Last season ended with The Whisperers drawing some brutal boundary lines and our main characters surviving a cold winter. This season starts off in outer space.
Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
I wasn’t joking. The show opens with a Soviet satellite drifting through space before failing and crashing down toward earth.
Back on terra firma, everyone’s involved in a training exercise utilizing medieval weaponry against a bunch of sea worn zombies. It’s a lot of fun to watch, particularly the parts with Aaron barking out commands like Theoden from Lord of the Rings and Judith Grimes living up to her ‘Little Ass Kicker’ nickname.
Later, Luke awkwardly (and successfully) flirts with a new character named Jules while Judith leads a bunch of other kids on a sea shell expedition. Unfortunately, all these good vibes are brought to an abrupt halt when Judith finds a Whisperer mask.
The discovery makes Aaron want to rally the communities and go on a full lockdown. Michonne, on the other hand, wants to investigate and look for more proof that The Whisperers are up to something.
While Aaron and Michonne are on patrol, Aaron charges across a bridge and into Whisperer territory like an idiot just to dispatch some walkers. After saving his ass, Michonne rightfully chews him out. All of this is put against the backdrop of an insufferable debate about if they are still the good guys or not if they go on the offensive against The Whisperers. Aaron’s ready for war, but Michonne wants to do everything she can to avoid it. I think that no matter what you do, you’re still better than the people wearing zombie skins and murdering other survivors just to note a property line, but maybe that’s just me.
Later, Alden and Yumiko find a bunch of dead campers along with a big old hunk of skin. Unless this show is about to add oversized pythons as a new threat, then it appears the Whisperers have definitely been hanging out in the good guys’ territory.
Back at Oceanside, Michonne observers Judith telling RJ the story of their father, Rick. Just as things are about to enter This Is Us territory, we see the satellite from the beginning of the episode burning across the sky toward the nearby forest.
Over in Alexandria, Rosita kick boxes while Eugene takes care of her and Siddiq’s kid. There is absolutely no way that child turns out any shade of normal.
Later, it’s shown that Siddiq is (understandably) suffering some pretty severe PTSD from last season’s Whisperer massacre.
Meanwhile, Lydia is most definitely not enjoying learning to read–or school in general. When the schoolhouse is cleared by Gabriel for an emergency meeting about a possible Whisperer incursion, Lydia goes outside to swing her bo staff wildly in the middle of the town square. She happens to be doing this near Negan, who is enjoying some time outside of his cell to pick vegetables (just like in Carl’s dream of the future a few seasons ago). Lydia and Negan bond over the fact that no one trusts them.
Later, Gabriel visits Negan in his jail cell. Negan tells Gabriel he needs to be willing to manipulate or downright lie to his people to keep them safe. Gabriel clearly doesn’t agree, but their respective arguments are muted at the the sight of a satellite crashing down to earth.
Back at Oceanside, Kelly reveals to Connie that she’s worried about the severe deterioration in her hearing. Connie gives Kelly a pep talk. When Daryl shows up, Kelly returns the sisterly love by not-so-subtly pointing out that there is clearly some romantic tension between Connie and Daryl.
Later, a ship arrives at the dock. Carol hops out, has a painfully awkward/brief reunion with Ezekiel, and then heads off to hang with Daryl for a bit.
While patrolling through the woods together, Carol and Daryl manage to tag a deer, but are unable to retrieve it after the animal limps into Whisperer territory. Carol gets mad that they didn’t try to go after the wounded animal but Daryl remains resolute in not defying the new border laws.
Carol asks Daryl to join him on the ship. Daryl asks Carol to join him on a road trip to New Mexico. Both of them debate whether there will ever be more to life than simply surviving. While this is going on, Daryl actually calls Carol his best friend and makes her a friendship bracelet. All snark aside, it really is a sweet gesture and yet another reminder why it’s so much fun to watch these two characters on screen together.
This legitimately great moment between the characters is cut short, however, when a satellite comes falling from the sky.
The rocket lands and causes a huge forest fire, which would be disastrous for Oceanside. As if that weren’t bad enough, the fire has attracted an entire horde of zombies. The main characters work through the night and multiple slow motion shots until finally get the fire under control. It’s hard work, but they handle it like pros. In fact, the most dangerous thing of all ends up being that they had to go into Whisperer territory to snuff out the flames completely. I’m still not sure how they did that with buckets of water and sprinkling water from pesticide sprayers, but whatever.
Eugene insists on harvesting the satellite’s parts and circuitry for future technological use, which they do.
After getting the fire and zombie herd under control, Carol and Daryl take a stroll right up to the Whisperer border. After Daryl makes a quick speech about how he needs Carol to stay, he walks off. Alpha chooses this moment to pops up out of the woods and have a steely-eyed staring contest with Carol.
We’ve certainly had worse season premieres, but this one wasn’t great, either.
The opening Training Day sequence was very cool and I love the idea of satellites falling down to earth (which they would after that much time in dead space) and how the characters react to it.
Otherwise, the episode was filled with jumping off points for new plot threads (Daryl and Connie, Siddiq’s PTSD, etc). I get that the first episode of season has to establish things, but this one crawled through those moments like one of those zombies coming out of the ship. We already know that the Whisperers are a threat and I don’t think anyone expected them to remain in a stalemate with the combined communities. It would have been nice to get a little more of what looks to be the season defining conflict get explored, even if it was just a few quick glances into Alpha’s territory.
The episode was still entertaining overall, especially when you compare things to a couple years ago. Let’s hope the quality of season 10 continues to go up from here.