By Contributing Writer, Lady Cocotte
As we near the season finale of The Walking Dead, tension is ramping up. The Alexandrians survived their attack on the Saviors. Carol and Maggie fought their way back home. Things have gone back to normal. People are back to their daily grind. Olivia open the supply shed. Father Gabriel walks through town with a gun slung over his back. Eugene takes his position at guard watch. Morgan does his stick exercises. Carol plays with her rosary as she smokes on her porch swing. The image blurs.
Olivia open the supply shed. Father Gabriel walks through town with a gun slung over his back. Eugene takes his position at guard watch. Morgan does his stick exercises. Tobin kisses Carol goodbye as she smokes on her porch swing. Rosita gets out of bed and dresses. She’s upset with herself. We see why when Spencer rolls over. She’s not the first girl to beat herself up about rebound sex (and she won’t be the last). Daryl checks out his newly recovered motorcycle. He’s bitter. Carol joins him. They smoke and talk. Carol asks if he saved the people who subsequently stole his bike. “I should have killed them.” Carol doesn’t want to hear that. She gets up to leave but Daryl stops her. He can tell something’s not right. He asks what her captors did to her and Maggie. “To us? They didn’t do anything…” The image blurs.
The supply shed opens but we don’t see Olivia. We see the spot where Father Gabriel usually walks but we don’t see him. We see the stone walls of the jail Morgan built but no Morgan. We see Carol’s porch swing but no Carol.
Spencer chases after Rosita. He wants to cook dinner for her but she refuses to acknowledge the offer. “What are we doing?” He finally asks. “Just tell me. It’s good either way. It really is.” She grudgingly agrees to dinner just to get out of talking. Rosita is not handling Abraham’s rejection well. Spencer grins. He’s happy to get what he can. Rosita turns to find Dr Denise standing there. “I didn’t hear you guys,” she explains awkwardly. Rosita could care less. She’s just there to give fighting lessons.
But Dr Denise has another idea. When she first drove to Alexandria she passed a strip mall with an apothecary shop. She wants Rosita and Daryl to take her there to see if there are any drugs for her hospital. Daryl says he and Rosita can handle it but Dr Denise insists she go with them. “I wanted to check. I just wanted to help.” Daryl questions her experience outside the walls. She admits it’s limited but she feels ready. Daryl asks Rosita what she thinks. “I’m not babysitting her by myself.” So they head out together: lions and tigers and bears, oh my. They’re forced to walk by a tree across the road. Dr Denise suggests they walk along the train tracks but Daryl won’t do it. “Nah. No tracks. We’ll take the road.” Daryl hasn’t had good luck following train tracks. Rosita points out it’s twice as far on the road but Daryl won’t budge. Dr Denise follows Daryl but Rosita is feeling stubborn so she takes the tracks alone.
Abraham and Eugene are on their own journey. They discuss Eugene pulling his mullet back into a ponytail. “I won’t lie. I liked it,” Eugene admits. “I may very well miss it. The feeling of the dillowy curtain catching the breeze some days is straight up bliss. But brass tacks: the hair doesn’t make the man. The man makes the man.” Abraham lists the changes Eugene has made recently: guard duty, weapons training, changing up the hairstyle, swigging some swagger with the ladies, spitting game… He wants to know why. Eugene explains that in any RPG (role playing game) the key to survival is to adapt. “I’m saying I’m in the process of getting to stage two. I’ve changed. Adapted. I’m a survivor.” Abraham gives him a long, hard look and recommends he keep telling himself that. Eugene takes it literally and does.
They arrive at their destination (what looks like an abandoned workshop) and Abraham asks “You about ready to spill the pintos on what the hell we’re doing here?” Eugene gets right to the point: “We’re gonna manufacture bullets here.” Brilliant idea! This is why they keep Eugene around. He goes on to suggest that with everyone’s armories emptying, bullets will become the new world currency. If the Alexandrians can make bullets, not only will they always be able to protect themselves but they’ll also have something to barter. Abraham is intrigued. “That my friend is some damn fine genuine outside the box thinking! Where do we start?”
They’re interrupted by a walker. Abraham starts for it but Eugene calls dibs. Literally. As he explains, “Dibs is dibs.” He strikes the walker across the head with his machete but it just bounces off. The walker died in a metal shop accident and it’s skull is covered in an unintentional metal helmet. Abraham calls strike one. Eugene slams the walker against the wall. Abraham calls strike two. Eugene is struggling. He tries to reach a piece of rebar but it’s just too far. Abraham can’t watch any longer so he kills the walker. Eugene is pissed. “I called dibs!” He thinks he had the situation under control but Abraham just laughs at him. “You’d of had better luck picking up a turd by it’s clean end.” Eugene wants an apology for that. Instead, they start arguing over whether Eugene still needs protection. Finally Eugene explodes.“The truth, plain and honest, you’ve outlived your usefulness to me.” Abraham can’t believe what he’s hearing. As he stomps away, he tells Eugene, “Find your own way back, asshole.” The bromance is over.
Daryl, Rosita and Dr Denise finally arrive at the apothecary shop. They don’t allow Dr Denise to help clear walkers or bag the drugs. She’s sick of being treated as incompetent but no one cares. They hear a walker but it’s stuck in another room so they don’t worry. Since Dr Denise has nothing to do she decides to investigate. It’s in a darkened room room full of rotting boxes. There’s a playpen but no baby. In the corner she finds the walker, starving but crippled by a cast on it’s leg. On the walls someone has written: hush, hush, hush, hush. There’s a full sink full of water with a baby’s foot sticking out. I guess it wouldn’t hush. Dr Denise freaks and runs out, crashing into a display. Daryl and Rosita are pissed that she risked going into the room alone. She waits outside until they’re done, clutching a Dennis keychain she found. She tries to hide her tears from Daryl and Rosita but her emotions actually pierce their icy shells. “You did good finding this place,” Daryl comforts her.
As they head home, Daryl asks Dr Denise about her brother. They were twins named Dennis and Denise. “Nothing scared him. He was brave. He was angry, too. Kind of a dangerous combination.” “Sounds like we had the same brother,” Daryl confides. When they get to the train tracks, Daryl is the one who suggests they take the short cut. Along the way Dr Denise spots a cooler in a car. There’s also a walker in there. Daryl and Rosita say it’s not worth the risk. Dr Denise is on her own journey so she decides to get the cooler. The walker is harder to kill than she thought. Daryl and Rosita run over to save her but she needs to do it herself. Daryl and Rosita are pissed. “You could have died right there!” Dr Denise doesn’t care anymore. “Who gives a shit? You could have died killing those Saviors. Both of you. But you didn’t. You wanna live, you take chances. That’s how it works.” Rosita isn’t buying what she’s selling. “Are you really that stupid?” Dr Denise is worked up now. “Do you have any clue what that was to me? What this whole thing is to me?” She demands. She turns to Daryl. “I asked you to come with me because you’re brave like my brother and sometimes you actually make me feel safe.” Now it’s Rosita’s turn. “And I wanted you here because you’re alone. Probably for the first time in your life. And because you’re stronger than you think you are. Which gives me hope that maybe I can be too.” She admits that the reason she didn’t go with Tara, or tell her she loved her, was because she was scared. “And it makes me sick that you guys aren’t even trying because you’re strong and you’re smart and you’re both really good people and if you don’t wake…” She’s cut off by an arrow through her eye.
As Dr Denise falls, Daryl and Rosita grab their guns. But it’s too late. A group of ten armed men surge out of the woods, pulling along a captured Eugene. This is not good. As Daryl and Rosita lower their guns, Daryl sees that the leader is Dwight, the guy who stole his motorcycle and crossbow. He has a new burn scar on his face but it’s definitely him. “You have something to say to me?” Dwight calls out. Rosita looks confused. Daryl tells Dwight he should have killed him. Dwight agrees. “It kind of begs the question, right? Who brought this on who?” Eugene notices Abraham hiding behind some barrels, watching. Dwight goes on to explain his plan: Daryl and Rosita are going to let him and his men into Alexandria and let them take whatever (and whoever) they want. Otherwise, he’s going to kill Eugene, then Rosita and finally Daryl. “I hope it doesn’t come to that. Really. Nobody else has to die. We just try and start with one. You know, maximum impact to get our point across.” Eugene is whimpering. He interjects, “You wanna kill someone? Start with our companion hiding over there behind the oil barrels.” Eugene! What are you doing? “He’s a first class a-hole and he deserves it so much more than us three.” Daryl and Rosita are stunned. They can’t believe Eugene’s cowardice. Everyone turns their attention to the oil barrels, including Dwight. Eugene waits for the perfect moment and then bites down hard on Dwight’s penis! Abraham starts shooting. In the chaos that ensues, Daryl and Rosita disarm their captors and join in. Everyone is shooting but Eugene won’t let go. He’s like a rottweiler! Walkers are attracted by the noise. Dwight forcefully pulls Eugene off and runs. His remaining crew follows. Daryl grabs his crossbow and starts to chase them but Rosita calls him back. Eugene has been shot and they need to get him home.
Eugene is unconscious in the hospital. Abraham comes to check on him. Rosita explains that the antibiotics that Dr Denise had them get from the apothecary saved him. And then Eugene wakes up. He tells Abraham, “I was not trying to kill you. I was looking for a moment.” Abraham assures him he found it. Eugene still wants an apology. “I apologize for questioning your skills. You know how to bite a dick, Eugene. I mean that with the utmost respect. Welcome to stage two.” After working things out with his bromance, Abraham runs to Sasha’s house. He reminds her that she told him he had choices. Well, she has choices too. “It could be 30 years for us here. That’s still too short.” They stare at each other and we get to see Sasha slowly let her guard down. She’s ready to love again. “Come inside…”
Daryl and Carol bury Dr Denise. Carol watches Daryl work through his pain. “You were right,” she tells him. “I knew it when you said it.” And then we hear Carol’s note to Tobin: “I wish it didn’t have to end this way. It was never my intention to hurt you. But it’s how it has to be. We have so much here (people, food, medicine, walls). Everything we need to live. But what we have, other people want too. That will never change. If we survive this threat and it’s not over, another will be back to take it’s place, to take what we have. I love you all here. I do. And I’d have to kill for you. And I can’t. I won’t. Rick sent me away and I wasn’t ever going to come back but something happened and I wound up staying. But I can’t anymore. I can’t love anyone because I can’t kill for anyone. So I’m going like I always should have. Don’t come after me, please.” Sob!
Next week: Tobin gives Rick Carol’s note. Rick kicks into action. Daryl just acts. He heads out alone, without a plan. And no one can stop him. “No one else leaves,” Rick decrees. “Everyone stays ready for a fight!”