There are a lot of silent but deadly acts on this week’s The Walking Dead, and I mean that pretty seriously. Sure, I may have thought “Stalker” was going to have the writers lean heavily on Andrei Tarkovsky references (I was wrong), but I still managed to get a strong enough episode focused on the determination to go after what these various characters believe is right.
In the case of Gamma, she seems to genuinely want to be involved in a society that relies more on cooperation and expected gains from working together, rather than the pitch-black nihilism promoted by Alpha and her skin cult, putting this show’s own general reliance on this concept to shame. She manages to achieve it, but not without going through the wringer to earn it. Yes, I did want to hold onto some level of doubt, given all the mind games the Whisperers have proven to be keen on. However, things ended up working out for the better (for now, I suppose).
Yes, this did come at the expense of several innocent Alexandrians (and a couple of the jerks who were mean to Lydia), but Gamma’s predicament allowed Thora Birch to stretch as an actor. Hearing her confess her sins to Gabriel, digging into the reasoning she has for being conflicted speaks plenty to what best comes out of this whole battle between an attempt at a normal way of life and the extremes taken by Ms. “End of the World.” Perhaps the acceptance comes a little too quickly (Judith’s jail interactions are not a favorite of mine), but Rosita extending a welcoming hand is progress at least.
All of this followed the Michael Myers-Esque rampage Beta went on, sneaking out of a tunnel created by that dastardly Dante. His work to creep around and build a small walker force to assist in his chaos is maniacal, to say the least, only to be upped by his seemingly invincible nature. Yes, I most certainly shouted at Judith to shoot this damn guy in the head and make sure, but as we know, the rematch of the century is supposed to be between Daryl and Beta, not the precocious kid in the hat. Regardless, Beta’s various attempts to capture Gamma are somewhat successful, only for him to escape, yet again, empty-handed.
Beta’s whole plan is made possible by his work to manipulate the head Alexandrians, namely Gabriel and Rosita. The two are having their own issues, mainly coming from the stress their suffering from this whole situation. Rosita is having nightmares, and Gabriel is going along and threatening extreme levels of torture to get to the Whisperers. Bringing these two up, I risk getting into all the romantic drama that’s been between them, along with the deceased Siddiq (and lovelorn Eugene). Not that there’s much to recap here, but the re-pairing of these two is something that speaks to the focus they still want to ideally have on being better by having a partnership, as opposed to being left to contend with their state of mind on their own.
We perhaps still need more to follow-up with for Gabriel, who killed Dante in cold blood at the end of the half-season. This man has had plenty of problems in the past, and the kinds of things he’s saying right now should be raising more alarms than just Rosita’s. Still, if he’s working on this by finding trust in Gamma, aka Mary, then maybe hope for him is not as complicated as it may seem.
Regarding all things Daryl, the guy is doing plenty of heavy lifting himself this week. Still enraged by the cave-in from “Squeeze,” he’s out for Whisperer blood, as he finds Alpha and some of her people leading a group of walkers along. However, his stealth kills only get him so far before he goes all out in attack mode. It doesn’t pay off, as he and Alpha injure each other severely, leading them both to a shelter where they begin bleeding together in a half-conscious standstill. Yes, Daryl still gets to take out some walkers in this state, but the focus shifts.
Alpha may have been about the crass rewards last week, but here she deals with her way of life due to her near-death experience. The surprise arrival of Lydia gives her a chance to consider her actions and the path she is on. It ultimately means nothing, as she seems more dedicated than ever to be a force of reckoning by the end of this episode, but it was interesting to watch her speak to her daughter in a delirious state. The later reveal that Lydia did end up rescuing Daryl is another nice touch, as the two tend to work on screen together as former outcasts.
As an episode relying on both grizzly violence and deepening of characters, there’s a lot to like here. Balance is always key to a successful Walking Dead episode, as the sprawling cast needs a focus that can be counted on to help the impact of certain ideas. I liked the spectacle-heavy stuff going on last week, and I can appreciate the narrowed down focus here. It keeps us moving from a narrative perspective while still enhancing the people who matter. But I suppose we still have to get back to that cave.
- Zombie Kill of the Week: Daryl pulls the knife out of his own leg to take down the walker grappling with him. It’s disgusting but great.
- So, Beta has a bulletproof vest and plenty of stamina. He’s the worst (deadliest) kind of slasher villain – a thinking one.
- “I’ve spoken to God, he told me to hang you.” – That’s one of the most badass things ever said on this show, so props to the good priest.
- Great filmmaking in showing Beta’s night prowling. Good use of the darkness and shadows, compared to some more questionable attempts in the caves last week.
- Beta took down former Savior Laura this week by bashing her head in. She never had much of a character, but her tenure on this show will not go unnoticed.
- “They’re human, not perfect.” – Lydia was dropping some knowledge, along with a T2-style knife message left in a table. #NoFateButWhatYouMakeIt
- Thanks for reading and feel free to hear what me and a few other fans of the show have to say about the series on The Walking Dead TV Podcast.