“It’s the story of America, the story of the whole goddamn world, and ain’t nothing changing it.”
Let’s not beat around the bush, when you get to your tenth season you’ve got to start mixing things up to avoid the whole thing going stale. And you can’t claim that The Walking Dead hasn’t shaken things up. This episode sees Carol suffering from sleep deprivation and a great turn towards the good side for Negan. Both bold choices, but it makes Ghosts one excellent episode.
The episode begins with Alexandria being hit by barrage after barrage of walkers. It’s wearing out the town’s inhabitants – they can’t sleep, they can’t even relax. My initial thinking was, what a great plan by Alpha. She’s slowly hitting them with wave after wave of walkers, it’s a war of zombie attrition. But Lydia makes it clear that this is not her mum’s style – she’d drop the bomb, not wear them down. Which leads you to ask – why is this happening? Eugene claims that it could be because of the satellite, but we’ll see if there’s any truth to that over the coming weeks.
Alpha appears after a while and makes and offer; come and meet with us on the border she says. The guys go along for the meeting, but Carol isn’t doing too well. She’s not been sleeping, and she’s been knocking back some pretty suspect pills to stay awake. In fact, the whole episode is a pretty good warning against the dangers of sleep deprivation. After the death of another child, she’s been pushed to the ragged edge. As a result, and after a bit of goading, she takes pot-shot at Alpha. It’s the Carol we all love, whipping out a gun and doing the things that no one else wants to do. But it’s not that world anyone, that’s not how they settle their disputes anymore. They have to respect the boundaries, however tricky that is to swallow.
Carol’s story gets crazier as the episode goes on. After taking a shot at some Whisperers in the woods (that crucially only she saw), her, Daryl and Michonne end up in an abandoned school. Here, all manner of weirdness abounds. Carol finds a book with herself on the cover, flanked by the many, many children she has lost along the way. It’s creepy and really well done, and it reminds you that Carol has been on one hell of a journey in this show and needs to stick around. She also has a conversation with Daryl that seems a bit on the nose, a bit cliche perhaps. His dad was a truck driver and he had visions. But turns out – this whole thing was a vision! From that point on, you’re left wondering what Carol is seeing and what she’s imagining. Did she see Whisperers at all? Were they there again in the school? Judging by the close of this episode, she saw more than we first thought.
On the other side of the episode is Aaron. He is off to clear walkers before they reach the gates and become an even larger problem. The only person left at to accompany him is Negan. Less exhausted that the Alexandrians due to being kept off the frontlines, Negan and Aaron have a very interesting trip outside the walls. The show is clearly trying to get Negan in our good graces. He’s the only one who can help them deal with the Whisperers, but many don’t trust him (obviously). He’s already shown himself to be a decent human being since the time skip, what with him saving Judith in the storm, and the powers that be more or less get Negan fully on the side of good by the end of Ghosts. He has the chance to run away, he could dispatch Aaron easily in his weakened state (thanks to some pretty nasty zombie flora) – but he doesn’t. This isn’t an act and I’ve been saying it for ages now. He’s invested in this community and the sooner they let him in the inner circle, the sooner he can start helping out. His way was not right, but his thinking could be the push they need to defeat Alpha and her flock.
Overall, it’s a splendid episode of television and one that reminds me that The Walking Dead has still got it. It’s not just “almost as good as it once was”, it’s one of the best shows on television. Period. It’s just a shame that, in many people’s eyes, it burned far too many bridges on route to reclaim that title.