Full Episode
56 days left
Full Episode
56 days left

Season 9, Episode 7

Stradivarius

Carol seeks out an old friend living alone in a wilderness teeming with walkers; survivors make the perilous trek to a new home.

Show Full Recap

Full Recap

Rosita frantically stumbles through the woods to escape the whispering walker herd. She stops to drink some water, but her bottle is empty. She hears more whispers, and struggles to remain conscious through her injuries, until she finally faints.

Daryl takes Carol and Henry to his campsite in the woods. Foot traps and snares are everywhere. His house raft floats on a river feeding a hydro-electric dam. Carol looks around the camp and says, “You didn’t fix the boat since last time?” Henry gets that she’s been here before.

A dog trots over to Daryl and drops a walker hand from his mouth. “Good dog,” Daryl says.

“When’s the last time you ate?” Carol asks. Daryl says the dog ate yesterday. Carol says, “I’m not talking about the dog.”

Michonne, Siddiq, and DJ escort Magna, Yumiko, Connie, Kelly, and Luke on the road. Michonne asks DJ how much further the patrols have cleared. “’Til the Route D river bend,” DJ reports. “Their rig’s a good five miles past that. If their story checks out.”

Michonne senses that Siddiq wants to say something. He says he’s glad she changed her mind about them, and that she’s going pretty far out of her way not to let them stay in Alexandria, considering that she likes these guys. Michonne doesn’t deny it, saying, “Doesn’t mean I trust them.”

Magna complains in ASL amongst her group about Michonne still having her knives. They try to calm her down. Kelly says in ASL, “When we find our rig, we’ll get our shit and go from there. Cool?” Magna still protests. Yumiko apologizes to Michonne about Magna’s hotheaded behavior and explains that Magna has been on edge since the recent loss of their friend Bernie.

“He loved getting under Magna’s skin,” Yumiko says about Bernie. “He used to wear this absolutely horrid shirt. It was like looking into creation itself. In paisley. God, it was horrendous. But Magna hated it. Said just looking at it gave her a migraine. So Bernie wore it every day for a week. Honestly, I think she came around on the shirt…like she came around on him.”

“Like family,” Michonne says, in a moment of connection. Yumiko asks if Hilltop is safe. Michonne admits it’s been a while since she’s been there. “I promised my daughter I would get you there, and I will. You’re just gonna have to trust me.”

In a montage at the thriving Hilltop community, Tara checks in with the blacksmith shop, infirmary, garden, and training area, taking notes on what each place needs. Enid treats patients at the infirmary and tells Tara she needs more room in the garden. Dianne and Kal train a dozen Hilltoppers on fighting techniques. Among them are two teens, Gage and Addy, goofing off. Bertie hands Tara a slip of paper from the ballot box table.

In Barrington House, Tara finds Jesus sitting on a couch, reading letters while listening to Georgie’s records on a gramophone. He’s older now, with his hair slightly grayed and tied in a high bun. She comments on the amount of time he’s spending with Georgie’s records, and asks if Maggie sent another letter. “The twins dropped it off this morning,” Jesus says. “She’s good. Happy.”

Tara reviews a list of people who want to speak with Jesus – Tammy Rose wants to expand the crop fields, Enid needs more room for medicinal herbs in the garden, Alden needs to send a team on another run for scrap metal, and there’s a noise complaint about a kid with a kazoo. She hands him Bertie’s slip of paper, and says, “Congratulations on getting re-elected leader of Hilltop.”

“A win is a given when no one runs against you,” Jesus replies. Tara tells him to take Maggie’s office – she’d want him to have it. Jesus says, “I’m fine. I don’t need it.”

“Why? Because you still think this is temporary?” Tara admonishes, hitting a sore spot. Jesus leaves the conversation to check on the crop fields for Tammy, putting off Tara’s list for later.

Daryl hunts a snake and stabs a walker caught in a foot trap. Carol asks if he’s just going to leave it there. Daryl says, “Keeps the animals away.” Carol notes that he’s been out here longer than he said he’d be. “I like it out here,” he replies. “It’s quiet.” He asks her about the King and why she really came here.

“I want you to come with us. I can’t stay at Hilltop. We’ve got problems of our own at the Kingdom. I’d just feel a lot better if you were there with him.”

“You want me to babysit your boy?” he says.

Carol says it’s not like that. “Henry’s an idealist, just like Ezekiel. I love that about him. I do. It’s important. But it can be dangerous, too.”

“No. He’s going to have to learn, just like everybody else.” Daryl says, “Just like you and I did.”

Michonne, Siddiq, DJ, Magna, Yumiko, Luke, Connie and Kelly reach the clearing where Judith found them. There, a shipping container rests on its side, with its contents spilled on the ground. They kill the surrounding walkers and load up their findings onto the back of their wagon. Yumiko suggests to Magna, “You should take something of his with us…to remember him.”

Michonne and Siddiq find a pile of musical instruments. Luke is looking for something in particular. Connie, in ASL, explains that Luke “has an unhealthy obsession with rescuing musical instruments in need.”

Michonne directs DJ to collect the weapons they found. Magna protests again, “Hell no. We’re taking what’s ours.”

“I’m not letting my men take four armed strangers to Hilltop…” Michonne says sternly. “I came to see if your story checked out. It does. Siddiq and DJ will take you the rest of the way.” Kelly interprets to Connie that Michonne isn’t going with them. Magna balks. Michonne adds, “You want an escort to Hilltop, a chance at something better, they stay with us.”

Magna and Kelly argue for going on their own with their weapons, while Luke and Connie argue for going with Michonne’s escorts. Magna angrily argues, “So we’re just supposed to trust her when she won’t even trust us?” Yumiko finally speaks up as the swing vote in favor of going with Michonne’s group.

Jesus strolls onto a field on horseback when an attacker knocks him off his horse. Jesus jumps to his feet and faces his attacker: Aaron – training to fight with stealth. Jesus and Aaron spar until Jesus knocks Aaron down. After their training session, they catch up on what’s going on in their communities. They’re both violating protocol by meeting clandestinely. Jesus asks if Michonne has changed her mind about the fair. Aaron tells him, “She won’t even put it to a revote. Not since she tanked the first one with council.” Jesus tells him that the fair is important, not just for the Kingdom, but for all of them. They have to come back together. Aaron reveals that Michonne doesn’t even know about Maggie.

Their conversation gets interrupted by a flare in the sky. They rush to the woods and find Rosita bleeding against a tree. Aaron asks where Eugene is, and she tells them that she left him in a barn. With walkers closing in on them, Jesus decides to take Rosita back to Hilltop. As for Eugene, Jesus says, “It’ll be dark soon. Whichever barn he’s in, we’ll have to hope he’ll be safe until tomorrow.”

Carol and Henry watch Daryl cook a pot of rabbit stew for dinner. The Dog drops a bloody piece of walker foot on the ground next to them. Henry asks Daryl if his dog always does that. “He’s got his reasons,” Daryl says. He skins a snake, while Carol states how impressed she is about him cooking for them. “I’m sure Hilltop’s got people who can cook, too,” he replies as he moves to get some utensils.

Henry realizes, “Wait. Is that why we came here? You think I need a chaperone? And this is the guy?... I can handle myself.” Carol says she never said he couldn’t. Daryl comes back, telling them it’ll be ten minutes ‘til the food’s done. Carol says, “Good. That’s just enough time.” Time for what?

Carol cuts Daryl’s unkempt hair with a paring knife. During this haircut, she pushes his hair back and finds a facial scar that swoops down over his left eye.

“I know you think I’m still looking for him,” Daryl says. She asks if he is. “I never found the body,” he says. “After a while, it just got easier to be out here.”
“You have to let that go,” Carol says.

During dinner around the campfire, Henry asks Daryl how he got that scar. “Where’s that dog?” Daryl says. “Food’s getting cold.” Daryl calls for the dog and gets up to look into the woods, while Henry shakes his head.

At night, Michonne patrols the industrial building her group is resting in, while the rest of them sleep. She hears a rustling noise and draws her sword. Inside, she finds the back of a dark figure rummaging through the supplies. He pulls something out of what appears to be a weapons case. “Drop it,” Michonne demands, “and turn around slow.”

“I can’t,” says Luke. “It’ll –”

Michonne interrupts, “I said drop it.”

“You don’t understand,” Luke says as he turns to her. Michonne swings her sword, and –

A loud, shattering crash startles the group awake in the next room. They rush to find a devastated Luke picking up a broken violin (a Stradivarius). He looks at Michonne, who realizes her mistake.

Carol and Henry sleep in a tent. Henry sees Daryl’s silhouette outside and follows him into the woods. Around a tree, he shines his flashlight at what he thinks is Daryl, but it turns out to be a walker. Henry steps back, and something else grabs him – it’s Daryl.

“You following me?” Daryl growls. Henry asks what he’s doing out here. Daryl tells him to go back to camp. He kills the walker and hears his Dog barking in the distance.

Daryl’s Dog is caught in a snare that’s wrapped around its neck. Walkers surround it, also caught in traps, as they reach for the barking dog. Daryl tells Henry to stay back as he frees his dog. In the process, the surrounding walkers grab his ankles, tripping him. He struggles to stab them all away, still insisting that Henry stay back. Henry sees a walker break its foot free from its snare, and quickly impales it with his bo staff, saving Daryl. As that happens, Henry steps into an Apache trap. Daryl stabs the last walker and helps Henry out of the trap.

“I thought I told you to stay back,” Daryl growls at Henry.

“Yeah, you’re welcome,” Henry replies.

From a distant tree, Carol watches with her bow and arrow nocked. She lowers them, as she sees the boys move along safely.

At Barrington House, Jesus asks, “How is she? Any change?” Tara informs him that Rosita is still out, but is doing okay, just dehydrated. Enid’s got her on an IV. She notes that it was weird seeing her after all this time. Aaron, too. Jesus tells her, “I’ve been training him, talking to him, keeping the lines of communication open, making sure they’re alive.”

“To avoid being here?” Tara says.

“To try and get Alexandria on board with the fair,” Jesus explains. Tara shakes her head and says they won’t. “I can’t accept that,” Jesus says. “You shouldn’t either. It’s too important.”

Tara tells him, “Listen, everyone here’s starting to notice how much you’re gone. The fair is important to all of us, but we need you here.” Jesus asks why. She says, “Because they made you our leader.” He says maybe they shouldn’t have. She tells him, “I know you think you’re just keeping a promise to Maggie, but you took this job. So, stop pretending it’s just for now. She’s not here. You are. Your people are counting on you. Maggie is counting on you. I’m counting on you.” She adds that she’s gonna head out in the morning to look for Eugene. “You need to stay here, keep this place together.”

Daryl changes his shirt, revealing an “X” scar on his back, identical to Michonne’s. He tosses Henry a jar of poultice for his infection, and explains, “Dog checks my traps for me, tells me when I got a walker problem. Never got stuck before, though. Thank you for your help.” Henry says that’s no problem, thanks Daryl for saving him, and asks him not to tell his mom. Daryl nods and adds, “Those traps… they’re not for animals. That’s no way to die, slow and painful. I just want to keep the walkers out. There seems to be more and more of ‘em.”

“My mom,” Henry begins, “She says you’re her best friend. The one who always had her back, no matter what. She misses you. She worries about you. You can see that, right?” Daryl says she knows where he’s at, knows where to find him. Henry replies, “She shouldn’t have to.”

“Is that what you want?” Daryl asks. “Me looking over your shoulder all the time?”

“It isn’t just about me.”

A distraught Luke holds his broken Stradivarius over his lap. “Unbelievable. Utterly unbelievable.” Michonne begins to apologize, but he interrupts – “You know what this is? This is an original Stradivarius, Circa 1725.” Yumiko explains that he found it in a mansion in Philadelphia before it got overrun by sickos. In a kid’s room, of all places.

Siddiq says, “So you’ve been traveling around with a collection of instruments all this time? Why?”

“It’s art,” Luke says like it’s obvious. “Look, for a very long time, historians and archaeologists have wondered how ancient humans survive the Neanderthals. Okay? How did we defeat them when they were bigger, and they were smarter, and they were stronger, faster, they had better tools than us? So why are we still here, and they’re not? And then they found a cave, okay. And in that cave, they found a 40,000-year-old flute…And then they realized that maybe ancient humans didn’t defeat Neanderthal. Not in the way we think of the word defeat, okay? They came together as an answer to defeat. They sat around a campfire. They shared their stories with each other and in the form of music and paintings and they created a common identity. And then they built communities, and they grew, and as they grew, Neanderthal retreated. And then after a while, they just died out. So this is the one thing that separates us from the animals. For better or for worse, it brings us together. And if we’re trying to rebuild something, you can’t ignore that.”

Michonne says, “After everything you’ve seen and done, you still believe that’s all that it’ll take?”

“Yeah,” Luke says. “The survival of the fittest. The sharing with each other. That’s part of what makes us stronger.” Michonne takes that in for a moment. She wants to say something but decides to stay quiet.

The next morning, Michonne offers Siddiq supplies as she prepares to head back to Alexandria. Siddiq implores her to accompany them to Hilltop – It’s the least she could do after murdering Luke’s violin. Michonne says it’s for the best. Siddiq tells her she doesn’t have to worry about Maggie. Michonne says, “We can’t take the risk. I don’t know what she’ll do if she sees me.”

“Michonne, Maggie’s gone,” Siddiq finally reveals to her. Michonne is stunned. Siddiq explains, “Took Hershel with her. Jesus runs Hilltop now.”

“Where is she? And how do you know –”

Yumiko interrupts, indicating Connie sensing danger. DJ announces walkers outside, and they all move out to face them, while Yumiko, Kelly, and Magna express their need for weapons.

Overwhelmed by walkers, Michonne lets DJ grant Magna’s group their weapons. Connie and Kelly shoot walkers with their slingshots. Magna throws her knives. Luke evades the walkers by opening car doors to block them. Another walker ambushes him but gets shot by Connie’s slingshot. Luke signs a gesture of thanks toward her and moves off to rejoin Siddiq and DJ battling more walkers. Yumiko shoots her compound bow, knocking down a steel awning onto a pack of walkers. A stray walker attacks Yumiko but gets hit by Magna’s knife.

Michonne says to Magna, “This is the same herd that attacked your rig.”

“How do you know?” Magna asks. Yumiko, Magna, Connie, and Kelly follow Michonne’s gaze toward –

A walker wearing a paisley shirt – Bernie (mid-20s) – approaching Magna, who tears up at the sight of him. Yumiko, Connie, Kelly, and Luke all look on, stunned by what their old friend has become. Walker Bernie gets close to Magna, but she doesn’t attack. Michonne finishes him and gently sets his body down. She shares a beat with Magna, but Siddiq urgently calls for them to go. Magna, Yumiko, Connie, and Kelly look at the paisley-shirted Walker Bernie for the last time as they leave him behind.

The next morning, Carol finds Henry limping, and Daryl packing up his motorcycle. She pours herself a cup of coffee and smiles, knowing Daryl and Henry have come around. They ride off towards Hilltop in good spirits.

Meanwhile, Magna, Yumiko, Connie, Kelly, and Luke ride with Michonne, Siddiq and DJ in the same direction, solemn and silent. Michonne says to Yumiko, “I know what it’s like to worry about your family. To carry the burden of protecting them. To feel guilt when they suffer.” Yumiko says that they’ll all be fine. “Because you have to be,” Michonne says, “I know.” Yumiko says she just wants them to have a home, somewhere safe. “You will,” Michonne says before stopping. “This is as far as I go.”

Siddiq says to Michonne, “I should’ve told you about Maggie. I’m sorry.” Michonne asks where she is. “With Georgie,” he explains, “Someplace far. Helping her with some new community. That’s all I know… I wanted to say something sooner, but I promised someone I wouldn’t. So I didn’t… This means you can come with us to Hilltop. You should.”

Michonne replies, “No. I’m needed back home. I’ve kept my promise to Judith.”

“And what about Carl?” Siddiq says. “What about your promise to him?”

Michonne says, “It’s not that simple.”

Two riders in armor approach, armed with spears. Everyone is on the defensive until Michonne recognizes the spears and asks if they’re from Hilltop. They are, on their way to deliver a message to Alexandria. They have Rosita Espinosa, who’s been injured. Michonne makes a decision –

“Let them know Michonne’s headed with the others to Hilltop. Tell them we’re safe.”

The Hilltop messengers move along. Connie senses something dangerous in the woods, into the tree line. The group warily looks around, until Connie signs it’s nothing.

Daryl, Carol, and Henry arrive at Hilltop. Henry wonders if Enid will recognize him, as it’s been a while, and he’s taller and bigger. Carol says he’s adorable. “No I’m not,” Henry protests, “Unless Enid likes adorable.”

A smiling Tara greets Daryl with a fist bump and hug, then Carol with a hug.

“This is a pleasant surprise,” Jesus says as he approaches. “What brings you all the way out here?” Carol tells him Henry has taken a stubborn interest in blacksmithing. “We might be able to help with that,” Jesus says, smiling at Henry.

Aaron greets Daryl with a hug. “Thought I heard a bike.”

“Good to see you, man.” Daryl replies. “But what are you doin’ here? Something up?”

Aaron tells him, “We found Rosita outside the walls yesterday. She’s pretty banged up… And Eugene’s missing. We’re headed out to go find him. We could use a good tracker.”

Daryl nods, “Yeah, of course.” Carol tells him to go. Henry says he’s going, too. Carol tells him no.

Dianne helps Jesus put on his armored chest plate. Anticipating her protest, Jesus explains to Tara, “I know the terrain. And I know where we can start looking. I should go with you guys.”

Tara frowns and looks at the community. “Someone has to keep this place going. So I’ll stay. But the next time I hear a complaint about a kazoo –”

“—I’ll deal with it.” Jesus says, smiling. “I promise.”

Daryl starts his motorcycle and calls, “Dog!”

Daryl’s Dog races out of the gate, leading the way as Daryl rides out after him. Jesus and Aaron follow on their horses, speeding by Hilltop’s fields and into the woods.