“Took you long enough.”
Last week, I was unsure how the gang would escape. But I was still pretty confident that they would escape. But in ‘Walk With Us’, Hilltop is not just beaten, it’s decimated. And all of the heroes are thrown to the wind.
He only went and did it, the absolute madman. Yes, Negan did what we’ve all been waiting for and dispatched Alpha for good. He’s been circling for a few weeks now and I’ve mentioned a few times about where this plot line went in the comics. Ultimately, it always had to be Negan that did it. If he’s ever going to earn his redemption then he needed to commit an act so great, so devoted to the good guys, that they’d have no choice but to let him remain as one of them. And Alpha’s head in a bag should do the trick nicely.
It was a good deflection on the show’s part, having Negan leading Alpha to the cabin with Lydia inside – only to reveal that Lydia was in a completely different place. It made for a tense and (intentionally) frustrating few minutes, as the pair sparred with one another. To his credit, Negan gave Alpha a chance. Her way of life is insane, but he sort of gets it. And it’s always seemed like she’s on the edge of not believing her own dogma. But in the end, she chooses the horde over her own daughter and pays the price. But this final conversation gave us a little bit more depth for Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan, as he revealed a bit more about his life before the apocalypse went down. The sooner we get a Negan solo episode, the better!
But Alpha wasn’t the only major character to get the chop this week. Mary, the character formerly know as “Gamma”, took a knife to the gut thanks to Beta. After being separated from the group, her, Alden, and Kelly (and the baby) are heading to the rendezvous. I’m glad they drop the soap opera-ish anger Alden has for her pretty swiftly, because after all, you were a saviour at one point dude. Cut her some slack. The group soon runs into the horde and holes up in an abandoned car. But Gamma, like Negan, commits a selfless act to protect her new family and leads the walkers away. Sadly, she runs straight into Beta, the man whose spent the last few days chasing her. He greets her with a knife in the stomach and is left to turn. Alden returns the favour and puts her out of her misery in a touching scene.
Despite her arc being over, I am sad to see Gamma go. Thora Birch was a great actress, and the Whisperer-turned-good-guy plot still had some mileage left. Though, I guess her story is pretty similar to Negan. And we only have room for one evil bastard turned hero. But it’s worth mentioning how Gamma’s last act was ripping Beta’s mask, revealing him to be…someone. Another Whisperer recognises Beta (before being killed by the big guy) so he must have been famous before the outbreak. In the comic, Beta was an ex-football player. Here, the theory seems to be country singer. Maybe a Beta solo episode is on the cards? It’ll be interesting to see how he handles his new-found power, seeing as he’s in charge of the Whisperers. Personally, I don’t see them lasting all that long.
After the massive defeat, the kids have been separated from the rest of the group. The only thing between them and hordes of the undead? Earl the elderly blacksmith. Who has also been bitten. Now, Earl has had a surprisingly big role over the past season, coming into his own as the voice of reason at Hilltop. So it is sad to see him get killed. But it’s interesting to see someone go out from a bite, something that just doesn’t happen anymore. Trapped and bitten, with no way to lose his arm and no easy way to kill himself, Earl sets up perhaps the most gruesome method of suicide I’ve ever seen. Jamming a railroad spike through the table, he plans to smash his own face against it, through the eye socket and into the brain presumably. It’s all in an attempt to save Judith from having to kill, so you have to appreciate the guy’s bravery. Sadly, he messes it up and Judith has to take him out anyway. It’s a surprisingly grim series of events, but one that will mould Judith into the person she’s destined to become; a decent human being with hopefully a more restrained bloodlust than Grimes Snr.
This episode sets up a few plot threads for the future. First, Aaron and Negan have got some serious beef. He saw Negan in the Whisperer garb so those two will have something to talk about. Which raises the question of how exactly Negan will explain his departure. It was revealed here that Carol let him out, using him to get rid of Alpha – which is a neat way of giving them both some closure. But Daryl is not going to like it. He’s already had issues with Carol’s behaviour, this will surely be a step too far.
On top of all that excitement, Eugene has his date. It’s still going ahead, despite the loss of Hilltop. This is the next stage of the show, presumably the Commonwealth. I’ll be keeping an eye out to see if the show begins laying the foundations for the endgame. I’m not one of those people who think the show needs to end anytime soon, but The Commonwealth is the end of the road. And it’s coming up fast.