We return from the mid-season break in our continuing recap of season 10, with episode 9 “Squeeze” – an episode that focuses on a living nightmare underground and pretty unpleasant goings-on above ground.
The cliffhanger from 10a had left us with Carol running after Alpha into a cave, with Daryl sending Jerry, Aaron, Magna, Connie and Kelly after her. They all tumbled down into the belly of the cave onto an island of rock, where they discovered Alpha’s horde of walkers surrounding them.
When the episode opens, we see that Alpha is safely above them looking down on her captives, as Carol screams in rage and frustration. Alpha leaves, informing her waiting acolytes that the group must not get out. Thus our survivors have to find a way to escape the triple threat of the environment, the horde of walkers, and the Whisperers making their way to end them.
Daryl leads the way, leaping from boulder to boulder in a precarious path above the walker’s heads. Connie is concerned but leads her sister through the risky journey, while Carol is already looking anxious. As they all successfully cross, Daryl looks for a way out and Carol’s growing ease becomes noticeable to Connie. When Carol assures she’s fine, Daryl tells the others Carol is claustrophobic. Magna confronts Carol on getting them into this mess, a situation diffused by Daryl, who declares they got in it together, they’ll get out together.
The group led by Carol and Daryl are trying to escape a trap, while Negan worries he’s walked into one with Alpha, in season 10’s Squeeze
As the group takes a break, Daryl confesses to Carol that he can’t turn his back on her, afraid of what she might do. Carol, in turn, reveals the depth of her hate and obsession with Alpha. Daryl understands; had he gone through what she had, he’d be the same, but he assures her he’d stop if she was the one to ask. To that end, he begs Carol to give up her suicidal mission before someone gets hurt, and Carol agrees.
Suddenly, in the dark, a Whisperer attacks Magna. Swiftly, the group takes care of the Whisperers who descend, but they know they have their way out when one escapes. And when Jerry finds arrows on the wall, their route is clear.
As they find the narrow path they must squeeze through, Connie takes a moment to calm Carol before entering the tunnel. Despite this reassurance, Carol freezes halfway through but is cajoled out the other end by Daryl. Suddenly, Jerry – who struggles to fit his frame through the gap – realizes walkers are closing in on him, and it becomes a race against time to pull the big man through.
In a terrifying moment, a walker chomps on Jerry’s foot but luckily doesn’t make it through his shoe, and the entire group survives to discover a caved in mine-shaft that is their path to freedom. Amongst the abandoned tools is a crate of dynamite, which Kelly is warned is unstable and shouldn’t be moved.
As the others work to break through to the surface, Daryl notices both Carol and the dynamite are gone. He finds her just in time as she almost drops to her death, planting dynamite sticks to destroy the horde. Daryl begs her to return with him, and just as she does, the stick of dynamite falls, causing an explosion deep in the cave.
In a rush of activity, they return to the mine-shift where the space they have created is collapsing, with only Jerry holding a beam up to stop their exit from being blocked. Aaron and Kelly escape to battle Whisperers up top, while Connie goes back to look for Carol and Daryl. As Daryl drags an injured Carol from the cave, Magna doubles back, followed by Connie, to battle more Whisperer “freaks,” just as Jerry escapes. And in a flash, an explosion rips through the caves. The mine-shaft is brought down, and Magna and Connie are trapped inside, status unknown.
Daryl rushes to pull at the rocks while Carol descends into guilt and horror. Kelly keeps a cool head and insists they have to go, the explosion will bring walkers from miles, and a raging Daryl reluctantly concedes, bypassing Carol to tell the others to go back home; he’ll find another way in.
The cave journey is symbolic of Carol and Daryl’s relationship, with Carol repeatedly not caring about her own life in pursuit of Alpha, living out her worst nightmares, and not heeding Daryl’s attempts to get her to follow his light; she’s too lost in the darkness. So that in the end, when the cave explodes, it’s everything Daryl said would happen – with others getting hurt in the process and the implosion of their relationship as a result.
Meanwhile, up top, Negan’s life with the Whisperers is going well. He watches on as Alpha instructs Gamma and Beta about the events at the cave and believes the Alexandrians have sent spies, so they must increase either effort. She sends Gamma off to alert their own spy in Alexandria, with Negan eavesdropping on the entire exchange.
At the most austere location of the latrine, Negan casts aspersions on Gamma’s trustworthiness, an accusation that doesn’t sit well with Alpha. She threatens him not to spread paranoia into the camp and pushes him into the slurry.
When Gamma doesn’t return as expected, it seems Alpha realizes Negan might be right, and she instructs Beta to bring her back where she’ll be killed in front of the others.
Negan is unaware of this turn of events, so when Alpha instructs him to walk with her deep into the woods, he’s unsurprisingly suspicious. As Alpha walks behind, warning him to keep his eyes front, he can’t help but babble incessantly with fear about his fate.
When Alpha instructs him to strip, Negan seems to accept his imminent demise and declares he became a monster because that was what the world needed. He was somebody; his name meant something.
His bluster comes undone when he turns around and finds Alpha naked, but for her mask, in front of him. She hasn’t brought him here to kill him; she’s brought him here for his reward for the Gamma information. A crass reward for a crass man, she tells him before they kiss and a bemused – but into it – Negan gets his freak on with queen freak.
Our season 10 recap will continue to keep us going until season 10 returns on 28 Feb on AMC, with “Home Sweet Home.”