The episode begins with a montage: we get Daryl joining Michonne and family for dinner before he goes to leave some food for Carol. Rosita and Gabriel take Coco for a walk- at night of all times of day- Siddiq wakes up in another cold sweat and rushes outside, but doesn’t acknowledge Lydia when he sees her. Carol patches up the wound on her arm, and Magna has some quality time with Yumiko.
Over at the Hilltop, Ezekiel is deep in thought when something gets everyone’s attention.
Yes, the worst has happened: a tree has fallen. Jerry rushes in to help the Kingdom’s citizens, but Alden and Earl warn the others not to just rush in since the structure might not hold. At once, some of the residents think this tree falling was no accident, but the work of the Whisperers as further retaliation.
Nine Kingdom residents are injured and the rest are trapped under the collapsed roof. Jerry asks Ezekiel about what to do next, but Ezekiel wants the focus on the wounded. The infirmary is only built now to hold four, so Maggie’s office will be used to house the rest of the wounded.
At Alexandria, Aaron informs a citizen that they’re dead- he’s training the locals in how to combat and ultimately stop the Whisperers. Margo, Gage, and Alfred, played by David Shae, taunt a nearby Lydia for getting kicked out of the Whisperers and now just being a freak.
On the road, Judith badgers Michonne to know why the Whisperers took more land. Michonne doesn’t want Judith to worry, but Judith reminds her mother that she can be an extra pair of eyes and ears. Michonne ultimately explains Alpha’s master plan to unleash her horde if the survivors crossed her border. Since Carol took a shot, Alpha decided to take a shot.
Maybe the rules are changing, but when you negotiate with a bully, there may be no end to what they try to take.
Some bullies you can live with, but others you fight. Despite what the Whisperers said, never take your enemy at their word. You measure them by their actions. Judith brings up how the best way to get RJ to go to sleep is to let him run around and tire himself out. Maybe the Whisperers want to keep the survivors fighting until they’re so tired that the Whisperers have the advantage. Not a bad theory.
Is that the kind of bully that the Whisperers are? My, you are full of questions today, Judith. Michonne brings the caravan to a halt when she spots Ezekiel riding into the woods on his own. She tells the others to head onto Hilltop while she pursues the king.
So Michonne heads into the woods and is surprised to see Ezekiel’s horse rushing past her. She soon finds the king standing near an edge and asks him to step back. He refuses, so she elects to join him and brings him in for a hug.
Then he goes in for the kiss because why not, I guess? He instantly apologizes.
Since Lydia has been ostracized by the citizens, she goes back to digging up worms when Negan rolls up with some laundry. She tells him that her tormentors started up again today, and she’s not going to just smile and take it anymore. Negan said to kill them with kindness, yes, but he didn’t mean for Lydia to run away. He knows that the residents want to get a rise out of Lydia, so she shouldn’t give that to them.
Then Daryl outta nowhere tells Lydia to leave. Negan informs Daryl that Lydia is just trying to fit in, but Daryl doesn’t see that happening if she’s hanging out with the likes of Negan.
I suppose that’s debatable, but before Daryl can further warn Lydia to stay away from Negan, they see the words “Silence the Whisperers” spray-painted on a door. Well, at least the name has stuck.
Back at the edge (of glory), Michonne tells Ezekiel that they wouldn’t have worked out anyway since they’re both too damn stubborn. Agreed. Ezekiel is still reeling from everything he’s lost: Benjamin, Shiva, Henry, the Kingdom, and now he doesn’t even know how to talk to Carol. He didn’t know what he’d do when he came to this edge. Michonne has been here before. Not here physically, but this feeling.
It was a long time ago when she was on her own. She explains how she was in a dark place and used to envy walkers when she ran into one. She told herself that she would let one bite her, but then her sword chopped off the walker’s head like it had a mind of its own. One day, she put the sword down and killed with her bare hands. Eventually, she gave up. Ezekiel asks what that felt like, and it felt like a mask until it doesn’t.
Ezekiel’s old mask saved his life, but he could only wear it for so long before losing it all over again. To Michonne, it’s harder the second time around, especially when you’re used to having someone there to be your rock. When they’re gone, it’s all on you. Yet Ezekiel smiles.
On the walk back, Michonne at least compliments Ezekiel on being a good kisser, but he apparently wasn’t on the top of his game. It helps that Michonne hasn’t kissed anyone over four feet tall in a long time. She then asks him that next time he tries something like standing at the edge, don’t ride out on his own.
Alright, enough of this gooey shit. Back to a fallen tree at the Hilltop. As the injured are brought out, Luke and Alden are at the gates, where they hear the sound of a walker swarm. If the walkers keep pushing, they’ll bring down the entire tree and the barn with it. Luckily, Earl has some timbers to brace the tree. Magna’s crew decide to head out to take on the walkers.
Lydia’s attempts to make friends in Alexandria goes well when she guts a dead animal right in front of Margo, Gage, and Alfred. They eventually leave.
Following this, Daryl asks Lydia if she’s sure that she wants to live in Alexandria, because if she does, she can’t do shit like that. Still, Lydia doesn’t want Daryl to fight her battles. She knows that the people want her to give up, but she won’t, so Daryl suggests that she just avoid them.
That night, Margo, Gage, and Alfred confront Lydia and give her once chance to run away. Lydia is adamant that she’s at home, but no dice, so the three beat the hell out of her. She manages to hold them off for a bit, but she’s still outnumbered.
However, in comes Negan to save the day. But…there’s a problem. See, turns out that Negan threw Margo a little too hard against the wall and she’s now dead. Well, that ain’t good. The residents soon gather, and though Lydia speaks in Negan’s defense, Daryl has him taken to his cell anyway.
But what about Siddiq? After witnessing another bloody scene, he rushes in, gets himself a bowl of icy water, and plunges his head in, letting out a horrifying scream.
After getting patched up by Dante, Lydia is comforted by Daryl and tells him that Negan saved her life. More than that, she misses the protection she often had being surrounded by the dead.
Daryl visits Negan’s cell and informs him that Lydia is a bit banged up, but she’ll live. The people outside are thinking of killing Negan, and without Rick to protect him, Negan is more defenseless than before. However, Negan isn’t walking back accidentally killing Margo. Hell, someone beating around on a kid deserved to die as far as he’s concerned.
However, Negan knows that Daryl is here because he doesn’t know what to do with him. All that time Daryl fantasized about Negan’s death and tried to kill him, but now he’s unsure. That said, Daryl reminds Negan that they’ve never been alone in a room before- I don’t think that’s technically true, but whatever- and the people outside are out for blood. That much Negan knows.
Sure, Negan’s no hero, but he is a sucker. He started believing in Daryl’s way of life. After all, Negan got a taste of freedom, but had it yanked away when he did the right thing. That in and of itself is messed up, and Negan appreciates some messed-up shit. Daryl tells Negan that he’ll get a chance to tell his side.
Outside, Daryl meets with Carol, who realizes that time never moved now that everyone’s talking about Negan again. Daryl doesn’t give a shit about Negan, but he does believe Lydia’s words. Carol thinks this is a distraction. After all, Hilltop has a tree through its walls, Alexandria was attacked- supposedly- while the real enemy is out there.
There’s enough bad stuff happening now, but if they don’t fix it, then it may not matter what Alpha does since there’ll be nothing left. Well, if only you two had gone to New Mexico.
Magna, Yumiko, Connie, Luke, and Kelly deal with the walkers outside of Hilltop’s gates, but there are simply too many of them. If they stay outside, they die, so they retreat. Though it does take a bit more motivation to get Magna inside.
This ends up being useless, though, as a different Hilltop wall falls.
No problem, though, as the Alexandria cavalry has arrived!
Back in Alexandria, Daryl radios Michonne on the situation while the Alexandria council speaks with Gage and Alfred. He gives his side of the story: Lydia lured him outside and Negan was with her. But if Lydia’s crazy, why would Gage, Alfred, and Margo agree to meet her in the dark? They were attacked, yes, and yet Lydia’s the one in the infirmary.
Daryl informs Michonne that Negan is on the right side of things this time, even if he doesn’t believe that will make a difference. Michonne reminds Daryl that he needs to protect Lydia for all of them. After all, they went to the border to de-escalate the situation and buy time, and were close until Carol took her shot. Alpha could’ve wiped them out right there, but why didn’t she?
It’s possible that she won’t do so as long as the survivors have Lydia. Her presence may not help, but if Lydia runs off, it will hurt, so she must stay at Alexandria. For now, Michonne wants this to stay between the two of them. As for RJ, he’s not eating his vegetables, so Daryl is afraid for him. Michonne tells Daryl that she wants him to be her proxy when the council votes, and she knows he’ll do the right thing.
Then Hilltop gets a surprise call from Rachel at Oceanside…
Aaron addresses the council: it’s entirely possible that Negan has changed for the better, but given his past actions, something inside him is broken. Ahem, didn’t this ‘broken’ man just save your life last episode, Aaron? Either way, killing Negan over this situation undermines the civilization that they’ve built. However, some people never got to witness this civilization because of Negan.
Siddiq remind Aaron that their common threat is the Whisperer while Gabriel reminds the council that they weren’t formed to decide one man’s fate. Daryl tells them that if they don’t decide, the citizens will take matters into their own hands. If Lydia says that Negan saved her, then that’s what happened, and as Michonne’s proxy, Daryl votes No.
The council is now tied, but Gabriel says that everyone should take the night to clear their heads.
Next day at Hilltop, Michonne tells the team that she’ll be heading to Oceanside to see if Rachel was right about Whisperers watching them. It may be nothing, but if there’s one, there could be others. That said, with the walkers at Oceanside and the tree at Hilltop, that’s not just a coincidence. Luke opts to go with Michonne to Oceanside, but it’s obviously not because he likes the water.
Still, Dianne will go as well, leaving Eugene to lead a wagon back to Alexandria. However, Eugene has decided to remain at Hilltop to help rebuild the wall. This means that Eugene can’t take Judith back to Alexandria, but no problem there, as she’ll be joining Michonne at Oceanside. After all, who else will be her friendly pair of ears? You’ve got Dianne and Luke standing right there, Michonne…
Yumiko joins Magna to celebrate the job well done, but Magna is adamant that they could’ve taken that walker swarm. More than that, she’s pissed that Yumiko made the call, but hey, when shit hits the fan, someone has to step up. Certainly wasn’t gonna be Magna at that moment. Yumiko wants to know where the hell all this anger is coming from, and Magna points out that Yumiko isn’t her lawyer anymore.
At Alexandria, Gabriel goes to check on Negan, but turns out he’s gone. He goes straight to Aaron, informing him that the keys are missing, meaning that someone let him out. Laura was on watch last night, but she says that she didn’t free Negan.
Lydia claims that she did it and is puts herself in the cell, but Daryl kept watch of the house last night and knows that she didn’t free Negan. Doesn’t matter to Lydia, as she knows a cell is right where everyone wants her. Since what happened last year, Lydia’s been thinking about what would’ve happened had she stayed in the cell at Hilltop. Hell, what would’ve happened had she never let herself be taken alive by the survivors?
She’s been thinking about what her mother said: the survivors put on a nice front, but they’re just wearing a mask as far as she’s concerned. They pick a target, aim, and shoot at targets like Lydia and Negan. Daryl tells Lydia that Negan is a different story since she didn’t know him. True, but the Negan that Lydia knows stood up for her when he didn’t have to do that.
Lydia tried fitting in because she wanted to be like everyone else, but that didn’t work. Still, Daryl tells Lydia that she doesn’t belong in a cage. True as that may be, she feels safer here than out there. With that, Daryl closes the gate.
The episode wraps up as Michonne, Luke, and Judith bid farewell to their friends at Hilltop and set a course for Oceanside. Back at Alexandria, Daryl begins the work scrubbing the ‘Silence the Whisperers’ paint from the walls as the episode comes to a close.
I almost want to call this a ‘breather’ episode because it mostly functions for character building and development. There’s some brief action moments with the walker and tree situation at the Hilltop, and the episode keeps at a steady pace as we jump back and forth from Hilltop to Alexandria. Structurally, this episode is sound as the characters find themselves further driven down by the constant battles.
Both internal and external, of course, since the impending Whisperer threat is just one of many obstacles the survivors have to overcome this week. The backbone of “Silence the Whisperers” was all about resilience. In the face of so many challenges, it’s tempting for people like Ezekiel or Lydia to give in and accept. But then there’s the other side of the argument where you can stand and fight back.
Or you can have someone there at your side to help, of course. Take Ezekiel, for example. Whether he was going to jump, we’ll never know, but to even consider walking to an edge on his own is still a big deal. The man is still reeling not just from losing Henry and the Kingdom, but the losses before that. This all came to a head when he found himself unable to talk with Carol.
We’ve seen Ezekiel’s mask drop before in “Some Guy,” but he’s literally driven to the edge here as he acknowledges his failure as a leader. He’s still optimistic, sure, but nowhere near as theatrical as he once was. He doesn’t need to be, either, now that his Kingdom and the love of his life are no longer within his grasp. All he can do is be the leader that people need him to be.
After all, who can the people trust if he hesitates? Same applies to the other leaders as well, but with Ezekiel in particular, the people of the Kingdom look to their king for guidance, whereas people like Rick and Maggie don’t see themselves as kings or queens…well, I’m sure Rick probably did in his head.
So it’s nice for him to come clean to Michonne of all people, who does know what it’s like to wear a mask in the face of so much tragedy. Meeting Andrea was the first step in helping rehabilitate her and allow her to rediscover her humanity. Andrea was the rock that Michonne needed- as was Rick, and while Ezekiel may not have Carol, he has people like Michonne or Jerry to support him.
Whether unintentional or as a nod to their comic relationship, I did like the moment between Michonne and Ezekiel. I’d agree with Michonne that I don’t see a scenario where these two are an item. In the comics, I got that, but given Michonne’s love for Rick, coupled with Ezekiel reeling, these two are not compatible. Still, the kiss and talk about it afterward were nice moments of levity during an otherwise serious scene.
Lydia is also going through the process of reeling, but she has even less support than Ezekiel does. Sure, Daryl will make sure she stays alive, but other than Negan, that’s it. I imagine everyone else could go either way as far as Lydia’s livelihood. They understand what she’s been through, but like Negan, they also remember where she came from.
Right now, Lydia’s just trying to fit in, but many people in Alexandria just flat out reject her. She can’t fight back because she’d be proving them right, and if she tries to stick to herself, she’ll be antagonized anyway. For her to find a friend in Negan is good for both because it allows Lydia to see Negan in a way that the others don’t. For Negan, it’s another example of him redeeming himself and showing how he’s changed.
As Michonne points out, though, Lydia is key to all of this. If she leaves Alexandria, then maybe Alpha will be quick to unleash her massive herd. But as long as she’s here, Alpha won’t risk killing her daughter. We already saw Alpha tell Beta that no one can know that she didn’t kill Lydia, so obviously mother still cares for daughter. So even if Lydia wants no part in all of this, she has no choice.
It’s still unfortunate that she ends up on the wrong side of a beating, though. I’m glad that she put up a fight and even offered an olive branch rather than just curl into a ball and take her licks. At the same time, now that I think about it, I do find it a bit strange that this would be the first instance- that we know of- that someone put their hands on Lydia.
She’s taken verbal abuse from people like Alden who blame her for the border wall, but that wasn’t physical. Here, she’s beaten by three people who want revenge for people they lost at the wall. Taking matters into your own hands is nothing new for the survivors. Hell, it’s expected at this point. However, it was poorly executed. Waiting until night, I get, but why just out in the open?
Why not whisk Lydia outside the walls and deal with her there? Had Negan not interfered, the three probably would’ve killed her, so how do you explain a dead body within the walls? Had they been outside, it could be explained away as Lydia got attacked. But now I’m trying to rewrite the episode because I find this attack rather flimsy.
That aside, I did enjoy the dilemma this created. The survivors have a reason to distrust Negan, but they also have to acknowledge that he’s come around since his Savior days. The conversation about whether to keep Negan alive echoed the debate in Season Two about whether to kill Randall to prevent him from doing something that may not even come to pass.
The difference here is that we didn’t get to know Randall long enough compared to Negan. Yes, he bashed in Abraham and Glenn, among others, but since his reform, he’s helped out in Alexandria, saved Judith, and even protected Aaron in the very last episode. So I find it strange that Aaron of all people would be the most vocal about wanting Negan dead.
The man saved him literally one episode ago. It’s like the writers just wanted Aaron to conveniently forget that just so we could even entertain this. Daryl also has reason to distrust Negan- he did keep him as a prisoner at the Sanctuary, after all- but he can’t overlook that Negan has proven his worth and come through when necessary. It’s like the survivors can’t stomach the idea of Negan doing some good.
Sticking with Alexandria for a moment, another PTSD moment for Siddiq, and I imagine these attacks will only get worse. The shot of him plunging his head into the water was a nice touch by Michael Cudlitz’s direction. Yeah, we’ve got Sergeant Abraham back behind the camera and like the first-person shots of Rosita running through the woods in “Stradivarius,” he has this eye for very close-up, immersive shots.
I hope that Siddiq does open up to someone about what’s happening because if he keeps it to himself, he’s bound to snap or have an attack at an inopportune moment.
As for Hilltop, the question does remain whether this walker swarm was a mere coincidence or the Whisperers keeping causing a ruckus. Judith could be right in that Alpha just wants to wear everyone down so that when the giant herd is unleashed, they’ll be too tired to fight. Still, nice to see Magna’s group on the frontlines and dealing with the walkers, further cementing them as worthwhile allies to the survivors.
But like Siddiq, Magna’s got some pent-up emotions that she’s clearly been holding onto. We saw in the premiere how she took out her rage on walkers, and now she doesn’t want Yumiko making a decision for her. Not sure where this is headed, but I enjoy the conflict.
Now the question is what’s happening over at Oceanside? The survivors are split apart with Eugene opting to remain at Hilltop, leaving one less pair of hands at Alexandria, while Michonne, Judith, and Luke head to the sea. Will there indeed be Whisperers about? What could Alpha’s next move be? And how will Alexandria deal with Negan’s escape?
We’ll hopefully find out this and more next week. See you then.