This review contains spoilers.
With the cliffhanger ending last week, I was very eager for Episode 12 – ‘Walk With Us’ to come around! There was also the issue that this week’s episode of The Walking Dead had some big shoes to fill, after last week’s excellent episode! But I’ve leaned by now that, under Angela Kang, there is no need to worry!
Last week I said that I fully expected some character death’s to happen this week, and I’ll put my hand up now and say I was wrong, for the most part. But I like that the show has become difficult to read. I like the curve-ball thrown in there and having our expectations subverted! It just makes the show much more appealing!
So, onto the review!
The Battle of Hilltop
With a fair amount of the battle taking place last week, I didn’t expect the conclusion of the battle to last more than fifteen minutes or so. And I was right. The flames made quick work of Hilltop’s battlements and the Fire-Walkers managed to munch on some Hilltop red-shirts. Truth be told, the level of danger this week felt like a notch down from last week. We did have a great moment when Yumiko spotted a bloodied-up Magna among the Walkers pouring into Hilltop. Disguised as a Walker, she managed to escape the cave but got separated from Connie who is still missing. To go along side this stand-out moment, Judith takes down her first Whisperer and it was a tough moment for her. While it was done inadvertently, the moment of realisation on her face was a big moment for her ‘coming-of-age’. Luckily for her, her initial blow did enough so that she did not have to finish him off, especially when he started to beg. Earl manages to grab her and he takes the rest of the kids to safety. He’s a good guy that Earl! I sure hope nothing bad happens to him! I mean, with his war cry last week and his hero moment this week, all this extra screen time out of nowhere is only going to further his survival right?…
The bodies of the herd start to stack up and end up acting as a barrier, allowing the residents of Hilltop to slowly take the Walkers out and slow down the onslaught. I love the Shield Wall usage here, the show has gotten so much better now that the bullets have dried up and these medieval fighting tactics and weapons have come into play. It just increases that sense of danger and vulnerability.
With the attack over and day breaking, Negan takes out a turned survivor on the ground, much to the displeasure of Alpha, who wants to use the fallen to repopulate her herd. Negan’s claim of victory is soon shot down by Alpha, who still does not have what she wants – Lydia. This encourages Negan to step it up a notch with his ‘plan’. In the woods, Negan first of all bumps in Aaron, who is carrying an injured Luke to safety. Aaron is incensed, and if it wasn’t for the encroaching Walkers, he would have surely attacked Negan. I both loved and hated this scene. These are my two boys… I don’t want them fighting like this! But for the characters and plot it was a great little scene. After Aaron, Negan bumps into Lydia, that was convenient for the plot! Who grabs her and takes her away. Looks like Alpha is going to get her prize after all!
Mary is with Rosita, Alden and the baby. Alden starts to warm up to Mary and even allows her to carry her nephew. When Walkers attack, Mary locks them all in a van and runs off to distract the Walkers, saving her nephew and new found allies. She does a good job in dispatching the Walkers and in a callback to her sister, stares up into the sky to take the world in. This tranquil moment is soon shattered when Beta’s blade stabs into her stomach. Not going down without a fight, her last act in the world is to rip half of Beta’s mask off. Enraged, he moves the blade up into her chest, killing her. I expected Mary to not be around for much longer, but I think it is worth mentioning the character development and journey she has been on. Thora Birch has such as incredible range as an actress and I want to thank her for doing a great job on The Walking Dead. She will be missed!
My Name Is Earl
EARLier I mentioned that Earl’s screen time had greatly increased in the previous and current episode so everything was going to be OK. Hopefully the obvious sarcasm in my words and tone came through, as Earl was definitely not going to be OK! We see the kids in a cabin with Earl looking after them. But as soon as you see his face you immediately know that he’s been bitten. He leaves them in a room and starts grabbing a table, before hammering a, rather blunt looking, spike into it. He lifts up his sleeve to reveal, to those who can’t understand subtlety, a bite mark. So when you put two and two together, you realise that he is going to take himself out, thus protecting the kids, because his brain will be destroyed. Before he can sacrifice himself, Judith walks in. She understands the situation but struggles to accept it. Earl delivers a fantastic speech to her, telling her that he needs her to protect the kids, to carry on his duty. It was a powerful moment, one that could have been enhanced even further if Earl had more screen time over the years. Unfortunately, the bluntness of the spike came into play and Earl turns, we don’t see the killing blow from Judith, an artistic choice which I think had much greater impact on the scene as a whole.
Daryl, Jerry and Ezekiel arrive at the cabin to find the kids safe, as they run out of the cabin Judith is not among them. Daryl heads in and sees Judith sitting with her back against the wall. He assess the situations, understands and goes down to sit next to Judith. This scene didn’t need dialogue, visually it told it’s own story. Not only has Judith killed her first non-Walker, but she has now taken down someone she cared about who had turned. This was a massive episode for her character, and they did it in a way that didn’t require the entire episode’s focus. It was done really well and I think her character needed these moments to ground her. Before she was just this plot-armoured little ass-kicker taking down Walkers with ease. But now there is a consequence to her actions, a reality and now she has to live with this. This can only be good for her character going forwards.
A Whisper Silenced
Negan informs Alpha of his success in capturing Lydia and rather than rewarding him with some more snuggle time, she thinks its time for Negan, ‘the young Lion’, to have his own ‘pride’ – So basically a promotion! The plan now is to kill Lydia, the reasoning a little too murky for my liking, but its Alpha so we have to go with it. With Lydia tied up in a cabin, it looks unlikely that she will be rescued, though with Negan stalling for time, by talking to Alpha about his dead wife, I did think that Carol might have showed up. As Negan and Alpha approached the cabin, she manages to escape opening the door to the cabin to reveal… nothing. Thanks to some editing trickery, Negan and Alpha are at a different cabin. What happened next, I did not expect (at this point in the season). Alpha turns around to face Negan only to be greeted by his blade, slicing her throat. He catches and kisses her, laying her body gently on the ground. The transferal of this scene from comic page to screen was done really well! I did not expect them to pull the trigger on this scene so fast, but now that it’s happened, I think we can sit back and really appreciate the incredible work Samantha Morton has done with Alpha. Her final scene was, strangely, beautiful and Jeffrey Dean Morgan more than did his part!
So with Alpha dead, what now? Beta is the only top-tier Whisperer left and he’s not really a strategist! Could be that he leads the Whisperers into one final, last-ditch attack between now and the end of the season.
The show concludes with Negan walking with a sack, clearly containing the head of Alpha. He throws the contents of the sack across the ground, landing at someones feet. We see a smiling Carol who looks down at Alpha’s re-animated head snapping away, before looking up at Negan and saying “Took you long enough”. So it was Carol who let Negan out of his cell! I think you’ll find I called this back in our Episode 4 review! This was a fantastic payoff, they really stuck the landing here and to see Negan and Carol working together was fantastic!
Overall, this was another great episode of The Walking Dead – the show has rarely missed a trick this season and the whole show just feels rejuvenated and continues to provide excellent entertainment on the small screen.
With Alpha now dead, what next for Beta and The Whisperers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!