Warning: General spoilers ahead
The Walking Dead returned for the back half of season 9 this week, giving fans a better look at what the horrific new villains, The Whisperers, are all about. Not only have we’ve gotten the first glimpse of the Whisperers themselves, we also got a first look at the group’s leader, “Alpha,” who will be played by actress Samantha Morton. Well, come Sunday, expect to see a lot more in the first Alpha-centric episode of the series.
As you can gather from the below sneak peeks and photos, the majority of the episode focuses on a series of flashbacks that serve as an initial backstory of the Whisperers’ savage leader, Alpha, and her now-teenage daughter, Lydia (Cassady McClincy). The first flashbacks take place 23 days into the zombie apocalypse, with Alpha, Lydia, and Lydia’s father, Frank (Steve Kazee), holed up in a basement along with a couple dozen other survivors. We can assume they are people Alpha and Frank knew prior to the apocalypse since they are referred to as “friends.” As a viewer, you know that the woman in the flashbacks is Alpha, and with how caring and loving she appears to be, it makes you wonder what happened to morph her into such a ruthless monster.
But, things aren’t as they seem. Michonne had said last week that Daryl (Norman Reedus) was “the best judge of character she knows,” and that is most certainly true in this week’s episode. Not to mention, Daryl is a top-shelf human lie-detector. Daryl finally tells Lydia the only thing she has said thus far that doesn’t sound like complete bullshit is the part about how her father used to sing to her when she was scared. It is there that we finally learn the truth. The flashbacks we have seen up to that point were based upon what Alpha had told her, with her counting on Lydia being too young to remember what actually happened. But, Lydia *does* remember, and we get the same flashbacks but this time based upon Lydia’s actual memories. I can’t reveal much more, but let’s just say these flashbacks are strikingly different. One final point — take a look at Lydia’s father, Frank. Does he remind you of anyone? Maybe it’s just me, but IMO he bears a strong resemblance to Negan. For those familiar with the comics, you may recall that Alpha and Negan had, um, a very “unique” relationship. It could be a coincidence, but I’m hoping the resemblance may be a hint that the writers will stay true to that particular storyline from the source material.
Speaking of Daryl, I must admit when I first heard he might rise to be a leader in season 9, I laughed out loud, and initially thought it was a joke. However, after having seen him being the de-facto leader of the Hilltop for 2 episodes now, I must say the joke may have been on me because he’s actually not bad at all. Keeping Lydia alive was smart, and putting her together with Henry (Matt Lintz) while eavesdropping at the same time was even smarter. The only thing I can fault Daryl on in Sunday’s episode is the fact he may be underestimating Lydia. Henry, being the kind and trusting soul that he is, does something incredibly stupid, and it could have ended with him being gravely injured, or possibly killed. And, we learn that Daryl had witnessed the entire ordeal and did nothing about it. This being said, I do wonder how guilty Daryl will feel when (NOT “if” but “when”) Henry is eventually killed. What will he say to Carol, whom he promised he would look out for Henry and protect him?
Just a few other tidbits. We finally learn why Carol decided to grow her hair long. Henry eats a worm (yuck!). And, that infamous scene from the 9B trailer showing the back of Alpha’s bald head as she approaches the gate of the Hilltop goes down in the final moments of the episode. When Alpha’s face is finally revealed, the woman we saw in the earlier flashbacks is completely unrecognizable. While the other Whisperers who came to the Hilltop with her keep their masks on, Alpha does not. However, that turns out to be irrelevant because while Alpha wears no zombie mask, with her dark, sunken eyes and blackened mouth, she looks like death itself.
Episode 9.10 of The Walking Dead is titled “Omega” 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