The Walking Dead
“The Calm Before”
March 24, 2019
This episode opens with a little vignette showing some couple we don’t know, a couple who celebrates their anniversary first by fighting off walkers in the woods and then discovering Hilltop. Sometime later, as residents of Hilltop, she gives him a carved wooden token with an H (for Hilltop — or home — or hope, take your pick) on it as a five-year anniversary gift, and he encourages her to make more. Sometime after that, they celebrate yet another anniversary by loading up a wagon with her carved tokens to take to the Kingdom’s fair to trade … but, OH NO! they never make it because they are ambushed by those assholes, The Whisperers.
At the Kingdom, King Zeke kicks off the festivities, noting that it is the fulfillment of Rick, Carl and Jesus’s dream. But not everyone is in the mood: notably, Carol, who is worried about Henry. But she’s not worried for long, because before she can head out into the wilderness to look for him, in rolls Michonne’s wagon with all our major characters: Daryl, Henry, Judith, Lydia, and Connie.
And everyone is SUPER EXCITED except for Tara who THOUGHT SHE MADE IT CLEAR THAT LYDIA WAS NOT WELCOME.
The leaders of the different communities have a quick meeting in the theater where Michonne is like, “Listen, guys, I know I’ve been A LOT since Rick died, but I’ve thought about it and I’m ready for Alexandria to not be a standoffish bitch anymore.” Everyone is like, “Cool cool cool” and they all agree to grant Lydia asylum, and then they all sign the big fancy collective defense charter Michonne drew up a while back.
The fair happens, as do a bunch of little subplots: Enid admits that the Good Savior is her boyfriend while Uncle Marvin tries to convince Good Savior to sing with him; some of the Hilltop kids are mean bullies towards Lydia, and tell her that Henry is into some other girl we barely know; Kelly tells her sister Connie she’s SUPER PISSED she just ran off to save that baby and left without saying goodbye.; and Dr. Mullet and Rosita work on radios or some shit.
Elsewhere, Michonne and some others, including Daryl, Carol, Lady Gaga, Yumiko and some other red shirts leave the fair to go defend Hilltop, and say their goodbyes while trying to not draw too much attention to themselves, lest they freak out the other fair attendees.
While they’re out in the woods, Michonne’s group run into the Highwaymen who report they’ve found something NOT OK: the overturned Hilltop cart from the opening vignette. Carol, Daryl, Michonne, and Yumiko decide to split off from the other group, whom they send to Hilltop while they search the woods to figure out what the actual fuck is going on.
These idiots, they are quickly surrounded by walkers which they fight off for a while until they realize they are completely surrounded by The Whisperers and that they are extremely fucked. Beta, who Daryl is not happily surprised to find alive, tsks that all he wanted was the girl, no one else had to die. But that deal is now and officially off.
Flashback to the Kingdom earlier in the day and OH SHIT, Alpha used the hair and clothes of the wood carvings lady from the opening scene to infiltrate the fair — and honestly, this does raise a lot of security issues that our heroes just did not take into consideration. After making small talk with King Ezekiel, that night, Alpha slips into the movie theater where Lydia is waiting for Henry, and shushes her daughter.
The two leave the theater where Alpha insists Lydia is coming with her, but Lydia’s like, “NOPE, and if you keep hassling me, I’ll scream. They will kill you to keep me safe, SO TRY ME, LADY.” Alpha spits that Lydia was never one of them, she was never strong and leaves as Lydia crumples to the ground.
ALRIGHT, SO BACK IN THE WOODS THAT NIGHT. Alpha, back in her full Alphaness, approaches our heroes, and Michonne informs her that Lydia has asylum with them: any attempt to retrieve her will be met with force. But Alpha is unconcerned with Lydia — “she was weak, she never lived up to expectations.” Taking out a shotgun, Alpha then demands that Daryl come with her, alone.
That morning, Daryl and Alpha arrive at a cliff overlooking an enormous horde, which she explains is infiltrated by her people: they steer them, they control them. And the way this works is that Daryl and his friends are to stay on their lands and off of Alpha’s, or they will turn the horde on them. Alpha’s land is the are between the two interstates and the river to the south — the northern border, they’ve marked it. They’ll see it when they leave.
Daryl asks if she killed Lydia, and Alpha informs him that she did not. And, she adds, she doesn’t believe that Daryl can protect Lydia, but she hopes so. And with that, she releases Daryl, Michonne, Carol and Yumiko.
After they leave, Beta asks her about Lydia, but Alpha tells him that SHE NEEDS TO BE ALONE. However, another Whisperer sees her crying, so Alpha calls him over to her and slits his throat BECAUSE NO WITNESSES.
As for our heroes, on their way back to Hilltop, they come across a beaten and bloodied Siddiq tied to a tree and are like, “THE FUCK?” But as they untie him, he shakingly points them up a hill crowned with ten spikes.
And atop each spike, a head.
Ozzy, Alek and D.J., three of the Highwaymen and the guys that our heroes met in the woods before being surrounded by the Whisperers; Frankie, one of Negan’s “wives”; Bret Butler; Rodney and Addy, a pair of the shitty Hilltop kids; Enid; Tara and — oh God — Henry.
Daryl tries to stop Carol from looking at Henry’s head, but TOO LATE.
Later, Siddiq addresses a crowd, and I’ll just transcribe it, because GUT PUNCH:
“I was there. I was taken with the others. And I saw… I was supposed to die with them. I was ready to. Then, Alpha whispered in my ear, ‘Tell them.’ Something hit me, and everything went black. And when I woke up, I was alone. What happened was evil. It was evil. And I think she left me alive to tell you that story. To scare you and to drive us all apart again.
But I want to tell you a different story. See, before the end… Ozzy, Alek, and DJ found us… …and they gave us an opening. And everyone fought back… They fought like hell. And what they did… Was more than brave… ‘Cause they defended each other. And they sacrificed for each other… And some of them… they didn’t even know each other, but they still fought like they did. Like they were family. ‘Til the very end.
And, uh… And in the end, they… Their time was cut short, but ours keeps going. So we have to keep going. For them and… for all of us. We need to honor them. We need to honor them, and we need to remember these friends, our family, died as heroes. That’s the story that I want to tell you. That’s the story that I want us all to remember.”
Finally, some months later, Daryl and Lydia visit the now-headless spikes, and Lydia leaves at Henry’s the carved wooden “H” necklace — “H” is for Henry — which he gave her all that time ago, as snow begins to fall.
I mean, holy shit, y’all. I mean, I didn’t care for Henry and all of his Very Bad Decisions, but I didn’t expect THAT to happen.
So, I did know in broad terms that the Whisperers were going to chop off some heads and put them on spikes, but in the comics — COMIC SPOILERS INCOMING — the characters who are spiked are: Rosita, Tammy, Ezekiel, Luke, Oscar, Olivia, Erin, Emmett, Kenneth, Amber, Larry and Josh. (And if you don’t know most of those names, don’t worry, I barely know who they are talking about, either. Larry and Josh haven’t been introduced on the show? Amber was one of Negan’s wives who we haven’t seen in a while? And Olivia, Oscar, Erin, and Emmett are all dead on the show already? OK.)
The point is, they really toyed with viewers who knew about this twist, in one scene having Alpha lead King Z off to an unknown fate. And in the comics, King Ezekiel is in a relationship with Michonne when he is killed, so it made sense that he would be a victim as his relationship with Carol is so strong. BUT NOPE! They decided for the gut-punch of having Carol lose yet another child instead.
Brutal, The Walking Dead. This was straight-up brutal.
On to the finale, which can’t possibly be as rough as this.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sundays at 8/9 p.m.