It began at six in the morning. The first wave.
Routine scouting around Alexandria uncovered a herd of walkers making their way towards the community. The dead were dealt with, but another herd came shortly after. Then another, then another, then another like clockwork. Some came from the north, some came from the south. No one can sleep, not with the constant dread of the constant dead bombarding their gates.
It’s a great plan. Send herd after herd to chip away at their stamina and sanity. Only this isn’t Alpha’s doing. At least, not that she’s copping to. Gamma soon arrives at Alexandria. She claims the walkers are “not us” and demands Michonne and her fellow leaders meet with Alpha at night at their northern border, at the site where it happened. At a council meeting with the community that same day, tensions are high and paranoia is spreading like a virus. Eyes are on Lydia, though she says these walker waves don’t feel like Alpha’s doing. She has an entire herd and would’ve directed the whole thing their way if she wanted to, not in smaller droves. The Highway Men have come to air their grievances, too. They want vengeance for their slaughtered friends, but Michonne is trying to think logically, even though everyone’s lack of sleep has them all on edge. With no plan to combat that herd, they have to go meet Alpha and hear her out.
With more walkers continuing to hit Alexandria, they split off into groups. Aaron and (with such few fighters at his disposal) Negan go off to the thin out the herd coming from the south, Gabriel stays to deal with the herd from the north, and Michonne takes Daryl, Carol, and a few other forces to meet with Alpha.
When Alpha arrives, it seems like she’s ready to inflict punishment on Alexandria for crossing into their land. She also knows they crossed over twice before the fire, but claims to understand the context of why they did so. Instead of bloodshed, she says she’ll take reparations in land. The Whisperers are now expanding their borders, thereby cutting off Alexandria’s hunting grounds. Carol, powered by the pills she’s been popping to avoid sleep, rebels at this “bulls—” and almost kills Alpha with a gun she hid in her back pants when the memory of Henry is brought up to taunt her. Michonne is able to ease things over, but Carol becomes even more unhinged.
Heading back through the woods, Carol claims to have seen three Whisperers in the night and the group goes out in pursuit, even though there’s no trace of anyone having followed them. Reality and sleep deprivation blend together as the group makes its way to an abandoned school. Carol continues taking the pills to take the first watch, but she hallucinates an entire conversation with Daryl and later hears Henry’s voice call out to her on patrol. She sees a shadow on the wall and follows it to the gymnasium, where she steps into a trap and is suspended upside in the air. A Whisperer arrives and brings walkers to come and eat Carol. She fires her gun, but it doesn’t seem to do anything. With her knife, she’s able to cut herself free and kill the walkers, but the landing lodges a piece of glass into her leg. By the time the others arrive, it’s unclear what happened. Was it another hallucination? Did she just fall on a piece of glass on her own?
Aaron, too, has a problem seeing things clearly. He constantly quarrels with Negan, who, admittedly, isn’t doing anything to help his cause. He wants to help, but Aaron is all rage. His physical form has altered to match this internal, more aggressive shift. His beard is more grisly, his metal hand has been replaced with a spiked mace, and blood splatters from his kills paint his face. During their squabble, a walker covered in what Negan later identifies as hogweed attacks, leaving Aaron temporarily blinded. Negan flees and Aaron hurries after him. As night falls, he finds an empty cabin where he believes Negan went to, but his poor sight forces him to stumble about. The commotion draws in two walkers and Negan intervenes. Now, Aaron is forced to rely on the man who killed Eric for help. In the morning, Negan asks, “Can you see me?” After a night’s rest, the first time Aaron’s slept in some time, he finally can.
The same for Carol. The others bring her back to Alexandria for treatment and though Siddiq still suffers from PTSD, the new medic Dante steps in to handle her wounds. Siddiq later shares a drink with Dante, who reveals he was an Iraq war medic in the U.S. army who dealt with PTSD. By morning, everyone has more clarity. Michonne doesn’t necessarily believe Carol really saw Whisperers in the woods, but Daryl stands by her.
As it happens, Carol was right. The final scenes reveal the Whisperer shot by Carol in the gymnasium leaving behind a trail of blood before collapsing in the woods. But she’s not dead, at least not for now. If Alpha was willing to claim land instead of dolling out physical punishment, one might assume she’ll be more aggressive with one of her own shot.
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