There’s a sequence in “Ghosts” where Alpha strolls up to a meeting with our heroes and pulls off her Whisperer skin mask to get down to business. The amount of swagger Samantha Morton brings to this scene shows me just how in control The Walking Dead seems to be in when considering the villain department this season. I’ve read mixed things about last week’s origin story episode, but not only did I feel it was necessary, I thought it only helped show how reignited the creatives must be in putting out the 10th season of a zombie show. “Ghosts” is more about moving the plot forward this week, but even then, the creative sparks really seem to be flying.
The episode starts with a bang. Following the border breach, the Whisperers send wave after wave of walkers to attack our heroes at Alexandria. After hour 49, Gamma arrives to explain a meet-up. This brings us to the moment Alpha steps out to say what’s what.
Several things are at play here, setting the stage for what’s to come in the rest of this episode, as well as the season. Carol dealing with repressed issues is an excellent place to start. Here’s a woman who has had some lousy character arcs in the past when considering that time she wanted to stop killing, but now has something much better to work with. The death of Henry was enough to destroy her relationship with Ezekiel, but even being at sea was not enough to make that pain go away.
Later on, while stuck in a school with Daryl, Carol begins to hallucinate. It’s the result of sleep deprivation and abusing pills. She sees a whole story of Daryl telling her about his dad. Later, Carol imagines domestic life. It’s trippy stuff, with Henry even coming back from the dead to play along with the situation. Best of all, this issue isn’t yet resolved by the episode’s end.
It’s this concentration on a character that I can dig into with The Walking Dead. It’s not like the episodes have much to ask from an audience at this point, except for them to take on some interesting introspection, in addition to the occasional zombie slaughter. Even as the ratings have more or less plateaued (yet, still remain high for cable), seeing something interesting come out of this series makes it more worthwhile.
If this also leads to Carol getting strung up and fighting for her life, creating a visceral sense of excitement, well good on the show for building up to a moment like that. This series could use more interesting character plots reliant on memories, state of mind, and other things that question the status quo. As of now, I’m here for how the Whisperers mess with what our heroes have set up if the need to shake things up is going to continue revolving around villains.
Meanwhile, we check in with a few others, including PTSD Siddiq, and the not so happy couple of Rosita and “not a boyfriend” Eugene. Both are dealing with less severe issues, with Dante doing what he can to help out Siddiq, while Rosita makes things clear enough for Eugene. The better storyline belongs to Aaron and Negan.
I’m still not sure if I enjoy super intense Aaron (who Gabriel insists is a saint), but putting him with this version of Negan was enjoyable. To assist with the waves of zombies, Negan is let out of bondage to clean up and take out stragglers. Aaron is no fan of this development and keeps watch. The two bicker, get on each other’s nerves, and eventually bond.
Sure, it’s all pretty straightforward, but having Ross Marquand and Jeffrey Dean Morgan lean into their roles in just the right way makes it all quite enjoyable, and even tense at times. For a show that’s basically had me give up on any surprise deaths, I can still appreciate having characters get close to biting it. Perhaps things will settle back in for the better, and someone like Aaron or Ezekiel will randomly bite it. The Jesus thing was a start last season, but at least we can have some fun one-off storylines for an episode like this, regardless of who survives.
Is there much else to get into? “Ghosts” works as a compelling episode playing on characters in need of rest. It’s a good step in mixing up how the survivors of this new world can deal with the threats of those who have accepted it in a much more extreme manner. Not hurting is seeing the main cast shine. More Carol and Daryl scenes tend to liven up the dialogue. The rest of the ensemble is strong enough as well. But who will figure out how to take on Alpha? Especially since they’re always watching.
- Zombie Kill of the Week: Carol strung up by one leg, while still taking out a few walkers was good stuff.
- “Is it safe?” – A little Marathon Man for my liking.
- “I don’t want to hear about the damn satellite, Eugene!” – Line of the episode.
- “Peanut Butter, meet Jelly” – Father Gabriel is done looking after Negan this week.
- Negan and Aaron going at each other about who they lost is great, tense work.
- “We are always watching.” – Alpha really had the jump on Michonne this week.
- “Re-zoned into love town.” – Eugene, get real here.
- Gamma is a strange one. This week found her just chilling with the corpses.
- Thanks for reading and feel free to hear what me and a few other fans of the show have to say about the series on The Walking Dead TV Podcast.