Warning: Full spoilers for The Walking Dead’s Season 10 midseason premiere follow. To refresh your memory of where we left off, check out our review of TWD Season 10, episode 8.
The Walking Dead kicked off Season 10’s remaining eight episodes with a dark, cramped crawl through some creepy caverns overrun with both walkers and Whisperers.
Oh, and with Negan and Alpha doing the (actual) dirty out in the woods. Yikes! But more on that later…
When we last left our heroes, in the midseason finale cliffhanger, things didn’t seem all that dire. Trapping Carol, Daryl, and the rest in a savage scenario against a herd of walkers didn’t exactly feel cliffhanger-worthy since we’ve seen our survivors escape dozens of similar scenes over the years. In fact, the show itself made a montage out of rapid-fire zombie assaults on Alexandria earlier in the season as if it wasn’t a situation worth spending a lot of time with because everyone could handle themselves.
Regardless, “Squeeze” made the most of these spelunky surroundings, crafting a full episode’s worth of danger out of it and, maybe most importantly, creating a crucible where it felt like someone could die. Granted, taking stock of all the characters and whether or not they were narratively “ready” to go, Jerry was the one most likely to get torn to bits. But he didn’t. This is where the episode kind of broke even because it would have sucked for Jerry to die since he’s one of the few favorites left – but also, without a grand demise, the entire adventure felt a bit toothless in the end.
Sure, the cave collapsed, leaving Connie and Magda’s fates unknown, but since we didn’t see them die… they’re obviously still around. Because that’s the show.
Can Daryl Forgive Carol?
Daryl probably won’t be able to forgive Carol until he finds Connie still alive. Worst-case scenario here, if the show still wants to play things viciously, Daryl finds her alive, but right as she’s dying. Or comes to the rescue just moments too late. We don’t know what actress Lauren Ridloff’s Marvel’s Eternals role means yet for her role in the series.
Story-wise though, and knowing how Daryl obsessed over Rick’s “death,” and spent months and months looking for him in the woods, Daryl has to find these two. He can’t revert back to Season 9 Daryl.
The dramatic heart here, in “Squeeze,” was Carol finally realizing how destructive and careless she’s been after getting stuck in a place where she felt utterly useless because of her claustrophobia. She had to come to terms with her obsession for revenge against Alpha and recognize how it blinded her to this rather obvious trap. Man, if Jerry had died because of this, she’d never come back. That’s probably the main reason he survived – even though it certainly looked like the undead had chewed up his foot.
To be fair though, this was a super dark episode. Not thematically, just light-wise. Watching it through a press screener made things even harder to make out, given how much action happened in the shadows. I certainly got the gist of most of what was going on, with the actual squeezing moments, through the very narrow crawl spaces, being the most intense parts.
And the Carol/Daryl stuff remains, truly, the only big relationship on the show that still works to holds everything together. After that, you’ve got Rosita and Eugene (maybe?), and Negan and Judith. Everything else is kind of empty. So “Squeeze” was wise to focus on this, along with Daryl’s burgeoning feelings for Connie.
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Alpha, Negan, and Uncomfortable Silences
The Whisperer side of the story was pretty strange – and not just because of Alpha’s big romantic gesture out in the woods with Negan, where she menacingly stripped down to her zombie skin and boots in order to woo him, or in the very least shut him up.
No, it was the part where Negan snitched on Gamma and Alpha realized that she had a spy in her midst. Negan giving Gamma up made sense, but overall it felt odd for Gamma to have been brought in as a character this season, quickly promoted through the ranks (to the dismay and jealousy of Beta), and then for us to see her unceremoniously come undone. Alpha sending Beta after her, with no mention of his past warnings or Alpha’s previous stubbornness, seemed a bit off.
And then, yes, there was Alpha and Negan’s tryst in the woods. Presented, without commentary, to those who might be looking for an even more uncomfortable Negan scene than his “nut tapping” conversation with that young boy back in “What It Always Is” (which is even more disturbing when you consider it was probably the kid’s last conversation on Earth). With Alpha and Negan’s glorious coupling comes all of our fears and anxieties about post-apocalyptic smells. After a while, after this many years into the series, we can assume everyone’s now nose-blind to the lack of proper daily hygiene. But it just takes one moment, like disrobing in the woods (which is itself a nasty place to get nasty), to remind us that everyone stinks to high heaven. Especially the Whisperers. Especially those masks.
This is the Whisperers’ downfall right here. Whether you’ve read the comics or not, it’s plain to see that Alpha trusting Negan, or even developing slivers of feelings for him, is his ticket into controlling, or destroying, them all.
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