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Monday, October 28, 2019

[RECAP] Season 10, Episode 3 of The Walking Dead, "Ghosts"

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The third installment of Season 10, entitled “Ghosts” was an aptly titled episode that explored the psyches of various characters that are still being haunted by the memories of their loved ones (actually the episode could’ve been called “I’m So Tired” but that’s another story and resonates a little too close to home so whatever). But more importantly, these characters are being haunted by their lack of action and how that “sin of omission” might have potentially cost them their loved ones. We see this emotional and soulful exploration through Siddiq, Aaron and most notably Carol, who’s pill addiction, and lack of sleep, allow us to explore the deep recesses of her mind.

The episode revolves around the fact that all of our characters have had their inhibitions severely lowered by the fact that they have been fighting off a significant wave of walkers that was so large in scale, it took them over four days to ward off the threat. Their lack of sleep for days has caused many to be on edge and not hesitate in expressing their feelings, similar to when one is drunk (as Eugene says, “A drunk mind speaks a sober heart”). Sadly, Rosita’s frank honesty doesn’t sit well with Eugene who is coldly and cruelly rebuked by Rosita, after being more of a father to her child than Siddiq or Father Gabriel, clearly. Personally, I have a feeling that this is all occurring to prepare Eugene emotionally for venturing off to uncover WHO is on the other side of that ham radio (no relationship, no children, no problem right?).  But we’ll have to wait and see how all that progresses. Buck up Eugene! There’s a big (albeit horrific) world out there!

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Concurrently, we have Aaron who apparently is still grappling with the death of his husband, Eric (wow, there’s a name we haven’t heard in some time right?). In this episode, he is tasked to help take out any of the lingering walker herd beyond the fences of Alexandria but unfortunately he happens to be low on fighters. Against both of their preferences, Father Gabriel orders for Negan and Aaron to work together to clear out any lingering threats so for better or worse, they are stuck together (like peanut butter and jelly).

Side Note: How cool are Aaron’s metal attachment arms? Commercially speaking, you could have an Aaron action figure with interchangeable arms couldn’t you? Just saying...

In any case, during this time in the wild, fighting walkers, Negan tries to prove to Aaron that he is no longer a threat to him and our heroes, as proven by his continued cooperation all these years (particularly in recent years by saving Judith’s life during the winter storm). Negan explains to him during a one to one confrontation at night that, at the time, he did what he needed to do to protect his people because as a man, when you don’t protect what’s yours, it’ll soon become someone else’s.  Aaron then emotionally asks him if he means that ultimately it’s his fault that Eric is dead, to which Negan remains silent.

That interaction is essentially the crutch of episode: Many of our characters are grappling with the feeling that because they didn’t protect what was there’s, they ultimately lost it in some way, shape or form (basically via death).

In the case of Aaron and Negan, though, Aaron has a moment of clarity the next day (literally) after temporary blindness due to an interaction with a hogwood covered walker. He awakens to see that Negan actually kept watch and protected Aaron all evening from any threats while he slept and recovered.  He finally truly sees the real Negan in front of him (finally, geez).

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Siddiq however, seems to, understably be suffering from a MAJOR case of post tramautic stress disorder (PTSD). As many would recall, Siddiq was IN the shed when so many of our heroes were brutally murdered and decapitated by Alpha and the Whisperers. As such, it seems that certain words and/or objects will trigger flashback memories of that fateful evening. During a town hall meeting where individuals are demanding justice for their fallen friends and retribution for the waves of walkers being sent to them, we see one of these moments. At even the mention of the heads on the pikes, this immediately incites an almost visceral reaction from Siddiq, so much so that he needs to excuse himself.

This does not go by unnoticed by Michonne or Dante, the new doctor who we later find out was a former army medic in the Iraq War.  Also, SPOILER ALERT, Dante WILL be a MAJOR player later on in our storyline...but in what way exactly?  Check out's description of the addition of Dante and his potentially controversal role to play in TWD universe.

In any case, he talks about his own experience with PTSD after experiencing the loss of his entire squad during the war and returning to civilian life in the US. He does this to make Siddiq feel comfortable to share his own experience and know he’s not alone, except...we never get to hear anything more from Siddiq.

Which begs the question: How much did Siddiq ACTUALLY see when he was held by the Whisperers that night?  WHY was he elected to be the ONLY survivor?  And what was his level of involvement that night?  Is his trauma and pain solely from witnessing the death of his friends?  Or is his trauma also stemming from guilt over cowardly inaction...or worse, participation in the mass murders?

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Finally, we get to Carol, who in this episode comes face to face with Alpha, during a prearranged meeting at the pike border. Before heading to this meeting, we see that Carol retains a secretly concealed shot gun in her pants and is also taking some medication that one can assume to be some sort of stimulant that allows her focus and forgo sleep (potentially Adderall). Once at the border, all the memories of Henry and that day come flooding back and she cannot hold back when Alpha demands that they vacate certain pieces of land as the NEW border. In a moment of defiance, she confronts Alpha’s threats as a bunch of BS, which prompts Alpha to bring up her son Henry’s last words before he was decapitated. That’s all it takes for Carol to take aim and fire at Alpha, before Michonne slaps the gun away, narrowly avoiding a bloody conflict.

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What follows is an evening in hiding from the Whisperers in an abandoned school until daytime, inter-spliced with drug infused hallucinations from Carol that at times, makes it rather difficult to understand what is a figment of her imagination and what is actually happening. What we come to realize, via various hallucinations, is that Carol is still haunted by the death of ALL her children, not just Henry (case in point, the Home Education notebook with the likenesses of ALL the children she’s lost during the duration of the apocalypse).  She has moments where she finds herself wandering the halls of the school, thinking that she sees Henry calling out to her by saying “mom”, only to realize that it’s all a drug and insomnia induced hallucination. This makes it all the more jarring when we realize that Carol actually IS right to be on high alert because in fact, at least ONE whisperer DID infiltrate the school (after all, they ARE always watching) and her moment in the gymnasium hanging by one foot from a trap was very REAL one. Which makes it even more shocking/amazing when she is able to singlehandedly slice off the rope and free herself and then apparently kill every walker that entered the gym (all by her lonesome).

By the time, Daryl, Michonne and the crew find her, she has a horrible wound on her arm from a piece of broken glass that likely punctured her when she freed herself from the hanging trap. It’s during her recovering sleep time at Alexandria, after being stitched up, that she finally SLEEPS, after who knows how long of going without.  It’s at this point that we have yet another dream sequence where Carol wakes up in the same home but far more nicely decorated.  She comes downstairs to more cleaned up Daryl cooking breakfast and giving her money (how weird to see money in this world right?).

So, let’s talk about this: A dream that’s a screenshot of domestic bliss, complete with breakfast, Henry at the table...but with DARYL as the male patriarch figure? This was pretty surprising to me, downright jarring and shocking, considering Carol spent YEARS with King Ezekiel raising Henry as THEIR son. So for Ezekiel to not even be a blip on the radar throughout our journey through the deeper recesses of Carol’s mind, is VERY telling.

So does this mean that Daryl is probably the closest person to her?  Yes. Does this mean that Carol probably loves Daryl?  Yes. But does this mean that there are CONFIRMED romantic feelings between Carol and Daryl (or from Carol towards Daryl, at the very least)? The jury is still out on that one...we have to remember that it WAS just a dream after all, a dream that came after coming off of a drug addiction (for all intensive purposes) and a lack of sleeping for days. So I’m not ready to say that there’s something brewing here...not YET, at least.

The dream sequence though was effective in illustrating the depth of Carol's love for Daryl and, as expected, the internet lost its collective s&*t when this all played out on screen.  No surprise there.

Eventually though, Carol wakes up to her TRUE reality which is a life without Henry or any of her children for that matter.  She eventually confronts Daryl to see if he truly believes her account of everything that transpired back in the school and he does indeed believe her (despite the pills, despite the hallucinations).  And he is right to believe her because it turns out that everything that occurred in the gym, really DID happen and we flash to that scene of ALL the dead walkers singlehandedly killed by Carol (again, impressive as hell)...and how apparently she did end up shooting that Whisperer that lead her into the gym.  After some time on the ground, we then see this shot-in-the-gut Whisperer open their eyes...and we presume reanimate.

So what’s going to happen after Alpha and the Whisperers realize that one of their own was shot and killed by Carol? She DID try firing at Alpha after all. Will they look at this as a sign of a aggression and retaliate? AGAIN? This is FAR worse than trespassing right? I can’t say what direction this will go with all that much certainty, but the one thing that I AM sure of is that Daryl will definitely continue to stay by Carol’s side...romantic or otherwise.

Rating: 4/5

The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9:00pm EST on AMC.

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