The Walking Dead season 10's sixth episode, "Bonds", carefully lays more groundwork for a full blown Whisperer war. Sure, the showrunners have been teasing that confrontation since the premier, but it's finally starting to feel like the winds of change are blowing – and that's exciting.
Far less intriguing are the episode's early scenes, which were giving off a serious sense of deja vu. Carol secretly sneaks out of Alexandria (again) with the hopes of hunting down Alpha (again), and, though Daryl reluctantly heads out alongside her (again), she refuses to reveal her full intentions (...again). Season 10 is devoting a lot of its airtime to Daryl and Carol's relationship, a fan service that isn't without merit, but it's also beginning to feel like we're watching the same scene play out time and time again.
That being said, I'm now fully invested in the ongoing theory that Carol was the one who let Negan out of his prison earlier this season, as it's all too possible that the unlikely pair are secretly working together to bring down The Whisperers from the inside out. Negan himself spends much of this episode attempting to get on the right side of Alpha and Beta, being pushed to his limits through their various "tests" in a darkly comic montage that – if you take out the flesh-wearing cult people – could have been ripped straight from Breaking Bad.
Frankly, there's no buying into Negan's desperation to become a Whisperer. Despite accidentally murdering Margo two episodes ago, Negan still cares for many of the people tucked within Alexandria's walls, and the idea that he would so easily side with Alpha's cult – who represent everything he doesn't – fails to add up. Even so, it's fun to watch Negan do his Negan thing amongst the joyless group, and the whiffs of offbeat sexual tension between himself, Beta, and Alpha is exactly the kind of skin-crawling weirdness I was hoping for when The Whisperers first entered the picture last season.
Speaking of Alexandria, we can now add fever to season 10's obsession with things besides zombies and humans that can still kill you. It turns out that Rosita and a number of unnamed residents have been struck by a highly infectious and potentially fatal illness, all of which is putting a strain on Dante and Sadiq's pre-industrial infirmary, and their relationship with it. It's looking pretty clear that a romance is on the cards for Alexandria's medical duo, and it'll be interesting to see how that might complicate the present co-parenting dynamic between Sadiq, Gabriel, Rosita, and Eugene moving forward.
Even Eugene himself may have found a new love interest in the form of an unseen radio confidante, who could also be the same person we first heard asking for help at the end of The Walking Dead season 9. Current bets are on that this mysterious character derives from The Commonwealth, a society in the comic books who essentially formed their own mini civilisation, complete with political elections, public education, and recreational sports. It's likely that group won't be fully introduced until The Walking Dead season 11, but it's tantalising to see the seeds being sown already, especially if this community holds any connection to Rick Grimes and The Walking Dead movies of next year…
You could probably sum up the actual events of "Bonds" in three sentences or less, which again continues to favour set-up over showmanship as we build to the mid-season climax. Now that the payoffs for that extended gestation period are becoming more visible, however, the journey towards them is far less painful. With that in mind, I'm expecting big things from the final two episodes before The Walking Dead breaks for the new year. Let's see how long it lasts before season 10 kills off its first major character....
For more, check out our full Walking Dead recap to catch up before season 10, or watch below for our latest episode of Dialogue Options below.