Not everyone makes it out of the cave in The Walking Dead's midseason 10 premiere, "Squeeze." The first episode of the half-season resolves the months-long cliffhanger that left our survivors — Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride), Aaron (Ross Marquand), Connie (Lauren Ridloff), Kelly (Angel Theory), Jerry (Cooper Andrews), and Magna (Nadia Hilker) — trapped in a cave teeming with the thousands of walkers amassed by Alpha (Samantha Morton) and her Whisperers, but audiences will have to keep tuning in to find out what happens to the two heroes who were unable to escape before an explosion caused the cave's only exit to collapse.
Picking up where the midseason finale left off, "Squeeze" starts with the group clearing the swarm by hopping over raised rocks in the direction of running water. Because walkers got in, Jerry says, there's a way out. Aaron tells the group to assume they're not alone, but an anxious and impatient Magna feels the itch to do something.
Using matches borrowed from Daryl, Magna investigates the tunnel system, where she's attacked by a Whisperer. With weapons drawn, Daryl, Jerry, Magna, Aaron, Kelly, and Connie take down the knife-wielding assailants, a sure sign there's a way out. Another literal sign is spotted by Jerry, who notices an arrow pointing towards escape.
The heroes advance deeper into the tunnel until Daryl spots a narrow opening they have no choice but to squeeze through if they hope to free themselves. Daryl leads the way, crawling, trailed by a panic-stricken Carol. Magna makes it out, then Kelly, but a claustrophobic Carol freezes up.
Daryl calls down to her, telling her to follow his voice, but she just can't. Carol is trying, but even with gentle encouragement from Connie, she can't move. She's stuck.
So is the burly Jerry, wedged in the path below, now at risk of being feasted on by the encroaching walkers gnawing at his feet. Carol is pulled free, allowing Connie and Aaron to scurry to safety, but Jerry is stuffed within the crawl space when walkers grab hold of his feet and start biting.
Jerry sheds his gear and gains enough wiggle room to push through, escaping with a sigh of relief: the walkers didn't chew through his boots.
Now at a higher level, Daryl uses his matches to ignite a torch. He peeks over the edge. It's a long drop to the bottom, and if the fall doesn't kill you, the walkers collected at the bottom will. He breaks off panels of rotted wood and enters into a long-abandoned mine, and Connie warns they have to tread carefully — take out the wrong piece, and the whole place comes down.
Daryl tells the group to find something and dig. Kelly uncovers a crate of dynamite and is just as quickly told to return it by Jerry, who says the "insanely dangerous" stick of dynamite in Kelly's hands is almost as sweaty as he is. She puts it back, very carefully, leaving the crate undisturbed.
While digging, Aaron suggests Magna take a break, but she needs out. "I didn't leave things good with Yumiko," she admits of her girlfriend, referring to the terse exchange they shared back at Hilltop. When Aaron says he's sorry about it, Magna replies, "Me too."
The heroes manage to dig an opening, but Daryl notices two things missing: Carol and dynamite. She's out on a ledge, high above the walker horde, wanting to blow them to pieces and end Alpha's greatest threat. Carol readies her matches, but in her nervousness, she slips — just seconds away from igniting the dynamite. She hangs on and, just in time, she’s pulled up by Daryl.
"We can take out half of the horde from here," she says. Daryl tells Carol she's going to get herself killed. She knows. Through tears, she tells Daryl, "She killed my boy." He knows. But she needs to come back.
They inch away from the ledge and Carol goes to retrieve the dynamite, but she accidentally wedges it loose, sending it tumbling down below. It explodes, causing ground to spill over the heroes just feet from freedom. In the scramble to safety, Connie goes off to retrieve Daryl and Carol, telling Magna they could be hurt. Connie and Magna go back as the tunnel begins to give out.
Jerry uses every bit of his strength to lift a beam, allowing Aaron to get up and out. We see dirt fall atop the now uncovered crate of dynamite. Connie and Daryl escort a weakened Carol out of the cave, and he jumps up first to pull the others out. Jerry is just barely holding on. Magna fights off advancing Whisperers in between screaming orders: "Get out of here!"
She's backed up by Connie, determined to either get out together or go down together.
Just as Jerry gets clear, an unmistakable boom rocks the Earth, and Connie and Magna are seen in one piece, together, as the opening collapses. They're helplessly buried beneath tons of rubble Aaron says will take a week to clear. Daryl doesn't give a damn and digs, using just his hands to excavate, knowing it's doing nothing.
"This blast is gonna call walkers and Whisperers from a hundred miles from here. We don’t want our backs pressed against this mountain when they come," says a sobbing Kelly. "We can’t save them if we’re dead."
Daryl knows she's right. A distraught Carol urges Daryl to say it to her — this is all your fault, she's gone because of you — but he's too pissed and too hurt to sling venom at Carol, a wreck.
How or if Magna and Connie manage to free themselves could come down to resources still available to them in the caves, including Daryl's matches and a buried crate of dynamite. For now, they're lost.
"Go home," Daryl tells the group, just barely keeping it together. "Tell the others we found the horde."0comments
When Aaron asks where he'll be, Daryl tells him, "They got out before us. There’s gotta be another way in." We'll find out what happens there in next week's episode, "Stalker," when Daryl returns to the cave's entrance before ending up in a brutal and bloody fight for his life.