I am not often genuinely surprised by a turn of events on TV. Even less so when said TV show is based on a graphic novel released years before. Of course The Walking Dead deviates heavily between the comics and series, but even so – tonight was a rarity. The twist at the end of the episode actually surprised me. I felt 100% pure, homegrown surprise when I was supposed to. The writers did an incredible job with the ending of tonight’s episode that it’s easy to forget some of the bumbling done earlier on in the runtime. Tonight continued the streak of quality episodes and added something new! The teaser suggests a big shift in the storyline and that also means the return of Michonne and maybe Maggie?
Normally I try to do these reviews from start to finish or around cohesive plot points. Tonight we’re throwing format to the wind and discussing what actually matters here: Carol was the one who got Negan to go for Alpha’s head?!
I and everyone else watching called the eventual betrayal. He submitted far too easily and seemingly without cause. Negan’s defection to the Whisperers took some gross turns but I’m not here to shame zombie fetishists. The plot never had me convinced that Negan was on Alpha’s side, though I did wonder for a minute or two about his intentions with Lydia. That’s what made this entire story’s obvious ending so satisfying: we knew Negan would betray Alpha and kill her, but why? There were hints and obvious lies but the last few seconds of tonight’s episode suggest it was Carol who put in the hit and organized Negan’s defection. Up until then, I really wasn’t sure.
My best theory was Negan wanted Lydia to take over. I was completely sold on the idea that he wanted the young lioness to kill the old and take the pride for herself. I had convinced myself that Negan would foster Lydia into an even greater version of Alpha in some kind of evil mentor twist. If I really let my mind wander, a few more radical possibilities jumped into my head. Maybe Negan and Lydia had planned it? Maybe Mary had known something?! “Maybe” had a lot of names following, but not once did Carol’s cross my lips.
If we really are going to swap plots to Michonne and her search next week, we aren’t likely to get any answers about Carol and Negan’s scheme. I hope the writers planned this from the get-go and left us some nifty hints that will feel painfully obvious in retrospect or they take this time to cook up some justification. It’s a cool twist and I’m grateful they’re trying to reach for surprises still, but I want it to make sense. We need more to really have this stay as satisfying as it feels right now. If there’s enough time given to the background of the plot, the shift of allegiances could potentially change a lot. If they hand-wave the scheme and move on, I’ll be disappointed.
It isn’t the reveal that makes spy/crime thrillers so exciting – it’s seeing the plan develop and unfold that build drama. Starting at the end bought my attention, now give me what I want!
Eugene’s departing words to Carol, “I sincerely hope you get what it is you want” feel like some important foreshadowing. It’s after she admits to having sacrificed nearly everything and has nothing to show for it that Eugene shares his own fears. I think somewhere in the exchange, the audience is tricked. We forget what it is that Carol really wants – perhaps because so many other characters have. It’s obvious she wants Alpha dead, but dead doesn’t feel big enough. We now know that Carol knows her assassin is close to Alpha. What is she lamenting? It could be that Negan was slow to take Alpha’s head, but my theory is that Carol’s real objective is still yet to be revealed.
Vengeance demands more.
Judith slaying Earl after he got the kids to safety broke my heart. Mary’s death felt equally gut-wrenching. Tonight, “Walk With Us” drew some important faces into the horde. Death feels comically trivial at times. Dozens of walkers are bashed, sliced, or smashed each week and plenty of characters fall. Some die more meaningfully than others, but despite being an episode filled with death, “Walk With Us” made each character’s death fulfilling.
I will never not love a redemptive sacrifice. Mary’s is among my favorite in the series. She, Al, and Kelly are escaping with little baby Adam. Naturally, the baby cries, Walkers come, and the group is forced to take refuge. Nothing in the setup is surprising. It’s all pretty hacky at this point. Mary’s choice to slam the door shut and run off to save the others ends with an exhausted celebration. Beta interrupts with a knife to her gut and Mary’s left by the tree to become a walker. The arrow piercing her skull and saving her from the hell Beta promised mattered. I cared that it was Al who showed Mary mercy. I wanted someone to witness her sacrifice and they did. Mary’s plot across the whole of the season didn’t break new ground, but it made me care about a character I would normally just ignore. Her death isn’t overshadowed either, a credit to the storytelling and timing of the show’s staff.
8/10 – Solid ending to the Hilltop siege with an incredible twist ending. The episode fumbles a bit toward the beginning but finds its footing quickly thereafter. There’s a lot to be unpacked and there isn’t much time to do it. Michonne appears to be taking next week’s chance for exposition, so we’re leaving a lot in the episodes to come. The kills are incredible and “Walk With Us” continues the second half of season 10’s winning streak. Let’s hope next week comes in strong too!