AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 10, Episode 5: “What Is Always Is”
Directed by Laura Belsey
Written by Eli Jorne
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Silence the Whisperers” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Bonds” – click here
Kelly’s beginning to have more troubles with her hearing out in the woods. She’s still able to do everything normally. Except that limited hearing gets her in brief trouble when a group of walkers find her, after she kills a boar. She runs to escape them, tripping and falling over a bank. She’s bleeding and sitting against a rock when another zombie lurches after her too close for comfort.
Elsewhere, Negan is on the run by himself after the torches and pitchforks came out at Alexandria. He’s found by a young guy who’s been following him a while. The guy doesn’t seem too bent on trying to take him captive, though. Over at the Hilltop, Eugene’s got a “no waste plan” to use all of the fallen tree as wood for various things. People are beginning to get restless, as well. They’re all sure the Whisperers were behind the tree’s fall, even if there’s no actual evidence of that. We see Yumiko’s having difficulties with Nadia, whose sense of isolation from her own closest friends keeps growing. Daryl and Siddiq also soon arrive for a night’s stay, out on the road looking for Negan.
And Connie notices Kelly doesn’t come back with the group she left with earlier.
In the woods, Negan’s dealing with a kind of eerie fandom. The dude who found him, Brandon, knows all about the Saviors, their whistling, and he wants to talk about the Sanctuary, as well as the “hypocrisy” of Rick Grimes. Something that’s blatantly obvious is that Negan genuinely DOES want to put the past behind him. The situation gets close to ugly when Brandon spouts off untrue rumours— though some of it nearly came true— about him and Carl, prompting him to get a little angry: “I would never kill a kid.” Negan continues to hold a soft spot for the kid, and the “We‘re both Negan” sentiment no longer makes the one-time leader as full of confidence as it did back in the day. It’s creepy how Brandon’s brought along the leather jacket, wrapped a new baseball bat in barbed wire, like he’s seducing Negan into the skin he once wore.
Among the trees, Aaron sees Gamma gutting a zombie in a river and contaminating the water. That ain’t good. In another area, Connie and Daryl are out looking for Kelly. He tells her about Merle drinking and fishing once when he fell into the lake. He had to pull his brother to safety. Merle called him a “dummy” and asked for another beer. Daryl’s so unintentionally cute that it HURTS, and his telling Connie this story, and taking her hand to tell her things will be fine, is so sweet. They come upon Nadia out there searching in the woods, too.
But no signs of Kelly.
When Brandon’s going on about hot zombies, he and Negan hear a woman’s scream nearby. She’s trapped in a bus with a handful of walkers. Negan rushes in with a faulty knife, helping the woman and her child. His younger counterpart continues the fanboy love affair— “Classic Negan!”— which is wearing the thin on the big guy. Brandon wants to take the woman’s stash, whereas Negan feels otherwise and wants to part ways. He suggests he’d tell people in Alexandria where the fugitive has gone. Negan just wants the young guy to get away from him.
Troubling things come up when Siddiq tries to helping Ezekiel out with his persistent cough. Seems that the King has pain and swelling to accompany the cough. It looks as if he’s started to suffer from thyroid cancer. Siddiq is shocked, trying to suggest different ways to manage his illness. He confides in Ezekiel about his “own condition” following what happened with the Whisperers in that barn. He tries to tell the King not to close himself off, to be open. Or else what’s the point of being together as a group?
As far as groups go, theirs is much nicer than the Whisperers. Alpha doles out some authoritarian justice when one of her people speaks up too much. They exercise democracy, the man’s plan is voted down silently, and there’s another body to be opened up and dammed in the river with the rest. And when Gamma goes back to the river, she accidentally slices her hand in a fit of frustration / flashback to her sister’s death. She gets tossed a bandage across the border by Aaron. He’s trying to make a connection, though she resists it.
Definitely a bit tougher to hate Negan when we see him with the boy, telling him about what it was like to fly on an airplane. He even mentions his wife Lucille while recounting bits and pieces of life for the kid. He goes so far as to tell the boy about “nut tapping” between young dudes, instilling some male immaturity in spite of society’s fall. Their brief bond is tender and hilarious at the same time. When Negan goes to get wood, he returns to see Brandon’s murdered the woman and her boy.
This releases the beast inside Negan. He pummels Brandon to death with a rock.
Then it’s off on the road again with that leather jacket and a new Lucille.
“It’s not your fault that God turned this world
into an ass pit before you were born.”
Connie, Nadia, and Daryl find Kelly unconscious against a tree— but alive! They need to get her somewhere close so they can look after her. This is when Nadia reveals there are all kinds of stolen goods nearby. She doesn’t fully trust the community, so she took things for their group in case of any problems. Daryl insists they bring everything back, hush hush, though he’ll be keeping an eye on Nadia.
Over the radio, Ezekiel’s being put in touch with Carol so he can tell her the truth.
But he shuts it off before she can pick up.
Back at Whisperers camp, Gamma tells Alpha about the man with “a metal arm” who gave her the bandage to close the wound. The leader removes the younger woman’s mask, telling her they, at times, must wear a “different mask” to do certain work. Will she send Gamma among the other group of survivors? Father Gore wonders if Lydia would be able to recognise the behaviour of a Whisperer. Could get quite intriguing.
And out there in the wilderness, Negan’s coming back into his own as the Big Bad Wolf: “I am gonna huff, I am gonna puff, I am gonna blow your house all the way in.” He rants while to himself while smashing zombie heads. That’s the very moment he’s attacked by Beta and another Whisperer.
God. DAMN! This is going to be one compelling confrontation.
Will Negan try to join the Whisperers? Or, is all hell going to break loose?
“Bonds” is next time.