The Walking Dead Awards: Taking the high ground

Season 9, Episode 13: Enter . . . the Highway Men!

The Walking Dead 913
Are Daryl and Connie the show’s new power couple?

Photograph by Gene Page/AMC

(Spoilers ahead)

Each week, we comb through the guts of The Walking Dead, much like a horde of hungry walkers, to bring you the episode’s best moments, surprises, and other post-apocalyptic curiosities. This week: Job site safety, baby protection devices, and writing better threats

Season 9, Episode 13: “Chokepoint”

Best new term for walkers: “Guardians”

Best memorial: Shiva the tiger might be long dead at this point in The Walking Dead timeline, but her memory is clearly not forgotten, as a large tiger sculpture looks out over the Kingdom and another tiger is drawn on the community’s banner.

Paper is the new bullet: In the dark times (the Scott Gimple days), bullets never seemed to run out and ammo in general was never in short supply. Now, Connie’s notepad seems to have an endless supply of paper for messaging.

Biggest question: Who exactly are the Highwaymen, and why have they waited until now to harass anyone in our heroes’ communities?

Second biggest question: And why do they look like a post-apocalyptic country band?

Most obvious trope: Did anyone think for two seconds that Lydia was going to stay put in that closet? Grass is green; sky is blue; teenagers don’t listen.

Best bargaining chip: Who knew a movie could be used to cause a breakthrough in negotiations. How many of The Walking Dead’s past problems could have been solved with a film? Patton for the Governor, Rebel Without a Cause for Negan, and Cannibal Holocaust for Terminus.

Worst guard team: Maybe two hormonal teenagers aren’t the best pair for keeping watch. Especially if they’ve just been caught kissing.

Best invention: The Baby Cage™ (a.k.a. a trunk with holes drilled in the top) keeps your newborn free from walkers’ bites while still delivering enough oxygen for a child or small pet.

Hardest to explain: At some point, Tara (or maybe Daryl) is going to have to explain to Carol and Ezekiel exactly what Henry’s been up to. The drinking, the imprisonment, falling in love with a random girl, bumbling into a war with a dangerous new foe because of said girl, the kidnapping of that girl, and most importantly, the lack of any sort of smith training.

Could it be love? Daryl has had a lot of close relationships on this show—Carol, Beth, Rick, and Dog, to name a few—but never a romantic subplot. Could Connie be the first? (The Internet certainly seems to think so.)

Best exchange:
Carol: Ezekiel, maybe we should try talking to them.

Ezekiel: What makes you think thugs like this would listen?

Jerry: They took my sword.

Carol: They could have killed you—you and your crew—but they didn’t. I mean, they sent a letter for cryin’ out loud. A grammatically correct one, too.

Most disturbing image: Beta holding Daryl’s neck over a saw blade. While we didn’t think the writers would really kill off Daryl—one of the very few of the original cast members left on the show—at this juncture, it was still unsettling to watch the metal kiss his throat.

Best kill: Daryl sending Beta down the elevator shaft. Yes, yes, we know that Beta survives, but Daryl doesn’t know that. (That’s enough for us.) The entire fight was well done, giving us suspense, action, and a general sense of entertainment that we haven’t seen for a while in this show’s fights. For it to only be Round One enhances it. They’ve set the stage for Daryl to kill Beta eventually, so we’ll preemptively give him the “best kill.”

Episode MVP: Not only is Connie an extremely skilled fighter and a careful tactician, she has heart too, refusing to abandon Lydia even though her presence poses a danger to the group. If she does end up being a love interest for Daryl, he’ll have picked a good one.