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Sunday, March 17, 2019

[RECAP] Season 9, Episode 13 of The Walking Dead, "Chokepoint"

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Fresh off of their escape from the Whisperer Camp, episode 13 of Season 9 of The Walking Dead entitled "Chokepoint" continues exactly where we left off as Daryl, Connie, Henry, Lydia and Dog are on the run from Alpha and her minions.  At the same time, we finally get answers to who in the world is behind that cryptic street sign that King Ezekiel and Carol passed by after their movie theater quest.  And they seem be just as big of a fan of movies as they are (who would've thought?)!

More importantly though, we get to see the aftermath of the walker attack on the Whisperer camp, specifically the moment where one young Whisperer male who has a mortal bite wound on his neck is having a few words with Beta.  He knows he doesn't have long to live and he tells Beta that he's going to join the Guardians isn't he?  Beta knows that his death is imminent, but out of seemingly respect for this young man, he provides some comfort by touching his shoulder and telling him he'll always be "one of us".  He then instructs one of the other Whisperers to find his wife and let her know he will soon be going through "the change".  It's quite fascinating to see that the Whisperers truly view the walkers as their protectors or "Guardians" and how dying is not so much as the end but as a rite of passage to another level of existence where you become a protective deity.  Almost religious in thought process.  Beta does state however that they need to track down Daryl and crew because if they don't hand over Lydia, they should all prepare to join the Guardians personally.  Yikes.

Meanwhile, Daryl and crew are on the run with Lydia in tow, against all his wishes.  Henry, however, is insistent on Lydia staying with them no matter he may think of it.  Connie seems to be in agreement and suggests on a location that she thinks is a good option for them to go to find refuge, at least for the time being.  Daryl has no choice but to follow since it appears that everyone is on board with this plan and promptly follow Connie.  The location turns out to be an abandoned mid-rise building that seems to have been in the midst of construction and/or renovation.  Connie recommends to Daryl that they get to higher ground and use this position as a Chokepoint, in an attempt to pick off the Whisperers when they eventually track them down (since they will certainly find them).  Daryl is impressed with the idea and Lydia informs them that Beta and some Whisperers will likely come out to try and find her.  After Lydia confirms that Beta is their best fighter, Daryl states that then they'll make sure to kill him first.  Lydia looks surprised, likely knowing that they are SEVERELY underestimating the brute strength that is Beta.

On a happier note, preparations for the fair are very much underway at the Kingdom, as Queen Carol and Nabila take a lay of the land observing all the colorful flags and decorations set up.  This positive moment is cut short however (naturally, this is the post apocalypse after all) by the arrival of a slightly wounded Jerry with what essentially is a ransom note (though a grammatically correct one).  It appears that they were hijacked while on the road and threatened by a group of men who claim to "own" the roads leading to the Kingdom and stated that anyone who wants to travel those roads to the fair need to be prepared to pay their "toll" or else.  King Ezekiel is extremely frustrated at the idea of having to participate in more violence in order to have a peaceful fair but Carol is optimistic that perhaps these are educated men that can be reasoned with.  This is different for Carol right?  On that note, the Kingdom gathers its best fighters (I mean, listen, they have to be save and have a plan B in case it all goes south) and they're off to meet with this new apparent threat.

They arrive at this lair which appears to be some sort of warehouse space of some sort.  From their vantage point, they can see that it appears that the men are armed.  With that in mind, they prepare themselves to negotiate but with the understanding that this could get ugly very quickly.  They enter the warehouse and one specific man stands out from the group giving off the impression that he is the leader.  At first glance, they're a pretty odd bunch: They call themselves the Highwaymen and they are fully armed but decked out in what appear to be almost costumes with cowboy hats and all (and I swear that there was someone in that group dressed in a Sgt Pepper's outfit).  He informs them that the deal was to meet with ONLY the king but Carol pipes in that there was never any deal in place.  Touche.  She and Ezekiel make their case that they do not want any trouble, instead they would rather come up with a resolution that makes everyone happy.  They propose that the Highwaymen PROTECT their roads and in exchange, they are free to attend the fair and participate in the exchange of goods.  The leader of the group laughs at this offer, finding it ridiculous.  The Highwaymen start to get their weapons ready...until they realize that the Kingdom came prepared and has them surrounded.  They still do not fully back down however and it's at this point that Carol steps up and tries a different tactic.  She asks them a simple question: When was the last time you guys have seen a movie?  The Highwaymen stand there stunned.  MIND BLOWN.  

It seems that the Highwaymen are big film buffs and that was all the bargaining that was needed.  We then cut to seeing the convoy of people from the Hilltop on their way to the fair getting ambushed by a herd of walkers.  Luckily our group hold their own but they are assisted by of all people, the Highwaymen who come bounding in on horseback, monkey wrenches in hand (GENIUS WEAPON) and neutralize the remaining threat.  When asked who they are they state that they are the Highwaymen and they are here to be their escort to the fair.  Tara stares at him in utter shock and disbelief...and perhaps some recognition?  Hmmmm...

But the "main event" is back at the abandoned building with Daryl and crew.  Connie shares with him a map of the building as well as a hidden flooring hatch where Magna's crew had hid some emergency supplies, in case they ever returned to this building.  With the aid of Connie's building map, they develop a plan to lay traps around the building in order to lead the Whisperers where they need them and eventually (hopefully) pick them off, one by one.  Daryl finds Lydia's presence a problem that they'll need to ditch immediately but Connie is advocating for Lydia to stay with them.  When Daryl argues that she'll get their friends killed, Connie is quick to inform him that she has no friends and they are the fortunate ones.  For now, they agree to disagree.  Eventually, the Whisperers are spotted from one of the terraces and Daryl ends up shooting the recently deceased and turned Whisperer male from the beginning of the episode.  Beta looks down at him and then looks up at the terrace, right at Daryl.  Eerie.

In the meantime, Lydia and Henry are in a separate location, preparing for the eventual arrival of the Whisperers into the building.  Henry has sharpened a poll from the coat closet for her to defend herself.  She is resistant to accept it, however, because she tells him that these Whisperers almost raised her and looked after her and since they are her people, she can't really kill them.  Talk about conflicted.  It's for that reason that Daryl interrupts their smooch session (ah, young love) and promptly locks Lydia and Dog in a closet, since she really can't be trusted on what should could do in this situation.  As expected, here is where the action begins since a handful of Whisperers enter the building with walkers and separate themselves from the herd to head up the stairs and find our crew.  One crew enters the floor where Henry and Connie are and begin their ambush.  Connie seems really adept at capitalizing on her other (spidey) senses and she proves to be a formidable fighter in this action sequence.  Henry also holds him own, until he is stabbed in the leg.  Luckily for him, Lydia managed to use a nearby crowbar to get out of the closet and Dog promptly attacks his attacker and he's saved.  Henry apologies to Lydia for trying to kill Whisperers to which she reassures him that it's okay.

But people, are we ready to rumble??  Because we're about to join Daryl on his floor.  Daryl has set up shop on a floor that looks was in the midst of renovation. Dust tarps are hanging around the area and there are random power tools strewn around as well.  All of a sudden, three Whisperers including Beta using the door as a shield, burst into the room.  Daryl makes quick work of two of Whisperers, burying an ax into one of them (gruesome) and slitting the throat of one of the other guys.  But then, like a horrific Kool Aid man, Beta comes through the drywall and the drag out bar fight begins.  Beta manhandles the smaller Daryl around the room, throwing him into the wall and onto the floor.  At one point, he even had his neck over a table saw.  Daryl is though, scrappy as anything, and is able to fight him off at every turn, even when the towering man is standing across from him with his massive knives.  Both men employ some fancy footwork during this knife fight sequence and Daryl is able to stab Beta in the upper chest area with a switchblade but the hulking man keeps going as of nothing occurred at all.  In a last ditch effort, Daryl manages to hide in the floor boards and notices beyond Beta an elevator shaft.  He then jumps out of hiding and runs into Beta, pushing him down into the elevator shaft.  Daryl spits down the shaft and thinks his work is done.

He then exits the building with the rest of his crew and decides that Lydia can indeed stay with them but the safety of the communities is of paramount importance, so they'll need to figure out what their next move (or location) will be.  Unbeknownst to all of them however, is that Beta woke from unconsciousness and is standing on top of the elevator in the shaft, livid and full of rage, and ready for his next move.  They better start running and they better start fast.


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