REVIEW: The Walking Dead, S10 Ep5 – What It Always Is

The Walking Dead 10.5Negan goes on an interesting journey in this week’s episode of The Walking Dead while Gamma becomes more involved, Ezekiel receives some bad news, and Kelly has a scare. Another busy episode which may have given more screen time to minor characters than the leads.

We spend quite a lot of time with relatively new characters, Kelly, Connie, Magna, and Yumiko, who joined The Walking Dead last season. Kelly’s hearing is failing and she almost gets attacked. This worries her sister, Connie, who has bonded quite a bit with Daryl this season and they share some chemistry. Magna has been hoarding supplies but to avoid conflict, Daryl agrees not to report this. Magna reveals to Yumiko that the former was, in fact, guilty of the crime the latter had defended her for. 

The Walking Dead 10.5This is also just information about what this group has been up to because, at the end of the day, they aren’t really characters we care about on The Walking Dead. Sure, Daryl and Connie look cute together and have bonded significantly in the short time that they’ve known each other. But that can’t really compare with longer established relationships such as that between Daryl and Carol. It’s understandable that, with the departure (Rick) or disappearance (Maggie) of major characters (and even the impending departure of Michonne), The Walking Dead has been trying to develop the newer, supporting cast. However, with the years invested in the lives of Rick, Michonne, Daryl, Carol, Maggie, and the others can never be compensated by more screen time spent with newer characters.

Ezekiel really isn’t having a great time these days, between losing people he loves, losing his kingdom, and as Siddiq discovered, having thyroid cancer. This situation brings up an interesting aspect of The Walking Dead world and the importance of modern medicine. Diseases that could have easily been cured are now death sentences and that is something worth thinking about. For all the progress the characters have made to build a functioning society in the midst of the apocalypse, they will still never be able to replicate the advancements of science in the last decades. 

On the Whisperer front, Aaron catches Gamma poisoning water with walker blood. Aaron being Aaron, he reaches out to her and tries to make a connection. Knowing how ruthless Gamma is, the audience naturally doesn’t trust her and fears for Aaron. Alpha herself advises the girl to continue bonding with Aaron, something that will prove very problematic later on.

Negan had the most interesting arc in this episode because there was finally some confirmation that he had actually been reformed by his time imprisoned in Alexandria. Negan’s unpredictability and ambiguous allegiance have always been an intriguing source of tension on The Walking Dead but the redemption of his character feels earned because he has endured quite a significant amount of hardship recently and he has had a lot of time to reflect on what he was before.

The Walking Dead 10.5But even Negan cannot escape his past and his sordid legacy continues in the form of a crazy fan, Brandon, who helped him escape and who seems determined to bring back the glory days of the Savior. Brandon is way too stupid to realize that his idol actually does not want anything to do with the past anymore. Negan actually seems disturbed by Brandon’s obsession with him and by extension, disturbed by what his former self has somehow managed to inspire in others. There’s a sense of real remorse in the former murderous leader, and one actually wants to root for him, especially after he bonds with another child that they meet on the road.

Sadly, Brandon’s fanaticism goes too far and he misinterprets Negan’s rejection of him as a sort of depraved test. He murders two innocents, provoking Negan to murder him. And then, it gets even more interesting because Negan seems to reluctantly accept that since people will always see him as the villain, he ought to just embrace his own legacy. He wears his jacket and takes a new Lucille in hand. But he decides to go to the Whisperers. 

While he has more than enough motive for revenge against the communities who had incarcerated him for years, Negan has also never shown any sympathy to the cause of the Whisperers. He is probably as disgusted by them as everyone else. So, despite how this looks, there is still some intriguing ambiguity to Negan’s choices and that is something worth watching out for in the next episodes.