He won’t even speak to her. She tells him that she knows he cared about Connie and now she’s gotten her killed. Daryl tells Aaron to go back and tell the others where the herd is. He’s going to find another entrance and save them. Jerry, Kelly, and Aaron all pass Carol without looking at her or speaking – and she’s left crying and looking at the pile of rubble… and we’re left wondering what she will do next.

I thought this was a great season premiere that threw us right in the middle of some great action, featured some truly magnificent performances from Reedus, McBride, and Morgan, and set up some great tensions going forward. The show also found a new way – two new ways really – to totally creep us out – the caves and that sex scene! There’s no way that Beta is going to be ok with what happened between Negan and Alpha, and can anyone see him keeping his mouth shut about it? Will Carol finally recognize her destructive behavior? Doubtful. Are Magna and Connie dead? Will Gamma warn the others and escape capture by Beta? I can’t wait for the next episode, and I’m not going to lie – it’s been a while since I said that! What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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