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The Walking Dead - The Tower - Review



The Walking Dead “The Tower” was written by the team of Kevin Deiboldt and Julia Ruchman and was directed by Laura Belsey. This definitely didn’t feel like a season finale even though it ends on a cliffhanger with everyone in peril. We know that they’d finished shooting the finale before the real apocalypse happened, but the effects weren’t done… so we’ll wait for the finale “later this year.” Meanwhile, this episode features some truly magnificent performances.

The episode picks up where we left off with Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) running into a purple haired, fuzzy-pink jacket, gun wielding stranger (Paola Lázaro). I think this is the point where I have had more than enough of Yumiko. She’s immediately on the defensive and quickly turns the situation dangerous – how was she ever a leader? There is clearly a natural affinity between Ezekiel and the stranger, but once again Ezekiel demonstrates why he was such a good leader as he tries to convince the stranger that they aren’t a bunch of “meanies.” We also quickly learn that the stranger has been alone in the city for over a year.

Ezekiel smiles and tells her that they weren’t sure what her intentions were and she quickly demonstrates the difference between attacking – gun pointed at them – and saying hello – gun in the air. And she’s right – it’s a pretty clear difference. Now, she’s not so sure about them and does point the gun at them – and Yumiko jumps in to make it worse again, telling her if she keeps pointing the damn gun at them, she’ll find out if they’re going to hurt her. What a freakin’ idiot! Even if they wanted to fight, the stranger has a machine gun!

Once again Ezekiel jumps in – and he’s clearly pissed at Yumiko – to tell her that no one has any intention of hurting her. Ezekiel immediately gains good will by telling her that they were just admiring her “displays.” She’s immediately pleased and flattered, putting the gun up and asking if they liked them – and we know that Ezekiel legitimately did. She tells them that it’s difficult to put them together – how the hell does she get clothes on them without getting bit???? – but it makes the place feel more alive. But she says, now that she’s met real people again… but they she worries that they might actually not be real.

Yumiko asks if she’s for real, and she says she’s never hallucinated before, but maybe… She tells them to tell her something she wouldn’t know – the capital of Pennsylvania. Of course, Eugene immediately knows that it’s Harrisburg. She worries that she actually did know that… And then she admits that she’s freaking out a bit over seeing real people again after a whole year. And she clearly is overwhelmed. She introduces herself as Juanita Sanchez and then tells them to call her Princess. And she completely wins Ezekiel over at this point. Eugene wants to know why Princess, and she logically tells them because Queen makes her sound old! And pretentious! Ezekiel exchanges looks with Eugene and Yumiko – and it’s hilarious. He puts on his kingly voice but only introduces himself as Ezekiel.

Princess is immediately a gracious host, offering them supplies – including hair dye! – and a neat place to swim. Eugene thanks her but tells her that they can’t stay because they are on a very important mission. Princess enthusiastically asks what kind of mission – and Yumiko once again acts the bitch – telling her it’s their business. Princess still isn’t deterred and tells them she can show them the best way through the city. Yumiko tells her no – they don’t know her, and Yumiko clearly doesn’t trust her.

        Yumiko moves to the wrong side of her horse during this exchange – you always hold them on the left side – but she had to be on the outside for what was to come next. When some walkers show up at the other end of the alley, Princess demonstrates how helpful she can be by shooting them with the machine gun, which makes the horses bolt and run away. Actually, they were clearly not in terror, and Eugene and Yumiko should have been able to hold them…. If you watch closely, you can see the one bucking as it disappears off screen. Princess tells them sorry…

Eugene, Yumiko, and Ezekiel confer. They’ve saved one bag. Ezekiel plays the optimist, saying that they can find the horses tomorrow. Eugene points out that time is as tight as a tourniquet to make their rendez vous. Yumiko says that if they can make it by walking, they should start now because the meeting is too important to miss. Ezekiel suggests that they let Princess help – and Yumiko is dead set against it. Yumiko insists that anyone alone for that long ends up selfish or crazy – or both in Princess’ case. Ezekiel tells her that he’s not suggesting they follow her blindly, but if she’s got transportation… Yumiko insists that if she did, she wouldn’t still be there alone. Eugene finally weighs in. Princess might be a few bananas short of a bunch and it’s unlikely she has automobiles and working fuel, but they have limited options. He votes with the King.

I loved that when Ezekiel asks her to join them, she looks around to make sure he’s waving her over! She feels really bad about what happens and wants to make it up to them. She’s got a whole garage full of choices – tons to pick from. Yumiko wants the gun if Princess is coming with them. I adored Princess thinking through it out loud. She’s not sure she trusts them. She thinks she could take one of them, maybe two, but he’s (meaning Eugene!) would still be alive and could take her out.

At this point, she’s clearly demonstrated that she’s not stupid. She knows Eugene is the weak link when it comes to fighting. She also says she would have to have a death wish to give it up – and she clearly doesn’t – she’s survived alone for an entire year. But in the end, her desire to be with real people wins out and she hands the gun to Eugene – which clearly pisses Yumiko off. She also mentions that she knows where to get more guns anyway – and why didn’t anyone follow up on that?!?!?

The action now shifts to Alexandria where Beta (Ryan Hurst) has filled the now empty community with walkers. And then we find out where everyone is – the tower. This looks an awful lot like the hospital where Beth died – but surely that is far from where they are now. Judith (Cailey Fleming) walks through the halls. We see Lydia (Cassady McClincy) preparing food, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) comes in with a dead opossum, Kelly (Angel Theory) is teaching Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) sign language, Luke (Dan Fogler) is working on radios with Jules (Alex Sgambati) helping, Jerry (Cooper Andrews) is coming off watch as Dianne (Kerry Cahill) goes on, and Carol (Melissa McBride) has Dog and tells Magna (Nadia Hilker) that he’s keeping the cats away. I loved this continual shot through. Luke needs someone to run an errand for him, and Carol jumps at the chance to get out of there.

Daryl (Norman Reedus) is patrolling the woods and calls Michonne on the walkie. He tells her not to answer or come home, but they have a plan to end it – one he thinks she’d like. He then goes on to tell her that being on their own and barely scrapping by reminds him of the “old days” and the “old gang” – and don’t we all miss that to some extent? And then he asks if she can hear him – after telling her not to answer. He seems disappointed when she doesn’t.

Back in Alexandria, the horde moves through the crops, trampling them. I have to wonder how they’re going to survive with no food for the winter. Beta surveys them from the windmill and is told that they’ve all left in a hurry. He’s started hearing voices – which tell him to go to Oceanside. Meanwhile, Alden (Callan McAuliffe) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) are listening from the top of the windmill. They are using sign language to communicate silently. But really? The Whisperers did a thorough search and didn’t find them there? Beta almost sees Alden as he leans out to listen. And it’s most likely that Beta does see him given that the two are eventually captured. Beta gives the order to walk.

Back in the tower, Lydia is patting the one cat who’s still there. Negan watches from the kitchen, stirring possum stew, as Judith checks on Lydia. She tells her that she’s sorry about her Mom and asks if she misses her. Lydia tells her no – not everyone gets a Mom like Judith’s. Judith turns away, clearly missing Michonne. We see Negan react and he’s clearly moved by the pain both these girls are clearly in. It’s a short scene, but all three actors are terrific here. Morgan in particular has no lines, and we only see him in profile, but his reaction says volumes. Negan is definitely a sucker for the kids.

Kelly goes with Carol on her errand. They stop by where Marco (Gustavo Gomez) has the horses hidden to borrow two.

Daryl finds Judith in the woods, dispatching a walker. He asks her who she’s with and when she tells him no one, he’s determined to take her back. She tells him it’s fine – she left a note for Father Gabriel. Daryl tells her that wasn’t the question – he’s clearly good father material! She flat out tells him no – she hates it up there. It smells like cat pee. She wants to learn what he does. He tells her he patrols the perimeter. If he sees anything that looks wrong, he goes somewhere safe and radios it in. But there’s no room for mistakes right now. Judith tells him she knows. He tells her that is she’s going to do it, she has to stay right next to him and do everything that he says. She promises that she will.

Beta senses that they are being lead, but he’s unsure of what to do. When one of the Whisperers (Jessica Pohly) tells him that they believe in his wisdom and mistakenly calls him Alpha, he almost kills her. She clearly realizes that something is not right with him as he turns away, listening to the voices in his head and talking to himself. Will they finally abandon him? Alden and Aaron call in with news that they are still on the way to Oceanside.

Meanwhile, Eugene, Yumiko, and Ezekiel continue to follow Princess. Ezekiel is now wondering if Yumiko was right. Eugene asks if her unique way of navigating has a purpose or if she’s just meandering – as she counts steps and does other odd things. Then they find the head of one of the horses. Honestly, these people should never be allowed to have horses! However, this one wasn’t eaten. It had simply wandered into the minefield that Princess has lead them into! She tells them it’s a small one. She didn’t tell them so that they wouldn’t worry. She needs a minute to figure out where she is because she doesn’t normally stop in the middle. She throws a canteen in the direction she thinks they should go… and it explodes a mine. She then turns to the others and asks if one of them has a spare canteen! I love Lázaro already!

Carol and Kelly are getting more wire for Luke. Carol thanks Kelly for coming. McBride and Theory are both terrific in this scene. Carol clearly feels remorse for Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and tells Kelly that if she could go back… but Kelly refuses to believe that Connie is dead – she’s too tough for that. But beyond that, Kelly tells Carol that she understands why she does what she does. Carol says it doesn’t mean that she should have. And I adored that the show brought in something from Theory’s real life. She tells Carol that when she started losing her hearing, Connie told her that it wasn’t a weakness, it was her super power – and that’s exactly what Theory said her attitude was on an episode of The Talking Dead. I loved that they wove this into Kelly’s amazing story too.

Kelly is proud that everyone is now learning sign language because of her. She tells Carol that what she does isn’t a weakness either. Kelly tells her that they’ve all heard the stories of what Carol has done in the past. To do the things that only Carol can do – it’s her super power. She tells her that she can’t give up everything about herself because bad things happen. And Carol does take strength from that.

Negan tries to get Lydia to eat. He asks if she’s avoiding him, and she tells him she is. He comments that that’s honest, and she asks if he wants her to lie. He tells her no, and she tells him to give the rat stew to someone else. He clarifies that it’s possum… He tells her that he liked Alpha even though she did some inexcusable shit, there were things he liked about her. He tells Lydia to say what she needs to to him. She tells him that most of them wished she’d die too – and walks away.

As Princess continues to try to remember the way out of the minefield. Ezekiel comments that he’s been afraid of many things – but this is a new one. Eugene worries about a cascade effect, and a walker helpfully appears at that moment to demonstrate the danger of a chain reaction as his body blows up one mine and then his head flies through the air and sets off another!

Ezekiel says that maybe there’s something he can do – and he goes to Princess to reassure her. She turns to him and says, “I’m blowing this, aren’t I?” It’s a hilarious choice of words, but it also indicates how much she wanted them to like her. He tells her that it’s not ideal, but getting them out would go a long way to smoothing things over. Princess essentially takes a leap of faith and finds them the way out.

I adored the scene with Reedus and Fleming as Daryl teaches Judith how to be a hunter and tracker. He tells her as a hunter, everything else moves around you. You look for things that don’t belong – that just don’t feel right. He tells her to look and she sees skin on a tree. He asks her – living or dead. She tells him walker. He determines that maybe they are rounding more up. They run into the Whisperer from the earlier scene with walkers – Daryl was right. He shoots her, but only wounds her and she runs away.

As they emerge from the minefield, Yumiko tears Princess a new one for putting their lives in danger. And Eugene notices that they are on the same street they were on before. He’s furious now too. Yumiko accuses her of leading them in circles all day. Ezekiel wants to know if it’s true, and Yumiko pulls an arrow on her. Princess confesses that she missed the turn and took the scenic route because she was having too much fun. She now sees that she screwed it all up – they won’t want to stay and be her friends.

Lázaro really gets a chance to shine in this first episode as she moves seamlessly from comedy to pathos in this scene. She tells them that she kept telling herself that she thought that someone would turn up all during the year that she’s been alone. But then she realized that it wasn’t that different from how she felt before all this. This one time someone told her she’s hard to love. Maybe it’s her. Maybe she deserves it. She is clearly sincere as she says she’s sorry. Yumiko drops her weapon, but Eugene has clearly found a soulmate here.

        He goes up to her and pats her on the shoulder. He tells her he knows exactly how she feels – and confesses that he’s done questionable things just to avoid being alone too. He clarifies that she does have access to those wheels though…. So, yes. I’m totally shipping Eugene and Princess – I mean they are soulmates – AND she’s Latino! It’s as if someone combined Eugene and Rosita (Christian Serratos)!

Daryl and Judith come upon the Whisperer. She’s taken her mask off and wants Daryl to take out the arrow. She tells them that she doesn’t want to die like that – it’s not natural. She also tells them that the horde is a few miles east, heading to Oceanside. She tells him that she was a scout but that she was going off on her own. She loves her people, but she doesn’t trust Beta! She tells him that Beta’s lost it since they killed Alpha. She tells him that she doesn’t know if Beta knows where they are, but he’s going to keep coming because they took too much. She then asks him to let her die – so that she can walk. She’s clearly still firmly believing the koolaid. Daryl shoots her in the head.

As Daryl retrieves his arrows, Judith says he didn’t have to do it. He tells her that she didn’t know anything and was going to die, so it might as well be quick. Judith is also a bit shocked that they’re going to leave her – maybe she has family? Daryl tells her they’re only a few miles away and they might be able to spot something from the top of the tower. He pulls her away – but Judith is clearly disturbed.

Beta meanwhile sees a stray cat and that’s his clue that they haven’t gone to Oceanside. I love Ryan Hurst here! He seems to be talking to a Whisperer but when it turns its head, we see it’s a walker (Louis Zehner). Beta laughs as he turns them toward the tower.

Aaron and Alden continue following the horde. Alden tells Aaron that he thought it would be over once Alpha was dead. He’s hopeful that the plan will work. Aaron is determined to fight for the children so that their losses mean something. They try to call it in when the horde turns but can’t get through, so they try to head home to warn them – but they are captured.

Lydia comes to Negan to tell him that he can’t tell her what to do. He agrees but tells her that she should hit him because it will make her feel better. He asks her to trust him when he tells her that she needs to mourn her mother or it will eat her up from the inside. Lydia insists that she’s fine. Negan tells her that Alpha was still her mother – and you only get one. He tells her again to hit him and just get it out or she’s going to drift even further from the people around her – and he knows that she doesn’t want that.

Lydia insists that he doesn’t know what she wants. She tells him that he’s a selfish asshole. That he only killed her so that the others would think he was a hero. Nothing he ever does will accomplish that. Even now, trying to get her to do this. She’s enraged that he said he liked Alpha. She tells him that she hated her. That she wanted to hate her – but she is clearly in mourning. She finally starts hitting him, and they falls into his arms sobbing. It’s another dynamite scene between the two.

Princess finally takes them to the warehouse… and it’s full of bicycles! Eugene points out that 15mph is a significant increase over walking. Ezekiel points out to Yumiko that Princess came through – she wasn’t lying. Yumiko is finally prepared to be nice to Princess. Before Yumiko can say anything, Princess tells her that she’s not a bad person and they had every reason not to trust her.

She realizes it’s hard to trust people and she lied. She knows she blew it and wishes she’d done things better. She tells Yumiko that her people skills are rusty, and Yumiko tells her that’s something that they’ll have to work on. Princess grabs her in a hug and is thrilled. She asks if she has time to get things from her stash – including candy, which totally gets Eugene’s attention!

Back in the woods, Daryl sees that something is bothering Judith. She tells him that she can’t believe they just left the Whisperer in the ditch – what if he was lost and no one could find him – or RJ or Michonne? She tells him that she just wants to go home – and be together. He thinks this is just worry over Michonne, so he reassures her that he radioed Michonne and told her not to go home, so she’s safe and can find them. Judith asks if he talked to her – and when he says no, she’s even more distraught.

Judith confesses that she talked to Michonne after the fire. She’d met some people that she was going to help, and she might not come home. She confesses she didn’t want to tell him. Daryl wants to know why not – and it’s pretty clear why not because she still doesn’t tell Daryl that Michonne is following a lead on Rick. She does tell him that she was afraid that he’d leave too. He tells her he won’t, and she wants him to promise, but he tells her he can’t because he won’t lie to her. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen, but he does know that there are a whole lot of people that would do anything for her. Someday, she has to be ready to do anything for them. She has a whole lot of family. After all, in this world, it really does take a village to raise kids!

Fleming and Reedus are both just fantastic in this scene. Daryl gets down to Judith’s level and looks her straight in the eyes. He tells her that nothing can take the place of someone you love being gone, but it doesn’t mean that everything that follows is going to break your heart. She rushes into his arms, and he hugs her. I loved the way he looked at her before he began to speak. He showed her respect even while he comforted her. I really didn’t think another actor could equal or replace Chandler Riggs – and for the record, I still think it was a huge mistake to kill him off – even moreso now with the loss of Gurira and Lincoln – but Fleming is just an extraordinary talent.

Daryl gets a call on the radio from Gabriel. They’ve been surrounded by the Whisperers! Daryl needs to come back right away! And the last shot is Beta bringing the horde to their doorstep.

Fleming, Reedus, Morgan, McClincy, McBride, Theory, and Lázaro deliver truly outstanding performances. The episode has so many character driven scenes, it would be hard to pick just one favorite. It’s definitely an episode for us to mainly catch our breath as they ratchet up the tension in preparation for the showdown of the finale. And now we wait. There have been rumors and intimations that we may see Lennie James back as Morgan and will almost certainly see Lauren Cohen back as Maggie – though she may not be coming to their rescue at this point. What did you think of the episode? Are you dying to know what comes next? Predictions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Because we all need this hug right now. Be safe and well - and social distance.




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