An angry Aaron (Ross Marquand) turns whispers into screams when an old enemy rises out of the ashes on The Walking Dead. In Season 11 Episode 5, "Out of the Ashes," Alexandrians encounter Hilltop squatters when Aaron, Carol (Melissa McBride), Jerry (Cooper Andrews), and ex-Whisperer Lydia (Cassady McClincy) return to the burned-down community for the first time since Alpha's (Samantha Morton) attack during The Whisperer War. Hundreds of miles away, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and his traveling companions Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), and Princess (Paola Lazaro) undergo orientation at the Commonwealth community, where Yumiko reunites with her long-lost brother Tomi (Ian Anthony Dale).
Wolves Not Far
A full moon. Aaron and Gracie took a wrong turn at the fork a ways back and are hurrying home. A growling walker steps out of the foods. A knife-wielding man clicks his tongue — a bloodied "W" is carved into his forehead. "You lost?" asks this big, bad Wolf. A Savior whistles. A Whisperer unsheathes a knife. Aaron protects his daughter. They're surrounded.
Aaron cuts down the walker. He panics: Gracie's gone. Whispers, whistles, and the wailing of walkers as the enemies close in and stab Aaron to death. "STOP!" cries Mays (Robert Patrick), waking Aaron from his nightmare. Gracie sleeps next to him, safe and sound.
Downstairs, Jerry steps quietly over slumbering Alexandrians huddled together and sprawled out in sleeping bags across the floor. Then he sees it: a walker inside the walls.
A pack of stray walkers shamble inside a collapsed portion of the wall, still marked with graffiti: "Silence the whispers."
The Alexandrians fight to fill the hole and beat back the dead lumbering inside. They reinforce the wall, but the breach means Aaron's fears came true.prevnext
The Future Starts Here
At the Commonwealth, Lance Hornsby, Director of Operations, greets guests in a '90s-style orientation video. "If you're watching this video," says the sharply-dressed man, "you've made it through the rigorous screening process of the Commonwealth community and have been approved to join us. Under the leadership of Governor Pamela Milton, we are over 50,000 strong, with every person specially assigned and curated to the job best suited to their skill set to keep this community thriving." The future starts here, says Hornsby in the video message approved by Pamela Milton.
Eugene, Ezekiel, Yumiko, and Princess receive welcome packets. They're each assigned jobs and housing. Their jobs don't matter, Eugene says — they're here to get help for back home, not to work. Princess is a retail clerk. Ezekiel is on animal control. Eugene's on the high-school teaching pool. Yumiko is invited to the Office of State Affairs to talk about "opportunities within our great community."
Ezekiel and Princess go to meet with their assigned case supervisor. Eugene leaves to meet with Stephanie to get the lay of the land and the proverbial skinny. Yumiko asks for assistance about locating the family member living here.prevnext
Back at Alexandria, Rosita reports the wall is going to be more fragile since the dead broke through. They're light on tools after the skins — the Whisperers — attacked their home in Season 10. Aaron asks if Earl's blacksmithing tools survived the fire at Hilltop, so it's decided they'll make a run and see if there's any game worth hunting nearby.
"And if there's nothing left?" asks Rosita. "If we can't make Alexandria safe, we need to start thinking about other options."
To that, Aaron says, "Alexandria's our home. I'm not ready to abandon ship. Not yet. We gotta fight to save it first."
In the woods, Maggie and Negan fight their way through a pack of walkers. They have to keep moving and meet up with the others at the outpost.
"The only way this works," Negan tells her, "is if we trust each other."
"Why would I ever trust you?"
"I don't know, Maggie. 'Cause you want to stay alive, same as me."
"If I stay alive, it'll be in spite of you, not because of you."
He doesn't understand why she hasn't put him down yet. "I ask myself that question every day," Maggie says.prevnext
I Dare You
Aaron, Carol, Jerry, and Lydia step into a burned-down Hilltop. Lingering walkers lurk the grounds. Many of them are Hilltoppers killed during The Whisperer War. The group puts down the charred corpses, the reanimated remains that used to be their friends.
At home, Judith trains the children of Alexandria: RJ, Hershel, Gracie, and Jerry and Nabila's children Ezra and Aliyah wield wooden swords. Nearby, a group of older children taunts a young walker stuck in an exposed portion of the wall.
Judith scolds the taunting teens. Their ringleader shoves her to the ground. "You talk too much," the bully hisses. "No wonder your mom abandoned you." Judith gets to her feet and presses her sword to the bully's neck. "Say it again. I dare you."
Gracie convinces Judith to walk away. She does, and her fearless face falls to sadness.
Elsewhere, Maggie and Negan reach the safe house in Arbor Hills. Maggie withdraws some stashed supplies from beneath the floorboards. Negan is ready to move on and stay ahead of the Reapers, but Maggie decides they're going to wait for the others. He suggests heading back with just enough to hold Alexandria over for now.
"Maggie, you need to know when to cut your losses," he tells her. "Those losses," she growls, "are my people."
"But you still have people. You still have Hershel."
"Do you think I don't know that? It's the reason we're doing this."
If the others don't show by sundown, Negan says… they're not going to.prevnext
At the Commonwealth, Yumiko inspects a bakery with fresh baked goods served daily. Out steps Tomi — Yumiko's long-lost brother.
In the ashes of the Hilltop, Aaron says everything is gone. "Not everything," retorts Jerry. "A lot of us are still standing. Remember that."
Lydia points out nearby walkers are being herded. Whisperers.
The four of them take out the small walker herd and unmask a Whisperer that Lydia recognizes.
Eugene and his lady friend Stephanie order ice cream cones with extra sprinkles. Another woman, professionally dressed, picks up an order for Governor Milton.
"Excuse me," asks Eugene, "that wouldn't happen to be Rocky Road there, would it?" The woman glances over at Stephanie, saying nothing and walking away.
Stephanie hands Eugene his scoop. "It's not black raspberry, but see what you think." Hot damn.
Eugene and Stephanie stroll through the Commonwealth. It's like before. "A lot of people back where I'm from could use a place like this. While I'd be content to keep strong with you indefinitely, I wouldn't be the man I am if I didn't do what I came here for. We can't stay. We need to help our friends. Given the significant amount of red tape around every nook and cranny here, I was wondering if I could get some advice on how to cut through."
They spot a radio tower. If they can get to the town radio, Eugene can contact his people back home. Stephanie works in the Comms Department and get access to the equipment, but it's going to take weeks to get official clearance. Eugene asks if there's an unofficial version of the offer. Nearby, General Mercer stands watch.prevnext
Back at Alexandria, Judith finds broken boards with blue handprints. Her last memory of Carl. Gracie, RJ, and Hershel offer their help to put it back together. On the porch, Rosita comforts a crying Judith.
"I remember when you made those. You were so small. Carl wanted you to have a memory together."
"Now it's broken," Judith sobs, "and he's gone. Everybody is."
"I miss them all, too."
"Does it get easier?"
"I'd be lying if I said it did," answers Rosita.
"I'm worried I'll start to forget about them."
Rosita tells a story about her mom who died when she was around Judith's age. "She was teaching me to survive on my own. So I'd be okay if she ever wasn't there. And Carl and your dad did the same thing for you. So you'd always be able to get though the tough times. Pieces of wood are nice. But you don't need that to remember how much they loved you. Besides, I'm really good at fixing things."
Whispers Into Screams
Aaron and Jerry interrogate the Whisperer. His name is Keith. "After Alpha fell, the herd scattered. Those who weren't killed or burned are gone. I'm all that's left."
Why keep the walkers?
"Protection, comfort. Old habit."
Aaron says he hasn't met a Whisperer who wasn't a liar. Lydia points out he believed Mary.
"My mother's dead," Lydia says. "He's not hurting anyone."
Aaron and Jerry are suspicious. He's hiding something. The group takes him to the cellar. Huddled together are four stray Whisperers. Keith is a liar.
"How many more?" growls Aaron. "How many more of you are out there?"
Lydia tries to calm him. "They're scared. They're just trying to be people again."
"Or they're a threat. Hiding in plain sight before their people come back and ambush us."
Jerry spots a headscarf. It's Nabila's. He's pissed. "They were in Alexandria. They burnt down our home."
The Whisperer scraps eye each other. Keith goes for a tucked-away knife and slashes Aaron. Carol floors Keith with a punch as what's left of the Whisperers haul ass outside. Keith doesn't get away and is gripped by an angry Aaron. "My turn."prevnext
Piece of Cake
Eugene and Stephanie sleuth their way towards the communications department. Elsewhere, Yumiko and Tomi take in the sights of the Commonwealth. Her long-lost brother says she's changed. They both have. After the outbreak, Tomi fled Chicago and ended up stranded about 20 miles north of Charleston, West Virginia. He linked up with some good people, and he's been here ever since. "I almost forget what's going on outside these walls," he says, content with his life baking cakes. He hushes Yumiko when she brings up his history as a surgeon. "I like my life the way it is. It's the one gift I got out of the world falling apart. Please, don't ruin this for me."
She just wants to know one thing. "Is this place really as good as it seems?"
And if she wanted to get help for others?
"Anything is possible," says Tomi, "as long as you follow the rules."
Dead Is Honest
At the Hilltop, Aaron uses a walker to get information out of a strung up Keith. He lets the walker get in biting distance. Where are they?!
"Alpha was right about you people," Keith sobs. "You pretend you're better than the dead. But dead is honest. Your friends are better off."
Aaron lets the leashed walker sink its teeth into Keith's tied hands. He howls in pain. If Aaron doesn't give him a hand — by cutting off Keith's hand — the infection will spread and this Whisperer will turn. "Are the Whisperers still a threat?!"
Aaron wants answers. Lydia says he wants something else, and she's not going to stand around and watch it. Jerry hoists Keith back up.
"There were more of us. But they're gone. I don't know!"
Carol ends it with a bolt to the walker's head. "Stopping you from doing something else you're gonna regret."
"I am doing what I have to to keep everyone I love safe! You of all people should understand that."
"Not like this."
"Look around. We are standing on the ashes of what the Whisperers destroyed. Gracie is going hungry because of them! The world is full of people who are beyond saving, and I am not going to wait for them to show up at our doorstep."
Carol makes an emotional plea. She reminds Aaron: what happened to her son Henry led her down a dark and destructive path. People she care about got hurt.
"Now everything that I do, I carry that," Carol says through tears. "This is a path you don't want to go down. Now you let him go. Let him go."
Aaron frees Keith and plops a blade in the dirt. "I can cut your hand off or you can do it yourself. The choice is yours."prevnext
At Alexandria, Rosita and Judith go to repair Carl's handprints when they hear it: a radio message from Eugene. The connection goes haywire and Eugene loses the feed just as Mercer and his soldier-cops arrest Eugene for unauthorized use of government property. Ezekiel and Princess are prisoners.
Back at the safe house, Maggie and Negan wait. They've waited long enough. Negan packs up and readies to leave. "Not with those supplies, you aren't," warns Maggie. "This mission isn't finished."
"It is for me."
Maggie smacks the bag out of Negan's hands and shoves him aside. He grips her by the shoulders and forcibly tells her to stop. Maggie shakes him off and pushes him away. They stare each other down. Maggie shoves him again in the chest, hard. Enter Gabriel and Elijah. Just in time. They're rough for wear. "Been better. Been worse."
What about the others?
Duncan. Agatha. Cole. They're dead. Alden's hurt and holed up in a church. Daryl and Frost are still missing.
"So then," Gabriel says, "we wait."
Maggie smiles and glares at Negan. "We wait."prevnext
One Way or Another
In a Commonwealth office, Eugene paces. "I've ruined everything." He asks an official about Stephanie. "You are hereby notified that you are being charged with wanton trespassing, reckless endangerment, and illegal communications with a foreign entity. All violations of Article 4, Section 2 of the Commonwealth criminal code." They're granted a hearing before a judge. If found guilty, they'll be dropped off in a zone far outside the walls and banished from ever returning. They're in deep shit.
"We want to talk to our lawyer," demands Princess. They want Yumiko, but it's Hornsby who shows up with Stephanie.
Hornsby orders their release. Cheesy video guy with the save! "He might be able to stop you from being banished," says Stephanie, "but it won't be scot-free. You'll have to pay for what you've done. One way or another."prevnext
Don't Ever Look Back
Back at Hilltop, Lydia apologizes to Keith. "I understand. After all his people have lost. If Alpha were still here, she would have done worse."
Carol leaves Keith with mushrooms for him and the others. He assures her they weren't all like Alpha. "Some of us just wanted to survive."
Keith says they've changed and he can prove it. "We saw one of your people. The girl who came out of the cave where Alpha kept the horde. After the collapse. There were many, then there were two, and then she was all alone. She looked hurt, but alive." She was somewhere in the woods by the screaming cave. It's a clue about the missing Connie.
Jerry points out it's probably a good thing Aaron didn't kill him. Carol asks Lydia if she knows the way. She does, and they're off to find Connie at first light. Aaron looks back as the Hilltop squatters come out of the ashes.0comments
End of episode.prev