Warning: General spoilers ahead
In last week’s episode, Daryl (Norman Reedus), Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Dog rescued Henry (Matt Lintz) from the Whisperers after the teen’s attempt to retrieve Lydia (Cassady McClincy) resulted in his capture and almost death. Now, Alpha (Samantha Morton) has unleashed a pack of Whisperers to reclaim Lydia at any cost, tasking second-in-command Beta (Ryan Hurst) with hunting down the Hilltop group.
With Alpha being spotlighted in last week’s “Guardians,” I actually called it the “Alpha show,” as it provided a very intense, personal look into the current psyche of the Whisperers’ savage leader. On the flipside in Sunday’s episode, we now take a closer look at Alpha’s right-hand man, Beta, as he leads the charge to find Lydia and also likely retaliates for the attack on their camp. While there are similarities between Beta and the group’s leader whom he appears to deeply respect, some of the differences are also quite striking. We learn that Beta has a great deal of empathy and compassion (which I’m certain is completely foreign to Alpha) when he holds the hand of a dying comrade whom had been bitten in last week’s walker attack. “I’m about to become one of them,” the boy cries, to which Beta responds, “And you shall remain one of us.” (hinting that the boy will live on as part of the group’s walker herd).
However, the biggest differences in Beta’s methods are evident in the huge showdown with Daryl, which has been teased since the 9B trailer was released. Of course, with Beta’s large size, he throws Daryl around like he’s nothing. He’s also quite skilled with knives, but fortunately, Daryl is just as skilled at dodging his blows. So, while Beta may have Daryl beat in terms of muscle and size, I have to say he’s not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, and sometimes brains can be more important than brawn. Daryl outsmarts Beta 10-fold in one particular scene, and honestly, it made me laugh out loud.
While all of this is playing out, the trade fair is about to kick off at the Kingdom, with everyone there completely oblivious to the new-found threat lurking just beyond their backyard. First, it appears this episode debunks the popular theory that Michonne may have slaughtered Oceanside in response to their killing those Saviors earlier in the season. No one from Oceanside appears in the episode, but flags for each of the communities participating in the fair are draped over the front of the main house at the Kingdom, and yes, Oceanside is one of them.
Secondly, while the Kingdom hasn’t learned of the Whisperers yet, they do encounter yet another group, and it’s related to the strange symbol in red paint we saw a couple of weeks ago. As depicted in the below Sneak Peek, the leader, Ozzy (Angus Sampson, “Nightflyers” and “Fargo”), of the group that calls themselves “The Highway Men” writes Ezekiel (Khary Payton) a letter (and as Carol later points out, a grammatically-correct letter), and that same symbol appears on the letter. Most people (myself included) originally theorized that the symbol was tied to the Whisperers, but given that Alpha doesn’t strike me as the type to write letters to potential enemies, I can tell you with 100% certainty that theory is false.
A few other tidbits. While some may have thought the movie projector storyline was somewhat silly, it actually plays a big role in the arc involving this new group, The Highway Men. The Hilltop group gets some unexpected help during a walker attack on their way to the fair and in turn, gets their own personal escort to the Kingdom. And, Beta may truly have 9 lives.
Episode 9.13 of The Walking Dead is titled “Chokepoint” and airs Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com