The Walking Dead shambles back to AMC this Sunday, the second half of its 10th season picking up with our heroes facing imminent destruction in the bowels of a walker-infested cave. Today, as a preview of premiere, the network has shared an appetite-whetting look at the season’s opening moments.
It’s genuinely pretty freaky, the way the flashlight beams slowly reveal the mass of walkers grasping at Carol (Melissa McBride) and the rest of the gang. Alpha (Samantha Morton), meanwhile, looks suitably ominous in the gauze of her own firelight, so much so that Carol that can only offer a piercing scream in defense. “Make sure they don’t get out,” she informs her Whisperers, who, sadly, will somehow fuck this up. We don’t have a season, otherwise, kids.
Our own Alex McLevy hoped for “bolder choices in 2020" in his review of last year’s mid-season finale:
The first half of season 10 of The Walking Dead has been uneven at best, an attempt to skate by on the intensity generated by Samantha Morton’s Alpha and the threat of the Whisperers, while mostly sticking to rehashed soapy dramatics among its sprawling central cast. Some good ideas involving Lydia and Negan were surrounded by some protracted disagreements among key pairs, like Rosita and Eugene, or Daryl and Carol, which even when delivering otherwise engaging sequences sometimes fell short thanks to wobbly directing. Michonne was sidelined for a distressing amount of the time, and thanks to a bloated roster combined with the far-flung locales of the various communities, no one was ever in the same place at the same time for very long, meaning it’s been structured even more like a soap opera than usual. The Whisperers make for a solid Big Bad, but it might be time for a sharp left turn, narratively and creatively speaking. Otherwise the show has a tendency to turn into the very thing critics caricature it as: A lumbering corpse, running on the fumes of fumes of the same old stories—and if those two metaphors don’t really fit together, well, neither do the various tones struck by the show over the past couple of months.
At the end of the first half of Walking Dead season 10, we’ve got one major character shipping off to distant shores while several of the other key players are trapped underground with Alpha’s horde. The best thing about each development is how they carry the potential to shake up the largely unchanged state of affairs we’ve watched for the past eight episodes. Yes, people are nervous about Alpha; yes, they’re starting to live in fear and turn on each other; but aside from Siddiq’s death and Eugene’s self-imposed exile to Hilltop, we began this midseason finale in much the same place we did episode one. Playing the waiting game might be anxiety-inducing for its participants, but it’s a fairly inert device to spread across an entire half of a season. You’ve dumped our heroes into a hole and driven another offshore, Walking Dead—it’s time to get to the fireworks factory.
The Walking Dead’s new batch of episodes arrive this Sunday, February 23 at 9 p.m. ET.