‘The Walking Dead’ Sets Up a Terrifying Showdown in ‘The Tower’ (RECAP)

The Walking Dead
Spoiler Alert
Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 Episode 15, “The Tower.”]

When comics fans heard Episode 15 of The Walking Dead’s 10th season was called “The Tower,” many braced themselves for the brutal death of a main character. After all, in the source material, this is when Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) met his end by Beta (Ryan Hurst)’s hand; after Gabe fell from a tower and broke his ankle, Beta gutted him and left him as walker food. So, naming an episode “The Tower” was referencing that, right? It had to be. Right?

Wrong. “The Tower” has nothing to do with that moment. Gabriel barely appears in the episode. But setting that reference aside, there’s plenty to dissect in this week’s episode. Here’s how it all happened.

Whisperer Woes

Beta and his huge horde of walkers and Whisperers make it to Alexandria, only to discover there’s no one there. They meant to head to Oceanside, but Beta changes course after figuring out 1. They’re going to meet considerable resistance at Oceanside if everyone is really there and 2. Everyone is not, in fact, there.

This puts Alden and Aaron (Ross Marquand), who had stayed behind to keep watch, in a sticky situation. They run out into the woods and eventually try to get back to the hospital where everyone is staying (they moved to a hospital tower, hence, “The Tower”), but when they try to radio the group, they hear only static. And, to top everything off, they wind up captured by the Whisperers. So that’s pretty bad, huh? On a scale of one to 10, how certain are we that Maggie (Lauren Cohan)’s going to turn up to save them?

Missing Her Mom

Meanwhile, Daryl (Norman Reedus)’s on perimeter duty. He’s initially reluctant to allow Judith (Cailey Fleming) to join him, but when she says she just can’t stay stuck in the tower anymore, he caves. They walk together and he starts to teach her how to hunt, but they’re interrupted by a dying Whisperer in a ravine, who Daryl ran into and shot earlier. Daryl kills her rather than “letting her walk with the dead,” which was her wish, and that doesn’t sit well with Lil’ Asskicker. The interactions between these two have always been incredibly sweet, and this episode’s Judith-Daryl conversation is a real tearjerker.

The core of her upset isn’t really about the Whisperer at all: it’s about her mom. Michonne (Danai Gurira) hasn’t been answering on the radio, and Judith hadn’t told Daryl what Michonne was doing because she was worried that if Daryl knew, he’d leave, too. She wants him to promise he won’t do that, and he tells her he can’t make that promise. But he reassures her that she has plenty of people who care about her, saying, “Nothing can take the place of someone you love being gone, but that doesn’t mean everything that follows is gonna break your heart.”

Punching Through Grief

Inside the tower, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) tries to talk to an upset Lydia (Cassady McClincy). She doesn’t want much to do with him, and any attempt he makes to smooth things over only worsens their conflict. At her core, Lydia is probably upset about too many things to talk to Negan about all at once — she’s upset her mom wasn’t a better mom to her, she’s angry with Negan and she’s grieving and she’s probably scared, too. That’s a lot for anyone to deal with. Well, at least she has Dog, and a random cat, to keep her company.

Eventually Negan urges the conflicted teen to just hit him and mourn for her mom, because otherwise, the anger will cause her to drift further from everyone she cares about. She does, but first, she outpours a wide range of emotions. “I hate her!” she says, of her mom. “I want to hate her! So screw you for telling me I can’t even do that!” She cries, and Negan comforts her.

Taking the Scenic Route

In Atlanta, Team Eugene eventually accepts Princess (Paola Lazaro)’ help after she accidentally scares away the horses (she says she can get them wheels). Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) isn’t super keen on the whole “trusting Princess” thing, saying she’s probably crazy. Her suspicions look to be confirmed when the pink-coat-wearing, purple-haired, eccentric gal leads them directly into a minefield, and then, once they’re out, they realize she took the scenic route. They passed the place where the “wheels” are hours earlier.

Turns out Princess had missed having people around, and while she knew she could get them there quicker, she wanted some company. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) knows where she’s coming from and forgives her, and despite her taking the long way around, Princess makes good on her word — now they’ll be traveling by bicycle. Yumiko changes her mind about Princess and offers her a place on their mission, which the latter excitedly accepts.

Carol’s Forgiveness

Carol (Melissa McBride) heads out on a supply mission to help Luke with a mysterious project, and Kelly (Angel Theory) goes with her. As they sit in a broken-down car, collecting wires, Carol apologizes for what happened in the cave. Kelly’s convinced her sister isn’t dead, but she reassures Carol there’s nothing to be sorry for. She understands what Carol was going through.

And honestly, if Kelly isn’t mad, does anyone have the right to be? Maybe Magna (Nadia Hilker), but other than her, Kelly would’ve had the most reason to be angry. It’d still be nice if Daryl and Carol get closure in the finale for all the emotional conflict between them now — if this is mostly about Connie, Daryl’s more pissed about it than Connie’s own sister — but this was a nice way for the show to imply that everyone should really stop blaming Carol for everything.

Finally, everything comes to a head when Daryl gets a garbled radio transmission from Father Gabriel. When he and Judith return to the tower, it’s surrounded by walkers — Beta’s horde. So their people can’t get out, and Daryl and Judith can’t get back in. Uh-oh. Can “later this year” hurry up, already? (But yes, I recognize there are far bigger problems in the world right now than this show’s finale being delayed.)

Other Observations

  • I’m genuinely shocked that this episode had nothing to do with Gabriel’s death. I kept thinking Alden would get it, since the show does often give comic endings to different characters. Giving this episode that title was a good move to generate interest from fans of the source material.
  • Now I’m wondering if the finale — which currently doesn’t have an air date, since it’s in post-production — has anything to do with the comic issue for which it’s named. “A Certain Doom” marked a HUGE loss for the main group in the comics, so it’ll be interesting to see whether the show goes that route or if it just used the title.
  • Last week I wasn’t sure whether I’d like Princess, but she’s growing on me. It’s nice to see a character so relentlessly optimistic, and her wackiness is less grating than Ezekiel’s was in earlier seasons (probably because Princess doesn’t insist on speaking in old English).
  • While I’d hoped Carol and Daryl would get a chance to talk things out before the finale — if any two characters on this show need to talk through their feelings right now, it’s them — I loved the scene between Carol and Kelly. It was lovely, and I’d be happy to see a friendship develop there.

The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC