UK TV review: The Walking Dead – Season 10, Episode 11 (Morning Star)
The End of the World7
Who You’re Fighting For9
Neil Brazier | On 10, Mar 2020
When you’ve been watching The Walking Dead for the past 10 seasons, you may have become accustomed to the series’ pattern in terms of episode content and excitement. After a hefty, action-packed, contender for episode of the year in Stalker, Morning Star inevitably spends most of its runtime at a slower pace. With the shadow of war hanging over them and many still licking their wounds from the incident in the caves, our characters spend the time they have seeking the redemption that they crave to fill them with hope – even if some of that might be false. Alpha (Samantha Morton) and the remainder of her horde are coming for Hilltop so we follow the characters getting their affairs in order, for what could be the last time for some.
Poor Hilltop has seen its fair share of battles over the years and now it must prepare for one of its toughest. The Whisperer horde is still thousands strong, according to Mary née Gamma (Thora Birch), and a returning Lydia (Cassady McClincy) who says her mother is coming for revenge. There should be more between Mary and Lydia – both have followed a similar path to Hilltop and Lydia was used as bait to start the change in Mary – but unfortunately, neither say a word to each other. Mary is keen on seeing her nephew, but obvious tensions from the residents, who have trusted the wrong people too many times before, prevent that. There is very little conflict here and no payoff (yet). Two currently missed opportunities for some extra drama.
Conflict is at a minimum everywhere as the survivors choose to settle their differences ahead of the war that is to come. Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Carol (Melissa McBride) reconcile after being so distant since Henry. Ezekiel thinks that Carol is only being kind because she’s sure she’s going to die, but Carol does appear determined when trying to apologise to Lydia, which is juxtaposed by the behaviour when she confronts Daryl (Norman Reedus). Our favourite couple share very few words but the emotions on display are enough to fill the Alexandria reservoir 10 times over. Carol’s reaction to Daryl is exactly how we are all feeling.
Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is still having radio contact with the mysterious Stephanie. He loves this woman, despite never meeting her and only speaking to her for a few days – but that’s our Eugene. Despite nearly destroying the hard work he has put in, Rosita (Christian Serratos) is able to mend things and not just Eugene’s relationship with Stephanie. With all loose ends being tied up, even Daryl and Ezekiel share a moment – this can only mean death is likely on the cards for some of our fighters, as Alpha and her horde move closer.
The final five minutes of the episode begins the start of the war and it packs all the intensity and action it can – a complete contrast to what came before. There are some clever defensive tricks on display from Hilltop and finally the warriors use that training they practised back on the beach in Episode 1. The conflict provides another opportunity to experience the slow-motion executions that we’ve seen a couple of times already this season and, despite being a little cheesy, they are incredibly fun to watch. Outnumbered by dozens to one, things do not look good for the Hilltop residents; this could be the final stand (in a living capacity at least) for several of our heroes. Unless the next episode decides to veer off and see what is going on at Alexandria, strap in, because this battle looks set to be a doozy!
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 TV, for £8.99 a month, with no contract and a 7-day free trial. (An Entertainment Pass auto-renews at £8.99 a month until 1st September 2020, £9.99 thereafter unless cancelled.) Seasons 1 to 10 are available on Sky Box Sets and NOW TV until 31st October 2020.
Innards and entrails (spoilers)
The Whisperers are collecting tree sap and starting to blend with their undead friends as they prepare themselves for the onslaught at Hilltop. As they chant and shuffle forward, into shot comes Alpha’s latest recruit, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and he finally has himself his very own mask! It looks certain now that Negan is actually on the Whisperer side and not acting as a mole – yet later, Negan comes to Alpha with an idea. He suggests he make Hilltop surrender as there is no sweeter feeling than having your enemy take a knee. Is this because Negan is a changed man and wants to see his former family spared? Maybe this is a sign of his past coming back now he’s in with a bad crowd, we already know how he liked people to respect him whenever he entered a room.
By the end of the episode it’s clear Alpha isn’t going to spare anyone at the Hilltop. Negan questions this as he thought she was going to make Hilltop one of them. She says she is; she is going to make them part of her horde. Negan doesn’t give anything away with his reaction and seems to happily fire a flaming arrow at the Hilltop’s walls. Which side Negan is really on remains undecided but the will-he-won’t-he puzzle continues to linger and provide plenty of tension.
Carol and Ezekiel fall back into their old relationship and spend some time together in bed. It is the old horror movie trope that when a character has sex or lets their guard down, they inevitably die. It looks like it could be either Carol or Ezekiel who succumbs to death – both end up on the front line when the Whisperers arrive. Equally, Eugene has himself a date. Thanks to his glorious pipes, he won Stephanie back over and she has agreed to a spot where the two of them could meet. They already realised they were close to each other when they both saw the same satellite fall out of the sky. The date could fire Eugene up to fight harder or Stephanie may get stood up and more fearful of the community Eugene stood for if he falls.
Zombie kill of the week goes to the electric fence decapitation. Yet another unique zombie kill and brilliantly fun to watch. It is just a shame that it didn’t spark more casualties. The tree sap used by the Whisperers was another clever and unique attack strategy. Hilltop was smart to install catapult turrets on their walls but it might have been wiser to plant landmines under their crops.
Before the war starts there is a shot of Carol looking at the paintings on the wall of the Greene family. Carol’s figure blocks the one in the middle but when she walks away, we see it’s Glenn. It’s a reminder of what these survivors have been fighting for, along with all the children that they built the community for. At the Hilltop’s graveyard, Daryl looks upon his fallen friends – one of those graves is Glenn’s – and might be having the same thoughts as Carol. It is here she asks him not to hate her, petrified of what his answer might be, shaking. When he tells her he could never hate her, she lets out such a sigh of relief she cries. It is such a touching moment and proves why these two characters, who have been around since day one, are the life force of the show.