"The Walking Dead": Intense Ep Punctuated By New "Royalty" [REVIEW]

You don't have to be a "deep scholar" of AMC's The Walking Dead to know that we've had a heavy and emotional one-two punch combo to our collective "feels" over the past few weeks – and no, it has nothing to do with the coronavirus-related delays impacting every aspect of the Walking Dead universe.

After saying goodbye (for now) to Danai Gurira's Michonne last week, the action shifts back to the frontlines of "The Whisperers War" and the fallout from Carol (Melissa McBride) and Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) successful plan to take down Alpha (Samantha Morton).

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AMC

After saying goodbye (for now) to Danai Gurira's Michonne last week, the action shifts back to the frontlines of "The Whisperers War" and the fallout from Carol (Melissa McBride) and Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) successful plan to take down Alpha (Samantha Morton).

But while a flashback clues us in on the nature of their deal, the present proves torublesome for both. Negan finds himself at the business end of Daryl's (Norman Reedus) crossbow, so he needs to do some explaining – fast – while Carol finds herself haunted by Alpha at the worst moment.

Beta (Ryan Hurst) received an unwelcomed "present" at the head spikes border, resulting in him giving us some serious insight into his past – before finding a very unique way to become one with Alpha. Meanwhile, Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) headed out to meet Eugene's radio-friendly friend "Stephanie" – and ended up metting some new "royalty."

Did "Look at the Flowers" give us the answers we needed? Of course, throwing a MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! your way before we deep-dive into this week's chapter.

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"The Walking Dead" season 10, episode 14 "Look at the Flowers": Everyone reckons with the aftermath of the Hilltop fire; Eugene leads a trip to meet Stephanie.

Putting aside that the season finale won't air until later this year – making this week's episode the unofficial "penultimate" chapter – "Look at the Flowers" did exactly what it needed to do. With two intense episodes in a row under our belts and as we're about to head towards a rollercoaster final two rounds, we needed a round that offered some answers and shifted the momentum into cruise control. Did a a lot happen in this episode? No, but what did happen mattered not only to what we've seen up to this point but also to what still lies ahead.

So let's take a look at some of our takeaways:

● The conditions of the deal weren't too surprising: Carol wants Alpha dead, and Negan wants it known that he was the one who took down Alpha as his "redemption" move. What did surprise me was how much Negan seemed to need this "cleaning of the slate" – and how much more concerned he seemed over innocents being retaliated against than Carol did.

● Not sure Carol ends up looking any better this episode – definitely loses points for wanting to screw over Negan with their deal. So we didn't find ourselves sobbing a river over the situation she found herself in with the cabin and boat – or that Alpha was one of the "furies" haunting and taunting her for her past mistakes (even using her own line against her).

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Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 14 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Of course, we know it's Carol at war with an aspect of herself – and McBride's been telling this tale masterfully from the moment The Whisperers first reered their walker-masked heads. So we're cautiously optimistic that Alpha's "disappearance" signals a new chapter for Carol – but we have a feeling Daryl's still got some matters that need to be addressed.

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Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 14 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

● Negan and Daryl's face-off was exactly the stomach-churning moment we were expecting – yet it wasn't gratuitous and made sense in the context of the "bigger picture." We respect Daryl's restraint in not killing Negan on-sight – just like we respect his not taking Alpha's mask or a trip to the spikes as evidence that Negan's on the side of the angels. Morgan's ability to convey a man who seems on a legit path to be something better – while still having moments of devilish "deja vu" of when he was an "alpha" – is on-point, and no better displayed in how he handles his new "followers." Nothing like killing a group of Whisperers after they confirmed your story to help make his case to Daryl.

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Khary Payton as Ezekiel, ,Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter Eleanor Matsuura as Yumiko – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 14 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

● Yumiko, Ezekiel, and Eugene's journey was more about the quiet moments and Ezekiel than it was about "Huge Moments" – until we got a huge moment. While I know Yumiko's words to Exekiel were meant to be inspiring, with what we've seen so far this season with his health we're getting very concerned. And if we weren't before, "The King's" moment with Jerry (Cooper Andrews) would've made it happen.

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AMC

● Yup, that's Paola Lazaro's Juanita Sanchez aka Princess we're all being introduced to – and we're already excited to meet her. Lazaro had the kind of entrance I can see fans reflecting back on several season down the road – she enters the scene with that strong of a vibe, and her introduction fit her comic book persona perfectly.

In the comics, Juanita Sanchez was known as "Princess" or "Princess of Pittsburgh" with a good-natured, upbeat personality that hies a rough past and upbringing. She's considered to be the harbinger of the "Commonwealth" storyline, where she settles down at the end of the comic book series' run.

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AMC

● So remember during the fifth season of Fear the Walking Dead ("Today and Tomorrow"), there was that scene where Daniel (Ruben Blades) drops a stack of vinyl records – and in that pile of records, we see a cover with a bearded man wearing a hat? Considering what we learn of Beta tonight, we're going with Beta as the cover star.

The "fortress of solitude" scene was a revelation on a number of levels. First, that he's kept aspects of his old self alive – that he hasn't quite "killed" country singer Half Moon as he would want others to believe. Also, his need to constantly self-flagellate – attaching her flesh to his mask is the closest he can allow himself to be the "alpha."

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Ryan Hurst as Beta – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 14 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Beta also gets the award for two truly disturbing scenes. First, when he "helps" a Whisperer who mistakingly calls him "alpha" explain his "disrespect" up colose and personal to Alpha-on-a-Stick. The other scene?  That visual of Beta among the walkers, leading a new wave of death as his music rages on.

Leaving us wondering – to win her personal battle with Alpha, did Carol ultimately cost the communities the war?

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"The Walking Dead" Season 10 Reviews

We didn't mince words over how impressed we were with season opener "Lines We Crossed" (check out our review here). Then we had Morton, Hurst, and Birch raising the bar even higher with "We Are the End of the World" (check out our review here), – offering up some Whisperers backstory.

"Ghosts" elevated the paranoia as McBride continues delivering an award-winning performance (that review's here) – while "Silence the Whisperers" proved once again why it's "In Cudlitz, We Trust" (review here).

"What It Always Is" had a now-free Negan beginning his redemption arc (???) while Alpha raised the stakes against our survivors (review here).

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Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – TWD _ Season 10, Episode 14 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

"Bonds" had Negan being tested, Carol and Daryl possibly making matters worse for the community by "picking up" a Whisperer, and Eugene reaching out… and getting a response.

"Open Your Eyes" (review here) saw our theory about Siddiq (Avi Nash) completely, totally, and tragically put to rest. That brought us to midseason finale "The World Before" (reviewed here), as the drumbeats of war grew louder.

After a mideason break, we learned that those drumbeats had turned into thunder, as "Squeeze" (review here) and "Stalker" (review here) turned up the heat on what was once a stealth "cold war" back-n-forth between Alpha and our heroes.

Then with "Morning Star" (review here), that heat caught fire… literally – only to see the entire direction of the war get flipped on its end in "Walk With Us" (review here).

What could top that, and cause a break in the action? That would be "What We Become" (review here), with Danai Gurira's final run as Michonne… or is it?

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought on board as staff in 2017.

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