This review contains spoilers.
It’s safe to say this was an excellent episode of The Walking Dead this week.
This episode was all about a trade. Alpha wants her ‘Daww Durr’ back. She shows her hand by bringing out Luke and Alden who, as expected, would be used as part of the swap deal. This all seems straight forward and simple, at least it would be if Henry had not let Lydia out her cell and were going to go all Romeo and Juliet on us. Thankfully Enid is on the ball and manages to track them down. I tried to give Henry a chance, but I just can’t do it anymore. He’s an idiot making stupid decisions time and time again. Are we supposed to have sympathy and understanding? We’ve been down this route with Carl in the early seasons. We don’t need a repeat. Speaking of Carl, he gets referenced by Enid as an example that is used to bring Henry around. I’ll probably say this every week, but Carl should be in Henry’s shoes, and vice versa.
The trade happens, with Lydia getting a slap in the process from her loving mother. Alden and Luke are safe. Happy days. But what happens next is probably one of The Walking Dead‘s most ‘WTF’ moments in the show’s history. A Whisperer is carrying her baby, which begins to cry. After a shrug of the shoulders from Alpha, the baby is placed on the ground and left to draw in the incoming group of walkers. This was very, very dark. I honestly thought they would pull the trigger on this, but Connie came in for the save and ran back into the cornfield. I loved how they handled this scene. The muffled sound with walkers appearing from nowhere was genuinely terrifying. The horror and tension were executed perfectly in this episode.
The whole exchange between Alpha and Daryl was really well done. The Whisperers are such a compelling group. When Daryl threatens them with guns, they show that their children walk among them, in this case, a baby. How do you get around that other than by exposing yourself in melee combat? When Daryl tries to play the numbers card, Alpha signals and more and more Whisperers appear. It’s like no matter what they throw at The Whisperers, they are already one step ahead. That makes for exciting television.
What doesn’t make exciting television is Henry. Yes, we are back onto him, as he decides to sneak off and rescue Lydia. Yeah. That’s gonna work out. But despite his stupidity, it does give us a, potentially great, new double act, Daryl and Connie. Daryl doesn’t talk much and Connie is deaf. Match made in heaven, right? Away from creating a new power couple, it’s two characters who we haven’t seen together before. I think pairing characters up in this way is a smart move and gives a real fresh approach to the show. We get new dynamics and it helps to introduce the new characters and help develop them further.
Away from the main Hilltop/Whisperer storyline, we were reconnected to The Kingdom. We needed to get up to speed with this group, as they have been very much in the background for the majority of the season. Having Carol around is always positive, and Ezekiel and Jerry are the perfect double act who you never tire of watching. The humour and warmth these characters bring help to bring balance to the show. And it was real light and dark contrast between the two storylines, but they worked in harmony beautifully. The Kingdom are not aware of The Whisperers, so to see them carrying on as normal, not aware of this hidden threat, makes it very tense and exciting to watch.
From the Walker killing musical montage to all the talk about everything going right, you just always felt like this positivity was going to suddenly take a nasty turn. Yet it didn’t. Which was surprising, but actually rather welcome, as it tricked the audience in terms of what we have come to expect from the show. It broke the formula, another welcome change. With that being said, however, the amount of risk involved at the cinema, just wasn’t worth it. It felt like another stupid and needless situation to be in. Was there any need to go through with this? There didn’t feel like any real justification for it, other than to create some action, regardless if it makes sense or not. So the balance is still not quite right.
I think it is also worth mentioning about the flashback at the start of the episode, which is also connected to The Kingdom. It featured Jesus, and I just feel like they may deploy this technique a few more times this season, to try and fill in the gaps as to what happened during the time jump. It was nice to see Jesus, and I love the idea of a declaration or charter between all the settlements. I’d like to see more of this kind of storytelling mixed in with the present main Whisperer arc.
Overall an excellent episode. The two separate plots blended nicely, mixing the light and warmth with the dark and horrifying. This episode was full of tension and moments of pure terror. It was executed, for the most part, perfectly. While the characters and scenarios are familiar to us, you just once again feel like you are watching a different show. The changes are working and long may it continue.