Pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place about what happened on The Walking Dead. Meanwhile, a sinister threat is moving closer to the communities. Here’s our review of “Stradivarius”!
“Stradivarius” opens with Rosita running through the woods while hearing the voices of the Whisperers all around her. It’s an intensely creepy scene, and one that The Walking Dead hasn’t really played around with since the beginning of the series. I’m definitely here for this exploration of horror.
Eventually, she’s rescued by Aaron and Jesus and taken to Hilltop for treatment, but the big mystery remains: Where is Eugene? Rosita says she left him in a barn, but she doesn’t know where. At the end of the episode, a group is formed to retrieve him, but at what cost?
For this episode, we focus on relationships, trust, and moving forward with the main groups we follow.
Daryl, Carol, and Henry
Daryl has a camp with traps set up all around it to prevent walkers from getting to him. He also has a dog! Yay! They finally gave Daryl a dog. If you’ve followed the show for as long as I have, you’ll know that Norman Reedus has begged the producers for a dog for Daryl. I hope he sticks around longer than Buttons.
Carol spend a good bit of time following Daryl around as he straightens up camp, finds food for dinner, takes out a walker before she starts talking to him about how he’s living.
“You’ve been out here longer than I thought you’d be. Longer than you said you’d be.”
“Yeah, I like it. It’s quiet. How’s the King?”
“He’s having a hard time letting go. I’m taking Henry to the Hilltop. He wants to apprentice at the smithy.”
“Well, I appreciate your visit. You seem real good.”
This brings up Carol’s big favor. She wants Daryl to go with them to Hilltop.
“You want me to babysit your boy?”
Carol goes on to tell him that Henry’s an idealist, like Ezekiel, and he needs someone to keep him grounded. She can’t stay at Hilltop because the Kingdom has its own issues, and she also really wants Daryl out of the woods and back with people.
Daryl tells Carol that he’s not going to watch out for Henry, and that he’ll have to learn…just like they did. Their scenes pick up later in the evening with Daryl fixing something to eat.
“This is really nice. You cooking for us.”
“I’m sure there are cooks a Hilltop, too.”
Carol looks at Daryl the way she used to look at Ezekiel when they first met. Like he’s batshit crazy, and she doesn’t know what to do with him. While they wait for the food to cook, Carol cuts Daryl’s hair, and since he’s still, she has a heart-to-heart with him about Rick.
“Look, I know you think I’m still looking for him.”
“I never found a body. Ever. After a while, it just got easier to stay out here.”
“You have to let that go.”
They all start eating, and Henry asks about Daryl’s scar. He ignores him and starts hollering for his dog because his food is getting cold. This is precious.
While Carol is asleep, Henry sneaks out to follow Daryl who is still looking for Dog. Together they find Daryl’s companion, but he’s been caught in the snares Daryl set and walkers are surrounding him. Daryl goes in without any weapons to save his dog, and gets pulled down by walkers.
Thankfully his plot armor saves him and then Henry is able to prevent a walker from falling on both him and Dog. They walk away and we see that Carol has been watching the whole time. She needed them to have a moment like this so Daryl will want to help Henry.
After they get back to camp, we see that Daryl has the same scar as Michonne on his back. He goes to sit by Henry and talks about the dog and the traps. They’re not meant for animals, and Daryl shows so much character development here when he thanks Henry for saving him. Then he points out the increase in walker activity.
You know, the traps They’re not for animals. That’s no way to die, slow and painful like that. I just want to keep the walkers out, but there seems to be more and more of ’em lately.
There is certainly an uptick in walkers, but I think they’re about to find out the horrible truth soon.
After a brief silence, Henry tells Daryl that Carol has told him that Daryl is her best friend and that he’s always had her back. Daryl tells him that Carol knows where to find him, and Henry tells him that she shouldn’t have to. Finally, Daryl asks Henry if he really wants him looking over his shoulder all the time, and Henry tells him that that’s not all he’d be doing.
In the morning, Daryl uncovers his bike and gets all his stuff together to leave with Carol and Henry. Carol pretends to be surprised when he tells her that he’s coming with them. It’s adorable.
They all get to Hilltop, and Aaron tells Daryl about Rosita and Eugene. Carol tells Henry he can’t go and must get settled first. So that leaves Jesus, Aaron, Daryl, and Dog to head out and find Eugene. This is epic fan pandering, and I am here for it.
Michonne, Saddiq, and the New Group
They’re on their way to find the new group’s previous camp before they go to Hilltop, but when they get there, everything has been torn apart. There are walkers trapped under a cargo container, too. The new group kills them, and Magna goes and finds Bernie’s things. She was particularly close with him.
Miko tells her to take something of his from the campsite to remember him by, but Magna doesn’t listen to her. She’s too emotional for that.
This new group begins to gather their old weapons and Michonne tells them that they can’t have them. She instructs DJ to take them up, and lets the new group know that she’s not letting them into Hilltop armed when she doesn’t even know them. Michonne tells them that DJ and Saddiq will be taking them the rest of the way to Hilltop.
They really don’t like that. First, she takes their weapons and then she isn’t going to escort them the rest of the way? For the audience, it shows us just how deep the fractures are between the communities. Michonne won’t even step foot into Hilltop after what has happened.
I understand that Michonne has trust issues that probably stem from something that happened at Hilltop, but hopefully we’ll see that story play out soon so we don’t become too frustrated with her. It’s so hard for an audience to empathize with her decisions since we don’t know why she’s behaving that way, and sometimes The Walking Dead is so slow to roll out the storyline that we forget why we loved that character to start with.
That night, Michonne finds Luke going through all their supplies while the others sleep. She tells him to drop what he’s holding, but he tells her he can’t and when he starts to turn, she chops what’s in his hands. It turns out that it’s a priceless Stradivarius violin, and he’s crushed.
Michonne tries to apologize, but Luke isn’t having it. When Saddiq questions why they’ve been traveling with all these instruments, and Luke explains:
“Look, for a very long time, historians and archeologists have wondered how did ancient humans survive the Neanderthals? Okay? How did we defeat them when they were bigger and they were smarter and they were stronger, faster? They had better tools than us so why are we still here and they’re not? And then they found a cave.”
“And in that cave, they found a 40,000-year-old flute.”
“Yes. A flute. Yeah. And then they realized that maybe ancient humans didn’t defeat Neanderthal. Not in the way that we think of the word “defeat,” okay? They came together as an answer to defeat. They sat around a campfire. They shared their stories with each other in the form of music. And paintings. And they created a a common identity. And then they, you know, they they built communities, and they grew. And then, as they grew, Neanderthal retreated, and then, after a while, they just died out. So this, yeah. This. This is the one thing that separates us from the animals. For better or for worse, it brings us together, and if we’re trying to rebuild something, you can’t ignore that.”
“After everything you’ve seen and done, you still believe that’s all it’ll take?”
“Yeah. It’s survival of the fittest. Sharing with each other that’s part of what makes us stronger.”
This is a fantastic monologue for Luke because it applies to them moving forward with civilization, but it’s also a veiled nod to The Whisperers coming. Them being the Neanderthals and our communities being humans.
The next morning, Michonne is set to go back to Alexandria while Saddiq and DJ will go to Hilltop. Saddiq tries to talk her into going with them, but Michonne tells him:
“I can’t take the risk. I don’t know what she’ll do if she sees me.”
What in the hell happened between Maggie and Michonne?! I mean, this sounds damn serious. That’s when Saddiq drops the bomb, Maggie left Hilltop with Hershel a few months ago, but before she can get more information, walkers descend on them.
In all this, Bernie, the friend they lost comes by as a walker with his ugly paisley shirt. Instead of slicing him straight through, Michonne kills him easily and lays him on the ground.
While they’re on the way to Hilltop, Michonne tells them that she knows what it’s like to carry the burden of guilt when something happens to your family, and again, I need to know what happened here. When they get to the driveway leading to Hilltop, Michonne stops and says it’s as far as she goes.
Saddiq apologizes to Michonne for not telling her sooner about Maggie and tells her this means she can come with them to Hilltop.
“I kept my promise to Judith.”
“What about Carl? What about your promise to him.”
“It’s not that simple.”
Riders from Hilltop come and tell them that Rosita has been injured. Michonne tells them to continue on to Alexandria and tell them that Michonne is going to Hilltop and everyone is safe. Before they can move forward, Connie stops everyone because she thinks she sees something in the woods. After a few seconds, she tells everyone that it was nothing and they move on.
Good lord, the Whisperers are about to descend on Hilltop with everyone there, and I can’t with this stress.
The Hilltop (featuring Jesus and Aaron)
Everything is going really well there. Enid is the doctor. Tara seems to be in charge of a lot of the operations, and Jesus in the reluctant leader. Maggie left the previous fall to go to one of Georgie’s communities that she’s building. We know she’s far away, and whatever everyone is hinting at is what drove her to this point.
Later, after a sparring session away from either community, Aaron and Jesus talk about the fair that Ezekiel is having and bringing the communities together again for it.
“We have to come together.”
I feel like this is very important because if the Whisperers attack the communities individually, they’ll lose, but like Rick always believed, they’re stronger together. They need to find that again.
During their conversation, they see a flair go up a little way away. When they follow it, they find Rosita. Before they can ask her too many questions about Eugene and his whereabouts, they see walkers coming. Since it’s going to be dark soon, they’re going to take her to Hilltop.
After they arrive, Tara asks what he was doing out there with Aaron. He explains he’s been trying to keep lines of communication open between the ASZ and Hilltop. He doesn’t want to be the leader here, but Tara tells him that he is, and he needs to come to terms with it. Maggie isn’t coming back, and him taking over isn’t short term.
Finally, Tara tells Jesus that she’s going to look for Eugene tomorrow, and that he needs to stay there and take care of the community.
This changes, though, because the next morning, Jesus tells Tara that he knows around the area where Eugene was left so it makes more sense for him to go. He leaves Tara in charge of the community while he goes on a mission with Daryl and Aaron.
Next week, we’ll truly learn what the Whisperers are about, and it’s truly terrifying. We’ve seen a lot of “bad” guys on the show, but this group takes that to the next level with their wearing walker skins and milling around.
Tell us your thoughts about “Stradivarius” and let us know your predictions for the mid-season finale! Anyone have any theories about where Oceanside is?