‘The Walking Dead’ episode 11 recap: Top 5 moments from ‘Morning Star’ include a fiery assault on Hilltop

Dread is in the air on “The Walking Dead.” The Whisperers drain tree sap into strange molds. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) dons a new zombie skin mask and helps lead The Whisperers’ horde on a march to war. Hilltop is the target and its citizens have no idea just how unrelenting the enemy will be. When Lydia (Cassady McClincy) arrives with a wounded Daryl (Norman Reedus) she offers a stern warning: “You can’t go out there. My mother is coming.” Is this the end of Hilltop? Dive into the Top 5 moments of Season 10, Episode 11, “Morning Star,” as the community prepares for battle.

Fight or Flight

Mary’s (Thora Birch) presence ignites tensions at Hilltop, with Earl (John Finn) refusing to let her see the nephew he is now raising as his own child. Earl is aggressively in favor of defending his home against The Whisperers when others advocate for fleeing. He has already lost a wife and son in the defense of his home, and the town is special enough to die protecting it. Lydia is insistent that the walker horde is massive enough to overrun Hilltop and the council agrees to try and evacuate the children before a fight ensues. The only problem is that Alpha (Samantha Morton) is now taking suggestions from her new lieutenant/lover, and as Daryl escorts the kids to Alexandria he discovers the roads are blocked by downed trees. Daryl recognizes this tactic: “it’s Negan. He’s with her now.” Earl’s preference to engage in “the fight of their lives” is now the only option.

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Carol’s Goodbyes

Carol (Melissa McBride) is coaxed back to Hilltop by her ex-husband Ezekiel (Khary Payton). In his room, she feels the cancerous tumor on his neck for the first time. “I wanted to tell you he mutters” before she leans in to kiss him and the two make love for the first time in ages. But there is a sense of finality to the action, with Carol seemingly uninterested in lingering afterwards. “You’ve changed,” notes Ezekiel, “you’ve lost your sense of humor.” “No I didn’t” she quickly retorts, thinking about their marriage. “I left it on that dresser in The Kingdom, then it burned down.”

A similar sense of finality invades a conversation between Carol and Lydia. “You should hate me,” offer Carol while taking a sad puff of a cigarette, “I’m gonna kill her.” Lydia has clearly accepted that her Mom needs to die and appreciates Carol’s honesty. Honesty is something the civilized world lacks according to Lydia, who wonders why no one can simply tell Carol “I’m sorry your kid died and you hate the world.” Carol is moved, tears bubble up in her eyes, as she manages to say “I had a whole life…” But the pain of that former life is too great and her worlds trail away. She has told Daryl that her path of vengeance was over, but it’s obvious she is ready to go to the grave in her pursuit of Alpha.

Stephanie

Eugene (Josh McDermitt) has struck up quite the bond with his mystery radio woman. Her name is Stephanie, the pair have established an entire shorthand communication, and try to remember their favorite pre-apocalypse songs. When Stephanie reveals that she also saw the fallen soviet satellite, she becomes a ball of nerves and fears that she has let the location of her community slip. “I’m in Virginia!” blurts Eugene to quell her fears.

The long distance affair is jolted when Rosita (Christian Serratos) wanders to the radio tower and intercepts a transmission from Stephanie. Eugene is horrified to find her there, breaking the secrecy rule that he and Stephanie established. The line goes dead and responses are unanswered. It doesn’t matter that Rosita just thinks he was communicating with someone from Oceanside, Eugene angrily lashes out at his friend for violating the trust he established.

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It’s a Date

Rosita later helps Eugene set up an electrical defense system and tries to win back favor by teasing her friend for his radio crush. When he tries to deny the feelings, she slyly offers “do you want to kiss me?” Knowing that death is possible with the coming battle, Eugene leans in to get the kiss he has wanted for years. But, at the last moment he stops himself as he realizes he would rather wait for Stephanie.

Eugene races back to the radio for one last attempt at contact, and finally sings the song he was too afraid to croon before. The gesture prompts Stephanie to reply in kind. “Charleston, West Virginia” she blabs, “one week.” He snatches up armor and weapons with new motivation for the battle: “I got a date!” Let’s hope he survives so “The Walking Dead” can open up the world with a new survivor group.

Up in Flames

Hilltop prepares as much as possible for the impending onslaught. The horde arrives as darkness falls, and shambles across the field towards the town walls. The zombies are caught in Eugene’s electrical wiring, but the system quickly short circuits. The creatures then get help up on a spiked blockade. Aaron (Ross Marquand) leads his small battalion of soldiers forward, and the armored group starts pecking at the walkers. But the wooden blockade is creaking and shifting, putting gnashing undead teeth closer and closer to Hilltop’s forces.

In the distance, The Whisperers finally put their tree sap to use and lob canisters full of the sticky stuff into the fray. Before fighters can even register why they are suddenly wet, Alpha and Negan shoot flaming arrows into the battlefield. One of the doused Hilltop fighters is engulfed in flames and burned alive. Realizing they are essentially covered in gasoline, the troupe flees towards the gates as more arrows launch. The weight of a thousand zombies finally breaks the barricade and the undead give chase. Before team Hilltop can make it inside, arrows strike the city walls and engulf it in flames. Daryl looks in horror as the entire group is trapped between flames and walkers. “The Walking Dead” will make viewers wait an entire agonizing week to discover who survives the assault.

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