“Open your eyes.”
I owe some people an apology. Since being introduced, I’ve defended Dante’s wacky antics. People said he was weird, but hey, he was weird in the comics. It’s his shtick. But as it turns out, all those people who said something was ever so slightly off with Dante were 100% correct. In a very surprising moment, one that feels tailor-made to pull the rug out from under the comic readers, Dante kills Siddiq. I guess it wouldn’t be a season of The Walking Dead if the resident medical professional didn’t get the chop.
After Carol’s crazy plan last week, the Alexandrians have a Whisperer in their prison. It doesn’t take long for us (and the characters) to realise that this guy is fully converted. He’s one of the guys who watches the flock, the ‘guardians’, the walkers – so he’s supremely loyal. The way he talks about Alpha as an almost-religious figure really hammers home the idea of The Whisperers as a cult; and this guy’s been drinking the kool-aid for far too long.
They try being nice first, as Lydia suggests if he gets a taste for life in Alexandria, he’ll come around. The taste they give him is some sweet homemade jam. Which he relishes – making me realise how nice jam would actually be if it’d been a decade since you’d had it. But it’s all a ruse, as he spits it in Carol’s face. But in the anger that follows, they realise that yes, this guy’s been brainwashed by Alpha. But he thinks Lydia is dead, that his supreme leader sacrificed her own daughter for the herd, for the family. Obviously, she’s not dead. This gives our heroes some major leverage over the Whisperers. If they realise Lydia is alive, that Alpha lies, the hole thing will crumble. But this presents an issue. Lydia’s been through a lot – is it right to use her as a tool against her own mother? Daryl’s against it, but Carol is all for.
And Carol does what Carol wants, it seems. She takes Lydia into the woods to present her to the Whisperers, to rub Alpha’s face in it too no doubt. On one hand, this does seem a bit cruel, using Lydia like this. She’s been through a lot. And Michonne did tell Daryl that he absolutely, positively must keep her safe. So it’ll be interesting to see his reaction to his BFF’s decision to abscond into the wilderness. Lydia is none too keen on it either, running off when she finds out what Carol wanted. But let’s look at the positives of Carol’s plan. It would work to destabilise the Whisperers – and with people dropping dead and constant droves of walkers on the doorstep, they need a win. Also, in the process of exposing Alpha’s lies, Carol does save Aaron, whose peaceful chats with Gamma had gone awry. Gamma also sees Lydia in the process, perhaps beginning the process that will see Alpha’s house of cards tumble.
Basically, it’s all up in the air. With Negan in the midst of the Whisperers, Gamma’s faith in tatters, Lydia presumably about to run into her old family, and Carol doing whatever she wants, the odds don’t look good for Alpha. It’s likely she’ll get her comic death, but perhaps they’ll save it for the latter end of the season. One person who definitely won’t be around to see how things play out is Siddiq, who met his untimely end in this episode at the hands of charming, wise-cracking, TJ Miller-lite, Dante.
In regards to the sickness in Alexandria, things have got worse since last episode. People are coming down with it left, right and centre. And in the middle of it all is poor Siddiq, struggling against the current. And I should have known things weren’t looking good for him. As soon as the show does a big emotional episode for a character, they bite the dust. And Avi Nash was phenomenal in this episode. As a man struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as depression and a whole host of other things, it was a beautiful performance. The poor guy blamed himself for what happened with the Whisperers, and for everything else that’s happened since. It all culminates when he seemingly decides to drown himself, ending it once and for all. So, for a 40-minute episode, it runs the gamut of emotions. Luckily, Nash is great.
After things hit rock bottom, Siddiq is at his lowest, things get a lot worse. Dante visits him and gives him the speech about friendship and blah, blah, blah. It’s all lies, and Siddiq makes the connection that Dante is a Whisperer. That it was Dante who forced him to watch his friends die. From that moment, in that tiny claustrophobic bedroom, you know that Siddiq is not making it out of there. And it’s a bold choice, having someone reach the absolute pit of despair and, instead of giving us some levity, just going all out in a devastating twist. It’s what the show is meant to be about and boy is it bleak.
Ultimately, it’s a very clever twist. People have been saying that Dante is weird, that he’s up to something. But anyone who’s read the comics knows that that’s just Dante. He makes crap jokes and flirts with people. It gets to the point where you’ve seen it all before, you’ve been through the motions of the show introducing a character you know from the comics. There’s usually slight changes, and the story might change completely, but the character intrinsically stays the same. You think they can’t surprise you, not really. But they were counting on that, and I was well and truly shocked. So bravo. Now it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the fallout.
There’s one episode left, and in the wake of this episode, I’m re-assessing everything I thought I knew.