NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Walking Dead” are present in this review
The Walking Dead is once again trying to reinvent itself to some degree with the debut of its tenth season, which begins with a series of subplots surrounding the inevitable invasion of Alpha’s forcibly drawn borders. “Lines We Cross” picks up with the various survivor communities attempting to keep on living after Alpha’s horrific butchering of their comrades last season, with events primarily beginning at Oceanside, whereupon Hilltop’s forces train for future battles. At the same time however, another event threatens all of the survivor groups in equal measure, while also threatening to draw Alpha and the Whisperers out of the shadows once again.
After seeing something of a creative boost in Season Nine, The Walking Dead has its work cut out for it in trying to keep that boost going into its tenth season premiere. For the most part, it provides a pretty good mix of storylines here as well, even if some plots are naturally better than others. All in all, the best material within this season premiere unfolds on Alexandria’s end, whether it be the latest heartfelt reunion between Daryl and Carol, or Eugene, Gabriel and Siddiq all attempting to help Rosita take care of her new baby, whom she named Coco. Yes, Rosita apparently gave birth off-screen, but perhaps that’s prudent, considering that it remains pretty impossible to believe that these survivors are having children in the walker apocalypse, with no complications whatsoever.
The initial training sequence on the beaches around Oceanside does a solid job of getting the story going, as we see the Hilltop survivors make phalanxes, and utilize advanced tactics in case of a future attack. All the while, Michonne and Aaron provide assistance, bringing the kids along to see the ocean, which gets a bit of a damper put on it after RJ inadvertently finds a discarded skin mask from the water. With everyone predictably on edge, Michonne, Aaron and several other survivors thus go to investigate, resulting in a short-lived spat between Michonne and Aaron in turn, after Aaron recklessly takes on some bridge walkers. The survivors battling the sheer terror of the border drawing last season remains pretty good in this season premiere, though it would have been better if Aaron wasn’t recycling the agonizingly tired, “Are we the bad guys?” debate that The Walking Dead has firmly beaten into the ground with its protagonists by now. It’s been resolved more than once, and it never needs to be brought up again.
Fortunately, like I said, the story material with Rosita’s new baby, Coco, and Eugene, Gabriel and Siddiq all playing their parts in looking after both Rosita and the baby, makes for a good, light-hearted start to Season Ten, providing some ununusal, but effective humour for The Walking Dead. It’s also interesting to see Siddiq struggling with PTSD, and trying to hide the symptoms, in the wake of surviving his kidnapping by Alpha, and witnessing the Whisperers murdering the survivors that they placed at the border. Eugene eventually goes off to assist with events in the climax, but it’s equally appealing to see Eugene try and step up as a surrogate father figure for Coco, despite Rosita already having a duo of reliable father figures, simply because his unrequited love for Rosita continues to spur him on. On one last note here, Negan also gets some more freedom around Alexandria to boot, and that’s awesome to see, teasing a redemptive arc for Negan that could provide one of the standout dark horse storylines for this season, if it’s executed well.
Likewise, Carol and Daryl also get a pretty good storyline, as Daryl tries to motivate Carol to stay with the other survivors, only for Carol to insist on staying at sea. Apparently, Carol’s seafaring crew has also tried to make contact with Maggie, teasing Maggie’s eventual return that’s supposedly planned for later this season, but so far, they’ve failed to establish contact with the Hilltop’s former leader. Regardless, Carol is clearly planning a means of striking back at Alpha, something that creates some brief tension between her and Daryl, particularly when Daryl refuses to chase a wounded deer a mere few feet into Alpha’s borders. This ends up becoming moot anyway as well, since the climax of the episode conveniently forces everyone on the other side of Alpha’s borders, making it feel odd and pointless that Daryl, of all characters, would ever be that concerned about respecting Alpha’s territory, especially when it’s a few feet in, and Alpha is clearly not present. When did Daryl suddenly lose his spine?
Whatever the case, an event that Eugene previously worried about appears to come to pass during this season premiere, namely when a satellite suddenly crashes into the nearby woods! The survivors then have to band together to try and put out the resulting fire during the climax, while fending off walkers at the same time. Since the satellite crashed in Alpha’s territory as well, the protagonists have to work fast, lest they be spotted by the Whisperers that may potentially be lurking very close. It’s an exciting sequence that injects a good amount of action into the final moments of the episode, enhanced further by the ongoing tension of everyone being in Alpha’s territory. Still, the survivors do manage to get the fire out, and Eugene even convinces them to take some of the technology from the satellite with them, all without Alpha seemingly noticing. Despite this however, Carol nonetheless stares down Alpha from the top of the cliff at the other end of the survivors’ territory during this episode’s final seconds, silently promising that she’ll have her justice for what Alpha did to Henry and the rest.
“Lines We Cross” is a solid, if slightly uneven tenth season premiere for The Walking Dead, presenting a mostly good batch of storylines, even if there was some forced drama that disturbed the story momentum. Still, the fun moments with the kids, particularly Rosita and Coco, helped to make up for this, especially when the satellite crash in the woods nonetheless provides a fun and harrowing climax for this episode. The presence of the Whisperers isn’t really seen for the most part here either, and this proves quite effective, teasing an unpredictable force of villains that could be anywhere, or nowhere. The question of the battle against Alpha and her Whisperers feels like a ‘when’, not an ‘if’, since we likely wouldn’t have a season otherwise, but the sinister terror left in their wake feels nicely potent and scary, even as some among the heroes would still see fit to fight those that took so much from them.
The Walking Dead begins its tenth season with the mostly solid, "Lines We Cross", picking up with the survivors trying to move on from the terror of the Whisperers.
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THE GOOD STUFF
The latest heartfelt Daryl/Carol reunion
Fun, uplifting moments at Alexandria
Satellite crash provides a nicely intense climax
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
Aaron tediously recycling the, "Are we villains?" debate
Daryl inexplicably cowering before Alpha's borders