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Sunday, March 3, 2019

[RECAP] Season 9, Episode 7 of The Walking Dead, "Stradivarius"

The episode in advance of the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead entitled "Stradivarius" hums along smoothly enough but definitely gives off that dreaded "filler episode" vibe.  This is mostly due to the limelight being cast (mostly) on our new arrivals rather than our core group of characters.  We did get a few notable moments (Daryl's camp scenes primarily), but by and large, this was an episode meant to set us up for the midseason finale.

The very beginning of the episode shows a very disorientated Rosita running through the woods trying to escape...what, exactly?  Inevitably midway through the episode, Jesus and Aaron end up finding Rosita (after she sends out a flare) during a fight training session beyond the walls.  A glimpse at life at The Hilltop shows a thriving society filled with sustainable resources, medics (in the form of Enid) and the basic day to day tasks that come from governing a society.  Jesus, however, seems thoroughly bored and caged in his new defacto role as leader of the Hilltop, seemingly much more comfortable out on the road or in the woods.  Nevertheless, Rosita informs Jesus and Aaron that Eugene is still out there but they need to get her to safety first and then come back for Eugene.

As already mentioned, the episode primarily follows Michonne, Siddiq and our new group of visitors as they make their way to The Hilltop.  Michonne is still highly skeptical of the group and even Luke's attempt to convince her that their observation of art and music is what will allow them to survive and advance beyond the walkers fall on deaf ears.  So weary and suspicious is Michonne that, during an overnight stay at the newcomer's previous supply fort, upon coming across Luke awake in the middle of the night holding something, she assumes that he is holding a weapon and cuts it in half...only then realizing that it was Luke's prized violin, a Stradivarius.  The next day, we find out Michonne is even more apprehensive of traveling to the Hilltop because of the presumed presence of Maggie.

Again, why this beef between the two women?  We'll definitely need this backstory before the season is up.

Siddiq ends up being the person that fills her in on the fact that Maggie is no longer at the Hilltop and that she took her baby Herschel and left some time ago.  Before a shocked Michonne can inquire further and get more information, they are forced to make waste of a group of walkers uncovered at this base.  It's all hands on deck and as a result, Michonne allows the newcomer's to have access to their confiscated weapons again and everyone is quickly acting to defeat the threat in front of them.  After a certain point, it looks like the threat has been neutralized...until a familiar figure in a paisley shirt stumbles out.  It is the infamous Bernie, that the newcomers have spoken so fondly of.  The sight of him makes the usually tough Magna to break down and in order to alleviate her of anymore pain, Michonne mercifully puts him out of his misery.  The whole experience causes them to bond and develop a sense of trust that allows them to arrive at The Hilltop in a much better place than where they started...although startled to hear that Rosita is already at the Hilltop receiving necessary medical care.

The other part of the episode surrounds Carol and Henry and their eventual encounter of Daryl's apparent camp.  We come to find out that Daryl ventured out here, in an attempt to find Rick or Rick's body and when he found nothing, he decided to just set up camp out there.  Clearly there is WAY more to Daryl's past than this, as evidenced from the "X" scars on his back, strikingly similar to the one on Michonne's back.  Again, I'm sure we'll get some more backstory on this eventually.  In any case, Carol is looking to convince Daryl to rejoin society and come with them to the Hilltop in order to provide Henry with some guidance (or as Daryl says, to be Henry's babysitter).  He resists vehemently at first but after some bonding via Henry saving him (and of course, Dog), he decides to join them on their journey to the Hilltop.

Upon their arrival, they are also notified about Rosita's medical treatment after being found in the woods...but Eugene is still out there, potentially hurt.  Aaron and Daryl decide to go out and look for him but Jesus insists on coming along also.  This is not what Tara wants, since she would prefer that Jesus, as leader of the Hilltop, stays behind, safe and sound but Jesus is insistent that he knows the terrain best and he needs to be out there with them.

The final shot that we see is a majestic overhead shot of Daryl, Aaron and Jesus (and Dog) on their way into the great unknown...on their way to encounter who knows what.

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