Last week, The Walking Dead lumbered out of the gate toward the conflict we all knew was coming. We finally got there thanks to a satellite crashing down in Whisperer territory, which our good guys dutifully put out. Like an HOA noticing a garbage can left out one day past pickup, Alpha wasn’t about to let this violation of her borders stand–even if it did save her from having to deal with a raging forest fire.
This week, we get to see the fallout from that along with a bit more of Alpha’s history before she went all weird and feral.
We’ll start with the flashback parts of the episode first. 7 years ago, we see Alpha and Lydia running past a woman while she’s getting killed by zombies. Unlike Baby Judith, Lydia freaks out at the sight of zombie carnage and screams, which causes Alpha to have to protect her.
They find cover in an abandoned building only to be confronted by a masked man. When Alpha tries to communicate with him, he just stands there for a few seconds before banging a crowbar against the wall.
The masked man finally speaks (and reveals himself as Beta) when he says they can stay in his building for one night. After he leaves, Lydia asks if he is a monster. Alpha replies that they “are all monsters now.”
Yep…this is going to be one of those episodes.
Later, Alpha is taking a stroll to check things out and humming to herself. This draws the attention of as the yet-to-be-named Beta, who tells her to stop singing. He almost immediately follows up that lovely bit of interaction by asking Alpha her name. Alpha responds by saying that “the dead have no names.”
I thought my eyes couldn’t roll any harder than they did right then, but that was before Alpha launched into a speech about how the dead are primal, the dead are more free, blah blah blah. After her trope-filled soliloquy was completed, she asked Beta how he ended up in the building. I’ll be 100% honest, I couldn’t hear what he said, but I think it was something about being left for dead and wanting to live out his fantasy of looking like a killer from a 1980s slasher film. Anyway, he finished off his story by declaring that the only music he liked now was the sound of zombies, which totally one-upped Alpha in the their contest to see who could have the most contrived sounding dialogue.
Later that night, Alpha and Lydia decide to sleep in a padded room, which reveals that our characters are in a mental institution (and is about as subtle as a brick hitting you in the face). Alpha tries to give Lydia her stuffed bunny, but she rejects it, claiming that she wants to be hardcore like her mom. Alpha is overjoyed at this news, but chastises her daughter for calling her “momma.”
Even later that night, Alpha is humming to herself and walking down a random hall. She encounters a random zombie and kills it. Unfortunately, more random zombies show up and start swarming her. Fortunately, Beta shows up and helps her take them all out, making the pair look an emotionally stunted Bonnie and Clyde of the Apocalypse.
After hacking through all the walkers, Alpha immediately gets to work cutting them open for their blood and guts to use the as zombie camouflage. While watching her do this, Beta remarks “you’re different,” which might qualify for the understatement of the year.
Alpha begins her whole “we are no one” routine and calls him Mr. B. Beta asks what her letter is. Alpha predictably responds that it’s “A.” If not for the fact that Samantha Morton and Ryan Hurst are such good actors (and work so well together), this exchange could have felt like a really awkward and gross episode of Sesame Street.
Speaking of awkward, Alpha tries to take off Beta’s mask, which he does not appreciate and demands that she and her daughter leave at once. Unfortunately, Lydia had already decided to slather herself in zombie guts and go find a bunch of walkers to…uh…prove she’s both incredibly brave and incredibly stupid? I’m honestly not sure.
Whatever the case, Alpha finds Lydia in a room that Beta doesn’t want anyone in. Thanks to a conveniently placed picture, we see that a nearby zombie is his former best friend (who was nice enough to wear the exact shirt in the picture that he was wearing when he got turned), who Alpha kills. Beta gets upset, but Alpha calms him down and convinces him to be her manslave via another insufferably nihilistic speech. Beta then cuts the skin off his former friend’s face and makes it into the mask we see him wearing in the present.
Back in present, Beta is shaving Alpha’s head. After asking Beta to affirm her, Alpha then requests that he take two sisters (we’ll call them Sister 1 and Sister 2 for now) to round up a zombie herd.
While they’re on the mission, Sister 2 stops acting/walking like a zombie to stop and soak in the sun. We soon learn that this is the woman who Alpha forced to leave her baby in a field outside Alexandria a while back. Sister 1 and Beta are barely able to save her after a second pause to soak up some rays, which ticks them both off.
After returning to camp, Sister 2 begs forgiveness while crying about how much she misses her baby. Beta is about to have her executed when Alpha stops it. Instead takes Sister 2 into what appears to be the Dagobah Cave from Empire Strikes Back. Just when it looks like Alpha is going to crush her head ala The Mountain from Game of Thrones, she instead begins stroking Sister 2’s head and comforting her.
As you might imagine, Beta is not happy about this. Alpha tells him not to question her. Beta responds by asking if she is content while pointing out that he has seen her wandering away from the camp at night. Alpha tells him everything is gucci and to back off.
That night, Sister 1 asks what it was like to be with Alpha. Sister 2 says it was amazing and that she feels better about leaving her baby now.
The next day, Alpha joins Beta and the Sisters on another zombie roundup. Everything seems to be going well until the satellite from last episode starts falling from the sky, which gets the zombie herd all types of disoriented and riled up. At the same time, Sister 2 sees a zombie wearing a Babybjörn. This causes her to completely snap and attack Alpha–which also draws the attention of the herd. Just when it looks like Alpha is about to die, Sister 1 comes in and offs her kin.
Back at camp, Alpha takes off Sister 1’s mask and asks if she regrets sacrificing Sister 2 to save her. Sister 1 says she had to do it to protect Alpha. Alpha is pleased. That night, she anoints Sister 2 with the name Gamma.
The next day, Beta and Gamma have a petty “I’m not jealous you’re jealous” exchange. He then goes looking for Alpha, who he finds at a shrine she’s built for her daughter. His anger at her hypocrisy intensifies when Alpha reveals that she didn’t kill Lydia when she had the chance. Alpha says Lydia is at least “dead to her,” begs Beta not to tell anyone, and then goes ballistic and destroys the Lydia shrine. Beta snaps her back into sociopath mode by mentioning the forest fire that happened on their land. Alpha refocuses and says that this will require that Alexandrians be taught a lesson.
The pair then recite a really stupid “We Are the End of the World” poem together before marching out to sync up the last scene of this episode with the one from the season premiere.
Aside from the origin of Beta’s mask and the introduction of Gamma, here were the main takeaways from this episode:
- Alpha and Beta are sociopaths who can’t admit to themselves that they still have human attachments/emotions (we already knew this).
- Alpha is completely and unapologetically hypocritical about enforcing her “no attachment” rule and holding herself to it (we already knew this).
- Alpha is not over Lydia (we already knew this).
- Even though they were doing both communities a favor, Alpha saw the Alexandrians crossing over to fight the satellite fire as a reason to retaliate against them (we already knew this).
I was really expecting more revelations in an episode that featured how Alpha and Beta met. Instead, it was as if they recognized each other as kindred sociopathic spirits almost immediately and just went with it.
And then there was all the ridiculous speechifying these people did about not being human anymore, which sounded like what would happen if a first year philosophy student tried bath salts and Xanax at the same time.
I did like Gamma’s origin, though. Hopefully that produces something good from this episode. Otherwise, it’s a step back from what was a fairly mediocre season opener. Let’s hope things get better once the Whisperers and the Alexandrians meet.