While the cast and crew of AMC's The Walking Dead roll along with their deep-dive production-wise 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 feel fresh and dangerous again.
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) – and recent episode "Silence the Whisperers" proved once again why it's "In Michael Cudlitz, We Trust" (review here).
Which brings us to the following opening minutes of next episode "What It Always Is", which finds Kelly (Angel Theory) suffering from the effects of her hearing loss – except this time, her suffering could prove fatal:
In the previously-released trailer and preview, we find a now-free Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) seemingly on a one-way path towards a certain group of walker skin-wearers – while back at Hilltop, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Siddiq (Avi Nash) reunite with a clearly ill Ezekiel (Khary Payton) – uh-oh – to exchange updates.
Though there is clearly one topic that's off the table…
"The Walking Dead" season 10, episode 5 "What It Always Is": Supplies go missing from Hilltop; Negan is idolized by an Alexandrian; Ezekiel holds a secret. Directed by Laura Belsey and written by Eli Jorne.
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.