SEASON 9; EPISODE 12
Last week we wondered if Alpha's decision to go back for her daughter might ruffle a few feathers within her own camp. Turns out, those musing were well founded, as Alpha's authority was challenged by a couple of her own people this week. Even her own daughter was left wondering what the real intention was in going back to secure her release from Hilltop. Was it a decision based on maternal love? Or one to gleen as much inside info about Hilltop as possible? The answer is probably both. Nevertheless, the two challengers were unceremoniously punished in pretty horrific ways. Would you rather be gutted or beheaded? Hmmm, that's a tough choice. We've seen some gruesome stuff before in The Walking Dead but the savagery of the beheading was probably up there with the goriest. Alpha said it had been a year since any sort of rebellion had happened, so we know that she's had to do this kind of thing before. However, unlike Negan (who seemed to get an almost perverse enjoyment out of dispatching his enemies), it felt a bit more objective and detached than that here. Alpha did what she did to reassert her authority, not to fulfil some crazed bloodlust. It's a dog eat dog world and for the time being, she's still got the loudest bark (or whisper).
It was also an episode where we got to see a bit more of the Whisperer community, which is much larger than we expected it might be. Their way of life seems far from appealing though (as you's expect). They live a seemingly nomadic and almost wild existence, shuffling from one place to another, eating on their travels and setting up camp when it comes to time to get some shut eye. They don't really seem like much of a community though and Alpha clearly runs things through fear and intimidation - but also, crucially, she's kept them alive thus far. And as we saw with the Saviours, some people will follow anyone if they think they can keep them safe. We were also introduced to Beta, a big hulking hairy chap who rivals Alpha in terms of on-screen presence. The guy is a monster. If the Whisperers seemed like a threat when they were an unknown quantity, it feels as if this threat level has only increased the more we have learnt about them.
Of course it didn't take long for someone to notice that Henry has been following them and after holding him captive for the day, Alpha decided to use him as a test of her daughter's loyalty. Would she have really let Beta kill Henry AND her Lydia if her daughter couldn't step up to the plate. We're not sure - and thankfully Lydia didn't really have to make a decision as a brilliantly times walker ambush threw the whole scene into flux. Seriously, how does a camp full of people who have survived in this zombieverse for the best part of a decade get 'surprised' by a load of bumbling undead? Anyway, Daryl and Connie (and the dog we're assuming) were on the scene in a flash and before anyone knew what was happening, they had whisked away Henry and Lydia and were heading back to Hilltop. This plot point was always on the cards and it was kind of nice to see the writers waste little time in getting there. We don't need to tell you that Alpha is going to be majorly pissed off and things are set up nicely for the run up to the season finale.
In other news, Michonne did her best to fight off her own challenge to her authority from her own counsel. However, instead of lopping off heads and removing people's internal organs, she did a bit of soul searching and realised (with the help of Judith) that she was at risk of turning into a bit of a despot - in the same way that Rick Grimes use to get from time to time when tough choices had to be made. What she wasn't entertaining though was the idea that Negan should be some kind of sounding board for her, which is what he pitched from his little jail cell. Michonne doesn't believe that people really change and Negan is there to test that core belief. She may not think that he's worth consulting over the bickering about the inter-community fair (Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott better be there dressed as Knights of Xanthia) but when the Whisperer's come to town, she may have to change her tune a little. Negan vs Alpha. What a match up that could be...
Meanwhile, Eugene persuaded Gabe to reconcile with Rosita, despite admitting the fact that he was in love with her himself. In Eugene's world, showing said love for someone involves making them stretchy maternity pants or something. It's kinda sweet...I guess. We can't be the only ones thinking that this 'Three Men And A Baby' scenario isn't going to have a happy ending however...