Even with the cast and crew of AMC's The Walking Dead having wrapped work on the tenth season, life in the franchise's universe has become a lot like the NFL: neither have off-seasons anymore. With a strong ensemble cast (and a "Big Bad" fronted by Samantha Morton in an award-earning turn as Whisperers leader Alpha) and richly layered writing, showrunner/executive producer Angela Kang did the near-impossible: made the show fresh and dangerous again – and we're only halfway through the season.
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, Ryan Hurst, and Thora 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 Melissa McBride continues delivering an award-winning performance (that review's here) – while "Silence the Whisperers" proved once again why it's "In Michael Cudlitz, We Trust" (review here).
"What It Always Is" had a now-free Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) beginning his redemption arc (???) while Alpha raised the stakes against our survivors (review here).
"Bonds" had Negan facing a test – and passing with flying colors (for now), Carol (McBride) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) possibly making matters worse for the community by "picking up" a Whisperer, and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) reaching out… and getting a response.
With "Open Your Eyes" (review here), we saw our theory about Siddiq (Avi Nash) completely, totally, and tragically put to rest… and that brought us to midseason finale "The World Before", which we're still processing (and just reviewed here).
Now we know when the series will return to AMC: Sunday, February 23 – which should put it in line with the start of new spinoff series The Walking Dead: World Beyond.
The Walking Dead is a story that started 10 years ago with one man trying to find his family. That family grew and gradually communities took shape. They fought and survived, thrived and gave birth to a new generation. It is a tale of humankind and there are more stories to tell.
It is now Spring, a few months after the end of Season 9, when our group of survivors dared to cross into Whisperer territory during the harsh winter. The collected communities are still dealing with the after effects of Alpha's horrific display of power, reluctantly respecting the new borderlines being imposed on them, all while organizing themselves into a militia-style fighting force, preparing for a battle that may be unavoidable.
But the Whisperers are a threat unlike any they have ever faced. Backed by a massive horde of the dead it is seemingly a fight they cannot win. The question of what to do and the fear it breeds will infect the communities and give rise to paranoia, propaganda, secret agendas, and infighting that will test them as individuals and as a society. The very idea of whether civilization can survive in a world filled with the dead hangs in the balance.