SEASON 10; EPISODE 2
As much as I respected this evening's episode, I could have lived quite happily without it to be honest. I understand that there was a desire amongst many fans to know a bit more about the backstory of Beta and Alpha and their origins but I'm one of those people that likes a bit of mystery. It makes them infinitely more intriguing and sinister. I don't need to know how they met or how their bond is forged. It's one of the reasons that despite the fact the wisecracking and shithousery of Negan can be a bit much sometimes, the show has still not fully explained his backstory or who he was before the apocalypse – and I like that.
Still, everyone loves an origin story nowadays don't they and episode two was notably more darker than usual. Although that's no great surprise as we spent the entire duration in the company of deranged maniacs and murderers. The episode recounted hoe Alpha and Beta first made contact and it was after Alpha had broken into his compound whilst running away from a bunch of walkers after her daughter lost her shit whilst they were walking among them. To be fair, most of us would freak out if we witnessed the savage consumption of some poor woman in the middle of the street. As Alpha and Lydia catch their breath they see a huge imposing figure standing down the hallway. Although it looks like it could be Jason Vorhees at first (now that would be a cool origin story!) - or that guy with a sack on his face in The Strangers, it's actually Beta, before he has donned the skinmask and trenchcoat. He doesn't want anything to do with them at first but agrees to let them stay the night. Although he is twice her size and carrying a big ol' machete, Alpha soon establishes a dominance over him which is demonstrated when she sings a song (he told her to never sing in front of him) whilst rifling through his supplies. However it's something of a symbiotic relationship, with Beta coming to her rescue when she is attacked by a bunch of walkers who have crept inside. They're both deeply repressed individuals who for slightly different reasons decide to essentially rid themselves of all feeling and emotion – as it's deemed to be a weakness. Something that defines the tribe they go on to establish later on.
Whilst this forging of a friendship begins in earnest, Lydia is desperately trying to secure her mum's affections and her own safety. It's clear that Alpha is becoming more and more unhinged but despite her protestations that her daughter is 'dead', we know that she is her only real weakness and will most likely be her downfall. Her empathy for Frances (the one who was prepared to sacrifice her baby in series 9) shows that parental love is still something she cannot purge completely. Beta considers this a weakness and his theory is seemingly proved right when Frances freaks out the next day when she sees a walker wearing an empty baby carrier. She tries to jump Alpha but is eventually removed and eaten alive – along with a couple of other whisperers who take one for the team.
Alpha is unrepentant though and maintains that she did the right thing. 'There is order amongst all the chaos' she tells Beta. She immediately promotes Frances' sister (played by Thora Birch!) to 'Gamma' status, much to the chagrin of her second in command. However when he follows her after she has wandered off (she's been doing a lot of that lately he informs her), he discovers that she is back at their old camp and is holding her daughter's Bunny Doll. He confronts her and she fesses up. Lydia isn't dead. She then goes nuts and destroys the camp. Beta watches on but proves himself to be her loyal companion when he agrees to her pleas for him not to tell anyone that her daughter is still alive. 'She was dead to me the minute she was born' she tells him. Although I'm not sure anyone is really convinced by that any more. More importantly, she looked vulnerable. The anger, the grief, the regret. All things she insists her followers deny within themselves. Not only does she confirm she has a weakness, she also confirms that she's a hypocrite too. But then again so are most cult leaders.
The episode ends with the inevitable staring contest between her and Carol. Beta has been pressing her to go to war with the local colonies again and it looks as if he's going to get his way. Prepare for some bloodshed next week.