First of all, if you stopped watching TWD in the first half of Season 8 because you'd had enough of the Negan war, I implore you to start watching it again, from the beginning of Season 9, because it's back, it really is!
Now, Bounty: finally, pre-titles, and later, when Daryl told Henry he had no idea what he'd had to do, we saw hints of what happened to divide the communities during the time jump. Love the way this is coming out so slowly, a suggestion here, a loaded aside there. Good but sad to see Jesus again - and I'm guessing I wasn't the only one who thought 'what has Carol done to her hair?' before realising it was a flashback...
There was a good sense of the medieval mixed with the post apocalyptic present as Ezekiel took his crew out to gather slain elks for the coming fair, ending up with a search for a projector bulb at a desolate Walker filled cinema (which was showing The Silent Army - a nice touch!).
At first I had that 'and yet I smile' feeling of dread, thinking that it was another brave but ill-fated mission headed by the ever-idealistic Ezekiel that would go horribly tits up - trying to lead a herd away with one boom box?
Daryl would have had a much better plan! Remember the trip out to Big Spot 30 Days Without An Accident? What you do is, you draw them away and come back when they've all gone...
|That time when Zack guessed Daryl was a homicide cop....|
I still find the King too corny (I'm with Daryl there), and don't find the banter between him and Jerry quite as endearing as many do, but they're both growing on me as time goes on.
Back to Hilltop, and I must just reiterate how terrific Samantha Morton is as Alpha. Cassady McClincy (Lydia) is great too - and I give a big thumbs up to Earl and Tammy Rose; the less comic book-like characters always work better for me. I need to totally believe in characters to care what happens to them; thus, Ezekiel, I don't give much of a monkey's about.
As real Walkers sidled up behind the Whisperers, we got to know more of what the latter are all about - Alpha gestured to the mother with the crying baby to give her up, and explained why to Daryl: 'To live with the dead means to live in silence. If the mother can't quieten the child, then the dead will. Natural selection'.
Yet Connie saved the baby, and we were given an seriously frightening insight into her silent world, too, as she ran between rows of corn, unable to hear her pursuers, or to differentiate between Walker and Whisperer.
Daryl's quandary about giving Lydia back in exchange for Alden and Luke was reminiscent of Rick's big dilemma when The Governor asked him to give up Michonne to stop the conflict. I think Rick would have done exactly what Daryl did in this new situation - up to and including the insane mission at the end to go and get Lydia back. Pure Grimes, that one. Merle on the roof, anyone?
The ever-daft Henry excelled himself this week, by trying to save Lydia (and, in doing do, risking Luke and Alden's lives), but Dog saved the day - hurrah for Daryl and Dog! When Henry told Lydia 'People like that - Alpha - don't get to be sorry', I wanted to say, what are you going to do, then, rush into a big crowd of Whisperers and try to kill them all with your big stick? Alas, it would seem that he is. At least Daryl and Connie will be with him this time.
Award for tear-jerking moment of the week goes to Enid talking about Carl and JSS, closely followed by her reunion with Alden - yes, definitely 'new Glenn and Maggie' potential! In third place is Tammy Rose and Earl with the Whisperer baby.
Great Daryl moments in this episode, and I'm so glad the writers haven't made him step into Rick's shoes too much, or started giving him Rick's sort of lines. If you click HERE, you can see a short interview with him on IMDb, in which he explains why he didn't want that. Oh, and at least we know they've still got all their guns, should they need them: 'We got enough fire power to light you up, here and now.'
Back at the cinema, the Kingdom group emerged unscathed, though I am sure the blue-eyed Walker who lurched towards Jerry had a decidedly Whisperer look about him.... were they where they do not belong, too?
Oh, Ezekiel, you know what happens when you say stuff like, 'Maybe we've done losing for a while'.....