'The Walking Dead': Carol Needs Daryl's Help (RECAP)

Emily Hannemann
Spoiler Alert Gene Page/AMC

When I said last week that the Whisperers were coming, it seems I was a week early.

Though their voices are heard, the Whisperers have yet to be seen in their full creepy glory and don't show up in the Michael Cudlitz-directed "Stradivarius." There’s still plenty to enjoy in this week’s installment of The Walking Dead, namely the reunion of everyone’s will-they-won’t-they best friend duo, Daryl and Carol. Carol needs Daryl’s assistance on a mission particularly close to her heart, but surprisingly, he doesn’t seem too inclined to help.

Meanwhile, Michonne and her team run into some trouble on the way to Hilltop, which has seen some leadership changes since Maggie’s departure.

Whispers in the Woods

The episode opens with Rosita running through the woods, with the disembodied voices of Whisperers coming from the forest around her. She eventually passes out on the forest floor, presumably of dehydration.

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Daryl Has a New Best Friend

Daryl leads Carol and Henry into his camp. It’s clear Carol has been there before; she knows the location of the traps Daryl has set and tells Henry to watch out for them, she laments that he hasn’t fixed his boat since the last time she was there. Oh, and Daryl has a dog! His dog brings him dismembered walker parts, like a cat might bring its owner a dead mouse.

Though it seems Carol’s been there before just to check in on him, that isn’t the purpose of this visit, and Daryl knows it. When they go out into the woods together, he shoots a snake for dinner (yum) and asks Carol why she’s come to see him. As it turns out, she wants him to watch over Henry as he apprentices with the blacksmith at the Hilltop — she’s worried about her son’s idealistic streak. Daryl’s none too pleased with the idea and tells her Henry has to learn, the way they both did.

Daryl prepares Carol and Henry a nice batch of snake-meat stew. When Carol compliments his cooking skills, he makes a snarky remark about Hilltop — Henry picks up on it and figures out they’re there so that Daryl can serve as his chaperone. He fumes in silence as night falls, and Carol cuts Daryl’s hair. Daryl says he knows she thinks he’s still out in the woods because he’s looking for Rick. Carol tells him, softly, “You have to let that go.” She brushes hair out of his eyes and smiles at him, and Daryl says dinner’s ready.

Out of the Woods

Dinner brings a strange occurrence; Daryl’s dog isn’t showing up. That night, Henry sneaks out of the tent he’s sharing with Carol and finds Daryl searching for his companion. He eventually finds his dog caught in one of the traps he’d set, surrounded by walkers who were caught on other traps (Daryl Dixon isn’t messing around with camp safety).

Freeing his four-legged friend ends up being more perilous than he’d anticipated, and though Daryl insisted Henry stay back, the teenager saves him from being bitten by a walker. (Though Daryl might not have been in any danger, anyway — the last shot of the scene shows Carol in the woods, just out of sight, bow at the ready).

Speaking of Carol, Henry and Daryl have a sweet heart-to-heart about her. After their chaotic scene in the woods, they sit outside for a bit and Henry tells Daryl that he’s Carol’s best friend; she worries about him and misses him. Daryl says she knows where to find him, but Henry says she shouldn’t have to. When Daryl asks if that’s what Henry wants — him looking over his shoulder at Hilltop — Henry says it isn’t just about him. So it makes sense when the next day, Daryl and his dog head for Hilltop with Carol and Henry.

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An Uneasy Alliance

Michonne and her guardsmen are taking Magna and her group back to their former camp to see if their story checks out, and then on to Hilltop. Siddiq, who is on the crew, believes Michonne should have let them stay at Alexandria; Michonne has no such second thoughts.

The newcomers’ story rings true — the remains of their living space are right where they said they would be — but Team Magna is devastated to see their former home dismantled by the dead. Luke, the former music teacher, is happy to find several of his instruments are still alive, so to speak. Things go sideways fast when Michonne insists she needs to hold onto their weapons, and makes it clear she has no intention of taking them to Hilltop. She’s leaving that, she says, to her men. Magna and her group aren’t pleased about either part of that announcement, and while they still decide to go to Hilltop, things remain uneasy between the groups.

Stradivarius

That night in the barn where they’re taking shelter, Michonne jumps to the conclusion that Luke is trying to steal their weapons back and ends up slicing through a Stradivarius violin (yikes!). Mourning the loss, Luke tells a story about how ancient humans came together as one people over art. He thinks music separates people from animals, and argues it can’t be ignored.

The next morning, Siddiq breaks the news to Michonne that Maggie’s no longer at Hilltop (Michonne wasn’t going to set foot there because Maggie wouldn’t be pleased to see her, apparently). Angered, Michonne starts to ask Siddiq more about what he knows, but a herd bears down on the barn. Team Magna is eventually allowed their weapons back, and they prove themselves more than capable fighters. Their hearts break, though, when one of the final walkers to be put down is one they recognize as one of their former group members. Magna is especially affected.

President Jesus

There have been some definite changes at the Hilltop, though Michonne is none the wiser about them. Maggie left with Georgie to go to her community, which is only described as “somewhere far away.” Jesus is the community’s new leader-elect, but he doesn’t seem to want the job. When Tara goes to see him with a list of various complaints from residents, he largely brushes her off but takes one inquiry, about crop fields, seriously.

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When he gets out into the field, it’s clear why he latched onto that task. He’s tackled from his horse by Aaron, and the two playfully spar for several minutes, then go to the edge of the forest where they talk for a bit. It seems that they — perhaps like Daryl and Carol? — have been meeting in secret for quite some time, and hope that their communities can come back together through the fair Ezekiel’s planning. Their meeting is interrupted when they see a flare shooting above the treetops, and when they reach its origin point, they find Rosita. She tells them Eugene is in a barn and she left him there, but she’s too exhausted to say much more. Aaron and Jesus take her back to Hilltop and say if Eugene is in a barn, they’ll have to hope he can make it through the night so they can find him the next day.

That night, Jesus and Tara talk about Rosita, Aaron and the fractured lines of communication between Hilltop and Alexandria. Jesus says he’s trying to get Alexandria on board with the fair, but Tara insists he’s needed at the Hilltop and that his people — and Maggie — are counting on him. She says she’s going out the next morning to look for Eugene, and he needs to stay behind, and stay inside the walls.

Together Again

The episode ends with everyone converging on Hilltop. Michonne and her group don’t make it there this episode, but Daryl and Carol arrive. They greet members of their formerly tight-knit family, who are happy to see them. Aaron tells Daryl that they found Rosita outside the walls and Eugene is missing. With Carol’s okay, he decides to go with Tara, Jesus and Aaron to find him. He yells for his dog and they head out on their rescue mission.

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Other Observations:

  • Daryl and Carol continue to be the dream team. Platonic, romantic, whatever. Their shared history and the emotion between them is palpable in the way they look at each other, and even Henry acknowledged their connection. Plus, her trimming his hair is definitely in the “Top 10” of cutest things to happen on this show.
  • I’m really loving this new focus on Jesus. I loved Maggie and wish she was still here, but Jesus is interesting and I’m happy he’s finally getting some spotlight as both a capable fighter and a reluctant (but equally capable) leader.
  • If Daryl’s dog dies, we riot. But Daryl naming his dog “Dog” is so incredibly in-character, I have to laugh.
  • Connie thinking she saw something in the woods was utterly terrifying, and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) seeing the Whisperers next week. Bring ‘em on!

The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC

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