In “Do Not Send Us Astray,” we see everyone together again for the first time since the war began, and although much ground is covered with many characters, the writers still find time for closer moments with a few in particular. In new ways, we get to know characters both from the very beginning of the series as well as ones introduced this season. How has someone from the original crew like Carol changed? Who is Siddiq, and can he be trusted right now? How are tried and true fighters like Maggie navigating her newly established leadership role?
Carol Peletier and Daryl Dixon
It is fitting that Carol has been suited up in armor this entire season as it is a symbol for the emotional armor she has worn for the past three seasons. For this reason, it is satisfying that Carol has the chance to take off that armor and explore her feelings in this episode. During the interstices of fighting, Carol has a frank talk with Tobin while he is healing from a battle wound. This is the first time she has seen him since she ghosted him (and everyone else) back in season six. She apologizes for leaving him unceremoniously, but more importantly, she admits she was pretending with him. She was just trying to fit in and live, and as soon as things seemed to feel real, she ran off. This might be sad news for Tobin who is clearly smitten with her, but it could be good news for Carol. That she was willing to open up like this and that Tobin’s final words (as we find out) are a reminder to her that there will be an “after” suggests Carol might finally be ready to let her guard down emotionally — and maybe romantically — and begin living her life with emotional honesty.
“Caryl” fans, brace yourselves, because Carol’s goodbye to Tobin could mean that a long awaited hello is due for someone else. Viewers and cast members alike have speculated endlessly about Carol and Daryl, and many are banking that their seemingly inevitable romantic union will be one of, if not the biggest, emotional payoffs of the show. It is clear how much they love each other and what they mean to each other, so the approach to their possible romance must be fragile. Even Norman Reedus has suggested that if those two characters go in that direction, it will be a slow-build and will be “earned.” Though they’ve been growing closer from the beginning, if you trace their interactions starting from their reunion outside of the Kingdom until now, you almost wonder if they already have reached this point with each other. In fact, there might have been a major visual clue suggesting this in episode ten of season seven, “New Best Friends.” (Hint: Denim Dreams.) At their fireside impromptu visit, Daryl makes an underhanded joke, asking if he needs to be a king to get any food from Carol. (Here is a refresher on the significance of fruit between Carol and the King).
The moment in the current episode that adds fuel to the Caryl theory is when Carol kills Tobin (and therefore her romantic connection to him), and the first person to bust in on the scene and ask if she is okay is none other than Daryl Dixon. Will this story between them significantly progress before the end of season eight?
To fans of the television iteration of The Walking Dead, Siddiq is still a mystery. He seems to be an enigma as well as a burden to the group. At once he is a constant reminder of Carl’s death (and probably in many minds is the cause of it) as well as a reminder of Carl’s legacy and his hope for the future. During a time of war, adjusting to this new and controversial presence is hard for everyone. Even the woman preparing for the night’s triage patients doesn’t want his help because of his inexperience. She snaps at him, “It sounds like you don’t know enough, and in my experience, people who don’t know enough are more dangerous than people who don’t know shit.” Though obviously quotable, this line seems innocent enough at the time. But, after the skirmish with the saviors, most who were wounded, treated, and survived died and turned to walkers that very night. While we know the Saviors modified their weapons poison-arrow-frog style with walker blood, could there be another cause for these unsuspected deaths?
Rick has lost so much and changed so dramatically since the turn, but one thing that he has never lost is his cop-like vigilance and almost supernatural attention to detail. After they killed all the triage patients who had turned, they were baffled until Rick, without skipping a beat, says that he knew the Saviors put walker blood on their weapons back when he saw it on Lucille in the last episode. All of this fits together but almost too perfectly. It makes you wonder what else could possibly be responsible for such a disaster?
The only person who physically treated all of the wounded (and for the first time) was Siddiq, and when you realize this, that quote about the dangers of not knowing enough begins to take on new meaning. The writers make a point to sprinkle Siddiq throughout the episode as he offers to “treat” everyone’s wounds because he wouldn’t want them to get “infected.” Before everyone goes to sleep that night, one of the treated Hilltop fighters claims that Saddiq did a good job and that he didn’t even feel Saddiq stitching him up — this would suggest that whatever medicines or chemicals he was using were strong. To top everything off, Rick was the only person to refuse his medical care. Maybe Rick was too emotionally distraught to deal with him, perhaps it was his impeccable Sherrif’s intuition, or maybe it was simply luck, but he was the only person injured that we know of who wasn’t touched by Saddiq and his “medicine,” and Rick is still alive. Could Saddiq have accidentally killed or poisoned his patients, proving the other triage worker correct? Or, worse, could he be doing it on purpose — this is the season of treachery and questioned loyalties after all– and as Rick feared in the very first episode of the season, could Saddiq be one of “them”?
Maggie Rhee (The Widow)
Maggie has proven to be a nearly unshakable leader until this episode, and while the darker side of her that comes out is alarming, it is refreshing for her character. Nobody is focused and selfless all the time, even a great leader like Maggie, and the introduction of her inner turmoil and vengeance brings new depth to her. But what does this side of Maggie, once it is finally revealed in the episode, suggest about her entire plan of attack? While it seemed that Saviors were headed to the Hilltop anyway, Maggie went out of her way to further lure them there. She executed a complex, effective, and quite exciting attack, but for what?
Yes, she is protecting her community and now building a new future soon thanks to Georgie, but let’s not forget what Maggie has endured. Her love for Glenn and their familial plans for a future were a virtuous cornerstone of the show. But, while love is the ultimate motivator for characters like Maggie, it can be a motivator of fury and vengeance when that love and hope has been defiled. The final shot of the episode shows Maggie regretfully counting the “cost” of their decision to fight. It is a striking visual tally of graves. There are Glenn and Abraham’s graves with the freshly buried graves of about fifteen Hilltop fighters in rows next to them. Will the freedom and vengeance they are fighting for be worth the price?
With so much action as well as drama in “Do Not Send Us Astray” and with so many characters, it’s hard to tell where the next episode will lead. Hopefully we will learn the fate of Tara, the truth about Dwight, and see what Negan has been brought up to speed on with Jadis. Perhaps Rick will take the time to finish the rest of the quote for which the episode is named and that Siddiq tried to recite to him, one that has been repeated in fragments since episode one. One thing is certain though, the closing episodes are going to be packed full in order to answer all these questions and more. What would you like to see in the coming episode?