WARNING: The following article includes spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 premiere, "Lines We Cross," which premiered Sunday on AMC.
The premiere episode of The Walking Dead's tenth season came across as the calm before the storm -- even though the characters were anything but calm.
Last season, the Whisperers were the latest threat to the communities of Alexandria, Oceanside, and Hilltop. While they were initially confident in their victory, they learned that the Whisperers were a new kind of threat. Uninterested in civilization and hiding among the shambling walkers, they could be anywhere. And when they kidnapped multiple people from the fair right under the citizens' noses and then erected their heads on spikes to connote the boundary that would separate their land, the ruthlessness of the group, especially their leader Alpha became clear.
The first episode of the season showcases the fear and dread the Whisperers instilled in the survivors, while also foreshadowing the inevitable violent confrontation that will happen this season, likely sooner than later.
In fact, the entire premiere is preoccupied with the coming Whisperer War. The episode opens with an extended sequence of the survivors practicing for battle. They look to be a well-oiled machine. Clearly they've been working on their combat strategies for awhile. Although it seems unlikely any battle with the Whisperers will be so traditional.
Shortly following the training session, Judith finds a walker-skin mask on the beach and the discovery throws the citizens into a panic. They haven't seen the Whisperers for months but they take the skin as a sign that they're back. Or at least some of them do -- Michonne says they should be cautious. It's possible the mask was discarded a long time ago and just didn't wash up until now. Regardless, Michonne, Aaron, and several others go to scout the area to see if they can find any evidence of the Whisperers' return.
It's in these middle sequences that it becomes clear that many of the characters are still wary of trouble with the Whisperers and are respecting the borders they set in order to avoid any unnecessary conflicts. Michonne gets angry with Aaron when he charges past the border, and later, Daryl prevents Carol -- who's been off on a boat for months -- from entering the Whisperers' territory to fetch a deer carcass. Both Daryl and Michonne don't like the arrangement with the Whisperers, but even after months of their absence, they don't want to risk a clash. Both are concerned about what a potential war with the unpredictable group could mean for their people.
At Alexandria, Gabriel is unsure how to handle the news of the Whisperers' potential return too. Should he lock down the community or would that just needlessly stoke fear? After Negan gives him some unsolicited advice about how his uncertainty makes his people feel, Gabriel decides to err on the side of caution and step up security.
Ultimately, the scouting party finds evidence that at least one Whisperer was probably on their side of the border at some point but who knows when.
Then, when a satellite crashes into Whisperer territory, the group collectively decides to cross the border to put it out. If it spreads it could destroy their hunting ground or burn Oceanside so they don't feel they have much choice. One of them even suggests the Whisperers might even be grateful that they stopped the fire on their land.
Once the fire is out and the walkers it summoned have been vanquished, we find Carol and Daryl on their own somewhere else in the woods. After the events of the previous day, Daryl informs Carol he wants her to stay instead of taking off on her boat again. Daryl walks away, but Carol hesitates as she sees someone emerging into a clearing in the valley below. It's Alpha. She looks up and sees Carol and she does not look pleased. It's clear Alpha will not be taking the breach of her borders lightly.
It's also telling that Carol is the first to see Alpha after they've both spent months away from the area. Carol's look is just as gritty as Alpha's. Michonne and Darul may not want a war, but Carol looks like she's itching for a fight. And now it seems she'll get her wish. The final scene of the episode doesn't just set up the coming conflict, it also indicates that a grudge-match between Carol and Alpha will be a big part of that.
The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Jeffrey Dean Morgan,Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Khary Payton, Cooper Andrews, Avi Nash, Samantha Morton. It airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.