Omega? More like Alpha, am I right?
The episode begins with a flashback as the world went to hell. We join some survivors on day 23 of their new lives and meet with a small family. The wife tells her husband, Frank, that they just have to wait it out, but their daughter, Lydia cautions them to stay inside so they wait for the doctor. But Dad is confident that there’s no doctor coming. He’s not wrong. Mom rocks her daughter and begins to sing her a song.
In the present, Lydia tells her sad story to Henry- she can still see her father’s cold, emotionless face. While Lydia wonders why she’s telling Henry this, it beats the quiet. Henry doesn’t get people walking around in dead skins, but Lydia says it’s just as strange to think the Hilltop will stand. Lydia believes that Daryl is Henry’s father, but that’s not the case. He’s only doing this as a favor for his mother.
His second mother, anyway. You wouldn’t want to mess with her. So what happened to Lydia’s dad?
Well, he died. Mom kept Lydia alive, though. She has a lot in common with Henry’s mother. You wouldn’t want to mess with her, either. As the two talk, Daryl continues to listen outside. Now just who is Lydia’s mom and what is her name? We’ll get to that later.
Out in the woods, Connie, Kelly, Yumiko, Magna, Kal, Marco, and Tara happen upon a group of walkers in the middle of feeding. One by one, they take them down with relative ease, but none of the walkers were masked. They decide to check the area for any sign of Luke and Alden. Upon examining the dead animal, it appears the horses were cut open with knives. So this job wasn’t done by just the dead.
Yumiko suggests splitting up, but Tara doesn’t trust the prisoner’s words. They head back and stay behind the walls to find out what this is. Connie wants to know what happens if they don’t, but as far as Tara is concerned, they will.
Back in the world’s most boring cell block, Henry offers his egg to Lydia, but she refuses. She wants to know why Henry is being nice to her, and he explains that he was messed up out in the world, too. It took someone being nice to make things okay again. Lydia doesn’t want to explain hunger, as she knows that she’ll never be okay again. Just like her father said.
We then flash back to the survivors going over a plan, but Lydia’s mother wanting to know about Lydia. She figures that it’ll be too dangerous and that they should stay behind, but Dad cares just as much about Lydia as Mom does. Still, Mom refuses to go, so Dad will go. Lydia then asks if Halloween is coming, because she wants to dress up as a ghost. Dad tells her that every day is Halloween if you look at the world.
Dad isn’t exactly wrong. As Dad grabs a blade, he begins trimming his beard, as he could never stand it. Now, though, he’ll do what he wants. Lydia and Mom go back to their game of checkers.
In the present, Lydia explains that her mother always did that. Henry feels that Lydia’s mom sounds nice. But he’s a moron, so of course he does. As for Henry, his second father, Ezekiel, found him. Lydia asks about the location of the community where Henry’s parents are, and once he explains that it’s a day’s ride from here, in enters Daryl.
He’s come to ream out Henry and demands to know why he’s telling her vital about the Kingdom. Daryl explains that several people have been listening in shifts. Henry is upset that he was used for information, but then says that if the others want information, they can get it themselves.
Daryl heads back into the cellar and presents some medicine for Lydia, as he’s noticed that she’s been pulling on her ear like it hurts. He tells her that two of his people went missing and asks if she knew about that, but hey, she’s been in this cell. So then he asks if Lydia’s mother would kill the survivors if she crossed them. Turns out she would do what she had to do.
To illustrate this, we flash back to Lydia’s mother as the survivors are now freaking out. One survivor in particular continues to freak out and bangs on the windows, but in an attempt to keep him quiet, Lydia suffocates him, saying there’s no room for him. I don’t think you helped the situation, Mom, but okay.
In the present, Lydia tells Daryl about the song she used to hear when she was five or six years old. It calmed her. As far as Daryl is concerned, Lydia’s mother did what was necessary. He tosses her the pills and says that there are many good people at the Hilltop. Rather than acknowledge that, Lydia asks for water.
When Daryl approaches with some water in a ladle, Lydia attacks. However, it’s short lived, as Daryl is faster and able to prevent her from trying to leave. Well, now you don’t get any water, Lydia.
Above, Yumiko talks with Connie, Kelly, and Magna about going out to find Luke, but Magna won’t go against Tara’s instruction and potentially screw things up. Although Kelly knows that there’s a way to sneak out of the Hilltop. Yumiko and Kelly are in favor of this, as is Connie. Even if it cost them the Hilltop, they have to do this. So they’re agreed.
Daryl returns to Lydia’s cell, telling her that some fathers come up with excuses to beat up their kids. Belts are good, but some dads aren’t picky. They’ll use whatever they can find, like a switch- which Daryl is currently holding.
Lydia’s father sounds like that, except the part where he sang to her when she was scared. Those fathers like it when you’re scared. That’s the only part of the story that doesn’t sounds like bullshit to Daryl.
The bruises on Lydia’s arm come from a beating, so Daryl asks that if Lydia’s father is dead, who gave her the marks? Mom did, and Daryl asks where is and where the camp is located? Lydia tells Daryl that the Hilltop isn’t real. The people are acting like the world will change back. The world belongs to the dead. What Lydia’s mother does, she does for a reason. Daryl calls that bullshit.
Lydia disagrees. When you stay soft, people die. We flash back again as Lydia’s mother, now with shorter hair that she’s been cutting, leads the survivors. Lydia’s father checks on her and asks if she’s afraid, but Dad assures her that she doesn’t have to worry. Everything will be fine in the morning.
Oh, and that guy Lydia’s mother killed? He’s still there. So you can imagine it’s only a matter of time before he reanimates.
Anyway, later that night, as everyone sleeps, Lydia awakens. She approaches the body and pulls off the sheet covering the dead man. After a quick peek, she covers it back up, but then the man rises, now fully reanimated as a walker. He attacks and bites one of the survivors.
In the present, Lydia tells Daryl that she deserved to die, but her father was soft and now he’s dead. You can’t bend, you break, and that’s what her father did. But Daryl disagrees- they’re building the world back up. Lydia tells Daryl that he’s hard, but the others are soft, but Daryl refuses to start opening up to Lydia. In Daryl’s defense, Lydia, there was never a mutual agreement on story time.
Anyway, as this happens, Magna’s group soon slips out of the Hilltop.
As they do, Henry confronts Daryl, saying he could’ve just asked for his help. Daryl considers Lydia a waste of time, but Henry wants to know what will happen to her. Henry then asks if someone used to beat Daryl, too. He mentions that Ezekiel used to ask Carol why her hair was short, and it’s because Earl used to grab it when he abused her. So one day, she cut it, and it must’ve taken her this long to feel safe again.
Henry figures that Daryl acts like a tough guy, but Daryl just tells Henry not to eavesdrop. Still, Henry believes there’s good in Lydia, even if there’s none of that in her people. Daryl can show her a better way, but no, not just him.
Outside the Hilltop, Connie informs the other that the tracks they’re spotting aren’t the same, but Yumiko is focused on Coalport. If they hadn’t left their post, they would be dead. Their choice was not to die.
Luckily, approaching walkers put an end to this conversation. It’s too dangerous to look for Luke, but Yumiko wants to go back. Kelly wants to stay and find their comrade, but she also remembers the last day at Coalport. Luke was the one who found her when they were separated. She refuses to leave him, so Connie and Kelly will stay out to search for Luke. Unbeknownst to the two, though, they are indeed being watched.
Henry heads to Lydia’s cell, saying that Daryl doesn’t know he’s here. He couldn’t wait until tomorrow to talk to her. Henry comes right out and says that he likes Lydia and considers her a good person. He wants to show her that the Hilltop has good people. He’ll let her out for a bit, provided she stays out of sight.
The two head out and hide behind one of the cabins until it’s safe. Then Lydia, for some reason, digs a worm out of the ground and eats it. She then offers one to Henry- after licking it- and because he’s a moron, he eats it. He even points out that he just ate a worm. He points out the medical cabin while Lydia subtly tries to grab a hammer. As Henry continues talking about the Hilltop, they overhear a baby crying.
Lydia drops the hammer and has a flashback. She continues to think back to her youth, including her mother telling her to put on the mask of the dead, as this is how they would live. Lydia asks Henry to put her back in her cell, and he does just that. Before he leaves, though, Lydia asks if he can stay with her tonight. He does and the two end up joining hands.
Net morning, Daryl finds the two, but Lydia is in pain all over. Daryl again offers the ladle, but this time Lydia doesn’t try to lash out at him. She accepts that her mother isn’t coming for her. When someone dies or is taken, her group moves on, like the captured never existed. They don’t come into contact with big groups unless they have to, which is why she wanted a reason for her mother to take her back.
Henry brings up the fact that Lydia is her mother’s daughter so that should matter. As for the missing people, they may not be alive. There’s a camp about a mile east, but they don’t stay in one place for long. Henry asks if any of Lydia’s story was true, and she thought it was, but she’s had it all mixed up. The lie wasn’t hers- her mother told it to her, but deep down, Lydia knew what her mother was and what she did.
We flash back as Lydia’s mother tells her husband and daughter that it’s time to escape. Dad promises Lydia that they’re going to get to safety. However, Lydia’s mother went to her father and held him against the wall. With a cold look in her eye, she grabbed her knife.
In the present, Daryl has heard enough. Lydia apologizes for wasting Daryl’s time, but he sees no time wasted.
As Magna and Yumiko return to the Hilltop, Henry asks Daryl why a mother would do that to her daughter. Also, what happens now? It remains to be seen if Lydia can stay, but Daryl will have to talk with Tara about that. Also, Henry is glad that Daryl and Carol are friends.
Yumiko goes to Tara and explains that they couldn’t find Luke. She apologizes for leaving, but there’s no time to deal with this. Connie and Kelly have been brought back by Hilltop guards. Tara gets why they left, but next time, she just wants them to talk to her first. She doesn’t want any more people dying, including the newcomers.
That’s nice. New problem, though. Walkers start literally walking up to the Hilltop. The leader, a bald headed woman, heads to the front and stares down the survivors- it’s Lydia’s mother from the flashbacks. She introduces herself as Alpha, played by Samantha Morton, and explains that she just wants one thing: her daughter.
Well, Alpha makes her official introduction as her merry band of “walkers” just stroll up to the Hilltop. I must admit, that’s one hell of an ending. The survivors still don’t have a clear idea what they’re up against. So to see walkers…walk towards them with clear direction, it helps paint this threat as something that the survivors have never faced before.
Before, it was just walkers or humans. Now you’ve got people dressing in the skins of walkers. Pretty fucked-up stuff, and we see the impact that this has had on Lydia. This episode mostly served to bring us up to speed on her backstory and Alpha’s origin, which is something I don’t believe we got in the comic.
Admittedly, this does take away some of the intrigue and mystery surrounding Alpha and, by extension, the Whisperers, but I’m not against Alpha and Lydia having their history expanded on the show. If anything, like the Governor, or Negan’s stories to Gabriel and Jadis, it helps flesh them out and make them fully formed characters, rather than just typical antagonists.
I don’t think I’ll get over the fact that Henry is basically taking comic Carl’s storyline, but he is proving himself right now. Whether it’s him standing up to Daryl or getting Lydia to open up, this is a good use of his character. Although he’s still making dumb mistakes like telling Lydia about the Kingdom. For every dumb decision that Henry makes, Daryl is there to keep him in check.
It’s a way to help the two…well, not grow closer because Daryl ain’t about to call Henry his buddy, but build on their bond. Hey, if Henry is going to be a stand-in for Carl, this pretty much makes Daryl the stand-in for Rick. Though you’d think that Henry would be a bit more cautious about taking Lydia out of her cell. Beyond the worm stuff, at least warn her that if she steps out of line, she will still die.
The brief B-plot of the episode may not have added much since Magna’s group ultimately didn’t find Luke, but it was important when it came to their relationship with Tara. While Tara isn’t in the episode much, we get the sense that she’s still growing used to the idea of leading the Hilltop in light of Jesus’ death. The hard decisions fall on her, and she doesn’t want anyone to die on her watch.
It’s why she’s ultimately not angry at Yumiko for sneaking out. Tara knows what it’s like to go against the grain. She knows by now that Magna and company didn’t go against her decision out of spite, but out of concern for Luke’s safety.
However, we know that Luke and Alden ran right into Alpha, so what happens now that Alpha has come to demand her daughter? Will there be a trade or would Lydia go back willingly into her mother’s arms? Also, how do the survivors contend with this new threat?
And will Henry have to eat another worm? Let’s hope not. See you next time.