Alpha means you no harm. So she says…
The episode begins with, of all things, a flashback: Ezekiel, Carol, and Jerry are in the woods, with Jerry saying that Nabila is pregnant. Congratulations. At last, Jesus and Tara arrive with medicine and supplies from the Hilltop. Carol is surprised to see the two, but Michonne has to soon realize that Tara won’t be returning to Alexandria.
Then Tara presents Ezekiel with something that he can hold onto since Maggie isn’t a big fan of Michonne right now.
Ezekiel hasn’t given up on the idea of what this embodies, and he believes that in time, the communities will be reunited as one. Until that day, he will be the keeper of the path forward. The two part ways with the Kingdom warriors and head back to the Hilltop. Right now, though, the three take a look at the package, which turns out to be a charter of rights. It is to be signed by the leaders of the three respective communities.
In the present, Dianne, now relocated back at the Kingdom, informs Ezekiel that they’ll be heading out soon. He looks over the charter one more time before heading out.
As the two go through the Kingdom grounds, she updates him, and he’s just glad to have her back home. As am I. Also, Carol is going out on the hunt, even though Ezekiel would want her to work on the fair. Now, though, onward for a bounty. In a few days’ time, though, they will feast. Everything will work out.
Then we jump to the Hilltop as Alpha tells Tara that she just wants her daughter, as she knows that the Hilltop has her. She shows her face because she means no harm. Daryl cautions Alpha to turn around, but that’s not the right answer. On cue, more walkers just stroll on up.
Enid and Tammy tend to Earl, with Enid giving him some medicine for his burns. Enid suggests that he take a break, but Earl doesn’t see a point in that. He’s got more horseshoes to make before the fair.
Tammy thanks Enid for her help. Since Ken passed, work has helped keep him busy. With Alden being gone, it just brought all of that back. Still, Tammy doesn’t want Enid to lose hope. She’s certain that Alden will be back.
Speaking of, then Enid learns from Marco that the ones who killed Jesus have arrived at the Hilltop. When no one tells Alpha who the…well, alpha of the Hilltop is, she addresses them all. But Daryl has no intention of returning Lydia, and Alpha says that her people did not kill Alden and Luke. Alpha tells the Hilltop residents that their people crossed into her land.
There will be no conflict and Alpha is done talking. Either return Lydia or there will be conflict. Daryl doesn’t know if Alpha has Alden and Luke, but he won’t turn over Lydia. Since Alpha is done talking, Daryl decides to exit the gates and head for Alpha on his own.
Ezekiel and a squad of Kingdom warriors gather their supplies, though he wants Carol to head on back, separate from him. She wants to know what everyone is up to and asks if Ezekiel is scared. He finally mentions that he’s been planning a side-mission to pick up an item for the fair, saying that Carol wouldn’t be interested. Wanna bet, your majesty?
Okay, so Ezekiel decides to show Carol. They arrive at an old theater that is filled to the brim with walkers. Either way, it’s movie time.
While Alpha’s walkers fall back- with Connie still hiding in the crops- Daryl meets face-to-face with Alpha and tells her that she can’t have Lydia. If she wants a fight, the Hilltop has enough firepower to light her up right here and now. Daryl then looks over and sees one of the walkers cradling their own child, and he’s surprised to see a baby out here. But in Alpha’s defense, they’re animals. Animals live out here.
Alpha doesn’t want conflict like Daryl does, so she proposes a trade. With that, the walkers present Luke and Alden. She wanted to kill them, but she wants her daughter more. One of hers for two of Daryl’s, and she knows that Daryl will take it.
Ezekiel’s crowned prize is merely a projector bulb. He’s confident that they can beat the approaching herd, though Carol is worried because they’re barely getting by with what they have. However, it’s been five years since their last projector bulb burned out. The young ones don’t even know what a movie is. It’s time to bring cinema back from the dead and unite the community.
This moment of fellowship will help the people preserve their bonds. They’re bringing the gift of joy, and Ezekiel will fight for that. With that, Ezekiel plays his mixtape as the walkers are led out and away from the theater.
When the coast is clear, they enter the theater, but find no projector bulb. Jerry guts a nearby walker and it turns out that not all of the walkers exited the theater. In fact, many of them are stuck in the popcorn machines. Then Ezekiel finds the projector room, and this might be the last opportunity to get this bulb.
Back at the Hilltop, Alpha tells one of her followers to stay back for the moment. Luke, though, manages to sign to Connie to stay back, since the dead are coming.
Daryl is going to get Lydia, but it turns out that she’s already gone. He tells everyone to split up and start searching for Henry and Lydia. They fan out to find the two.
While outside the walls, Alpha’s walkers and regular walkers continue to mill about, though the mother’s baby continues to cry, despite the mother trying to quiet it. Alpha offers no assistance, so the mother removes the baby from her back. If the mother can’t quiet the child, then the dead will. It’s natural selection, as far as Alpha is concerned.
Back inside, Dog leads Daryl to the entrance that leads outside of the Hilltop. Luckily, Addy knows where Henry might be. Enid offers to go find him, saying that she can talk some sense into Henry.
Luke signs to Connie about the child and she does locate it. She rushes out of hiding and puts down some walkers, but does manage to save the child before retreating into the stalks with the walkers on her tail. The noise cuts all of a sudden and things get very atmospheric. Obviously because Connie is mute, it’s a bit of a challenge for her, but luckily, Daryl, Kelly, Earl, and Tammy come to her rescue.
At the theater, Jerry and Dianne work on getting the bulb, though Jerry has to be extra careful. Ezekiel’s side-mission has its own side-mission, meanwhile, as he tells Carol that he’s getting a frame for the other leaders to sign the charter. He’s confident that Alexandria will join them, but Carol remembers what Michonne said. She doesn’t want Ezekiel getting his hopes up and worries that the fair isn’t enough.
What if trading isn’t enough? Carol wants to talk with Jesus about what happens if things get worse, at least until they can find someplace better. But what could be better than the Kingdom? They still have to consider all outcomes. Bad news, though. The boom box died, so the walkers may be back.
Luckily, Jerry managed to retrieve the bulb, but he drops it when a walker surprises him and Dianne. Where is it now? In the midst of walkers. Good going, Jerry.
So Henry has brought Lydia to a hiding spot while Lydia tells him that her mother wasn’t supposed to come. Perhaps she misses her daughter or is sorry, but Henry knows that isn’t the case. People like that don’t get to be sorry. Then Enid and Addy arrive, and he’s fine with the others knowing that they’re here. Lydia doesn’t want to go back.
Enid tells Henry that Lydia doesn’t belong with them. More than that, Lydia’s mother will kill Alden and Luke if they don’t surrender them. It’s not fair or right, but it’s something they have to live with right now. Enid then tells Henry about how she was changed when she saw her parents die. It became all about surviving somehow. Then someone close and special to her died. He left a letter saying that just surviving isn’t enough.
You live with it by staying who you are and not letting the bad things change you. Lydia emerges and tells Henry that she will go back to her mother. After all, it’s her mother and her people. She misses them, and she’ll miss Henry, too. Oh, and she gives him a kiss. How sweet, I suppose. There are no worms involved, so there’s that.
So indeed, it’s time for the exchange. Daryl brings Lydia forward while Alpha and her followers come with Henry and Alden. The two are reunited with the rest of the Hilltop, while Lydia thanks her mother for coming to get her. However, Alpha greets her mother with a slap…and then a hug, saying to call her Alpha, just like all the rest. With that, Alpha and her merry band of Whisperers fall back.
Back at the theater that time forgot, Jerry informs Ezekiel that he dropped the bulb amidst the walkers in the aisles. The herd will be back in minutes, and Ezekiel is now content with the poster. Well, it’s some form of victory. However, Carol says that they should stay behind to get the bulb. This time, she’s not doing it just for Ezekiel. So they get to work taking down the walkers.
As the Hilltop team heads back, Ezekiel tells Carol that she was right about being prepared for anything. But maybe they’re done losing for awhile.
Oh, and pay no attention to that marking on the traffic sign…
At the Hilltop, Henry tells Daryl that he gets why they turned over Lydia, but that doesn’t make it okay. As for what happens now, they just live with it, like Enid said. But Henry knows where they’re sending Lydia back to and he asks how they can live with that. But Daryl says that the world is just shit sometimes and you just live with it.
But what about before, like in Alexandria? Henry knows what Daryl did to help people, but in reality, he doesn’t. He did what he had to do today.
While Ezekiel and Carol celebrate their new frame, Magna and her crew drink, but Connie doesn’t seem to be into the festivities as much as the others. Earl and Tammy, meanwhile, have a new baby on their hands. As does Jerry, as he cares for the child he had with Nabila.
As Daryl keeps watch, Addy brings a note from Henry: he couldn’t live with what happened, so he’s going to find Lydia. As Daryl heads out, Connie stops him and writes a note to ask where he’s going. He shows Henry’s note and then she writes that she’s going with him. She can’t live with it either.
While Daryl doesn’t seem keen on the idea, Connie isn’t taking no for an answer. With that, Daryl, Connie, and Dog leave the Hilltop in search of Henry.
I’m sure that will go over well. Anyway, Alpha and her band of Whisperers have made themselves known to our survivors, but much of them is still shrouded in mystery. Even though much of what we got at the Hilltop was essentially a standoff, we did learn a bit more about the Whisperers, how they live, and what measure they’ll go to maintain their disguises.
Much of this wouldn’t work without Samantha Morton’s commanding performance as Alpha. She’s great at coming off as creepy, yet threatening at the same time. She brings with her a lot of the menace that you remember from Alpha in the comics, but through her speech, manages to make it her own as well. Luckily, this speech doesn’t inhibit the threat, as was often the case with Jadis and the junkyard crew.
This led into one of the creepier parts of the episode with the baby. Upon first glance, as soon as I heard the baby crying, I figured that this was going to present a problem. I’m sure that you did, too. As it happened, we weren’t wrong on that front. This demonstrated how much the Whisperers are willing to let the dead take the weak if the strong survive.
I mean, Alpha is the alpha of the group, and she calls for the leader of the Hilltop. She’s all about finding the strongest, while the others must find a way to keep up, if they can. If not, the dead will take them. The fact that Alpha was willing to let a baby be eaten shows that she means business and not someone to mess with. I doubt Negan would go that far.
Compared to Negan or the Governor, the survivors haven’t dealt with this sort of antagonist before, but Lydia has and she understands the seriousness of the threat that Alpha presents. It’s why she willingly turns herself over to Alpha, even though Henry tries his damnedest to keep her safe.
Henry taking Lydia on the run did feel a bit like filler. They were both going to be found out anyway, so why even bother trying to hide her? Especially when someone would find out where he was. Still, it was a good opportunity for Enid to remember Carl’s words through his final letter about surviving. It’s a nice way to keep Carl’s legacy alive, without directly name-dropping him.
But with Lydia returning to Alpha of her own volition and Henry going after her, the Hilltop is far from being out of the woods. The work Daryl has had to do in keeping Henry in line? Now he’ll have to do more just to bring him back. Luckily, he has Connie there with him.
Of the newcomers in Magna’s group, it’s nice to see Connie stepping up so soon after her introduction. Her deafness may be somewhat of a handicap compared to those who can speak, but that does not hinder her in the slightest. She rescues the baby, even though these people are clearly her enemy, and she manages to fight off the walkers in the crops with no loss to her person.
More than that, she doesn’t take ‘No’ for an answer when she wants to accompany Daryl. I’m very curious and hopeful to see these two working together in the field.
As for the Kingdom, I do like how this built upon what Rick and Michonne had discussed earlier: the charter. Unlike the others, Ezekiel remains as optimistic as ever that everyone can be reunited- even through the power of film. Honestly, that’s a pretty good idea on Ezekiel’s part, in particular for those poor souls who have never seen a film before.
More than that, I like Carol slowly changing her tune and suggesting that everyone stay to make sure that they get the projector bulb. While she’s still not over the moon with Ezekiel’s theatrics, she does understand where he’s coming from, and she’s willing to help him accomplish goal. Luckily, they all managed to do that. Also, really liked the use of the mixtape, if just to get some music that amped everyone up while killing walkers.
That said, you would think that Ezekiel would stop himself in regards to being optimistic. Remember last season, he said “we shall lose not one of our ranks.” Then he lost not one, but many of his followers. Optimism and happy moments always come before a tragic moment, and this show is no stranger to that.
We see Jerry with his child, Tammy and Earl taking care of the baby, and Enid reuniting with Alden. Even with Henry out and searching for Lydia, things seem to be quite good for the survivors…so expect some shit to go down in the weeks ahead.
By the way, it was nice to see Tom Payne return to play Jesus, even if just in a flashback. Jesus may be dead, but I didn’t know that we would be seeing his character pop up again in the show after that. It was a nice addition and surprise.
But anyway, everyone is back and reunited with their loved ones. What will Henry do when he no doubt confronts the Whisperers on their turf? Probably get his ass handed to him, but we’ll see next time.