This review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead returns with a BANG! (Literally)
We kick Season 10 off… in space! Yep, that’s right. I never thought we’d be seeing an outer space shot in The Walking Dead but there you go! This crashing Soviet satellite would go on to play a much larger in the episode’s final act.
Back on Earth, the cold harsh Winter has ended and there is no sign of the Whisperers, but that doesn’t mean the communities have been resting on their laurels! I wasn’t particularly pleased to see us at Oceanside, but that thought was quickly wiped away when Judith jump-started the episode with a sassy head slice kill on an unsuspecting walker! From this point on, the only way was up! Our heroes arrive, under Aaron’s instructions, and show off the fact they’ve been trying out some very old school battle techniques. Forming a shield wall, to protect their spear fighters and archers, they take on a group of beach walkers. This was such an outstanding visual and I’m really glad we’ve moved back to more traditional weapons and tactics now that the bullets have run out. The cinematography was really solid throughout the episode, but especially here with some great slow-motion fighting scenes with Daryl and Michonne. This was a very strong opening for the show as the credits hit.
To see Aaron leading the shield wall, and barking out commands so competently, has once again renewed my hope that they are FINALLY going to push him to the forefront and bring his character out of limbo. I know they show signs every season of doing this, and I always get over-excited, for it ultimately not to happen. But surely, this is the season? It might just be, as the bridge scene with Michonne that followed hinted very clearly at some big character development to come. He’s “sick of being nice”, and while this almost gets him bitten, it does show some positive signs. I thought Michonne excelled in this scene also, not only with the throwback to Rick but telling Aaron being more aggressive shouldn’t also mean being more stupid. This was the first of many little interactions that we’d get this episode.
So, time to catch up with everyone else!
The whole Rosita/Eugene/Gabriel/Siddiq thing is still going on, though it feels they might be toning it down a little, we’ll see. For me, the best part of this group was Siddiq having his flashbacks to the barn and when their friends were killed by Alpha and the Whisperers. It feels like they are doing a PTSD story with Siddiq this season and I’m all for that! Avi Nash has the acting chops to pull off some really emotional scenes so fingers crossed on this one. As for the new doctor Dante, a character from the comics, but who apparently will have a much different story. Not a fan so far though, creepy, very creepy.
Farmer Negan is out and about and it’s long overdue! His interactions with Gabriel are always really good, and inside his cell, this was no exception. He also had a nice one-on-one with Lydia and, with Henry out of the picture, she might be someone Negan can get his teeth into and help, in his own, unique way. I’m hoping that come the mid-season break, we have Negan ready to stand side-by-side with the others against the Whisperers. It feels like Season 10 could be a big season for Negan, one way or the other.
One of the most enjoyable catch-up scenes for me was between Judith and R.J. She was telling him about ‘the hero Rick Grimes’ and how he protected everyone. I love this idea that Rick has now fallen into myth and legend. Hopefully, we get a few more tales throughout the season. They are nice little throwbacks.
And with that, we are pretty much up to date! We’ve caught up with all our characters and have a few hints at where they might all be going this season. A few of these are more exciting than the others!
The final act was all about the satellite and everyone finally at the same point in the timeline. With the fire from the crashed satellite in danger of engulfing the entire forest, Michonne and co decide to act. This leads to a very tense and well-executed action set piece, not only combating the fire but also walkers that would follow! It was very frantic and you struggled to catch your breath at times, but it had a big event feel, which was needed as this was very much a setup episode on the whole.
Eugene is eager to recover the satellite and make use of what’s left of the wreckage. While Michonne reluctantly accepts, it has me wondering how much payoff will come of this. Will this satellite yield anything that will have any significant impact on the group’s survival or the story? My gut feeling is no, while an interesting and new idea, this is more than likely just a vehicle in which to drive the episode on.
With the danger averted, it’s time for Carol and Daryl to have a much-needed heart-to-heart. Carol is very much enjoying her life on the sea, and being part of a large community on a daily schedule is not what she wants. They tease us with the idea of just setting off and driving to Mexico. While I enjoyed this scene for what it was, I have no interest in the show weaving this into any subplots. I like Daryl where he is right now. If they use these as a way of bringing Carol back into the fold, great, if they use it to drive a wedge in Daryl’s life as it stands, then I’m less OK with that. It’s not a plot I need. The whole episode has been about keeping the peace and not entering the Whisperers territory. Carol decides to break that and heads onto, the now familiar ‘pride rock’, and looks down into the valley. As if by magic, Alpha appears and we are treated the mother of all stare-offs to end the episode.
A very enjoyable and well-worked episode to kick off Season 10 of The Walking Dead. While it was very much about catching up with all the characters and getting up to speed, that didn’t mean it was without its exciting moments. The opening was as good as it gets and the whole forest fire sequence was exciting, packed full of action and drama. The little character interactions – Aaron/Michonne, Daryl/Carol, Negan/Gabriel – were the glue that kept the episode together. The timing and ‘chapters’ was an interesting idea, but something I don’t think needs to be repeated. Overall, a good start to Season 10 with hopefully much more to follow!