The Walking Dead has entered double digits with its season 10 premiere and, predictably, leaves viewers with plenty of unanswered questions. The latter half of The Walking Dead season 9 represented somewhat of a paradigm shift for the long-running zombie series, with lead protagonist, Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes, exiting the show in dramatic and open-ended fashion. What followed was a lengthy time jump and a reshuffle of the main cast that saw The Walking Dead adopt more of an ensemble approach where the likes of Michonne, Daryl and Carol shared top billing.
Despite Rick's sacrifice, The Walking Dead season 9 proved that little progress had been made in terms of community relations, but those broken relationships were soon mended following the arriving of the Whisperers. Led by the imposing Alpha, the Whisperers are a more primal enemy whose motivations are largely territorial. After encroaching upon Whisperer land and rescuing Alpha's own daughter from a life of cruelty, Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom incurred the full wrath of these skin-clad villains and a clear, deadly message was sent to all three communities - stay out of Whisperer territory.
That arrangement didn't last very long at all in The Walking Dead's season 10 opener, and with a host of other unexpected goings-on, there's plenty to dissect coming out of "Lines We Cross."
How Long Has Passed Since The Walking Dead's Season 9 Finale?
Immediately, it's clear that some time has passed since Alpha took a selection of the Kingdom's community fair attendees and decided to set up her own kebab stall. Conversations between the main characters strongly imply that no one has seen the Whisperers for quite a while, and the boundaries established back in season 9 have been respected ever since. More significantly, the three allied communities have spent the off-season developing their military tactics and now appear be a reasonably well-drilled and well-equipped combat unit. Clearly, these skills weren't learned overnight.
The Walking Dead's season 9 finale took place upon the backdrop of a harsh winter storm, and season 10 begins in the full flush of spring. This would suggest a period of months has passed between last season's finale and the recent premiere. This period of time would account for the wariness surrounding the Whisperers' absence and also allow enough of a gap for the communities to develop their wartime maneuvers. Perhaps the best way of telling time, however, is by using Rosita's child. At the end of The Walking Dead season 9, Rosita was around 6 months into her pregnancy but in this weeks episode, the infant was already several months old. This gives a narrative leap of around 4/5 months between seasons.
What's Going On With The Satellite?
The Walking Dead's satellite story had already been teased/spoiled thanks to behind-the-scenes photos released by AMC, but the scene was surprising nonetheless and felt like distinctly new territory for the series. Not a storyline taken from Robert Kirkman's original comics, the satellite's fall appears to be little more than a plot device to force the good guys to break their agreement with Alpha and step foot into Whisperer territory.
Even so, the satellite could have a deeper significance. What technological advances will Eugene be able to make thanks to his brief scavenging mission, for example? Then there's the issue of what caused the satellite to fall in the first place - could a small army of metal probes soon begin a fiery descent onto the Earth's surface? Probably not. The Walking Dead did consult with an expert from NASA on the plausibility of this storyline, but it's still a highly improbable occurrence. Most defunct satellites would merely stay within the Earth's orbit, and those that did fall out would likely burn up after entering the atmosphere. The chances of more old machines falling from space virtually intact are remote.
Is Carol Spoiling For A Fight?
Similar to Michonne in the comic books, Carol has responded to Alpha's attack by heading up the allied communities' fishing expeditions as a means of running away from the main group and the pain she feels after losing Henry at the hands of the Whisperers. Immediately after setting foot back onto dry land, Carol shows a disdain for her current living situation. The Walking Dead veteran confides in Daryl, saying she wants to run away and live a more solitary life, and also exudes a sense of frustration at being restricted by Alpha's borders.
Later, when the survivors are putting out the fire created by the crashed satellite, Carol and Daryl venture further into Whisperer territory, despite knowing the risks of doing so. Carol then continues to hang back until she spots and locks eyes with Alpha. Inevitably, there will be repercussions for the breaking of the agreement, but is this what Carol was hoping for? After Alpha emerges from the trees, Carol makes no attempt to hide from sight, and instead risks open warfare by standing firm. Having already expressed displeasure at playing the Whisperers' game, has Carol deliberately triggered a conflict due to her own personal desire for vengeance?
What Happened At The Campsite?
While investigating a washed-up Whisperer skin, Yumiko's group come across a long-abandoned campsite that had apparently been attacked, and Aaron assumes the Whisperers were behind it. Still, the exact nature of this deceased group and the fate that befell them remains unknown. Who was originally camping out at this location, and why were they assailed by Alpha's people, especially since they were dwelling in Alexandrian territory?
It's possible that this storyline will be developed in a later episode, and that one member of the ill-fated campers is still alive, having either escaped or been taken prisoner. However, it's perhaps more likely that this scene wasn't setting up any vital future developments, but was instead merely intended to demonstrate that the Whisperers had already been violating the terms of the border agreement.
Exactly why the Whisperers have been venturing outside of their own land is a major question for a later episode. "Because they're the bad guys" doesn't really feel like a satisfactory explanation, and Alpha is a stickler for rules, especially her own. Could it be that the campers were defecting Whisperers, hunted down to prevent the Alexandrian alliance gaining vital intel?
How Will Alpha Respond?
After finding Carol on her land, Alpha is sure to respond violently to the breaking of the territorial arrangements made at the end of The Walking Dead season 9. While putting out the satellite fire, the survivors optimistically speculate that the Whisperers might realize that quashing the blaze was in their best interests too, and that Michonne and her people did their enemies a favor. Judging by the expression on Alpha's face when she spies Carol, that is not going to happen. Expect hostilities to resume when The Walking Dead returns next week.
How Long Until Siddiq's PTSD Implodes?
In The Walking Dead season 9, Siddiq had the dubious honor of being the only member of Alpha's prisoners to survive the community fair ordeal. The Whisperers captured Siddiq and made him watch on as the likes of Tara, Henry and Edith were beheaded in preparation for the construction of Alpha's deadly border. Siddiq was then turned free, and utilized as a messenger to carry the Whisperers' sentiments back to his people.
The Walking Dead season 10 reveals that Siddiq is suffering the natural psychological consequences of seeing such a grim scene play out in front of him. While tending to his newborn child, the character begins to suffer flashbacks to being captured by Alpha and exhibits all the telltale signs of Hollywood PTSD - the sweating, the panic and the detachment from reality. Evidently, this is a problem that won't go away on its own but with enemies knocking at the door and a young child to raise, Alexandria's doctor might feel unable to speak up about his struggles and this will inevitably cause him to suffer worsening episodes, most likely when Siddiq's fellow survivors need him most.
Has Anyone Picked Up The Radio Message From The Walking Dead Season 9?
After the drama surrounding the Whisperers had died down somewhat, The Walking Dead season 9 ended with a message coming in from an unknown community over Alexandria's new radio system. If this plot point plays out the same way it does in the comics, the communication comes from the Commonwealth - a vast, highly developed settlement that is well on its way to bringing back civilization. Strangely, there was no overt mention of this in The Walking Dead's season 10 premiere, suggesting that the message might've gone unheard.
However, one line of dialogue did hint at how the radio storyline could develop over the coming episodes. While highlighting the new dynamic in Rosita's household, with Siddiq, Gabriel and Eugene all sharing domestic duties, Rosita mentions how Gabriel has been cooped up spending lots of time on the radio since the contraption was fixed. This could be setting up the reveal that Gabriel has been secretly conversing with a mystery outside community - just like Eugene did in The Walking Dead's comic variation.
Why Isn't Maggie Writing Letters Anymore?
In a throwaway line of dialogue, it transpires that Maggie has stopped writing letters from her current home in Georgie's community, begging the question as to what might have happened to the Hilltop's former leader. Even before The Walking Dead's season 10 premiere had aired, Lauren Cohan had been confirmed to return in season 11, so it can be assumed that no serious harm has come to her. This leaves only two real options. Either the situation at Maggie's new settlement has turned sour and requires her full attention, or she's simply moved on from her old friends and, like a high-school friendship after everyone has gone to college, has simply lost touch. In either case, the deliberate placement of this line suggests some significance lies behind Maggie's .
The Walking Dead continues with "We Are The End Of The World" October 13th on AMC.