Can The Walking Dead really work on the big screen? That’s the question fans were asking after the show’s creators announced that a trilogy of new Walking Dead movies (opens in new tab), centred on former protagonist Rick Grimes. For those Dead-heads still worried, rest assured, The Walking Dead season 10 (opens in new tab) premiere gives us a definitive answer: absolutely.
The episode’s opening sequence makes for a bold, cinematic re-introduction to the show. Starting in outer space (yes, you read that right), the camera soon drops us into a bloody coastal warzone. The action choreography is impressive, while the visual and practical effects blend together seamlessly. Showrunner Angela Kang’s confidence, coming off the back of a well regarded ninth season, is palpable, and that strong start is generally representative of “Lines We Cross” overall.
Following the brilliant beach battle, we catch up with the whereabouts of the main characters and communities. There’s been another time jump (hopefully the show’s last) and our survivors are stronger, healthier, and more organised than ever. The episode then splits into multiple distinct chapters, each revolving around a different set of characters – a stylistic choice that, while continuing The Walking Dead’s long tradition of changing the show’s regular format for each premiere, fails to add much to its value. Luckily, that surface level subversion is easy to overlook once the characters are given space to breathe and interact.
The 15 best Walking Dead episodes (opens in new tab), ranked as season 10 approaches
We begin with the Hilltop and Alexandria teams. The two groups are still feverishly discussing what kind of community they want to be, with Michonne and Aaron leading the ongoing debate – one that’s been a consistent, overdone aspect of the show since season 8. (Hopefully, with Danai Gurira's impending exit, we may hopefully witness a conclusion soon.) Aaron, who’s not happy with Michonne's more cautious leadership style, looks to be repeating Rick's character arc, going from moralistic nice guy to world-weary battle sergeant.
Far more interesting is the debate over how to respond to The Whisperers, the villainous group who hide beneath Walker skin. We see characters dealing with survivor's guilt, PTSD, and paranoia, all as a result of Alpha's devastating statement of border control in the last season. Should our heroes hold tight, or strike against the cult now? With a renewed sense of crippling danger due to the possibility of any Walker suddenly pulling a knife out, can the survivors really wait around?
Meanwhile, at Alexandria HQ, the episode wades into sitcom territory. We witness the co-parenting antics of Rosita and her three suitors – Eugene, Sadiq, and Gabriel – as they look after baby Coco, complete with an extended comedy montage. Whether Rosita, a character known for her fierce independence, deserves to be sidelined into a love square is debatable. However, there's certainly ample opportunity to take this absurd scenario to some interesting places, even if Gabriel continues to kill the mood of every room he enters.
Speaking of romance, we get arguably our first tease of a burgeoning Carol-Daryl relationship – one that fans have long wanted. Carol, who split up with Ezekiel at the conclusion of season 9, has returned from a soul-searching fishing trip, and on the beaches of Oceanside reunites with both the leader of the Kingdom (awkward) and Daryl (warm embrace). It's here we find perhaps the most earnest and heartwarming scenes of the episode, though I remain unconvinced Carol and Daryl are anything but platonic.
For one thing, Daryl and Connie’s relationship has become genuinely affecting, especially as we discover that he's been learning sign language to converse with her – albeit somehow still managing to do so "in a southern accent." Meanwhile, Kelly admitting her fear of losing her hearing marks an emotional highpoint, too, not least thanks to an amazing performance from Angel Theory.
Outside of these character-focused vignettes, “Lines We Cross” invests in some prime Negan time, as the former villain has apparently been promoted from solitary confinement to full-time gardening duties on Alexandria's farm (a nice callback to Carl's season 8 vision of him picking tomatoes). His brief but touching conversation with Lydia speaks volumes, as the pair naturally share a pariah status amongst the community. Fingers crossed we see their relationship blossom as the season goes on.
These separate stories converge together once the communities try and stop a forest fire (sparked by a Russian satellite landing in Alpha’s territory) from spreading. It’s an unusual climax, as the show normally relies on man-made or Walkers threats, and one that’s not quite as thrilling as the episode’s opening slaughterfest, Carol using a zombie's sliced throat as a hosepipe excluded.
Then there’s the closing reveal: that Alpha is indeed still around. Carol and Daryl head to a cliff where they spot the leader of the Whisperers emerging from the foliage. Should Carol have ducked before being spotted? Almost certainly. We’ve come to expect stupid actions from the group, but not from her. Of course, another round with The Whisperers was always inevitable. Let’s just hope the cult can retain their fear factor for the rest of the season.
For more, check out our full Walking Dead recap (opens in new tab) to catch up before season 10, or watch below for a guide to everything worth watching on Netflix right now.