AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 9, Episode 7: “Stradivarius”
Directed by Michael Cudlitz
Written by Vivian Tse
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Who Are You Now?” – click here
* For a recap & review of the mid-season finale, “Evolution” – click here
Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) were hearing strange whispers from the horde of walkers, and now the two are separated in the woods, hearing those voices closer. Rosita passes out eventually, but where’s Eugene? And is he okay?
Elsewhere, Carol (Melissa McBride) and Henry (Matt Lintz) meet up with Daryl (Norman Reedus), whose life has changed in 6 years. Our bike riding outlaw’s got his own camp where he stays down near the water. He doesn’t so much ride his bike anymore. He’s got a raft built, and he has a dog. Yet Daryl seems much different than he was years ago.
Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Siddiq (Avi Nash) are headed towards Hilltop. She wants to take the other survivors who recently showed up to the community. This makes Father Gore wonder, where did Maggie (Lauren Cohan) go? We’re bound to see that explanation eventually. Does her influence linger at Hilltop? Not everyone in the new group are on the same page, either. Magna (Nadia Hilker) is on edge since they lost one of their own, so the others are weary of how things will go.
Up at Hilltop, the community is thriving. Enid (Katelyn Nacon) has become a doctor in her own right, as she and Tara (Alanna Masterson) and others have taken on leadership roles over the years, obviously in the absence of Maggie. Jesus (Tom Payne) has a bigger role these days too, and he’s also getting letters from Maggie. That’s interesting. So there remains contact. All the same, Jesus doesn’t like taking over as leader, convinced it’s merely temporary.
Out hunting, Carol and Daryl catch up. She wonders why he’s stayed out there so long by himself. He passes it off, asking how everyone else is, and then he asks Carol why she came. She wants Daryl to look out for Henry while she takes care of a few things. Her old pal refuses: “He‘s gonna have to learn, just like everybody else, just like you and I did.” Seems to me Daryl has lost a lot of hope after Rick (Andrew Lincoln) went away. He probably doesn’t want to watch anybody else leave, for any reason at all.
Michonne and the others stop by where the new group were overrun by a horde before coming to Alexandria. They find remnants of their friends and their old camp, only making it more painful for Magna. In the rubble, Siddiq finds a recorder, bringing up old memories, and Luke’s (Dan Fogler) “love of the musical arts” has him searching for a musical instrument of his own. Things get dicey when Michonne refuses to let the group have their weapons. She’ll let them go to Hilltop, but only unarmed and in the escort of her men. She’s drastically become a more paranoid person over the years, refusing to let any outsiders infiltrate their group, and it’ll be curious to know what’s occurred to her over the 6 year time jump. Did something else happen to make her so aggressive?
On the trail, Jesus gets attacked by Aaron (Ross Marquand). This is their thing, to keep each other strong and on their toes. They meet to fight, train, and talk things over about the communities. These two want to bring the communities back together after so long. We discover Michonne “doesn‘t even know about Maggie,” so that’s a whole other story. Simultaneously, the lads wind up stumbling onto Rosita barely conscious, telling them she had to leave Eugene in a barn nearby.
Alone together, Daryl tells Carol he’s been stuck out there, looking for Rick. No body or parts were ever found, and so our outlaw just felt increasingly more comfortable in the wilderness, trying desperately to find his friend to provide closure for himself, as well as everybody else who needs it.
Henry goes looking for Daryl in the night, then the two of them find a ton of walkers trying to get at his dog. Daryl attempts to get the dog free and zombies grab hold of him. He insists the kid stay back, fighting the undead off himself. When one of the walkers almost falls right at Daryl he’s saved by Henry. In the trees, Carol watches her two men working together, albeit tenuously, and then slowly they begin getting closer.
NOTE: another X scar shows up on Daryl, like on Michonne— did they mark each other/themselves in remembrance of Rick?
In a building, Michonne finds Luke huddled over something. She asks him to drop it, then slices apart the Stradivarius violin the guy was searching for everywhere. Yikes. That’s one hell of a rare piece to destroy. It’s an original from 1725. Luke’s one of those people who wants to preserve art, history, and everything else. Because it’s just as important as anything else in the post-zombie landscape. Luke talks about a “40,000 year old flute” that was found to explain how ancient humans survived the neanderthals. The flute represents how people came together to build communities, find common ground, and more in order to keep on surviving. This hope perplexes Michonne, whose own sense of hope has long since disappeared. Later, Siddiq has to break the news to Michonne about Maggie having left Hilltop with her baby, but none of them have time to talk because walkers are swarming. She finally gives the new group their weapons, allowing them all a chance to get out alive. They wind up coming across the group’s old friend, now zombified, and Michonne has to help put him down while Magna and the others mourn.
On the road, they come upon some men with spears from Hilltop (one of whom is C. Thomas Howell!). The men tell Michonne about Rosita, and she passes on word they’re headed for the community. In the woods, the others begin to notice something strange for a moment, but soon that passes. Hmm. The Whisperers are surely lurking, and there’ll be more of them to come soon surely.
“This is the one thing that separates us from the animals”
Father Gore, for one, is really enjoying things with the time jump. At first it felt jarring, now it only feels more and more like what The Walking Dead needed to refresh its stale joints, and the show’s beginning to move like it did when it was young again. There are tons of interesting things happening/about to happen.
“Evolution” is next week, and it’s our mid-season finale, leaving us until 2019’s return.