"Stradivarius" is the seventh episode of the ninth season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the one-hundred and twenty-second episode of the series overall. It premiered on November 18, 2018. It was written by Vivian Tse and directed by Michael Cudlitz.
On the road to Hilltop, Siddiq tells Michonne she should have let Magna's group stay in Alexandria, but she says she still doesn't trust them and is only doing this for her daughter. In the cart, Magna complains to her group that Michonne has her knives and she wants them back. Yumiko tells Michonne she's just upset about their lost friend, Bernie.
In a thriving Hilltop, residents tend to their crops, while Enid conducts doctor check-ups in the infirmary. Meanwhile, inside the Barrington house, Tara asks Jesus about any news on Maggie. He reveals she and Hershel are with Georgie and she has sent another letter, where she admits to being happy.
Tara updates him on some minor problems at their community and congratulates him on being reelected as the leader. He reminds her he ran unopposed, but Tara suggests he should take Maggie's office and he refuses.
Back at Daryl's camp, Carol asks why he's been living in the woods so long and he says it's quiet. She updates him on Henry moving to the Hilltop while she deals with things at the Kingdom. Daryl asks why she's really here and she reveals she wants him to come with them. "Want me to babysit your boy?" Daryl growls. Carol admits Henry could use a mentor to toughen him up, but Daryl says he'll have to learn on his own.
Elsewhere, Michonne and the others arrive at Magna's shipping container of supplies, which have been displaced and destroyed by walkers. Magna's upset at the sight of Bernie's things while Michonne instructs D.J. to gather more of their weapons. This angers them, and Michonne also announces she's returning to Alexandria in the morning while Siddiq and D.J. help them finish the journey. Magna and Luke start to get riled up, but Yumiko calms them down and reluctantly agrees to her terms. They decide to find shelter for the night.
On the road, Aaron jumps Jesus on horseback and the two playfully fight in a field until they're worn out and go sit to catch up. Jesus asks if Michonne has reconsidered joining the upcoming fair but Aaron said she won't even put it to a revote. Suddenly, a flare is fired in the air close by and they rush over to investigate. They find Rosita wounded by a tree, who tells them she left Eugene in a barn. Before some walkers get close, they grab her and promise to look for Eugene tomorrow.
In his camp, Daryl skins a snake and throws it onto the fire for dinner while Henry asks Carol if she brought him here so Daryl could be his chaperone. At night, Carol gives Daryl a haircut and he reveals he never found Rick's body and got used to being in the woods. Carol suggests he should let it go. Later, as they have dinner, Henry asks Daryl how he got his scar on the eye but he ignores him and leaves to find Dog.
While they're holed up in a factory during the night, Michonne hears a noise and finds Luke facing away, holding something. She thinks it's a weapon and tells him to drop it and turn around, but he says he can't. As he turns, Michonne slices downward with her sword, leaving Luke holding the parts of a cleaved violin, waking up the rest of the group.
Meanwhile, Henry tails Daryl and finds a walker instead. Daryl shows up and asks if he was following him. Suddenly, Daryl hears Dog barking wildly nearby and rushes over to find it stuck in a trap and surrounded by walkers. Daryl picks off the walkers to save Dog and before a walker can bite him, Henry jumps in and saves him. "I told you to stay back," Daryl scolds. From the bushes, Carol secretly lowers her bow and arrow.
Back at Hilltop, Tara updates Jesus on Rosita's condition and asks what they were doing out there. Jesus confesses he was training Aaron while trying to get Alexandria on board with the Fair. She scolds him and tells him that people are noticing his constant absence from Hilltop. She reveals she's leaving tomorrow to look for Eugene and that he needs to stay.
At the camp, Henry notices an X-shaped scar on Daryl's back (similar to Michonne's) as he changes his shirt. He sits next to him and tells him that this is the first time Dog got caught in his trap. Henry thanks him for the save and tells him Carol misses and worries about him. "She knows how to find me," Daryl says. Henry suggests he should come to Hilltop with them. Daryl asks if it's so he can look over him, but Henry says "It isn't just about me."
Back in the factory, Luke gawks at his broken Stradivarius in disbelief and explains to Michonne that the violin was an old and rare Stradivarius. Yumiko lays her head on Magna's leg and playfully recalls the mansion they found it in. Luke says that music is the one thing that separates them from the animals and how it brought humans together in the past, leaving Michonne in thought.
In the morning, Siddiq tries again to convince Michonne to come with them but she says she can’t take the risk with Maggie. Siddiq reveals to her that Maggie and Hershel left last fall, shocking her. Before he can explain, D.J. arrives to let them know that there are walkers outside. The group gets out to find several walkers blocking the path to their horses.
Michonne kills several walkers as Magna demands they get back their weapons. Michonne finally relents and orders D.J. to return them their weapons. As Magna's group splits up and take out several walkers, an undead Bernie appears, deeply upsetting them. A heartbroken Magna can't put him down, so Michonne does it for her. The group opens a clear path and leave.
Back at the camp, Daryl loads up his bike for Hilltop and Carol seems overjoyed she convinced him to come.
On the road, Michonne empathizes with Yumiko and Magna, saying that she understands their pain of losing a friend considered family. Siddiq apologizes for not telling her about Maggie sooner, explaining that she and Hershel left with Georgie to help build a new community far away.
Suddenly, two Hilltop soldiers ride up to them to inform that Rosita's injured and being cared for at Hilltop. Michonne instructs them to tell Alexandria they're headed to Hilltop. Connie notices something nearby, confusing the group, but tells them it's nothing. As they leave, someone watches them from the bushes.
In Hilltop, Daryl, Carol and Henry arrive and hug Tara. Carol tells Jesus that Henry wants to learn how to be a blacksmith. Aaron greets Daryl and tells him they could use his help locating Eugene. Henry tries to tag along but Carol instead says he needs to stay and she will help him find a home.
The rescue group gears up as Jesus tells Tara he will go instead of her and next time he promises to stay, to which she agrees smiling. With Dog leading the way, Daryl, Aaron and Jesus head out to find Eugene.
- Angel Theory as Kelly
- James Chen as Kal
- Karen Ceesay as Bertie
- Matt Mangum as D.J.
- Anthony Lopez as Oscar
- Jackson Pace as Gage
- Kelley Mack as Adeline
- Bernie (Zombified)
- First appearance of Dog.
- First appearance of Gage.
- First appearance of Adeline.
- First (and last) appearance of Bernie. (Zombified)
- The title of the episode, "Stradivarius", refers to Luke's musical instrument which is destroyed by a suspicious Michonne in the middle of the night when he refuses to drop what she believes to be a weapon.
- The violin that Michonne breaks was not a priceless Stradivarius, but it was a real violin. The prop team purchased two violins that were beyond repair and cut one as if Michonne had carved through it.
- Maggie is revealed to have left the Hilltop and joined Georgie's group. Jesus is now the leader of the Hilltop, a job he doesn't seem very happy with though he is re-elected off-screen during the episode. It's implied that he thinks the job is temporary and that Maggie will return.
- Alden is confirmed to have survived Jed's attack on him in "The Obliged."
- Daryl is revealed to have gone out into the wilderness in search of Rick Grimes' body and chose to stay out there after he couldn't find one because it was easier. He also has the same "X" scar that Michonne has in the same place.
- This episode was directed by Michael Cudlitz, who previously portrayed Abraham Ford which makes it the first time a former cast member directed an episode in the series.
- This episode marks Alanna Masterson's 50th appearance on the TV Series.
- This is the first episode where Cooper Andrews is credited but does not appear.
- The walker foot that Daryl Dixon threw into the fire was actually a chicken breast carved to look like a foot.
- The song played during the Hilltop montage is called "April Skies" by The Jesus and Mary Chain.
- Ironically it is Jesus who is listening to the record.
- During the In Memoriam on Talking Dead for the episode, the walkers that ambushed Dog are billed as "Dog Walkers".
- The container laying down at Magna's camp is a nod to their movable shelter in Issue 127.
- Rosita leaving the injured Eugene behind in a barn is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 130, where Marco leaves Ken behind instead.
- Maggie's temporary disappearance is a slight nod to Michonne's disappearance starting in Issue 127.
- When Carol's group arrives at Hilltop, Daryl pulls his bandana down twice; his face is showing when he fist-bumps Tara, and then it's covered when he turns back to see Carol and he pulls it down again.