Sometimes the strength of an episode of The Walking Dead comes from committing to developing the backstory of a particular character, better opening the viewer up to their perspective. Morgan became a fan favorite for both the mystery that surrounded him and getting a chance to see what he had gone through on his own. On the opposite side, we had those terrible episodes featuring the Governor on his own (with a big bushy beard). “Omega” falls more towards the latter. While not without one key performance that will continue to deliver, the show makes a mistake in attempting to invest us in characters who have hardly been introduced to us, leaving everyone else out to dry in the process.
Following last week’s exciting cliffhanger, this week takes multiple steps back to give us stories focused around Daryl and a bunch of people we hardly know. I can take a story with a lot of Daryl in it, as he and Michonne have become the de facto leads, now that Rick Grimes is out of the picture. What I can’t take is an episode that is jumping into the deep end with these new characters way too soon, with so many other balls still in the air. Do we learn more about the rift in the communities? No. Is there anything to go on regarding the current way of life, following that big time jump? No. Instead, we spend a lot of time with the newly introduced Lydia, and the latest petulant child on The Walking Dead, Henry…who sucks.
Thanks to the wise decisions by the showrunners, Henry is filling in for Carl’s function in this storyline ripped out of the comics. Some of the details are twisted, but it’s all the more difficult to accept, as Henry is hardly a compelling figure in this series as of now. Watching him attempt to forge a relationship with the captured girl he just met is about as awkward as seeing him lecture Daryl, an adult, about how what makes sense in the lives they are currently living. Of course, everyone is a psychologist when it comes to insightful Walking Dead monologues.
When Daryl and Henry do get down to speaking with Lydia, we get a series of flashbacks that introduce us to Samantha Morton’s Alpha. The character actor has a lot to work with here, which is generally the case for these supporting roles (think Xander Berkley or Steven Ogg), and she does a lot with showing the beginnings of her work as a leader who understands her place in a new world. While I think this show rushed into her origins a bit quickly, I can’t deny the effectiveness of this performance, particularly given the Rashomon-style approach to understanding these flashbacks.
So even if Henry acts like a moron, we get to hear these stories, as well as understand a bit more about the whisperers. Lydia having memories triggered by the sounds of babies crying was a neat touch to have us know the nature of the stories she was being told, as well as dig into the idea of the whisperers being a sort of brainwashed cult; people accepting their status, which involves living with the dead, using the land as needed. There may be silly stuff here, but the insight is welcome.
Meanwhile, the other newbies decide to make their play at dumbest characters of the week by taking their status as new Hilltop members and immediately challenging it with a ridiculous rescue plan. To find their missing pal Luke, the newbs decide to sneak out at night, only realizing how difficult it would be to track him, and then find time to have one of them freak out after being attacked and continue to stay in the woods anyway. It’s a good thing we got to see them all kill walkers real good earlier, or else I would be very curious as to how they stayed alive for so long.
I get how shuffling things around based on the schedule of actors within this considerable ensemble cast can be tricky. This is especially the case when adjusting for a show that has lost its lead character. That said, I want to hope this season can find the proper footing it seemed to have when season nine began. There’s a way to keep this all organized, and have us accept the characters based around the established history. Pulling focus away from characters like Carol or Michonne is not going to help all that much if attempts to bring in the new folk are this poor.
Sure, the work done to introduce Alpha is compelling to some degree, but not even knowing her, let alone getting that story second hand form a character we barely know feels like we’re skipping some key steps. Centering the b-story on other new characters, and having it feel so undercooked only adds fuel to the fire as far as testing my patience. I would rather give praise to the show than rag on it, but The Walking Dead needs to step up, instead of offering these overlong episodes that feel like extended filler.
- Zombie Kill of the Week: Slingshots and throwing knives paved the way for several good kills of the week in one scene.
- Given how little of the initial outbreak we’ve seen on the show, it was a nice touch to focus Alpha’s story around the early days.
- Despite all the Henry interaction, it was good to see the show provide us with a version of Daryl that works as the lead character.
- Henry ate a worm.
- This episode ended on yet another cliffhanger involving Alpha looking threatening.
- 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.