"Morning Star" is the eleventh episode of the tenth season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the one-hundred and forty-second episode of the series overall. It premiered on March 8, 2020. It was written by Vivian Tse & Julia Ruchman and directed by Michael Satrazemis.
The Whisperers are coming for Hilltop. After Daryl and Lydia's encounter with Alpha, the communities must decide whether to run or fight. Meanwhile, Eugene's communication with Stephanie gets complicated.
In the woods, Beta uses his knives to remove the bark from the nearby trees in order to extract sap, which is being harvested by the Whisperers. Meanwhile, Alpha hands Negan a branch and orders him to whip her arm, before she does the same to him. Later, the Whisperers march with their horde. Beta chants "We are the end of the world", and the other Whisperers follow. Alpha continues the chant by saying "We take them all", as Negan marches beside her, now equipped with his very own Whisperer mask.
At the Hilltop, Eugene is searching for a music record while Stephanie discusses comets, noting that she spotted three last night. Eugene is frustrated that he cannot find the record, so Stephanie encourages him to sing the song himself. Eugene doesn't believe himself capable of the feat. Stephanie then asks how many comets Eugene spotted, to which he replies four. Stephanie is slightly peeved that Eugene is in the lead, and warns that he "better not be counting satellites", revealing that she saw one falling recently. Eugene realizes that the satellite she observed is the same one that crashed near Oceanside at roughly the same time, leading Stephanie conclude that their groups are located relatively close to each other. Excited to learn this fact, Eugene reveals that his group is located in Virginia and proposes a face-to-face meeting, allowing Stephanie to choose the time and location. Stephanie reluctantly agrees to talk to her people, but asks Eugene not to do the same. Eugene promises to keep quiet.
Outside, Alden and Earl are constructing defenses on the Hilltop's walls, when they spot a group of Alexandrians approaching, although neither recognize Mary. When Earl asks Aaron about this, the latter reveals Mary to be a former Whisperer that has defected, and that she wishes to see her nephew, Adam. Earl promptly shoots down this notion, not trusting Mary. Alden agrees with Earl, and assures him that they will only allow the Alexandrians to see Alex.
Ezekiel finds Carol brooding at Daryl's former camp, and offers to comfort her, even though she claims he doesn't need to be. Back at the Hilltop, Kelly wishes to join Luke's search party in an attempt to rescue her sister, while Luke cautions her against it, as her ankle is injured. Yumiko asks Kelly about Magna's last words to her, but the latter thinks them unimportant, since she believes they will rescue their friends. Annoyed at Yumiko's questioning, Kelly asks why she is coming with them if she thinks Magna and Connie are dead. They are interrupted by Daryl and Lydia's arrival. The pair reveal that Alpha is coming.
Searching for Eugene, Rosita climbs up to the attic, where she hears Stephanie on the radio attempting to contact Eugene. Puzzled by the mysterious voice, Rosita answers the call and asks for Stephanie's identity as Eugene scrambles to climb down from the upper floor and stop Rosita from replying. Furious that Rosita made him break his promise to Stephanie, Eugene tells her to leave.
Out in the woods, Negan approaches Alpha and proposes that she gets Alexandria and Hilltop to surrender instead of destroying them, thus adding their populations to the Whisperers' ranks. Alpha asks him to elaborate. Back at the Hilltop, Yumiko instructs Felix and Penny to radio them as soon as they see the Whisperers approaching. She then joins the discussion about what should be done. Lydia thinks they should run, explaining that even if the explosion at the cave took out half the horde, Alpha would still have thousands of walkers left. Earl thinks the Whisperers might bypass them and go for Alexandria first, but Lydia negates this. Jerry wishes to stay and fight instead, while Dianne agrees with Lydia, believing that they can rebuild in another location. Earl is skeptical, however, and reckons that they will never find a place as good as Hilltop. While Yumiko points out they're heavily outnumbered, Earl insists that fighting is the best course of action, and even if they die, they will die for a place that means something. Aaron points out that there are children at Hilltop, too. Daryl agrees that they should get the kids out first, and instructs the others to pack up and regroup at Oceanside.
As the children climb into the wagon, Judith expresses a desire to stay and fight, but Daryl is quick to rebuff her. He then spots Carol and Ezekiel arriving, but doesn't go to greet them. The caravan doesn't make it far before they hit a roadblock and discover Felix and Penny (the scouts they sent earlier) dead. Daryl identifies this as one of Negan's tactics and concludes that all the other roads will be blocked, too, making a retreat impossible.
The caravan returns to the Hilltop, with Daryl informing the others of the situation. Luke suggests calling Alexandria for reinforcements, but Dianne thinks that neither Alexandria nor Oceanside can get to them in time. Earl is confident that Hilltop is prepared, and tries to rally everyone for the upcoming conflict.
Later on, Ezekiel prepares his armor, when Carol knocks on his door and enters. She notices the lumps on his neck, and while Ezekiel brushes it off as nothing, Carol tells him to "never bullshit a bullshitter". Ezekiel mournfully admits that he wanted to tell Carol about his condition, when the latter suddenly kisses him. Downstairs, Mary spots Adam and attempts to talk to him, but is intercepted by Alden, who prevents her from doing so. Despite Mary's pleas and Aaron's attempts to reason with him, Alden remains adamant about keeping Adam separate from Mary.
After having sex, Ezekiel says that it was fun, although Carol states that that was never a problem. Ezekiel jokes about being at least fondly remembered for something, and notes that Carol has lost her sense of humor when the latter doesn't laugh. Carol claims she simply left it "on a dresser in the Kingdom" before it burned down. Ezekiel says that he left his pride there, too. He then asks Carol if their encounter would have happened if they didn't think they were going to die tonight, to which Carol jokingly says "Wait... we're gonna die tonight?". The pair share a laugh.
Outside the Hilltop, Eugene is calibrating the electric fence when he is greeted by Rosita. She informs him that she talked to Gabriel and that Coco is fine. Eugene asks if she told him about the horde, but she reveals that she didn't. Rosita says that she thought Eugene would be working on the radio, but he reveals that there have been no new transmissions. Rosita supposes that Eugene likes the girl on the radio, but he believes that she won't talk to him again after the earlier debacle. Rosita assures him that the girl likes him, before suddenly inviting Eugene to kiss her. He leans in, but is ultimately unable to go through with it. Eugene notes how peculiar it is to want to kiss someone he has never met, while Rosita finds this endearing. She encourages him to attempt to win Stephanie back.
Back at the Hilltop, Lydia tearfully inspects the engraving Henry made for her, when Carol sits next to her. After lighting a cigarette, Carol says that Lydia should hate her, to which the latter replies that it's hard for her to do so, since Carol already seems to hate herself so much. Carol vows to kill Alpha, but Lydia points out that it won't save them. Carol replies that it will feel good, and asks if Lydia will hate her then. Lydia coldly states that she wont be thinking about Carol at all. Carol chuckles and thanks her for telling the truth. Lydia observes that people don't know how to do that anymore, so they simply stay away from both of them. Carol mournfully says that she had a life, to which Lydia simply replies "I know".
Outside, Luke and Kelly are rigging the defenses when Yumiko joins them and apologizes to Kelly for being "an asshole". Kelly quickly forgives her with a hug, and is confident they will get Connie and Magna back "cause assholes get shit done". They are suddenly interrupted by dozens of rats fleeing from the bushes. Yumiko quickly realizes that the horde is coming, and orders everyone to prepare.
As everyone equips their weapons and armor, Eugene tries to get Stephanie to respond by singing "When the Wild Wind Blows" by Iron Maiden over the radio. After a while, Stephanie joins in, much to Eugene's joy. Stephanie apologizes for disappearing, explaining that she got spooked when she heard someone else respond, although Eugene claims it was his fault. Stephanie asks who the girl who responded was, and concludes that Eugene must be fond of her when the latter explains. Eugene describes Rosita as his "BFF", and says that he hopes Stephanie gets to meet her some day. He goes on to say that the last few days of talking with Stephanie have been incredible. Stephanie abruptly blurts out the location of her group (Charleston, West Virginia), and sets up the location and time of their future meeting, which Eugene accepts. Right after this, Rosita comes to fetch him for the battle, and Eugene confidently follows her, stating that he has a "date".
Downstairs, Ezekiel is fastening his armor when Daryl approaches him. Noticing the lumps on Ezekiel's neck, Daryl asks if he's okay. "Nah, I got cancer.", Ezekiel replies, but goes on to state "But that's okay, you know what I'm saying?". Daryl says that he's sorry for this, and acknowledges that while he and Ezekiel never really got along, he and the others are nonetheless glad to have him. Ezekiel thanks Daryl for his kind words. The two proceed to arrange for the other to get the children out in case one of them falls in battle. When Ezekiel leaves, Daryl notices Judith sitting on the sofa and wonders why she isn't with the other kids. Judith insists that she can fight. Daryl says that he knows she can, and apologizes for Judith seeing the bodies of Felix and Penny earlier that day. Judith dismisses them as "just walkers", which she has killed plenty of. Judith claims that she isn't scared, but when Daryl says that he might be, she says that she might be scared for R.J., her mom, and Daryl. Daryl assures her that there is no shame in that, since she knows what she's fighting for. Judith reveals that she repaired the wing on Daryl's vest. Daryl thanks her for the gift, before making her promise that if Ezekiel comes looking for her, she goes with him, regardless of whether she knows where Daryl is. Judith promises after some hesitation, and the two hug each other goodbye. Outside, Carol approaches Daryl and asks him to not hate her. Daryl assures her that he is never going to hate her, before taking his leave. He grabs a morning star and heads out for battle.
As everyone is gathered on the front lines, Kelly puts her palms on the ground and confirms that the horde is close. Indeed, the horde soon emerges from the bushes and approaches the Hilltop. While they are momentarily halted by the electric fence, the walkers soon break through it and approach the second line of defense. Aaron orders the survivors to split ranks. The shield-wielding survivors reinforce the makeshift barbed wire fence, while the melee weapon-wielding survivors start taking out the walkers. The archers, meanwhile, stay in the back and rain arrows on the herd. Behind the herd, Beta commands the Whisperers to launch the sap they collected earlier using makeshift catapults into the front lines, drenching most of the defenders as well as the Hilltop's walls. This is followed by the Whisperers launching fire-arrows into the front lines, setting one unfortunate Hilltop resident ablaze. Behind the Whisperer lines, Negan is puzzled, since he thought Alpha wanted the survivors to join them. Alpha assures Negan that they will, as part of her horde, much to his bemusement. With no choice, the defenders begin to retreat towards the Hilltop, but are trapped when the Whisperers launch another volley of fire-arrows into the Hilltop's walls, setting the community ablaze.
- Anthony Lopez as Oscar
- Anabelle Holloway as Gracie
- Antony Azor as R.J. Grimes
- Gustavo Gomez as Marco
- William Gregory Lee as Chanting Whisperer
- First (and last) appearance of Felix.
- First (and last) appearance of Penny.
- The title of the episode, "Morning Star", refers to Daryl's use of a morning star to fight the horde.
- This episode was made available for streaming to subscribers of AMC Premiere on March 6, 2020.
- The names of Jerry and Nabila's children (Ezra, Aliyah, and Mariam) are revealed.
- It's suggested that approximately half of Alpha's horde died in the cave in "Squeeze". However, Alpha still has thousands of walkers under her control.
- It is revealed that Stephanie's group is located in Charleston, West Virginia.
- Despite having once been a Savior and having to earn the group's trust himself at one point, Alden is belligerently distrustful of Mary.
- However, this is shown to come from his grief and anger over losing Enid.
- Alden was also never committed to Negan, whereas Mary was one of Alpha's two closest advisors and even killed her own sister for Alpha (though later, she regretted this choice).
- The song Eugene sings over the radio is "When the Wild Wind Blows" by Iron Maiden.
- This is most likely anachronistic, as "When the Wild Wind Blows" was released in mid-August 2010 with the rest of the album.
- Carol staring at the portrait of Glenn before the battle, is possibly foreshadowing the alliance her and Negan have against taking down Alpha and that she was the one who released Negan from his cell.
- Austin Green is a Kingdom extra who was killed off in "Monsters" and "Some Guy" by the Saviors. However, this extra is seen portraying a new character, a coalition soldier on the front lines.
- The single soldier killed by the fire arrows was not an established character or an extra on the front lines, but one of the stunt coordinators selected for the dangerous act of being set ablaze.
- Additionally, this soldier is not mentioned in the "In Memoriam" segment on Talking Dead.
- Carol says to Ezekiel "Never bullshit a bullshitter", which is something he said to her in "The Well", where they first met.
- Rosita accidentally hearing Stephanie attempting to contact Eugene on his radio equipment and responding is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 165, where Siddiq and Annie hear Stephanie and attempt to contact her instead.
- Eugene and Stephanie arraigning a meeting between their groups is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 169, where Rick arranges the meeting with Stephanie instead.
- The Coalition facing the Whisperers and their horde in an open field is adapted from Issue 158 and Issue 159.
- The Whisperers setting fire to the Hilltop is adapted from Issue 160.
- Despite the various claims that Oceanside would be unable to assist the Hilltop in time, several Oceanside extras can be visibly seen on the battlefield.
- A possible explanation is that they were coalition soldiers from Oceanside already present at the Hilltop when the situation developed rather than people that responded to a call for help.