‘The Walking Dead’ mid-season premiere recap: Top 5 moments from ‘Squeeze’ include a devastating explosion

It’s been three long months since “The Walking Dead” trapped a band of heroes in the depths of a zombie infested cave. The mid-season premiere, which aired Sunday, February 23, reveals who makes it out alive and who is in danger. But the writers still found time to throw in some intrigue at the Whisperer camp. Not to mention the freakiest love scene of the year. So bring your flashlight as we go spelunking with walkers. These are the five best moments from “Squeeze.”

Screaming in the Dark

Alpha (Samantha Morton) sneers at her captives from a rocky perch, and a frustrated Carol (Melissa McBride) can only let out an angry, guttural shriek in defiance. After Alpha leaves the group to die in the cave, some folks start to turn on Carol for foolishly following Alpha in the first place. “What the hell were you thinking?” demands Magna (Nadia Hilker), echoing every fan who screamed at their screens when Carol took Alpha’s bait in the mid-season finale.

Daryl (Norman Reedus) calms everyone down and comes up with a totally safe plan of escape: they simply need to hop across a precarious series of rocks to reach the other side of the cave, hoping the walkers below them won’t pull them down. Surprisingly, this works. The whole crew manages to reach the far platform. There are a few close calls when some feet get grabbed by undead hands, but the cave is so darn dark it’s honestly difficult to discern who was even in danger. Once everyone is safe, Daryl quietly tells Carol that he’s worried about her constantly going rogue and endangering herself. “I don’t wanna just kill Alpha” Carol admits, thinking of her murdered son Henry, “I want to hurt her. Until she begs for forgiveness. Then I’ll kill her.” We all want you to destroy Alpha, Carol. We just don’t want you stubbornly running into obvious traps along the way.

Sowing Distrust

At the Whisperer camp, Alpha sends Gamma (Thora Birch) to the border patrols in order to alert them to invaders and search for spies. Something about the way Alpha looks at Gamma makes one wonder if the Whisperer leader already suspects her lieutenant of treason. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) seizes on that vibe and quietly suggests that the spy isn’t along the border, it’s Gamma. He talks convincingly about being mutinied by his past followers, and notes that Gamma had a connection to Aaron (Ross Marquand) and knew of the horde’s location. Alpha draws her knife to Negan’s crotch and threatens to take his balls if he spreads paranoia among the pack, but clearly Negan’s seed of distrust is successfully planted.

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I’d Like to Keep it on Please

In case any viewer didn’t believe that Negan had swayed Alpha, the whispering psycho quickly confirms her beliefs in the freakiest way possible. After ordering the capture of Gamma, Alpha summons Negan to take a walk with her. Negan, forced to walk ahead, fears that he has finally gone too far and is about to be executed. Alpha commands him to strip naked, and the once powerful leader stands shivering in his birthday suit waiting for a bullet. But he turns around to discover that Alpha has also disrobed…except of course for her nasty walker skin mask.”You’re a crass man,” she drawls, “I thought you’d appreciate a crass reward.” After his initial skepticism, and her refusal to remove her headgear, Negan admits that the scenario actually turns him on and the two kiss in a naked embrace. I’m not sure if the world needed to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan make out with decaying zombie lips, but that is absolutely what the world has received.

Claustrophobia

Back in the caves, the stranded group discovers the only way forward is to crawl through an incredibly narrow passage. Naturally. Daryl makes it through to guide the team along, but Carol is in trouble because she apparently suffers from claustrophobia (How has this never come up before?). Carol’s resulting panic attack blocks the path of Jerry (Cooper Andrews) and Connie (Lauren Ridloff). Connie is able to calm Carol down enough to get her out of the tunnel, but zombies soon scuttle in behind the group and Jerry almost loses a foot in the ensuing skirmish.

The team finally sees a way out of the dark caverns, but it’s on the other side of a deep ravine and walkers wait below for any plummeting meals. They work through an alternate path around the ravine via old mining tunnels, with  Jerry stumbling across some old sticks of dynamite. Carol slinks away to try and stack the dynamite over the ravine and blow up the horde. She slips and injures her leg while climbing the rocks and is rescued by Daryl.

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Boom!

The group furiously digs to enlarge the small opening to the sunshine above them, but the unstable mine tunnels start to collapse the more they dig. Kelly (Angel Theory) makes it out first and is immediately assailed by Whisperers. Aaron helps her in the battle while Jerry holds up a pillar to keep their exit from caving in. The Whisperers have also found another way into the mines, so Connie and Magna head deeper into the tunnel to fight them off. Daryl and Jerry manage to usher a limping Carol to safety during the brawl, but no sooner does that pair make it out of the cave than disaster strikes.

The intensifying cave in sets off the old sticks of dynamite. Connie and Magna turn to look at each other just as an explosion overtakes the mines, blasting rock sky high, and reducing the newly made exit to a pile of rubble. Kelly cries out for her sister. Daryl frantically tries to move the rubble to no avail, while Carol cries and begs him to tell her that it was all her fault. With the explosion likely to draw walkers and Whisperers, the group is forced to flee. Daryl goes his own way, in search of another entrance to the tunnel system and rescue Magna and his new love Connie. However, there’s no guarantee he will find anything but their bodies.

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