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The Walking Dead - Walk With Us - Review

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The Walking Dead “Walk With Us” was written by the team of Eli Jorne and Nicole Mirante-Matthews and was directed by Greg Nicotero. It was a classic episode of follow the scattered heroes after their major defeat. I was really, really sad to lose Hilltop. We lost an awful lot with it – including the portraits of all those we’d lost. But we also lost quite a few characters. I was pretty sure that Thora Birch (Mary) wasn’t going to be with us for long when she appeared on The Talking Dead with very red hair. It wasn’t really a huge shock to lose Earl (John Finn) after he rallied the troops last episode. For those who follow the comics, there likely wasn’t a lot of surprise that Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morton) was the one to kill Alpha (Samantha Morton), but the big reveal of Negan presenting the head to Carol (Melissa McBride) had my jaw hitting the floor!

The previously on scenes had a whole new meaning with Carol telling Lydia (Cassady McClincy) that she was going to kill Alpha. It was definitely a cheat not to see just how the group managed to get into Hilltop as we pick up the action inside the walls. It’s beautifully shot – with enough cutaways to show the chaos but slow enough to also show us actual action – and a ton of great burning walkers. When we see Ezekiel (Khary Payton) with the kids, I was immediately worried about Daryl (Norman Reedus), but of course it’s just to highlight that Judith (Cailey Fleming) is following in Carl’s footsteps by never being where she’s supposed to be!

We get a great shot of Judith in Rick’s hat, totally mimicking Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) fighting style, taking out a bunch of walkers. But then she takes out a Whisperer, and this is likely her first time killing a live person. And here again, she walks in Carl’s footsteps as Fleming gives a performance worthy of the still sadly missed Chandler Riggs. Judith watches shocked as the Whisperer dies before she can do anything but stare in shock. Earl comes to her rescue and spirits her away.

Carol is shooting arrows from the wall. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) desperately runs into the burning house to try to save the radio – one of those things lost in the fire. Rosita (Christian Serratos) tries to stop him, but to no avail. Ultimately, Hilltop is lost. I’m not going to lie. I was really disappointed to see Magna (Nadia Hilker) stagger out of the walkers. We don’t yet know for sure that Connie (Lauren Ridloff) is dead, but it seems likely. Our last shot at Hilltop is Carol looking over the destruction. And by the end, we know how responsible she is for this. We will have to wait to find out if destroying so many other lives was worth the revenge for losing her own.

We see the first clue that Negan may not be 100% with the program when he clubs a dying Hilltoper in the head. Alpha is not happy he didn’t stab him through the heart – to which Negan answers “my bad.” I’m also not going to lie that I didn’t fully appreciate his mask until watching The Talking Dead last week (which I always do AFTER I write my review) – who doesn’t love that he made a Joker’s smile on it! Negan is ready to call it a victory, but Alpha tells him it’s not because she doesn’t have everything that she wants. Negan asks if it’s Lydia, and Beta (Ryan Hurst) wades in to tell him that it’s not his concern. Beta tells Alpha that she’s not among the dead and that he won’t stop until he brings Lydia to her.

Alpha turns away and walks off, and Negan tells “Frownie McTwoKnives” that he’s at his service. He’s ready to go help look for Lydia – at what point did he miss that Beta does everything alone? Beta tells him to gather, and Negan can’t believe he wants him to herd walkers. But he appears to go off to do just that. But he can’t get one walker to follow him – I just loved Morgan in this scene. We clearly see his frustration – and then his glee as he “screws it” and belts the head off the walker. And then he sees Lydia fleeing on her own.

Aaron (Ross Marquand) is dragging a wounded Luke (Dan Fogler) when Negan suddenly runs across his path. It’s a really nice parallel to the previous episode in which they were stuck together. Negan immediately tries to get Aaron to hold on – he doesn’t want to fight and tries to explain, but Aaron is tired and furious. Walkers show up from almost every direction – and of course, walk right past Negan. Aaron can’t engage Negan – he has to save Luke. Negan doesn’t stay to help, but looks a bit sorry as he leaves. I’m confident, however, that he knew Aaron could handle it, and was more intent on saving Lydia at that point.

It doesn’t look like he’s saving her when he comes upon her in the woods. I loved how this was shot. He takes his mask off, and she’s happy to see him until she sees the mask in his hand. Maybe she was hoping before that that he wasn’t with Alpha. He easily disarms her and tells her that her “shit is done.” I really liked the way the episode teased us about Lydia’s fate right until the end.

Alden (Callan McAuliffe), Kelly (Angel Theory), and Mary are together on the road – heading to a rendez vous. Alden can’t keep Adam from crying. He’s making Mary walk well behind them and is angry when she asks to try to comfort the baby. She tells him how to quiet the baby, but it doesn’t work. He finally gives her the baby, and he almost immediately quiets. I loved that Alden can’t help but soften toward Mary when he sees her with the baby. Kelly who was telling him to let Mary have the baby, smiles and winks at him. Theory has really won me over with Kelly.

The three stop to rest, and we get a classic scene that almost immediately made me realize that Mary wasn’t making it out of the episode alive. Alden asks what her sister’s name was, and she tells them it was Francis and that she was everything to her. Mary tells them that Francis should be the one sitting with them, not her. Mary tells them to move when she realizes that they’re coming.

The three run headlong with the now screaming baby and find an abandoned van to hide in. Kelly and Alden get in, and Mary hands them Adam, shaking her head no as she closes the door. She then leads the walkers away.

Mary kills them all. She takes a moment to savor her victory – and then, of course, Beta is there, driving a knife into her belly. He tells her that she will walk with them. Mary tells him never, but he kills her and then sits her up on a tree. He is going to wait for her to turn. In their struggle, Mary does manage to rip off half of Beta’s mask. A Whisperer (William Gregory Lee) is there and recognizes Beta! We get another clue that Beta was famous – and potentially a singer as the Whisperer also remarks that he’d recognized his voice. Beta kills him before he can say any more.

Hurst is great as a hulking threat. Birch does a terrific job reanimating. As she walks towards him, she’s hit in the forehead with a killing arrow – shot by Alden. Before he can re-cock an arrow, Beta takes off into the woods.

Carol is with Eugene, who is shell-shocked, going through the remains of the radio he was able to save, and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) with a shell-shocked Magna. She tells Yumiko that she and Connie got out of the cave in and ended up in the horde where they were separated. When Carol suggests that they need to keep going, Yumiko gets furious and ends up punching Carol. My only hope is that Magna stops being a bitch over this and Hilker learns how to act – so far, little evidence of the latter.

Carol is sitting on a log when a walker comes out of the leaves. It tries to reach up to her, laying its hand on her knee. I loved the way she just slapped its hand out of the way like this was an unwelcome suitor. I had a moment where I wondered if guilt over what she had done was making Carol think suicide by walker, but in the end, she takes him out. And just an fyi - Carol in the comics does die by suicide by walker...

Eugene comes over to check her over after taking “a cherry cheesecake like that to the kisser.” His dialogue will never get old! Carol asks him if he knows what it feels like to want something so bad that you go after it with everything that you have? Does he? Jeez Carol. Do you pay NO attention to those around you?? Of course, the pissing off everyone and getting others killed maybe not so much. But definitely the not having anything to show for it. Eugene tells her about the momentous, do or die meeting. Carol tells him that if it’s important – you go. Simple. Eugene tells her that he hopes she gets what she wants. As she gets up, she spots Lydia’s staff.

We catch up with Daryl leading a party of survivors, including Rosita, Dianne (Kerry Cahill), Jerry (Cooper Andrews) and a wounded (burnt) Nabila (Nadine Marissa), who is desperate to be reunited with her children. Ezekiel is supposed to be bringing them to a rendez vous. When they get to the appointed place, it’s overrun with walkers – but there is no sign of the children.

It turns out that Earl has the kids and is protecting them in another house. Judith worries about Ezekiel, and Earl reassures her that he’ll be there – and tells her that he’s one of the bravest men he knows. As soon as Earl steps into the light, it’s clear that he’s not well. He checks on all the kids and reassures them before shutting a curtain and retreating into another room. He puts a spike through the table – and is clearly intending on driving it through his brain. We get a nice close up of the bite on his arm.

Judith, of course, comes to check on him and sees the bite. She says he lied to them, but he tells her it was to protect them. She tells him that he can’t do it – and really, she’s right. Judith tells him that she could stay with him so that he’s not alone when it happens. She’s clearly offering to put him down when he turns. Fleming is just SO good in this scene. Earl is only concerned about sparing Judith. He tells her that she is so strong and brave, and now he needs her to protect the other children. Judith squeezes his fingers, before doing as he asked and going to the other children.

Jerry and Daryl find Ezekiel under a piece of metal at Hilltop – I was really worried that they were killing him too! He tells them that Earl has the kids – and they run to find them.

Earl does his best to kill himself. Judith is standing guard while the other kids sleep. She goes to check on Earl – and of course he re-animates. He grabs her arm, and we see her raise her sword…. When Daryl, Jerry and Ezekiel arrive, the other children pour out, and Daryl goes in to look for Judith. She’s sitting on the floor beside Earl’s body. Daryl gently takes the katana from her and sits next to her, gathering her close to comfort her.

And in the final sequence of the episode, we play cat and mouse. Negan tells Alpha that he’s found what she’s been looking for. I loved this – we already know that she’s been looking for death…. We cut back and forth from a frantic tied up Lydia to Alpha and Negan walking toward a cabin. I was pretty sure they were faking me out, but I wasn’t sure.

As they walk through the woods, Negan and Alpha probably have one of their most honest conversations – at least on Negan’s part. They see a walker and Alpha declares it beautiful. Negan tells her that all he sees is a gnarly ass bag of bones. She tells him that he will see soon – and she’ll see him there. He tells her that he’s not ready to meet his maker just yet. She tells him that she wants him to become a lion, which Negan interprets as going out to “preach her gospel.” He tells her that Beta is no Alpha, but shouldn’t the lioness take her mother’s place? I wasn’t feeling this particular analogy.

Negan tells Alpha about his wife! He tells her that before the walkers showed up, she had cancer. It was either eating her up from the inside or the chemo was kicking the “shit” out of her. He tells Alpha that maybe the cancer put things in perspective. She was never more beautiful. It didn’t matter how frail she got – even when she lost her hair. Alpha says he should be grateful that death set her free. And this analogy I loved. Right down to the bald head. Negan sees Alpha’s psychosis as a cancer.

Negan confesses that he didn’t feel much of anything anymore after she died. He was just here, and that was his strength. He tells her that he’s dead to this world, but she isn’t. She’s pretending that emotions aren’t real and that people are just animals. And he calls her on her “bullshit.” And now she claims she has to kill her own daughter, her own flesh and blood. Alpha, tearfully, tells him that it is Judith’s destiny. Honestly, these two delivered powerful performances here.

Alpha tells him that that disease took his wife because that was what nature intended. She goes on to say that his wife couldn’t take him with her, but that’s what she wanted – and wished for it every day! She tells him that Lydia was made for this – to be free. With Alpha. Negan remarks that Alpha still loves her. Alpha insists that she has to do it because she loves her. Alpha kisses him and thanks him. She moves purposely towards the cabin now, with Negan behind her. And of course, all of these scenes have been beautifully intercut by Nicotero with scenes of Lydia’s frantically escaping from the chair she’s tied to.

As Alpha goes to open the cabin door, Lydia opens her cabin door – and there’s no Alpha because it’s a different cabin! It was a terrific way to ramp up tension to make the big end reveal even more shocking. Alpha looks in the empty cabin and turns to Negan, who immediately slits her throat. I have to say that I was sad to lose Morton – her performances were so impressive. But then that’s the one strength of the show – spectacular villians played by spectacular actors who force us to love them!

Alpha looks shocked, and Negan gently lowers her to the ground, even kissing her, like a lover. Interestingly, she doesn’t thank him this time despite all her protests that she is ready to die. We get a fabulous close up of her face.

We see a close up of a bloody bag – and we have to know what it is. And who is carrying it. It gets thrown at someone’s feet and the head rolls out – ending in the same aspect as the last shot of Alpha dying – only now the head is reanimated – just like the heads on spikes. We pan up to reveal… Carol! And finally, here’s the Carol we remember – not the weeping, cookie-baking housewife. She tells him “took you long enough” – and we also finally know who let Negan out. And isn’t this a couple made in Hell? I can’t wait to see the fallout from this.

I quite liked how this episode was structured with distinct sections for each story. We lost a lot of characters this week. Earl and Mary both got terrific deaths. I wonder how her experiences will affect Judith. Will Lydia realize that Negan was trying to protect her? But most importantly, how is Carol ever going to justify this? In two weeks, the episode is entitled “Look at the Flowers” and that has me really worried for Carol. FYI, this episode marks McBride’s 100th appearance as Carol – is that also significant? What will Beta do next? Will he try to lead the Whisperers? Try to get revenge? I hate to lose Beta too, but there’s no way this guy can be salvaged. Another great episode with wonderful performances by Birch, Finn, Fleming, McBride, Morgan, and Morton. What are your thoughts on what’s left to come this season? What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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