UK TV review: The Walking Dead: Season 10, Episode 6 (Bonds)
Butterflies In The Stomach4
Neil Brazier | On 11, Nov 2019
This is a spoiler-free review of Episode 6 of Season 10. Already seen the episode? Read on for full spoilers after its UK broadcast
The Walking Dead takes an opportunity to breathe in a relatively sedate episode, but something doesn’t feel right about it. Bonds is The Walking Dead, but what happens seems out of character.
Perhaps the Whisperers succeeded in wearing their opponents out to the point of exhaustion, rendering all their decisions questionable. Building pressure at the infirmary causes Siddiq’s (Avi Nash) PTSD to flare up again. Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) go on a mission that is more self-centred than considered. The Whisperers openly accept a visiting Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) with nary a question to his motives. The only one who seems to be their normal self is Eugene (Josh McDermitt), who is finding life without Rosita (Christian Serratos) difficult, so sets out to find anyone else who wants to be part of his AV club.
Carol has, in the past, been a one-woman wrecking crew, capable of sadistic acts that serve the greater good (and make great television), but her plan to gather intel on the horde Alpha (Samatha Morton) is hiding is ill-conceived. She risks putting all the survivors in danger, which is unlike her. Before her recent addiction to the pills, the safety of her family had always been paramount. Her blood is still boiling over the loss of Henry, which may have clouded her judgement, but she is out with Daryl, who should know better. We are used to cheering the actions of Carol, but this episode will have you pulling your hair out in frustration.
After Beta found Negan in the woods at the end of last episode, rather than killing him on sight, Negan is taken to Alpha, who wants to test his worthiness. Beta (Ryan Hurst) sees sense and doesn’t understand why Alpha is letting a complete stranger to them not only live, but learn their ways. This might be what Alpha was talking about last episode, when she said the survivors will either die fighting them or see the light and join them. For a group being painted as villainous, this attitude is really rather humanitarian.
In following Alpha’s wishes, a montage of almost comedic proportions ensues. While it’s important to have fun moments in a horror show – Negan can deliver those well – for a group like the Whisperers, which is so serious and deadly, it doesn’t quite fit. Negan’s entire attitude and tolerance towards Beta is unusual, too, unlike either side of Negan we have come to know. This may be his own mask he has chosen to wear, but we don’t see for whose benefit.
There is a virus spreading at Alexandria and not just the one that turns you into a zombie. This is likely related to the Whisperers poisoning the water supply, taking the opportunity to weaken their opponents. The medical staff are under a lot of pressure and still feeling that pressure is Siddiq, snapping at Dante (Juan Javier Cardenas) and struggling with the whispers in his head that could end up putting those he loves in greater danger. If the Siddiq romantic bonds weren’t curious enough, his relationship with Dante is equally confusing. They share a connection that almost paints them as lovers, yet Dante speaks of wooing Rosita. No wonder Siddiq feels the pressure; just listening to Dante’s cringe-worthy bedside manner would send anyone crazy.
In every TV show, not just The Walking Dead, there are episodes that slow things down to set the scene for things to come. There are only two episodes left of this half of The Walking Dead’s 10th season and if history has taught us anything, it’s that it will leave us with something that won’t leave things as clouded as this episode.
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 9 are available on Sky Box Sets and NOW until November 2019.
Innards and entrails (spoilers)
Eugene modifies the Hilltop’s radio with pieces from the fallen satellite and vastly improves his range. Feeling lonely that nobody wants to play with him, and after Rosita doesn’t call him back as she said she would, Eugene hits the open airwaves. What he doesn’t expect to hear is another voice coming through the receiver. If you read the comic books, you will know that this is the start of the survivors finding out about the Commonwealth, a vast population where humanity is almost back to normal. But in this series, it has been alluded that Georgie is from the Commonwealth and has recruited Maggie. The person on the end of the radio doesn’t want to reveal too much information – from either side – in case they turn out to be a threat, and rightly so, but Eugene does reveal his full name. If this does turn out to be the Commonwealth or maybe even a new colony that will link to Rick’s disappearance, now that they know Eugene’s name, they should be able to establish solid relations.
Another little tip of the cap to the comic series is Eugene’s revelation that, as a boy, he was obsessed with trains. The comic series ends with Eugene building a railway system between all the communities. Could the TV series be on “track” to follow through with that storyline?
The survivors are having to deal with medicine from the dark ages, so when the epidemic hits, they are vastly underprepared. Other than Rosita, there are no major characters who appear affected by this, so the illness could lead to death. If it does, there will be zombies inside the walls of Alexandria, so the survivors best be prepared. If the show chooses to kill off Rosita, it would be a very sorry way for another long-standing character to go, like Jesus last season. Rosita was another head-on-pike death in the comics, so she has outlived her stay. But she doesn’t deserve to be taken down by a virus. (If she does, it will be a very awkward funeral with all the men that love her arguing over who gets custody of the baby.)
Siddiq, haunted by the Whisperers’ actions in the barn, exhausted from being a new Daddy, and having to look after the sick, drifts off holding the baby and wakes up atop the windmill. Last week, it looked as though Siddiq was making waves to help better his situation when he opened up to Ezekiel, but this sleep-walking threatens to put him in a worse situation. It is unlikely that this will see him or the baby come to any real harm, but could be another trigger for him to get some serious help.
Negan tells Beta that he has been locked away by their enemy and is willing to expose all the secrets he has come to learn over the years, if he can be taken to their leader. Alpha agrees to test Negan, but Beta is hesitant – Negan, at the very least, is too loud to be a Whisperer. Instead of challenging Alpha, Beta takes a knee, which sparks Negan into goading him. He is more used to people taking a knee for him. Negan is put through the trials of digging a pit, skinning a zombie, killing a pig and moving the dead – the apparent core skills it takes to be one of them. Later, Beta takes Negan out with a group of the dead and slices the throat of one of his own (because earlier that Whisperer had given Negan a scrap of meat). Negan is left for dead and Beta triumphantly tells Alpha he was right, Negan was weak – but with perfect timing, Negan swaggers in demanding a skin suit of his own. The Whisperers might have a new Beta.
It is hard to tell who this Negan is. Last week, he brutally killed walkers and a psychopathic living body in vicious ways. These must have torn Negan, reminded him of what he used to do to survive, but also make him realise it was those actions that got him locked away. What he did last week, although horrific, was right. Brandon killed an innocent person and deserved to die. Now, Negan is embracing his old self, the barbaric Negan, the cocky, do-what-it-takes Negan. Is this the Negan that he needs to be to do what he wants to do? Or what he needs to be to survive? It spells danger eiher way and even if the character felt off this week, he is still the greatest thing about the show right now.
Photo: Jace Downs/AMC