This review contains spoilers.
To put it simply, this episode was a work of genius. Well, almost.
The Walking Dead rarely uses flashbacks to tell a story, certainly not in the amount that we were given in ‘Omega’. But it was not just a nice change to the show structure that made this episode so enjoyable, it was the flawless execution. This week, the show focused on telling Lydia’s backstory and her interactions with Henry and Daryl. The secondary plot would follow Magna’s group looking for their missing friend, Luke. The quality of these two plots could not be further away from each other if they tried. So let’s start with the good stuff.
In the present, the episode focuses on Lydia telling Henry about her past and how she came to be in the situation she is in now. She talks about a loving mother and a monstrous father. This is shown to the audience via a range of flashbacks. We see young Lydia, her mother and her dad Frank. They are lying with a group of survivors in a basement shelter in the early days of the outbreak. The visual prompts, aided with present day-Lydia’s recollections tells us that her dad was a bully and had an abusive relationship with his family. He was killed by a walker, and Lydia was saved by her mother. As the episode continues, present day-Lydia starts to see holes in her memories, which then triggers further flashbacks, this time with her mother and father in reversed roles. It turns out it was her mother who was the real monster, even killing her father. She is psychotic and has systematically been abusing and manipulating Lydia for years, leaving her with these twisted and false memories.
Now, whether or not Lydia has truly changed and will be a different person now that she knows the truth, is up for discussion. While she may resent her mother and act with Hilltop, she could easily turn against them, such is the lasting legacy of abuse left imprinted on her. It’s a fascinating conundrum. Now as great as the flashbacks were, it was made better by the great work in the present, with Daryl once again on top form. I feel confident now that the character has well and truly been fixed. I even enjoyed Henry’s role in this story, though I still can’t help feel that these scenes would have carried even more of a punch if it was Carl in this situation. I still feel it was a massive missed opportunity and further highlights the stupid decision to kill him off.
With Luke and Alden missing, Magna, Yumiko, Kelly and Connie are desperate to find their friend. Understandable. They head out into the woods to search for clues, only to find walkers enjoying a nice equine meal. As things start to look like they could turn, Super Kal jumps in for the save with Tara and some other Hilltop guards. It’s always a good episode when Kal is around, even more so when they give him some bloody dialogue! For the action junkies, this was the only scene you were gonna get. So when the show airs, I can already see the moaning on social media. Get over it.
Now I said this episode was ALMOST a work of genius, so what held back this episode from greatness? The return of stupid, dumb character decisions. Last week I praised Season 9 for stamping out the frustrating, illogical choices that have plagued the show for many years. Enter Magna’s group. I get that they want to search for Luke, but having them stomp out in the woods at night, only for them to turn around and head back was pointless. You didn’t need to have these characters in this situation to make the point about a split in the group in regards to a plan for finding their friend. It made no sense for them to be out there. The conversation they had could have easily been held inside Hilltop. Throwing them into a faux threatening situation only for the scene to be ultimately pointless is very frustrating. Hopefully, this was a blip, as the writing throughout this season has been very strong, including for majority of the episode.
The episode ends with a group of Whisperer’s marching towards Hilltop, mainly thanks to Kelly and Connie’s pointless ‘rescue mission’. As Tara, Daryl and others reach the battlements, Alpha makes her way to the front of the Whisperers pack. That beautiful bald head shining in the sunlight. Samantha Morton looks more terrifying without the mask. She demands that the group return her “daww durr”. Man, that was some strange line delivery. Which is a shame because the episode, on the whole, had been so good. It was just so odd-sounding that it snapped me out of the moment, so what should have been a really big final moment, fell a little flat.
‘Omega’ was a fantastic, narrative-driven episode that everyone connected to The Walking Dead should be proud of. The flashbacks were a joy to watch and their execution was flawless. The only blemish on this, brilliant, episode was the stupidity of the writing surrounding Magna’s group. It really let the episode down. But other than that, another strong episode to add to the Season 9 collection.