Review: S10x09 SQUEEZE
Written by: Jim Barnes
Directed by: Bronwen Hughes (also directed Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and Queen of the South)
Another excellent episode, in which Gabriel channelled Merle and Daryl/Carol at their worst, with his talk of chopping off fingers and pulling teeth, and no one killed the person you thought they were about to...
When Laura entered the cell and held the big speary thing at Beta's neck, I couldn't help thinking, 'Yeah, but when Gabriel said keep them alive, he might not have meant this guy'. The sight of his hand rising, Carrie-like, from Dante's grave, then his two-knives-in-hand silhouette were truly 'oh shit' moments—we've already seen that this is a chap who can recover from being thrown down a lift shaft. Might have been useful for Laura to have remembered that, and applied spear to neck, sharpish.
When Beta sat and waited for the dead Alexandrians to turn and walk out into the community, I had one thought: how much must he stink, for them to walk right past him? No wonder Alpha wanted a piece of nice, relatively clean Negan instead. I did love the idea of Judith killing him - a pity he was wearing the slain highwayman's breastplate. I so hope TWD carries on for many seasons yet to come, because in a few years Judith is going to be awesome; Rick, Lori, Shane, Carl and Michonne would be so proud.
So who does the 'Stalker' of the title refer to? Daryl, Alpha, Beta—or Lydia, who's been stalking all of them? Just when you were wondering when she would make her reappearance; I've never much cared for the character, but she's on my 👍 list now, for saving Daryl's life. No one could blame her for not being able to kill her mother. That will be left for Carol to do, I am sure.
The scenes of Daryl hitting out blindly with bloodied eyes, with no crossbow, no gun, no Dog and no back-up, were so hard to watch, as later, when he was failing to the extent that he could hardly even speak to Alpha. Surely his lowest moment, even worse than the cell at the Sanctuary—he's argued with Carol, Connie is missing presumed dead, and he's all alone and bleeding out. But he saved Lydia, so she helped him. As Morgan so wisely says, everything gets a return.
Meanwhile, back at Alexandria, it was good to see longer-standing characters like the lovely Scott and sensible Laura (sensible for seeing that Rick's way was the right way, unlike Alpha's) get more screen time. Alas, it appears that Laura is dead (confirmed) - another waste of a potentially good character. Shame.
Rosita and Gabriel are becoming something of a 'power couple': 'No torture, no games, no second chances.' 'You'll be the third one, by the way'. At first I didn't 'get' them being together at all, but I wonder if his philosophical yet hard-as-nails and protective approach is what she needs, now that years have passed, Coco is here, and she has seen and lost so much (and can I just say that I adore her slightly Japanese-ninja-warrior style new look?). I liked how the camera made you think that she would soften when Gamma told her story about her sister dying (her being a mum and all that), but then she delivered that punch!
Like Daryl, Gabriel's leadership qualities have developed without the powerful presences of Rick and Michonne, but so differently; Daryl has grown calmer, wiser, and brings people together, whereas Gabriel could have rivalled Season 8 Rick's harsh, no-bullshit streak, in this episode. Who remembers when he wouldn't kill?
Liking the development of Gamma/Mary, too—I'm hoping she's saved and becomes part of the gang, rather than getting killed, though I fear the latter. Her viewpoint on how Alpha got inside her head, made anything 'before' seem irrelevant, and gained total control over her, summed up how these charismatic, manipulative people work. 'She didn't even have to ask, I just did it.'
Rosita shaking her hand in the wagon (especially as I thought Rosita was going to kill her) and Judith's conversation with her were great moments. I wonder if Carol might take her under her wing.
Judith: 'You met the wrong person first. If you'd met my mum and dad, you wouldn't be in that cell'. I've often thought that about various characters who were with the Governor (e.g. Martinez) and Negan (e.g. Gavin). Laura and DJ showed that the right people can bring out the light, not the dark.
Would Rick have sussed out the Whisperers' plan, like Gabriel didn't? I doubt it; it was a clever one, and Beta letting the butchered, nameless Alexandrians turn to kill their own was reminiscent of Negan's strategy in S8:13 Do Not Send Us Astray; highly effective—but less so when Rosita is in charge of shutting it down!
Back at the entrance to the tunnel, I enjoyed the curious juxtaposition of the fearsome, other-worldly Whisperers sitting on comfy seats in the RV...
... and, later, the scenes in and around the derelict petrol (gas) station. The poignant detail of the locations is an aspect I've always loved about TWD. Eleven years on, nature has taken over, but there was still a sign announcing the price, still items on the (mostly wrecked) shelving inside.
- Somehow, since S10x2 We Are The End Of The World, when we saw how Beta was before he met Alpha, and the marvellous 'Negan learns how to be a Whisperer' scenes in S10x06 Bonds (CLICK HERE if you want to see again), I can't help seeing the Jolly Green Giant as a bit pathetic—previously a loner, a social outcast, with only his size and strength as his power. Had he not met Alpha, he probably would have stayed in that room with his zombie smiley-face-t-shirt friend. I can imagine that before the world changed he was probably an internet troll, sitting in one room with junk food, a hundred different social media IDs and a World of Warcraft persona.
- Rosita telling Gamma that the father of her baby was killed two days ago: doesn't seem like only two days, does it? In Season 6, the first 9 (yes, 9) episodes take place over a period of just 3 days in TWD time. Yet there are months and months when nothing much happens to them and we don't see them living their normal, post-apocalyptic lives, like in the time between Seasons 2 and 3, 3 and 4, 8 and 9, and 9 and 10.
I'm guessing we're moving on to Hilltop for next week, then ... and I am still crossing fingers that this Rosita-Eugene thing isn't going to happen, and maybe he will get to seek out Stephanie on the radio....