Hilltop was under attack yet again in “Morning Star,” the eleventh episode of The Walking Dead Season 10. The colony is in the most precarious position from outside forces it’s been in since the Saviors engaged in biological warfare with walker-contaminated weapons back in Season 8. The Whisperers are doing their own kind of biological warfare, filling human stomachs harvested from walkers with homemade turpentine and launching them from slingshots made from intestines at Hilltop’s gates and soldiers, then following that up with flaming arrows that turned the perimeter of Hilltop into a hellish inferno. And that’s in addition to the horde of walkers Alpha (Samantha Morton) finally unleashed after threatening to do so many times. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the man responsible for the original siege, is even taking part in this one and sharing roadblock-building advice with his new friends. He’s a fully initiated Whisperer with a mask of his very own. He looks like Corey Taylor from Slipknot circa 2004. I’m not convinced his heart is truly in all this Whisperer business, though. He’s not all the way back to being the old, bad Negan. He’s working an angle, as he always is.
He proposed a plan to get the people of Hilltop to join the Whisperers, and Alpha heard him out. But at the end of the episode, she was raining death from above on her enemies.
“I thought you wanted them to join us,” he said.
“They will,” she answered. “As part of my horde.”
“Holy sh–, you are a badass,” he said.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though, as the siege of Hilltop started late in the episode. Most of the episode featured everyone at Hilltop preparing for the battle. It was a small force of fighters, and thanks to Negan’s signature tactic of cutting down trees to block the road, no reinforcements from Alexandria or Oceanside could make it. So the characters were preparing themselves for the very real possibility of death. The episode felt a lot like Game of Thrones‘ “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” the episode before the battle of Winterfell, which also found everyone quietly settling up before heading into a battle they knew not everyone would make it through. It was an episode that spent a little bit of time with a lot of characters.
Eugene (Josh McDermitt) tried to make plans to meet up with Stephanie (Margot Bingham), the voice on the radio, who he figured out was only a few hundred miles away. He told her he was in Virginia, and she was going to check with the leaders of her community to see if she could schedule a rendezvous. But then Rosita (Christian Serratos) almost blew it by arriving at Hilltop and surprising Eugene in his radio tower and responding to Stephanie, who had been assured Eugene had not told anyone about her.
Rosita later caught up with Eugene while he built an electric fence powered by a generator and told him that she could tell how into Stephanie he was and how into him she clearly was, too. Even though Stephanie wasn’t talking to him at the moment because of Rosita, she would probably forgive him. Rosita invited Eugene to kiss her, and he couldn’t do it. It was an odd moment that Rosita seemed to do in order to get Eugene to realize how much he cared about Stephanie, and it worked. It’s a big change for Eugene to not want to kiss Rosita, who he pined over for years. He went back up to the radio and sang Iron Maiden’s “When the Wild Wind Blows” over the air for Stephanie, and then told her that he didn’t know when they’d speak again. His beautiful singing convinced her to meet him, and she gave him a time and place: a rail yard in Charleston, West Virginia. Eugene has something to live for, and The Walking Dead‘s journey to the comics’ famous Commonwealth is on the horizon.
(Note: “When the Wild Wind Blows” was released in August 2010, which is probably around the time the apocalypse started in the timeline of The Walking Dead TV show. Or maybe not? The show has been intentionally vague on when exactly it’s taking place. But there have been hints, most obviously via tombstones on Fear the Walking Dead, that it started in 2010, which is also when the show premiered. Also, Eugene being a fan of the bombastically nerdy metal band Iron Maiden makes a lot of sense.)
Ezekiel (Khary Payton) went and found Carol (Melissa McBride) hiding out in the woods and moping about causing the cave collapse, and he persuaded her to come back to Hilltop with him. He revealed his cancer to her, and they made love for what might be the last time.
He also revealed his illness to Daryl (Norman Reedus). Daryl and Ezekiel have never been close, but they respect each other. They told each other as much in a nice moment before the battle. They agreed that if one of them dies, the other will make sure Hilltop’s children get out of the colony safely. I think the odds of Ezekiel surviving this battle are close to zero.
Carol, more than anyone else, was on a mission to make sure she was in an OK place with people in case she died. She and Lydia (Cassady McClincy) finally acknowledged each other’s pain about the loss of Henry (Matt Lintz), Carol’s son and Lydia’s boyfriend. They’re both isolated from others, and they’re linked by their relationships to Alpha. Carol reiterated her determination to kill Lydia’s mother, and Lydia said killing her won’t save them.
“But it’ll feel good,” Carol said. “Will you hate me then?”
“I won’t be thinking about you,” Lydia answered.
Carol also tried to make peace with Daryl. Daryl was visiting the graves of Glenn, Abraham, Jesus, and other fallen soldiers when Carol approached him. She asked him to not to hate her.
“I’m never gonna hate you,” he growled. He didn’t have anything else to say to her, but that’s all he needed. And there wasn’t any more time to talk anyway. It was time to fight.
The horde of thousands of walkers approached Hilltop, and none of the security measures like Eugene’s electric fence or the brush pile fence did anything more than slow them down a little bit. And that brush pile just became tinder when the flaming arrows started raining down.
When Hilltop’s outer wall caught fire, the fighting force was trapped between the encroaching horde and the blaze. How will they get out of this one? We may have to wait a while to find out, as next week’s episode will focus on Michonne (Danai Gurira), who is on a mission with Virgil (Kevin Carroll) to get weapons to bring back to aid in the fight.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.