Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
Photo: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
Photo: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

‘The Walking Dead’ season 10 debut recap: the heat is on

Originally posted Sunday, October 6, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog 

“Are we the good guys?”
Ross Marquand’s character Aaron, who has been on the show since season five, poses this question early in the season 10 debut of “The Walking Dead” to Michonne (Danai Gurira). It’s an existential question that the show has grappled with since day one and ultimately, we all grapple within ourselves. 

Since Rick Grimes showed up season 1 in the hospital, his group of survivors were always perceived to be the “good guys,” while the Scavengers, the Saviors and the Whisperers were painted as “bad guys.” 

With more than 130 episodes under their belt, the producers of the show have naturally explored this theme before. It’s clear not all of Rick’s moves were seen as benign or particularly kind, especially killing the sleeping Saviors in cold blood season a few years back

But the point is for viewers to ultimately root for the main characters to beat their “enemies,” sometimes in John Wayne fashion. It’s easy to forget that the entire series could at any time be flipped on its head and viewed from the other side. (That would be bizarre but Showtime drama “The Affair” had tried this with mixed results.)

Aaron’s thoughts: “We’re the villains of someone else’s story. A threat to their survival. So dangerous they threaten to wipe us out. Makes you wonder sometimes.” 

But that doesn’t change the general order of the show. We still see Aaron and Michonne as the “good guys.” 

The Whisperers have made everyone super paranoid. While Michonne is arguing for peace and quiet and keeping to the borders, Aaron is finding this type of détente too unsettling. 

“I’ve always been the nice guy, the good Samaritan,” Aaron said. “The thing is: Eric is dead. Jesus is dead. And I’m god-**** sick of being nice.” 

Michonne believes it’s not about being nice or good but “keeping our people alive without them dying over nothing!” 

Later, she backs off and takes a stand, believing they are the good guys, that Carl and Rick and Eric and Jesus were all good guys too, that it’s a choice. Losing sight of that, she said, “is scarier than any skin mask.” Not clear if Aaron was convinced. 

Back at Alexandria, Negan is farming and taking out the trash. He is under supervised lockdown. But he hears from Lydia that skins were found nearby and it’s got everybody on high alert.

Michonne plans to take a group out to see if there are other signs of the Whisperers outside their agreed-upon borders. 

At Oceanside, we find Carol has been out at sea fishing to avoid “the skin freaks” that killed Henry, who she treated like a son. (The trailer shows us she will eventually confront Alpha with a vengeance.)

She also has an awkward reunion with her former beau King Ezekiel but a warm welcome from Daryl, both visiting for some training on the beach. He tells her the bad news about the masks. She has no interest in going.

Daryl gives Carol a ride on his motorcycle. Apparently, they can create enough gas in the apocalypse for that though not so much for cars or trucks. While these two have no romantic connections, their friendship is the deepest one on the show, fueled by the fact they are the two remaining originals left.

When he calls her his “best friend,” Carol jokes that they should get “matching bracelets.” She rides him until he says, “Why don’t we eat and not talk.” This is light banter, especially for “The Walking Dead.”

More seriously, they kill a young deer but it falls over across the “border.” Carol wants to kill a few walkers and grab it but Daryl says, “It’s too late.” 

Carol is annoyed: “That deer could have fed 200 people.” (Really? That didn’t appear to be that big of a deer.)

Then she gets existential like Aaron earlier in the episode in a way that probably many remaining fans of the show are wondering, too: “Is this all there is? Run into people, kill each other until whoever is left says enough?”

Daryl: “Sometimes I think we just survive from one fight to the next.” 

These are the basic core debates on the show, just laid out bare. And in this case, it’s Carol and Daryl doing the talking. 

He wants her back to Alexandria. She wants him to join her on the boat like “pirates. Heck yeah!” He said that’s not him so she suggests taking the bike. He says they could flee to Mexico, “Shawshank Redemption” style. (But where is he going to get gas?)

Their discussion gets interrupted by a Russian satellite falling to Earth and landing very close to Oceanside setting the woods on fire. Fire in the apocalypse is a major challenge. It led to the Kingdom going down. And it’s tough to place enough water on a fire without modern tools. Plus, walkers are drawn to the fire.

There are several minutes of battle, then embers. 

Carol, yet again, wants to flee. Daryl? Not so much.

Then Carol spies Alpha. She isn’t going anywhere. Game on.

***

Funniest/creepiest moment: “Manny” Eugene trying to sneak a peek while Rosita is breastfeeding.

Quotable: “She’s a baby, not a science experiment” - Rosita to Eugene

Douchebag doctor alert: The new doctor in the house shows up to help out a PTSD-afflicted Siddiq with no idea what Siddiq is going through. The dude’s cheeriness is almost sitcom like and oddly out of place on this show. Why is nobody laughing at his jokes?

Walker dress alert: One of the walkers that Daryl kills for fun is wearing what looks like a sleeveless shirt with a fake rib cage/skeleton motif on the front that over his actual skeleton. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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