‘The Walking Dead’ Season 9 Episode 7 Recap: “Stradivarius”

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 7
Angel Theory as Kelly, Lauren Ridloff as Connie, Dan Folger as Luke, Eleanor Matsuura as Yumiko, and Avi Nash as Siddiq in ‘The Walking Dead’ season 9 episode 7 (Photo by Gene Page / AMC)

AMC’s The Walking Dead season nine episode six introduced us to talking walkers. In season nine episode seven directed by TWD alum Michael Cudlitz, we pick up with Rosita (Christian Serratos) freaking out while in the woods hiding from walkers. She’s normally a fierce fighter, but she’s tired and not in great shape.

Elsewhere, Daryl (Norman Reedus) walks Carol (Melissa McBride) and Henry (Matt Lintz) back to his camp. Daryl’s set up traps everywhere and they have to walk carefully as they approach his base camp. Oh, and apparently he’s not completely on his own. Daryl now has a dog to keep him company.

Magna ((Nadia Hilker) and her group are on the road with Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Siddiq (Avi Nash). They’re traveling to Hilltop even though Siddiq believes Michonne should have just let them stay in Alexandria. He gets Michonne to almost admit she likes these strangers.

A check on Hilltop shows the community’s a well-run machine. Tara (Alanna Masterson) has taken over some of the leadership duties from the absent Maggie and things are running smooth as silk. Jesus (Tom Payne) is supposed to be running the community, but he’s a little pouty. Maggie sends letters so he knows she’s happy, but he obviously misses her company.

Tara ticks off the list of issues requiring Jesus’ attention, most of which are fairly trivial. She also informs him he’s been re-elected leader which doesn’t surprise him since no one ran against him. Even though he’s in charge, he refuses to use Maggie’s office.

Daryl and Carol go for a walk, with Daryl checking on his traps. He admits he likes being on his own, but Carol reminds him he wasn’t supposed to be on his own for this long. She wants him to come with them to Hilltop to watch over Henry for her because she needs to get back to The Kingdom. Daryl turns her down, telling her Henry’s going to have to learn to stand on his own.

Magna’s group comes upon their old camp which has been torn apart by a herd of walkers. They kill a few stragglers who were caught when the trailer flipped over, and then Magna becomes emotional as she looks through their deceased friend’s belongings.

Michonne refuses to let the group keep the weapons that are still lying around camp. She tells DJ (Matt Mangum) to collect them, warning the strangers she’s not about to let them walk into Hilltop armed. Michonne then reveals she isn’t going to finish the ride to Hilltop and gives them an ultimatum: keep their weapons and go out on their own, or hand over the weapons and get a ride to Hilltop. After a brief discussion, they decide to give up their weapons.

Jesus is alone riding his horse when Aaron (Ross Marquand) leaps on him out of nowhere. A fight breaks out, but it’s actually a training exercise and there’s no hard feelings when a blow lands pretty hard. Their time together is secret as neither Michonne at Alexandria or Tara at Hilltop would allow either men to be so far outside their walls without guards. They seem to cherish these secret meetings to talk things through, and both men know the groups need to come back together.

As they’re talking, they spot a flare. Rosita shot it off and when they find her, she’s incredibly weak. Eugene’s hiding in a barn, but Rosita’s not sure which one. Because it’s late in the day, they decide to take her back to Hilltop and hope Eugene can stay alive by himself overnight.

Back at Daryl’s camp, he cooks them up a snake he just killed while Carol compliments his skills. Henry figures out Carol’s ulterior motive and claims he doesn’t need a chaperone.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 7
Melissa McBride, Norman Reedus, and Matt Lintz in ‘The Walking Dead’ season 9 episode 7 (Photo by Gene Page / AMC)

As they wait for the meal to cook, Carol gives Daryl a haircut. Daryl confesses he knows Carol believes he’s still looking for Rick. He confirms he is because they never found the body. Carol wants him to let it go. (Daryl remains miserable and heartbroken while Rick’s alive and well. Damn you, Rick Grimes!)

As they eat, Daryl realizes his dog’s not around to chow down on his dinner.

Michonne watches out as the group spends the night in a shelter. She hears a noise and finds Luke (Dan Fogler) doing something secretive with his back turned. She demands he turn around and drop what he’s holding, but he refuses to drop it. She slashes the thing in half when he turns around before realizing it’s a violin – a Stradivarius, to be exact. (Dan’s a music teacher and he’s obsessed with collecting instruments during their travels.)

Once more to Daryl’s camp we go and Henry has followed Daryl through the woods. Daryl’s searching for his dog and finally hears him barking like crazy. They spot him in a circle of crawling walkers and he’s tangled in a rope. Daryl makes his way to him but loses his knife as walkers pull at his legs. He orders Henry to stay back, finally retrieving his knife and making his way around the circle taking out the walkers. One walker breaks off his own foot and stumbles toward Daryl. Henry’s disobeyed Daryl’s orders and impales the walker, with Daryl finishing it off.

Neither notice Carol’s lurking behind the trees, arrow at the ready. She quietly returns to camp without letting them know she had their backs.

Over at Hilltop, Tara admits to Jesus it’s weird seeing Rosita and Aaron. She asks what he was doing out with Aaron, and he admits he’s been training with him – and keeping the lines of communication open. He’s working to get Alexandria on board with the fair, and Tara warns him Hilltoppers are noticing how much he’s been gone.

Tara reminds Jesus his people – and Maggie – are counting on him and he needs to stick around. She’ll look for Eugene in the morning while he keeps Hilltop together.

Over at Daryl’s, he explains to Henry his dog normally checks the traps and makes sure they don’t have a walker problem. This is the first time he’s gotten stuck and Daryl thanks Henry for his help. Daryl then reveals all the traps he’s set are for walkers, not animals. Killing an animal in a trap would be a painful way for the creature to die, and Daryl won’t do that.

Henry tells Daryl that Carol counts him as her best friend and she really misses him. When Daryl says Carol knows where to find him if she needs him, a very mature Henry informs him Carol shouldn’t have to hunt him down.

Michonne tries to apologize for cutting the Stradivarius in half, but Luke is having none of it. It’s a priceless instrument he’s been carefully transporting on their travels and now it’s trash. Siddiq can’t believe Luke’s been traveling with a collection of instruments, and Luke is exasperated. “It’s art!” says Luke.

Luke explains that some historians believe ancient humans survived the Neanderthals not by defeating them, but by joining with them around a camp fire to share stories. A 40,000 flute was found in a cave and maybe music and paintings helped them create communities. Music and art separate humans from animals, says Luke, and he truly believes sharing with each other is how they’ll survive. Art makes them stronger.

Michonne is speechless.

The next morning Michonne prepares to leave them, acknowledging she’s not sure how Maggie will react if she sees her. Siddiq finally reveals Maggie’s gone and Jesus is running Hilltop. Michonne demands to know where Maggie is, but she doesn’t get an answer as DJ races into the shelter to tell them walkers are outside. (We still haven’t learned what went down between Hilltop and Alexandria to rip the communities and their leaders apart.)

Michonne and Magna’s group head outside, but they aren’t armed. They ask for their weapons and finally after the odds turn against them, Michonne tells DJ to hand them over.

The walkers approach the horses and trailer, and the gang do their best to keep them safe as they make their way over. One of the walkers is their old friend and Magna’s nearly killed by him because she won’t fight. Michonne takes him out, surprisingly gently.

DJ warns they need to leave, and they regroup and head to the horses.

Daryl’s camp is also waking up. Carol’s all smiles when Daryl states he’ll be ready to leave with them in 10 minutes.

Michonne once again asks about Maggie and Siddiq says she’s with Georgie far away trying to establish a new community. Siddiq wants Michonne to finish the ride to Hilltop, but she disagrees. Suddenly two riders from Hilltop appear with the message they have Rosita. Michonne wants them to take the message back that she’s on the way.

Before they can get back on the road, Connie (Lauren Ridloff) thinks she sees something in the nearby woods. They pause, but Connie finally indicates it was nothing. (There’s definitely something in the woods.)

Daryl, Carol, and Henry arrive at Hilltop, and Tara greets Daryl with a hug. Jesus is happy they’re there and that Henry’s interested in learning to be a blacksmith. Aaron’s also on hand and Daryl wonders why he’s there. Aaron explains about Rosita and that Eugene’s missing. Daryl volunteers to go with them because they can use another tracker. Jesus promises Tara that after this adventure away from Hilltop, he’ll do his duty as the group’s leader. Daryl’s dog who is apparently named “Dog” also accompanies the group.

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