‘The Walking Dead’ Recap ‘What It Always Is’: The Big Bad Wolf

In ‘The Walking Dead’ recap, Negan moves on beyond Alexandria, Ezekiel reveals a secret while Daryl, Connie and Magna go hunting for Kelly…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

Last week on ‘The Walking Dead’, Negan finally broke free of his captors and set out on his own after it appeared he was about to be strung up when he defended Lydia from a group of attackers but accidentally killed one of them along the way.

Much of the past two seasons have been spent in an attempt to redeem Negan from the baseball bat wielding sociopath who led the Saviors. This week reveals a super fan, who has been longing for the Negan of old to make his return.

The latest episode also follows up on Kelly’s hearing loss after she started to suffer from the same problems that plagued her sister Connie. As Kelly deals with the debilitating problems with her ears, she gets lost in the woods and it requires a hunting party to after her.

And finally, King Ezekiel has been struggling for much of this season in what appeared to be the fallout from losing his son Henry and the split with Carol. It didn’t help matters much that he was also facing the struggle of losing the Kingdom after vowing to protect everyone under his care.

This week shows that Ezekiel has been dealing with an entirely different kind of trauma — the life threatening kind and it’s entirely possible that his days are already numbered.

With that said, let’s get to our recap of the latest episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ titled ‘What It Always Is’…

Fight or Flight

A few weeks ago it was revealed that Kelly was starting to lose her hearing much like her sister Connie and she was struggling emotionally to deal with what she’s facing. This week saw Kelly go into the woods on a hunt but the problems with her hearing are starting to affect her other senses, which results in a strange vertigo like effect when she’s trying to get the beat on a wild hog.

While she gets the kill, Kelly can’t hear the walkers creeping up all around her and she’s forced to fight for her life rather than bringing back food to help the community survive.

Later that day, Daryl and Siddiq arrive at the Hilltop to offer some support as they continue to clean up the disastrous tree that crashed right through the wall and straight into the community. Inside, Aiden and Earl are beginning to feel like Hilltop should be getting ready for a fight, convinced that the Whisperers are coming for them. Earl in particular is agitated knowing that the Whisperers are breaking the treaty they brokered after killing several members of the community — including his wife.

Once they arrive, Siddiq is called into the clinic to help people injured by the falling tree while Daryl is drafted to help Connie find her sister after the hunting party returns from beyond the wall without Kelly by their side.

Meanwhile, Magna continues to distance herself from Kumiko after issues first arose during the initial fight against the waves of walkers being sent towards the Hilltop by the Whisperers. It seems Magna is starting to feel like perhaps she’s out grown this home or at least the inherent danger that comes along with living there but she’s staying virtually silent whenever Kumiko tries to reach her.

At the infirmary, Siddiq talks to Ezekiel and can’t help but notice that he’s coughing and seems less than 100 percent. While Ezekiel is hesitant to reveal his issues at first, he finally peels back the scarf that he has covering his neck to reveal a large bulge coming out the side of his skin. As much as Siddiq tries to comfort the former king by telling him the protrusion could mean any number of things, Ezekiel already knows that it’s thyroid cancer.

It’s a condition that struck two of his relatives and they were able to battle back against the disease and survive. Sadly, the world today doesn’t offer treatments like chemotherapy, which means Ezekiel has effectively been handed a death sentence.

He knows his days are numbered because he’s now come face to face with his own mortality but Ezekiel is committed to helping the Hilltop as long as he’s able.

As for search party, Daryl and Connie are eventually joined by Magna, who decided to quietly pitch into try and find Kelly as well. When they finally track her down, Kelly tells her sister that she was struggling with her hearing and it knocked her off balance. Eventually, her hearing returned but she was exhausted and depleted after fighting for her life.

Daryl is ready to set up camp for the night because the trip back to Hilltop might take too long but that’s when Kelly tells Magna to reveal what they’ve hidden in the woods.

It seems Kelly and Magna have quietly been siphoning away supplies from the Hilltop and hiding them nearby in the woods in case they ever needed to make a quick escape. Daryl is irate but Connie convinces him to keep this quiet so long as Kelly and Magna return all of the supplies.

When they finally return to Hilltop, Daryl and Connie share a moment before he leaves to go back to Alexandria, which continues to build this new relationship. Magna gives back the supplies but then finds Kumiko waiting at home with a request that she finds a new place to stay.

And finally, Siddiq calls back to Alexandria with a report from the Hilltop but then asks if Carol is anywhere nearby. She gets on the line and he fetches Ezekiel by telling him that somebody needs to talk to him.

When Ezekiel arrives he hears Carol’s voice on the other end but rather than pick up the microphone to say hello, he just turns off the radio. Ezekiel is obviously starting to shut himself off from the people who love him the most, perhaps to spare them the grief when he finally passes but he’s also harming himself by going through this crippling disease all alone.

Plan of Attack

As suspected, the Whisperers have been behind all of the minor attacks on the communities over the past few episodes — from sending walkers to their gates to blocking waterways that are supposed to feed through to the communities.

Alpha has a plan in mind to cripple her enemies but she’s doing it slowly over time rather than launching a full scale attack. As Judith correctly guessed a week ago, Alpha is wearing down the survivors day after day, week after week, so when she finally does come for them, they are going to be too exhausted and depleted to fight back.

When one of the Whisperers questions her decision and instead suggests sending the horde at the communities right away, Alpha allows him to speak his peace before cutting him down for his in subordinance.  She finally gives Beta permission to kill him, which sends yet another message to her followers that this is not a democracy and anyone who questions that will serve as the next example to the group.

This week’s mission from Alpha has her favorite Gamma making trips to and from the creek where she’s building a dam out of the dead in order to stop the water supply going back to Alexandria. After cutting up one zombie, Gamma realizes that she’ll need more bodies to finish the job so she returns to the camp to ask Alpha to allow her to kill more of their ‘guardians’.

Rather than sacrifice another zombie, however, Alpha instead gives Gamma the traitor who dared to question her decisions. Gamma drags the body back to the creek and begins to stab at it so she can open up the insides to put into the water but she also starts having flashbacks of the day she was forced to kill her own sister to prove her loyalty to Alpha.

Gamma accidentally slices her hand open and that’s when she’s alerted that she’s not alone. Aaron is standing nearby and he tosses her a bandage to care for her hand.

Gamma does say a word but she does pick up the bandage before scurrying off into the woods. It would appear this proves the Whisperers have crossed back over the border, which should alert Aaron to what’s actually happening but he doesn’t make mention of that this week.

Instead we follow Gamma back to the Whisperer base camp where she shows Alpha her would and explains how she got the bandage from the man with the metal arm.

This incident gives Alpha another idea on how she will infiltrate and destroy the communities that have opposed her. She tells Gamma that perhaps it’s time that she begins wearing a different kind of mask so that she can use the “metal armed man” to their benefit.

It would appear that Gamma will clean herself off and find a way to meet back up with Aaron again — this time maybe accepting an invitation to talk and return with him to Alexandria.

The Big Bad Wolf

Following his escape from Alexandria a week ago, Negan is wandering through the woods when he happens upon a young man, who at first threatens him with a knife before then offering up his canteen. It turns out this kid’s name is Brandon and he grew up as a child inside the Sanctuary with parents who worshipped Negan.

Brandon didn’t facilitate Negan’s escape but it appears he was aware what was happening and he brought along some supplies as they forge out beyond the safety of the Alexandria Safe Zone.

It’s also evident that Brandon has become a real admirer of the man Negan used to be and clearly wants him to be again.

Along the road, Negan hears screams of terror coming from the distance and he rushes off to help. When he arrives at an old bus, Negan rushes inside to find a mother and son fighting back against a few zombies who are coming after them. Negan quickly dispatches the zombies before offering some solace to the mother and her son.

It seems they’ve been wandering from one place to the next just trying to find a safe place to stay. Negan ends up befriending her son Milo while telling him all about airplanes — by this point the kid was too young to ever fly before the zombie apocalypse happened — and he even instructs him in the lost art of ‘nut tapping’.

He then tells the mother and her son that he will take them as close as possible to the Hilltop so they can find a community that will take them in. He warns them not to say who told them the directions but Negan assures them that they will be safe.

Before leading them to Hilltop, Negan is forced to finally rid himself of Brandon after the kid was clearly coming unhinged. Brandon wants to kill just about everybody and he’s begging the old Negan to make an appearance. Instead, Negan tells the creepy kid that he needs to get lost and never return.

Later that night, Negan goes out for wood to build a fire but when he returns he finds the mother and son beaten to death with Brandon standing over their corpses. Brandon though Negan sending him away was a test to find out if he had the gumption to do what needed to be done. So Brandon returned and killed the mother and son as a way to prove himself to Negan.

In that moment, the old Negan finally returns as he grabs a rock and beats Brandon to death.

Before leaving the campsite, Negan retrieves the leather jacket and barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat that Brandon brought for him as a gift.

Negan then wanders back into the woods, this time going beyond the borders set up by Alpha and the Whisperers. He then begins shouting, asking the zombies to attack, but it’s clear he’s trying to get the attention of whatever Whisperers are in the area.

After killing a few walkers, Negan is finally knocked to the ground and when he turns over he sees the daunting shape of Beta standing over him. A smile creeps across Negan’s face almost like he’s been born again and he’s ready to go toe-to-toe with Alpha’s second in command.

“All right you big ass freak, let’s do this!”
~ Negan

If you’ve read ‘The Walking Dead’ comic books, you’ll know that there’s a lot more to this story than Negan suddenly gaining a death wish by attacking the Whisperers but just in case you haven’t caught up with the source material, we won’t spoil anything here. The only hint might be to wait and see what happens next because it can’t be long before Negan finally meets Alpha for the first time.

‘The Walking Dead’ returns with a brand new episode next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

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