FoCC Review: TWD 907 – Stradivarius

by Transmute Jun

Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 9, Episode 7.

A lot has changed in 6 years. Judith is old enough to save people from a herd of walkers. Henry is old enough to be interested in Enid (although she’s still too old for him). Enid has become a full-fledged doctor. Jesus is feeling his age as he tends to the leadership of Hilltop, because Maggie has taken Herschel and gone off to live with Georgie. And Daryl has secreted himself in the woods like a hermit. Yet all of these things happened for a reason.

In Daryl’s case, it wasn’t that he wanted to separate himself from people (although granted, that could easily be part of it). He is haunted by the fact that Rick’s body was never found, and has been looking for his friend. He told Carol that at some point, ‘it just became easier not to go back’. Given that Daryl was never really the ‘settling down’ type to begin with, this makes sense. Yet he is enough of a social person to want to make connections, so it’s easy enough to see why he has bonded with Dog. Yes, Daryl is so creative that he has named his dog, Dog. Yet that may not be a sign of lack of imagination, but of reluctance to create an emotional connection. Since everyone Daryl cares for seems to die (Carol excepted), he may be unconsciously willing to name the dog, feeling that he’s just going to lose it anyway. I’m not entirely certain that Daryl’s character is that deep, but I’m sure that Mlgagne from the FoCC Blog staff would disagree with me. Another interesting fact about Dog: apparently he regularly tears into walkers and holds dismembered walker parts in his mouth, and doesn’t get sick. Hmmm…

Regardless, it’s clear that Carol and Daryl still have a deep connection. I know that the ‘shippers were excited to see the two interact in this episode, but it seems to me that their relationship isn’t sexual in any way. If anything, Carol seems to be mothering Daryl a bit, watching over him and even cutting his hair. Speaking of which, ew. Just yuck. Hasn’t anyone ever told either of them that before you cut someone’s hair, it has to be clean? Daryl’s hair is a mess of grease and goodness knows what else from living in the forest without properly washing. It looks like he hasn’t changed his clothes in those 6 years either. Ugh. But Daryl did take off his shirt long enough to reveal that he has the same kinds of scars as Michonne, and more of them. Unshockingly, he didn’t want to talk about it when Henry asked about them.

Carol came to Daryl because she wanted him to watch over Henry at Hilltop. But as the episode played out, it seemed that there was more to it. Carol also wants Henry to watch out for Daryl. Henry is idealistic and good-hearted. He’s the kind of person who might bring out better qualities in Daryl, drawing him back into the fold of ‘civilization’.

A little more was also revealed about whatever happened in the 6 time-jumped years to close off the Alexandrians. We know that Michonne has been uncomfortable going to Alexandria, and we learned that it was because she didn’t want to run into Maggie. Clearly, there was some big showdown between them. I don’t think this has to do with Negan, since that was settled 6 years ago, when Maggie realized that Negan was suffering far more being alive and left him that way. Michonne didn’t know that Maggie had left to live with Georgie; perhaps Maggie’s departure was because she didn’t want to run into Michonne. Aaron has to sneak out of Alexandria to meet Jesus, because Michonne would be angry if she knew he was in contact with the Hilltop.

Speaking of Aaron and Jesus, are they together? That whole scene just reeked of a ‘secret rendezvous’, complete with an Inspector Clouseau and Cato fight. And in the comics, there is eventually something between them. Regardless, I’m glad to see that Aaron is still active in the storyline, and that metal arm is far more badass than the one Merle had.

Another interesting point: if Maggie is with Georgie, and if (purely speculation) Georgie’s people are the helicopter people, does that mean that Rick and Maggie are in the same community? Hmmm… I foresee a lot of dramatic plot development in a season or two.

Magna’s group are still not settled, although it seems as if Michonne is pushing at her comfort boundaries in order to help them (while still not crossing the line of taking new people into the Alexandria community). We learned a bit more about Luke, and his love for musical instruments. There was also a bit of a musical theme this episode with Jesus listening to Georgie’s records, and Sayid waxing fondly about his old flute. (Or was it a recorder?) Music is a cultural thing, something that helps bond people, but it would disappear in times of complete societal breakdown, such as what has happened with the zombie apocalypse. Its reemergence now is another sign that things are coming back around, and that civilization is rebuilding.

Yet the Whisperers stole the show for me. That creepy Blair-Witch-esque sequence with Rosita at the beginning of the show was an immediate attention-grabber, and it is clear that this is a significant threat. Rosita was terrified enough to use a flare to signal her location, even knowing that it would also attract the walkers. While not truly understanding what was going on, Jesus and Aaron were scared enough to leave Eugene behind, rather than trying to go rescue him right then. Magna’s group’s ravaged campsite may easily be the work of the Whisperers, and only added to the creepy factor. Based on the previews, it looks like this storyline will ramp up just in time for next week’s midseason finale.

As always, there was an unintentional moment of humor in this episode. There were more placid horses, barely acknowledging the approaching herd while Michonne’s and Magna’s groups were fighting for their lives. Yet what really had me laughing was the appearance of the ill-fated Bernie. I know, it was supposed to be an emotional moment, but all I could think of was a TWD-style remake of the film Weekend At Bernie’s. That shirt would fit right in.

For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, this episode’s No Man’s Land seasonal mission shows Daryl and Carol clearing out walkers from traps in the woods. Daryl even calls out for Dog. Our World is highlighting Tara this week, with special infestations, each giving Tara cards. Additionally, Tara has a new upgrade ability and has increased attack speed all week.

Do you watch The Walking Dead? Join the conversation on the FoCC forums!

Transmute Jun

Transmute Jun has an addiction to pop culture conventions, and attends as many as she can each year. When she's not traveling, she likes to stay at home reading a good book, playing a video game, or binge-watching a TV show. She can be bribed with pizza, Coke Zero and Belgian milk chocolate.