‘The Walking Dead’ Recap ‘Bonds’: A Test of Wills

In ‘The Walking Dead’ recap, Negan gets tested by Alpha and the Whisperers, Carol and Daryl hunt the horde and Eugene makes contact with someone new….

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

Anybody who watches “The Walking Dead” understands that a war is coming between the survivors and the Whisperers but the question lately has become what will be the match that’s lit to eventually lead to an all-out fire fight between the groups.

The past two episodes have seemingly given an answer with Negan escaping Alexandria and then making his way to the Whisperers where he’s attempting to prove his loyalty to Alpha so he can join her family.

On the surface it would appear the constant distrust and disdain shown towards Negan when he was living in Alexandria finally pushed him to realize he would never truly be a part of that community.

That said, Negan is nothing if not a tactical and effective survivor — for all the awful things he did when leading the Saviors, it was always with a purpose and rarely did he ever react with emotion rather than careful plotting to get the job done. Only when his past bubbled up did Negan ever truly lose his cool but his methodical approach to gain the trust of the Whisperers should give anybody pause when trying to determine if he’s truly betrayed the survivors back at Alexandria or not.

Elsewhere this week, Eugene has found a new home at the Hilltop where he’s started to boost a radio signal to try and communicate with somebody beyond the nearby communities. When a mysterious voice answers on the other end of the radio, Eugene realizes that perhaps the groups at Alexandria, Hilltop and Oceanside aren’t as isolated as they might have believed.

And finally, Carol’s hatred of Alpha and the Whisperers continues to blind her vision towards anything other than revenge and Daryl knows it. That’s why he’s reticent to let Carol out of his sight any time she’s leaving the safety of the walls around Alexandria. Daryl’s decision to follow Carol leads to a scouting mission that ends with a prisoner of war with potential battle lines being drawn between the survivors and the Whisperers.

With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of “The Walking Dead” titled “Bonds”….

The Hunted

It’s not been an easy few months for Carol Peletier.

Not only did she discover that her surrogate son Henry had been murdered and decapitated by the Whisperers but she also lost her husband, King Ezekiel, after they became estranged in the wake of their son’s death. Add to that, Carol has been forced to live inside the boundaries set forth by Alpha and rather than exact revenge against the woman responsible for killing her son, she’s been forced to bow and scrape in order to prevent a war that the survivors at Alexandria believe cannot be won.

After fighting through a drug problem that saw Carol force herself to stay awake in order to avoid the nightmares she suffered through every night, she’s beginning to return to some sense of normalcy.

But still Carol’s pain and anguish isn’t unnoticed by Daryl, who sees his old friend gathering up supplies so she can go outside the walls of Alexandria for the day. When he confronts her, Carol claims she’s going to look for Negan one more time but she doesn’t escape alone because Daryl decides to tag along as a personal expert tracker.

Carol eventually comes clean after the two of them set up a stakeout near a large clearing close to the border between the communities and the Whisperers’ territory. Rather than look for Negan, Carol was actually trying to find where Alpha is hiding her ominous horde so that the survivors can start plotting on how to take it out before she aims it at the communities like a nuclear weapon.

Daryl agrees to help under the agreement that this scouting mission is nothing more than reconnaissance to hopefully find Alpha’s horde.

The two of them determine that Alpha could only be hiding a herd of that size somewhere in a few key locations but the question becomes finding it without being spotted for crossing over the border. The Whisperers have been quietly gathering up any stray walkers in the area and Carol wants to wait until enough of a group has converged on the area that someone will have to show up to lead them back to where the herd is actually located.

While they wait, Carol questions Daryl about his burgeoning relationship with Connie, although he tries to downplay it as anything more than just being friends. Carol then reminds Daryl that as lonely as the apocalypse may seem, he doesn’t have to go through it alone.

Finally all the waiting pays off when a group of walkers begins to gather in the clearing and a couple of Whisperers show up to shepherd them back to the larger herd. Daryl and Carol track them beyond the border under an explicit agreement that no one gets killed — not even a stray zombie because leaving a walker dead in the woods with a stab wound in its head is just as good as a calling card to tell Alpha they were there.

The tracking mission is going well until Daryl tries to call Carol back to the rendezvous but she refuses to leave just yet. The waiting backfires when Carol accidentally steps on a branch, which alerts a few of the walkers that food might be hiding behind the tree line.

When the strays wander into the woods, Daryl is forced to grab one, break its neck and quickly cover himself in walker guts as the rest of the pack stumbles by him. He hears the hushed sounds of the Whisperers moving nearby but no one spots him as he hides behind the dead body of the walker.

Unfortunately when Daryl finally catches up with Carol back at the border crossing, he finds that she was not only discovered but she has captured a Whisperer and taken him prisoner. Carol says it’s too late to do anything else but take him back to Alexandria and question him about the location of Alpha’s herd.

When Daryl sees that Carol has used cable ties to subdue the Whisperer, he begins to realize that this was her plan all along. She was tracking the Whisperers but never fully intended on finding the herd on that particular night. Instead, Carol now has a prisoner with intention to do whatever it takes to gather information from him that will be beneficial to her plan to finally rid the world of Alpha and the Whisperers once and for all.

Can You Hear Me Now?

With Siddiq on baby duty, Dante has the run of the infirmary as Alexandria begins dealing with the outbreak of a stomach virus that’s been taking down more than a few members of the community.

Rosita is one of the people ailing from the stomach sickness, which made Siddiq switch into daddy mode rather than playing doctor for the day.

Back at Hilltop, Eugune has managed to use parts from the Russian satellite that crashed in the nearby woods to boost the signal in hopes that it would make communication between the communities a little easier. When he finally reaches out to Alexandria, he’s surprised to hear Rosita’s voice on the other end of the receiver.

The two share a brief conversation that sees Eugene’s eyes light up and then return to sadness when he realizes that he’ll never actually have what he wants with Rosita. When she asks about a timetable for his return to Alexandria, Eugene says that his duties at the Hilltop are keeping him busy and there’s no ETA when or if he might come back again.

Later that day when Siddiq pays Rosita a visit, he finds her passed out on the couch rather than laying in bed. Realizing that’s only getting sicker, Siddiq decides to take her back to the infirmary for treatment.

When they arrive, Siddiq is shocked to see the infirmary has been overrun by people stricken by the same stomach bug that has toppled Rosita. Inside, Siddiq lashes out at Dante for not alerting him to this emergency before it was too late. He knows that any major sickness like this could take down the entire community if they aren’t able to contain it, especially now with a lack of medicine to truly treat these people.

Once he’s able to calm things down again, Siddiq returns to his baby as he attempts to rock her to sleep. He ends up being the one to fall into a slumber but yet again Siddiq is haunted by his past experience with the Whisperers as he continues to dream about the worst case scenario that he’s convinced is hiding around every corner.

As for Eugene, after speaking to Rosita he decides to put the call out over the radio waves wondering if anybody is out there listening.

When a voice of a strange woman answers back, Eugene is shocked but he’s also happy to know somebody else is out there. The two strike up a conversation without revealing any information that could give away their locations by talking about their past lives before the zombie apocalypse started.

Finally before signing off, Eugene decides to divulge his real name to this mystery caller while asking if they could continue to communicate in the coming days. The woman agrees, while still refusing to pass along her own information. She tells Eugene that they will reconvene to talk again but she only wants to hear his voice on the other end of this receiver when she calls.

Fans of “The Walking Dead” comic book will likely recognize this interaction because it’s similar to a storyline from the original source material where Eugene used his radio to reach out beyond the communities and that’s where he meets Stephanie —  a member of the Commonwealth for the first time. Chances are we’ll get to know a lot more about the Commonwealth at a later date but for now keep that name in mind.

A Test of Wills

Last week saw Negan rescue a mother and child from being consumed by walkers only to see his biggest fan kill both of them in an attempt to prove himself to the former leader of the Saviors. After Negan dispatched Brandon, he opted for a new plan instead, which involved seeking out the Whisperers.

This week, Negan is blindfolded by the Whisperers as Beta leads him back to their camp where he will stand tall in judgment before Alpha. Along the way, Negan’s mouth never stops moving, which rattles Beta’s last nerve. It forces Beta to remove the blindfold and instead use it to stifle Negan’s constant chattering.

Back at camp, Beta tells Alpha that this intruder can’t be trusted no matter how much Negan promises to tell them everything they’d possibly want to know about the communities they’ve been plotting to attack. Rather that kill him, Alpha tells Beta to test him and while he questions her at first, he eventually bows down and caters to her wishes.

Beta takes Negan out into the woods where he first instructs him to begin digging a hole before then skinning a few walkers that wander by. Negan then watches as one of the Whisperers shoots a wild boar with an arrow but he’s instructed to finish it with a small knife that he’s handed to do the job.

The wild boar is then loaded into the pit that Negan has been building so that the Whisperers can roast it for dinner. Later that night when the meat is ready, Negan is prepared to feast but Beta knocks him down and says that he hasn’t earned the right to eat with them.

As much as Negan wants to lash out, he restrains himself. When he finally sits down, one of the other Whisperers hands him a piece of meat that he quickly eats for dinner as Beta stares back with disdain.

Finally on the path back to the main camp, Negan continues to taunt Beta about only truly needing to prove himself to Alpha and no one else. Beta fires back by telling Negan that he’ll never by worthy to join the Whisperers no matter how many tests he passes.

That’s when Beta unleashes his plan to finally get rid of Negan by killing the Whisperer who gave him a piece of food, which immediately alerts the other nearby zombies. In a split second, Beta has disappeared amongst the dead leaving Negan behind to fend for himself. After the knife he was holding breaks off into the skull of the first walker he kills, Negan begins to realize the gravity of this particular situation.

When Beta returns to camp alone, he tells Alpha that Negan wasn’t worthy and couldn’t survive the test. She’s disappointed by that news but then shocked when she hears some hushed gasps from the rest of the Whisperers surrounding them.

Just then Negan emerges from the woods with blood covering his shirt and a log that he’s fashioned into a club that he used to kill all the walkers who attacked him. He makes his way to Alpha and then kneels down before her.

“Hi, I’m Negan. We haven’t formally met but I sure as hell know who you are. Whether my reputation precedes me or not, I’m all in. Whatever you want, whatever I got, it’s yours.”
~ Negan

It appears that Alpha is almost ready to crack a smile but instead she sniffs over Negan before coming face-to-face with him as she puts her finger up to her mouth and demands silence from the newest Whisperer.

“The Walking Dead” will return with a brand new episode next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

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