UK TV review: The Walking Dead – Season 10, Episode 14 (Look At The Flowers)
Neil Brazier | On 30, Mar 2020
As the real world deals with its own viral pandemic, AMC released news on Twitter that Season 10 of The Walking Dead would end with the 15th episode, with the actual season finale being released later in the year as a special episode. Although the news is disappointing, the back half of Season 10 has been knocking it out of the park with big-feel episode after big-feel episode, signalling that what would have been the penultimate episode would still deliver enough to warrant it being the new finale. And so long as the creative team are staying safe in these strange days, that is really all that matters.
Our new penultimate episode comes with a title that evokes a lot of painful memories. It is the line spoken by Carol (Melissa McBride) in Season 4’s The Grove as she did her best Of Mice and Men adaptation to help save the community. Carol has always been a character who has done the things other people wouldn’t do, putting the blood on her hands to save those she loves. However, this time, she has enlisted the help of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to do the dirty work and bring her Alpha’s head. Why has Carol outsourced a job that she would have relished in taking on? She has been desperate to get her revenge for what Alpha (Samantha Morton) did to her adoptive son and puts the blame for her own mistakes in the mine on Alpha.
Over this season we’ve witnessed more of Carol’s struggle with life in the apocalypse. She went away on a voyage to get closure and couldn’t. She took pills to stop her from sleeping but the nightmares wouldn’t go away. She tried to sneak off on another of her one-woman wrecking missions but was stopped by Daryl (Norman Reedus). Carol has been through, and still goes through, so much. Even if she did get Alpha alone, would she have the strength or the nerve to kill her? Alpha is under Carol’s skin and inside her head. Carol missed her opportunity once before, it might be she no longer trusts herself, so must turn to the next badass she knows.
After Negan delivered the zombified head of Alpha to Carol, she didn’t seem happy. She reneges on her agreement with him and leaves him to wait for her, or not – she needs time alone. As she begins on her own path, she quickly learns the Whisperers can’t be silenced when the ghosts she thought she had banished reappear. The dynamic between McBride and Morton is delightful and brings out the pain Carol has been suffering through this entire apocalypse. It is a fantastic way for the two characters to interact without the worry of having to kill each other and something that we could watch all day. It would have been nice to have more of this, both in the episode and the season – it is a good way to keep Morton around. Since it was not Carol bringing this chapter to a close herself, as long as Alpha plagues Carol’s psyche, it could be something to look forward to.
Away from the Carol arc, the episode falters somewhat. Negan continues to shine, in his interactions with Carol at the start of the episode and, later, with Daryl. Negan must resolve himself again, which he has only just done in front of Carol; it would have been better to see something different with Daryl, and there is plenty of their tricky past they could have worked with. Despite there being a lot of tension between the two, these scenes extend the list of potential Negan-and-buddy spin-offs we’d like to see.
Eugene (Josh McDermitt) reveals his rendezvous with Stephanie to the rest of the group and he, along with Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) set out on a journey to hopefully find future friends. This is mostly used to show Ezekiel’s weakness thanks to the cancer with the scenes not providing enough justification for being there – until the end. The trio enter a city and we get some surprising scenes that are absolutely hilarious – even Ezekiel agrees. The season will end with the next episode, one chapter early. It has been a season full of big-feel episodes and although this is a little less stellar, that is only when compared to what came before it. So, it‘s great that the writers have allowed themselves to have fun with the Eugene storyline, the final shock again providing a potential season-finale moment. With all the excellent episodes this season, the bar has been set really high for the actual finale.
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)
Carol puts Alpha’s still animated head on a pike that marks the borders between their and Whisperer land. She is sending her own message, just like Alpha did when she put Henry’s and the others heads up there. Is Carol any better than Alpha? When Alpha appears as part of Carol’s subconscious, she alludes to the fact Carol is a true Alpha by getting someone else to do the grunt work for her. It is a truly great scene, Alpha getting the chance to claw away at Carol, not just as the Whisperers’ Alpha, but as the alpha of Carol’s mind.
She goes through Carol’s storied history, mentioning Connie, Daryl, Ezekiel, Henry, Mika, Lizzie, Sophia and Ed. Alpha explains she could have been any one of those characters manifested but Carol chose Alpha – because the two are so alike. Although Carol has the revenge she wanted, she knows she lost a lot in order to get it; lives, friends and trust.
Carol isn’t the only one hearing voices. Beta (Ryan Hurst) is brought to Alpha’s head and is enraged when one of his followers calls him the new Alpha. Beta is so angry that he makes the follower listen closely to what Alpha is saying, who then chooses to bite his cheek off. Beta shows such love and dedication to Alpha, taking her head away with him. He strolls into what looks like a Western, finding a bar which someone has been living it – it may have even been Beta himself.
We finally get confirmation of who Beta was before he was Beta. It was alluded that he was a celebrity, and now, posters on the wall and records in a box confirm that he was Half Moon, a country western singer who was big enough of a star to have his own live album. This doesn’t change a great deal about anything on the show – it has rarely touched on how the rich and famous dealt with the apocalypse. As Alexandria has taught us, it doesn’t matter who you were before; only who you are now. But it does at least help to flesh out a character who never reveals his face.
After going on an ego trip and blaring out his own music from the bar, Beta collects himself his own little hoard and begins marching. With his old face damaged thanks to his confrontation with Mary, Beta discovers he has the perfect patch for it now that he has Alpha’s head. There is a note on a table that reads ‘two eyes see one truth’ and Beta believes that by merging his original mask (of a close, personal friend) with that of Alpha, he can have the two eyes to see the one truth. (That one truth? Seeking out revenge for the loss of his Alpha.)
While waiting for Carol to return, Negan decides to go and rescue Lydia from her little cell. She is no longer there, but Daryl is. Negan tries to explain that he’s a good guy really – he even has Alpha’s mask and will take Daryl to the head – but it’s too late, Beta has already claimed it. Just as Daryl is about to get mad at Negan, some Whisperers show up who think Negan is still one of them and – as he killed the dominant one – make him the new Alpha. Negan gets an opportunity to be his old self again, all arrogance and cocky charm. He forces Daryl to kneel, which throws back to that Season 6 finale again. It’s a fun scene that allows Daryl to see a little of the good side in Negan, even if he does have to make a song and dance about everything.
On the road to Stephanie, the trio encounter some zombies in cages. This is an odd find at the side of the road, so they decide to investigate. All they find are walkers, but Ezekiel struggles to fight them off, having a little coughing fit as he slashes away. His weakness leads his horse to take a bite and later, in an awkward moment, Ezekiel must put his horse down. It’s trying to get us to empathise with Ezekiel who is being slowly eaten away at the inside by the cancer but we have seen this character so tough and strong before, he should be fighting it more and not letting it beat him. Yumiko gives him a little talking to,
asking for the King to come out and it seems to do the job, which is what the three are going to need for their next chapter.
As they stroll through the city they come across zombies chained up and dressed in curious outfits. One zombie is handcuffed inside a crashed car and another is dressed as a ticket warden, complete with notebook and pen. This tickles Ezekiel a lot, almost to the point of over-acting. With their guard lowered, suddenly, from around a corner appears another survivor. She has wild hair, goggles and a bright pink, fluffy jacket. With a great big smile she yells “oh my God, hi!” as the trio look on at this strange figure, who also holds an assault rifle. This is Princess (Paola Lázaro) and it is going to be a lot of fun to have this overly happy comic book character on screen.