In “The Walking Dead” recap, the survivors brace for an attack as Alpha leads her horde to the gates of Hilltop…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
As The Whisperer War draws near, “The Walking Dead” decided to stage their own version of “The Long Night” from “Game of Thrones.”
That was the episode that saw the Night King lead his army to the gates of Winterfell for an epic battle between the living and the dead that had been building for eight seasons.
The difference with “The Walking Dead” was learning from some of the mistakes made on “Game of Thrones’ — namely not allowing the cinematography to be so dark that you can actually see the fighting as it happens on screen.
After Daryl led most of the survivors out of the trap set for them in a nearby cave, Alpha has finally decided to unleash her horde on the communities that have been a constant thorn in her side. Based on geography and location of the horde, Alpha would make her way to Hilltop before eventually getting to Alexandria.
Just before the latest episode comes to an end, Alpha’s army of the dead arrives and the fighting that ensues is some of the best action shots that “The Walking Dead” has ever put together. Of course, the episode ends on a cliffhanger that will undoubtedly pick up next week as the members of the Hilltop community literally fight for their own survival.
“The Walking Dead” season 10 has definitely featured some enjoyable episodes but this latest one might be the best. With that said, let’s get to our recap of the newest episode titled “Morning Star”…
On the Eve of War
In the aftermath of her near death fight against Daryl from a week ago, Alpha has been healed but she’s still punishing herself for nearly falling to him in battle. To make herself pay for those transgressions, Alpha instructs Negan to hit her with a switch — although it’s not quite clear if she’s suffering or enjoying it a little too much. In return, Alpha takes a few swipes at Negan as well with his induction into the Whisperers now complete — and he even gets his own human skin mask to walk amongst the dead.
Alpha is preparing her horde for attack but Negan has a better idea than just striking down the communities with blunt force.
Instead, he suggests that the threat of a fight might be enough to get Hilltop and Alexandria to surrender rather than killing everyone inside. Negan may have been the outcast at Alexandria for the past few years but there’s still humanity living inside him and he doesn’t necessarily want to see all of those people slaughtered.
Back at Hilltop, Eugene is carrying on his radio relationship with Stephanie — the mystery woman who first contacted him earlier this season. It seems Eugene and Stephanie have been enjoying these radio rendezvous for some time now while keeping each other a secret from their own communities.
After realizing that they’ve both seen the same falling satellites coming from the sky, Eugene figures out that Stephanie’s community has to be within a few hundred miles of Alexandria. He does his part to earn her trust by revealing that he’s stationed in Virginia and he requests that Stephanie meet him at a designated location so they can finally come face to face. Eugene tells Stephanie that if she decides not to trust him after arriving, she can turn around and leave.
She agrees to tell her people about Eugene and the community in Virginia but she asks him not to inform the survivors at Hilltop just yet. It seems Stephanie’s community is very cautious about dealing with outsiders and she wants to ensure they are ready to meet before committing to anything.
Avid comic book readers will recognize that Stephanie is a member of the Commonwealth — a huge community that will eventually become a focal point of “The Walking Dead” but we may not get there this season. Still, this relationship being forged between Eugene and Stephanie is an important one moving forward.
Meanwhile, Aaron, Rosita, Judith and several others from Alexandria arrive at Hilltop. Mary is one of the travelers because she wants the chance to finally see her nephew. Now known as Adam, Mary’s nephew is being raised by Earl, who lost his wife after she was one of the people beheaded by Alpha more than a season ago.
That immediately puts Earl on the defensive after Aaron tells him about Mary’s true identity as a former Whisperer.
Daryl also finds his way back to Hilltop with Lydia in tow after she helped nurse him back to health following the bloody fight with Alpha. Just as Kelly, Luke and Yumiko are about to strike out to the caves to see if Magda and Connie somehow survived, Daryl and Lydia inform them that Alpha is making her way to Hilltop and they need to prepare for a fight that will soon land on their front door.
Where The Wild Wind Blows
Following her decision to try and single-handedly wipe out Alpha’s horde but then accidentally sentencing Magda and Connie to suffocate in a cave in, Carol isn’t feeling very good about herself. Rather than return with everybody else, Carol decides to stay at Daryl’s outdoor campsite where he isolated himself for so long in the wake of Rick’s “death.”
Ezekiel decides to pay her a visit to talk Carol into returning to Hilltop with him. Once they arrive, news of the oncoming Whisperer attack has spread throughout the community,
Back in his room, Ezekiel prepares to get out the armor that he tucked away after the Kingdom fell. When Carol pays him a visit, she finally learns that Ezekiel is dying from the cancer that’s been growing in his neck.
She comforts him by falling back into old habits as the once married couple ends up in bed together. After their split in the wake of Henry’s death, Ezekiel and Carol clearly still love each other very much even if they struggle to say it to each other.
Carol’s problems go far beyond her relationship with Ezekiel as she’s also forced to reconcile with both Lydia and Daryl after her recent decisions have harmed both of them.
She first sits with Lydia, who she used as a pawn in her game of vengeance against Alpha. Then Carol turns to Daryl with tears in her eyes as she begs him not to hate her. While Daryl will never be mistaken for the warmest guy in the world, he tells her that he could never hate her no matter what she’s done.
The strained relationship between Rosita and Eugene gets even more awkward after she pays a visit to his radio tower and hears the mysterious voice of a woman on the other end of the line. Rosita calls out to the person speaking as Eugene races down a ladder to shout at her for interrupting his secret conversation with Stephanie. He ultimately throws her out of his radio tower as he calls out to Stephanie in hopes that she will answer him after going silent.
Later that day as Eugene rigs up a defense system for Hilltop, Rosita pays him a visit and discovers that he’s been having conversations with this mystery woman for quite some time and he really likes her. Of course, Eugene being Eugene can’t read any signals much less admit his feelings for Stephanie.
That’s when Rosita invites him to kiss her — something he’s wanted for several seasons now. When Eugene’s lips stop short of making contact, he realizes that he actually has feelings for Stephanie and he’s determined to meet her in real life sooner rather than later.
When he finally returns to the radio tower, Eugene tries again to make contact with Stephanie but this time he succumbs to a previous request to sing a song to her despite not having the back up of a vinyl record to serve as his karaoke machine. Eugene belts out a few verses of the track “Where the Wild Wind Blows” by Iron Maiden and eventually Stephanie answers back by singing the next few lines of the song.
Eugene is overjoyed but what makes him even happier is Stephanie agreeing to meet him at a designated location in West Virginia in one week’s time. Now he can meet the woman of his dreams but first he has to survive Alpha’s attack on Hilltop or he won’t be alive to lock eyes with Stephanie seven days from now.
Fire in the Sky
With a herd of zombies coming for them, Daryl knows that there’s not enough time to get reinforcements from Alexandria and Earl convinces the rest of the Hilltop leadership that they shouldn’t abandon this place and just run for cover. Earl would prefer to die for something he built than just scurrying away because a predator is coming for them.
Daryl concedes to allow Hilltop to fight for its survival but he recommends taking all of the children out of the community and moving them to Oceanside instead. Sadly, Daryl leads a caravan to a checkpoint on the way to Oceanside when they find a tree blocking the road and two dead guards hanging from nearby branches.
He realizes that these are the same kinds of traps that the Saviors set for them several years earlier and that means Negan is helping to lead this attack.
Daryl takes the caravan back to Hilltop and informs everybody that the battle will begin soon because Alpha and her horde are on the move. Before the fighting begins, Daryl first meets with Ezekiel and they agree that if either of them falls during the battle, the other one will help the children safely escape the community.
Daryl also convinces Judith that she needs to keep an eye on the other kids rather than join the front lines. She really wants to fight — because after all she was born as a little ass kicker — but Daryl convinces her that she’s better serves as the protector of the children living in Hilltop. Just as he’s about to head back outside to rally the troops, Judith gives him a present — she’s drawn him a second wing on the back of the motorcycle jacket he’s been wearing for several seasons.
Outside of Hilltop’s gates, members of the community are readying defenses when they are bombarded by a swarm of rats running away from the woods. It doesn’t take much for them to figure out that Alpha’s horde must be close and they all retreat inside to wait for the fighting to begin.
As the zombies finally arrive, Daryl and the Hilltop troops prepare to fight back.
The first wave are cut down by Eugene’s electric fence but soon the weight of the horde just crashing through the wires. The walkers then make their way to a makeshift barbed wire fence set up to slow them down as Daryl and the other survivors try to pick off the zombies one by one so they can’t advance any further.
Unfortunately the sheer number of zombies is just too much as the line of defense begins to give way.
That’s when Daryl, Aaron and the other survivors are splashed with bombs falling from the sky with a sticky liquid that smells like Christmas trees. Early in the episode, Beta was seen cutting into pine trees to retrieve bags filled with sap — and it turns out pine tree sap is highly flammable.
Not long after the sap bombs explode, Alpha orders her people to launch fiery arrows into the breach as huge fires explode all around the Hilltop.
On the outside of the battle, Negan turns to Alpha and wonders why she’s taken this course of action after getting her to agree to allow the communities to surrender and join them rather than killing everyone. Alpha tells him that citizens of Hilltop will soon join her army but instead of wearing skin masks, each and every one of them will become part of her horde.
Negan smirks and calls Alpha a bad ass as the assault continues.
With the zombies breaking through the outer fences and fire raging along the walls, Daryl and the rest of the survivors turn around and see their community going up in flames. There may be no saving them now because Alpha has managed to orchestrate a deadly attack that looks inescapable.
The look of dread and fear washing over the faces of Daryl and Ezekiel tell the whole story as the war with the Whisperers might be over before it truly begins.
“The Walking Dead” returns with a brand new episode next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.