The Walking Dead – Season 10, Episode 10 (Stalker)
Neil Brazier | On 02, Mar 2020
There are Whisperers within the walls of Alexandria and Alpha (Samantha Morton) is held in a bloody battle that could be her last stand. There is blood, there is drama and there is a fun nod to slasher movie Halloween, as The Walking Dead delivers a mid-season episode that feels almost like a season finale.
It is revealed that the survivors from the caves have been split up, but this news comes after we’ve seen Daryl (Norman Reedus) engage in an almost deadly battle with the Whisperers, so there is no explanation or preamble as to how particular situations arise. This is a very minor issue which does plague the tension somewhat in Episode 10, as we ask not where Daryl’s backup is during his trauma, but when it will strike. We’ve dealt with time jumps of much greater than this before and, overall, it does not affect the intensity of an otherwise dramatic episode.
The feeling we got from Episode 9 was that death was a genuine possibility for any of the characters; that carries through into this episode. Even Daryl – if any harm should befall him, fans will riot – feels vulnerable. It’s uneasy (but good) to be able to feel worried about our heroes again and something we didn’t have in the later Rick Grimes era. It is also excellent to have the zombies involved more and more; even though they are used mostly as camouflage for the Whisperers, they also provide a solid shield and ally in battle. The make-up and effects continue to be outstanding and the attention to detail on them is fantastic; some are now so old and decayed they have plant life growing from them.
There are two plot threads in Stalker and one features close-quarters combat, which starts unexpectedly and feels like it very well could signal the demise of a major fighter. This conflict is visceral and gruelling, and despite being restricted to two characters battling, it feels like this is the denouement to the season’s arc.
Despite this epic feeling, the strand ends up getting the shorter amount of screen time. It’s a skilfully played game balancing the two plot threads, as the action in both locations feels equally intense. The episode cuts between inside and outside Alexandria but we don’t find ourselves longing for one over the other; we’re equally engaged with all the characters.
Beta (Ryan Hurst) is on the hunt for Gamma (Thora Birch) as per his Alpha’s wishes and his search leads him to Alexandria. Like the episode before, there is again a slight hint of the absurd in relation to his entrance to the community, but damn if it doesn’t provide an incredible visual. This is true slasher-movie in terms of action and how it’s shot and directed – all it’s missing is a John Carpenter piano track to accompany it. The action is very much drenched in horror movie tropes, which, on paper, should make you groan, but it doesn’t. It scares instead, which is what it needs to do.
Despite The Walking Dead’s declining ratings, the latest episodes from this season have been gripping and exciting. There have been moments where you will shriek at your screen with frustration but plenty more where that screech is through fear or joy. There are some rough times ahead, from behind-the-scenes contract frustrations for some characters to the source material ending with the show not far behind. But if episodes keep coming like this, producing fear and entertainment, we will keep watching.
The Walking Dead Season 10 premieres on FOX UK at 9pm on Mondays. Don’t have pay-TV? You can also stream it live and on-demand on NOW, for £9.99 a month, with no contract and a 7-day free trial. Seasons 1 to 10 are available on Sky Box Sets and NOW until 31st October 2020.
Innards and entrails (spoilers)
– Daryl sneaks up on some Whisperers, trying to pick them off one by one, when he happens to find Alpha moving her horde. We don’t know if Alpha knows the survivors escaped the caves so this might be as a result of that, or it could be Alpha planning her attack on the rest of the communities. If it is the latter, if only the survivors could have waited it out in the caves a bit longer they could have found a much easier escape route. Daryl tries his best to take Alpha out of the picture but can only manage his best Stormtrooper impression and wound her. The pair, stumble their way to an abandoned petrol station, both steps away from death’s front door.
– Alpha then makes a smart move and bangs on the wall for some of the undead to come and finish Daryl off because she is too weak to do so. This does raise the question of why one of the zombies didn’t attack Alpha even though it showed a great interest in her. The fresh blood oozing from her must have surely overpowered any scent of the dead she had left but it was such a clever move by her that we will overlook this. The dead have been grossly overlooked these past few seasons, so it is refreshing to have them, withered though they may be, used as a resource, be they providing backup here for Alpha or attacking Alexandria’s walls in waves.
– It genuinely looks as though Alpha is dead from her wounds as she can’t make it the ten paces or so to Daryl before she collapses on the floor. This is something that hasn’t been seen in the series yet – a main antagonist suffering so fatally. Normally they escape at the last minute or run away sacrificing their goons, but here Alpha shows that she isn’t invincible and that she bleeds just like everybody else. It is during her final moments that Lydia (Cassidy McClincy) shows up again after ditching Carol (Melissa McBride) at the bridge.
– Alpha tries to get Lydia to finish her off, but despite everything Lydia cannot bring herself to push the knife in. Alpha is left for dead as Lydia chooses to help Daryl, but there is still life in Lydia’s mother and she manages to regain herself and have a little cult-circle with some of her followers to regain her stamina. There is a little note, carved into one of the benches for Alpha, that her way is not the only way. But this only appears to egg Alpha on into another revenge scheme.
– Beta is full on Michael Myers as he goes hunting for Gamma at Alexandria. Entering through a secret tunnel that has been dug under the Alexandrian walls to come up in one of the grave plots is both ridiculous and amazing. The scenes of Beta stalking through the houses slashing up Alexandrian red-shirts are visually stunning against the silliness of him kneeling among the bodies as they turn and rise. But for all the folly, including the old bulletproof vest fake-out, it is still fun to watch!
– Elewhere, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) has spoken to God who seems to have a temper. He is keen to rip out teeth and take fingers of any Whisperer who gets in his way. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Rosita (Christian Serratos) who is still experiencing nervousness about going out into the dangerous world now she is a mother, risking leaving her child an orphan. She does however leave Alexandria for the Hilltop by the end of the episode, without her daughter. The thought of seeing Eugene (Josh McDermitt) again must be stronger than facing possible death. This is a reunion that we are looking forward to, but it might not be what Rosita is expecting now Eugene has a new radio friend.
– No Negan this episode, so we don’t know if he is alive and well within the Whisperer camp or if Alpha ate him alive after their copulation. Aaron (Ross Marquand) arrives at Alexandria late in the episode and reveals that the survivors got split up and he thinks that those who were trapped in the caves are dead. This could signal an episode looking at what happened to each individual who got separated, which might disrupt the good flow that is currently happening, but this is just pure speculation. The survivors are once again at war and this feels like one they might not win.
Photo: Jace Downs/AMC