This review contains spoilers for The Walking Dead season 10, episode 14, “Look at the Flowers.”
The Walking Dead season 10 is going to delay its finale due to COVID-19 disrupting completion of the show’s post-production, but the show has nevertheless just put out its best episode of the season so far. “Look at the Flowers” has few blemishes and wonderfully juggles more narrative threads in a single episode than perhaps the writers have ever even tried, and this is a show that used to struggle to carry even a secondary plot.
From open to close, “Look at the Flowers” delivered in all phases. It had well-directed action sequences, like Carol’s near-death escape while she was stuck under a collapsed shed. It had some truly heart-wrenching scenes, like Ezekiel’s overwhelming self-doubt as he continues to battle untreated cancer. It also had what I consider to be the best Negan scene in years as he tricked a trio of Whisperers who briefly bowed to him as their new Alpha. To cap it all off, it teased the introduction of a new character straight out of the comics. It was as close to perfect as The Walking Dead can likely get ten years into its story.
This episode was also full of callbacks to earlier episodes, some of them as old as the first few seasons, and writing like that always goes far with fans. Fans invest a lot of time and mental energy into analyzing a series they enjoy, and when shows do stuff like The Walking Dead did this week, it feels like time and energy well spent, like the crew appreciates the show in the same way.
It goes beyond the obvious too, like the episode title itself. Negan having Daryl kneel was evocative of the Lucilling, while Carol’s imaginary companion version of Alpha referenced Sophia, who hasn’t been on the show since the season two finale yet is a foundational element to who Carol is today. Even Yumiko and Eugene’s ride into the city (presumably Washington D.C.) gave us the same effect as Rick riding horseback into Atlanta way back in the pilot. Eugene even wore a big cowboy hat. It is fan service that actually works.
As we near the end of the series, presumed to come with season 12 but maybe sooner given current events, these callbacks feel like the show is not stuck in the past, but respectfully fond of it. This is a show about characters perpetually building for an uncertain future, like Yumiko tells Ezekiel, but more than ever it’s one that is also looking to its storied history.
Even removing all elements of nostalgia, “Look at the Flowers” remains a great episode of The Walking Dead. I appreciated the way they told the parallel stories of Carol and Beta in their post-Alpha lives. They both go on lonesome quests to dwell on themselves, and we even see Beta’s pre-undead music career come fully into view on the show. Beta, once known by his country singing stage name of Half Moon, was famous for his voice, the same voice he has hushed for so long in deference to Alpha. With her gone, he’s now prepared to do things his way, even while he still clearly obsesses over her in some ways — as evidenced by the way he stitches part of her face onto his Whisperer Mask 2.0.
Paced to perfection, filled with genuine character moments, and great action without a reliance on major conflict — this episode was fantastic. Next week will hopefully wrap up the Whisperer storyline, but I worry the episode was shot as a typical penultimate episode cliffhanger, with Beta’s fate not yet sealed until the finale we’re now waiting to see later in the year. Any guesses as to who will kill Beta? I’ll put my money on Daryl in a much-hyped rematch.
The Walking Dead under Angela Kang has been nothing short of a renaissance, and even though it’s still good for a bad episode or two per season, the majority of time spent with the series feels like a worthy investment. That’s no small feat after losing three of its biggest stars in the last two years, but the ensemble cast and improved writing and direction of the show have lended themselves to a complete comeback. “Look at the Flowers” is one of the strongest examples since Rick’s fateful sendoff.