When Dante met Alpha.
The episode begins in the past with Alpha at the border point with a newly recruited Dante, who she congratulates for doing so well at the barn. She doesn’t care about his past, but she will require more of him: eyes and ears inside the survivor’s walls and be a practical, loyal man that they can trust. It helps that Lydia doesn’t know him. Dante just wants to know where to start.
The plan involves Dante initially disguising himself as a Whisperer, but ditching the mask and running towards a group of survivors under the guise that he needs help. The ruse works, as he soon enters the Alexandria Safe Zone, where he is not turned away.
Slowly, but surely, he’s integrated himself in the community, but still leaving notes for the Whisperers, spray painting “Silence the Whisperers,” and messing with one of the levers, which is why no one noticed the contaminated water. Hell, he even smothered Cheryl instead of her dying naturally. Should Dante succeed, the Whisperers will welcome him back once the survivors fall.
In present-day, before Dante can stab Siddiq and finish him for good, there’s a knock at the door. Rosita arrives and asks Dante what happened, and he covers by saying that Siddiq was called away to take care of a sick kid.
As Siddiq reanimates, Dante moves forward with a blade and goes on the attack, but Rosita manages to hold him off. She puts down Siddiq before he can attack Coco, then she turns her attention back to Dante, stabbing him in the shoulder and beating him until he’s unconscious.
At their usual meeting spot, Aaron and Gamma meet. Gamma asks if the baby rescued at the Hilltop- her nephew- is still alive, and he indeed is. Her sister never got a chance to name the baby, but Aaron confirms that the family raising the child named him Adam. Gamma wants to see him and offers a trade for information. Aaron won’t just promise anything- he needs to hear what Gamma has to say and see if it’s true.
Oh, and Gamma has to lose the mask. She does and starts talking: before all this, her name was Mary. Well, tough shit, because I’m still going to call you Gamma. Okay, Aaron’s ready to hear what Gamma has to say.
We’ll have to wait, though, because it’s time for Daryl, Gabriel, Carol, and Rosita to get answers out of Dante, who insists that he’s merely setting them all free. Gabriel asks why Dante would put Siddiq through all that hell in the barn just to kill him later anyway. He can’t see an ideology behind that. Dante liked Siddiq- he wasn’t part of this plan. But when he found out who Dante was, Dante had no choice.
Said plan was to encourage paranoia about the Whisperers, which would push them into bad decisions. Places like Alexandria are cruel promises to their people and they crumble at the smallest sign of trouble. Dante will enjoy seeing everyone argue over what to do with them, as they did with Negan.
He knows that he’ll get a public reckoning because it’s right. Besides, the survivors got something from Dante in the form of another doctor. In Dante’s mind, no one is actually kind. We are selfish and brutal. Didn’t those heads on spikes teach them anything?
Rosita kicks Dante and storms out just as Aaron finally arrives in Alexandria. He’s disappointed in himself for not realizing this all along, but Carol and Daryl warn him against beating himself up. Besides, Aaron learned where Alpha’s herd is held thanks to the Whisperer he’s been meeting. Daryl doesn’t seem surprised to hear this news, so again, how has Aaron not mentioned the drinking water before?
Anyway, the herd is just over the border on their side in a sunken field. Daryl isn’t too keen on trusting a Whisperer. Besides, there’s still the matter of Lydia leaving, but Alpha doesn’t know that. With Dante in a cell, she may never know for now. As for Gamma’s baby that Connie rescued, she still wants to see him, so Aaron is to get a group from Hilltop and meet Daryl at the meeting point.
Once they’re done, they’ll find Lydia. Aaron will radio ahead in hopes that maybe Michonne can be informed as well. We’re not done yet. Daryl doesn’t want Carol going out and wants her to tell the truth about what happened with Lydia. He’s not buying the story that she couldn’t make him come back. As Daryl points out, Lydia being in Alexandria protects them.
Carol doesn’t care, though. She showed one of the Whisperers that Alpha lied to them. That’s enough for them to push on their wounds. Still, Daryl wishes that she’d at least told him. She agrees to help look, but doesn’t think that Lydia even wants to be found. Daryl wonders if Carol is talking about Lydia or herself.
En route to Oceanside, Scott notices some recent and clean tracks- they don’t drag like walkers. Though Whisperers don’t typically travel alone, it could be a scout. If it’s just one person, Michonne likes those odds. Luke agrees to keep quiet and help out, even though, again, it’s pointed out that he just wants to see Jules.
Judith asks what Luke was just whistling: it’s a piece of music that he remembers in his head. He writes it down in Judith’s journal that she’s using to keep track of everything that’s happened for the future. Luke points out how the road ahead leads to a library that he used to frequent. He and Judith want to stop there, even though Michonne would rather stay the course. But hey, Judith’s already read all the books in Alexandria.
Not sure I believe that, but they do stop at the library. Judith finds a Russian-English Dictionary for Eugene to help with the satellite. Well, that’s convenient. As Michonne finds a book she later wants to read, she receives a transmission from Magna at Hilltop.
Elsewhere, Luke finds just what he was looking for: a book on Rachmaninoff. Some walkers surprise him. I guess they have an interest in music as well. A mysterious stranger saves Luke, but then rushes off before Luke can even thank him. The others arrive and Michonne informs Luke that Siddiq is dead, so they need to hurry on over to Oceanside.
At Alexandra, a funeral is held for Siddiq, with Gabriel giving the eulogy as he recites a line from a Surah of the Quran. He tosses a bit of dirt onto Siddiq’s grave as everyone says their farewells to the doctor.
Ezekiel is also here and he has a moment to catch up with Carol. He thought that someone like Siddiq would keep on living. Too many things are changing. Ezekiel should be gone in a day or two. In the meantime, he offers to help with Alpha’s herd, but Carol assures him that they have the numbers.
Rosita, hearing some noise, heads outside the walls to deal with some walkers. No knives or guns, though, just some brass knuckles. Okay, points for creativity, Walking Dead. As Siddiq and Coco pop up in her head, she’s momentarily distracted, but Eugene arrives to help put down the last walker.
Luckily he heard the noise on the way back to his domicile- not home. He offers his condolences to Rosita and wishes he could do more, but ultimately he wishes her safe travels. Even though he’s the one who will be traveling.
As Gabriel looks over Dante’s interview, Rosita enters and at first says that she helped Eugene with walkers, but corrects herself, saying that Eugene was the one who helped. She feels she should be handle walkers. After all, she could die. She used to think that if it happened, it happened, but now that would make Coco an orphan. So Rosita can’t die. She’s afraid, and that feeling isn’t going anyway.
Gabriel reminds Rosita that feelings don’t predict the future and they need to focus on the problem right now. He promises Rosita that she won’t freeze again, but again, he’s thinking about the present and how to figure out how this happened and how Lydia didn’t know Dante. Rosita’s miffed that Gabriel apparently isn’t listening, but his hearing is as good as ever.
She needed help with a walker and he tells her the feeling of needing help will pass. At this point, Rosita considers whether Dante was right: maybe they aren’t as strong as they think they are. That’s what happens when you’re minus one Rick Grimes.
In a nice nod to continuity, Aaron has Gracie name state capitals based on the license plates on his wall. Gracie wants to hear a story about California, so Aaron explains that one summer after college, he was hiking near Eureka with a man he lived with. The two were high in a forest and found old ruins from a Native American village. The two stood in the middle of the village and listened to the sound of the ocean.
The two tried to imagine what those people were like. These were people who had their own laws, beliefs, and dreams for the future of their village. Aaron then strokes his own ego and tells Gracie that he was one of the first people here at Alexandria when it started, back when they knew what it would be. Recently, Aaron has been thinking about the village.
Gracie asks what happened to those people, and for that, Aaron doesn’t know. Some storyteller you turned out to be, Aaron.
Michonne and company arrive at Oceanside. Michonne asks Cyndie and Rachel about when they last brought in new people- apparently it was well before the fire. Dante showed up in Alexandria before the fire, so that can’t be used as a marker of Alpha’s return. Whatever process was used to vet newcomers must be changed.
This is interrupted by a commotion: some Oceanside residents have found a stranger, the same stranger who saved Luke’s life. Apparently this man has been messing with the security and tried to steal a sail, even though he’s just trying to get home. Luke speaks up for the man, but everyone else is on guard since he could always be a Whisperer, and there’s no way to tell what one looks like.
But enough about that. Walkers arrive and everyone heads into battle, but Michonne can’t find Judith.
Gabriel heads down to the cell to speak with Dante. He asks if he ever even had a son, as he liked the fact that Dante had a family. Dante believes that trust is a meaningless idea. Look at what people did to the world, and Gabriel thinks not only that they can be good, but deserve a second chance? Gabriel loved Siddiq like a brother- now his family will never be the same and his daughter will never know him.
Rosita may blame Gabriel, but Gabriel acknowledges that he hasn’t always been brave. As for whether humanity deserves a second chance, Gabriel isn’t sure, but sometimes we get one anyway.
With that, Gabriel pulls out a blade and stabs Dante over and over again until he’s dead.
The mysterious stranger runs for his life until Judith trips him with her sword! Luckily, the man’s knees are intact. Michonne soon arrives and…that’s it. That’s the whole scene.
We’re not even at Oceanside for a full minute before we cut to Alexandria just as it’s beginning to rain. Rosita rocks Baby Coco as she spots Gabriel leaving the cell with blood on his hands.
Nope, we’re jumping again. Carol, Dante, and Aaron meet up with Connie, Kelly, Magna, and Jerry. With everyone together, they head on foot until night falls. They arrive at one of the border points and enter Whisperer territory.
Daryl stops Carol from stepping into a trap and finally decides to cut the shit. To him, Carol wants Alpha dead that she doesn’t even care about what happens to herself. As far as Daryl is concerned, Carol never left that boat. He’s the one she’s supposed to be able to talk to, but she doesn’t know how. Still, she has to try.
They hug as Daryl tells Carol that Alpha isn’t worth it. She’s a dead woman anyway, but she can’t take away Carol’s future.
Gabriel and Rosita watch Dante’s body burn on a pyre. The end.
In Oceanside, the stranger awakens to see Judith going through his things. He begs for her to put the book back since it belongs to his daughter. No dice. Michonne arrives to interrogate the man, thinking he’s putting on an act, but he explains that he just went for supplies and is trying to get back home. As for why he helped Michonne’s friend, it’s because he needed help. If he’s going to die, he’s still glad that he helped.
Mercy is in short supply these days anyway. He doesn’t expect it and maybe he doesn’t deserve it. This reminds Michonne of something that a friend of hers used to say: “My mercy prevails over my wrath.” Michonne asks where the man lives, and though giving that up could put the man’s family in danger, Michonne points out that they don’t know where he is anyway and have no idea if he’ll make it back.
The man finally confesses that he lives on Bloodsworth Island in Tangier Sound. It’s hard to find and fortified, but he didn’t mean to break in. He just needed a boat on the pier. Good intentions or not, Michonne tells the man that he owes them for the damage and he won’t be going anywhere. The man offers to help fight Michonne’s enemies, so they can help each other out.
Michonne tells Judith that the man lives on a naval base and could have weapons that can take out Alpha’s herd. He agreed to hand them to Michonne, but only she’ll be able to go and take that kind of risk. More than that, she has to get back due to everything happening at home. Everyone should be fighting together. Still, this could end the war. At the very least, Michonne has to find out. Still, they can’t lose anyone else.
As day breaks, Daryl and company arrive at the spot Gamma told Aaron about and find…nothing. Not a single walker in sight. Aaron is still confident that Gamma was telling the truth and the Whisperers were protecting this spot. They should at least check it out, but Daryl switches his focus to Lydia. Even still, Aaron believes he’s right about this.
At Oceanside, Michonne informs the stranger that she made a deal with Rachel: he’ll be returned in home in exchange for some of his weapons. This will pay off his debt. When his pack is returned to him, the man finally introduces himself as Virgil, played by Kevin Carroll.
Michonne bids farewell to the others and, just as Rick did with Morgan, encourages Judith to keep in touch with her on the radio. You know those things have to be charged, right? Luckily, Michonne will only be a few days behind.
As Daryl and company head back, something gets Carol’s attention. She looks towards a clearing and spots Alpha, who immediately goes on the run. Carol and the others give chase.
Daryl enters a location and calls out for Carol, but he slips and falls into an underground cave where he meets up with the others. As it turns out, they’re surrounded by a vast, seemingly endless ocean of the dead as the first half of Season 10 of The Walking Dead comes to a close.
Well, at least they found the walkers.
So we’re at the halfway point of the season until the series returns next year and we leave the survivors in interesting places. They aren’t divided- yet- but the prior unification we saw in everyone coming together against the Whisperers is slowly eroding. You can chalk some of that up to Alpha dividing the ranks from within, but also just the general frustration from the survivors.
But…I have to talk about Dante. I’m going to assume that Dante, while probably not at the top of anyone’s list as far as favorite characters in the comics, had some fans. Those fans probably looked forward to seeing him come to the screen, even if it took awhile to get to certain points from the comics.
This character, though, isn’t the Dante they knew. For people who only watch the show, that’s probably not an issue. But I do read the comics, and I’m not really digging this switch. This is Dante in name only and while there was no way he’d get out of Alexandria alive after the reveal, it’s disappointing that we lose him and the story potential for his character.
This is a character who played an active role in the fight against the Whisperers, fostered a relationship with Maggie, and kept a close eye on Negan when Maggie plotted her revenge. Like Magna and company, he’d integrated himself into the group well and became a functional, useful team player.
We don’t get that here. Dante proved his usefulness as a doctor, but it was all a ploy. Now to be clear, The Walking Dead show is not above making changes from the comic. Rick still has both of his hands here and Carol is not only still alive, but she’s not suicidal. But why take a character with an established backstory in the comic and turn him into a villain?
I’m sure I’d be singing a different tune if I knew nothing about Dante’s comic roots, but knowing the source material prior to seeing it brought to television screens is something I can’t help. I’ve read the comics, so when it comes to characters making the leap from page to screen, I have some expectations.
I said before that Dante just showed up without fanfare, and to the show’s credit, we see Alpha’s plan for him from the beginning. We see Dante shedding the Whisperer skin, hiding among the survivors, and taking steps like messing with the water levers to stay one step ahead of everyone. I don’t know what makes Dante so special that Alpha would pick him above anyone else, though.
Having said that, though, after this reveal, there’s nothing left to do with Dante. He had a target on his back from the moment Rosita found him. All his talk about spreading paranoia, waxing on Alpha’s philosophy, and dividing the communities are all things we’ve heard before, so we know no more about Alpha’s plan from Dante than we already did before. I guess it helps that, somehow, Lydia didn’t know him.
So I guess in that regard, you have no choice but to kill him. Interesting choice to have Gabriel be the one to do it. The man of the cloth who is open to giving people a second chance, the man who locked the doors of his church while his congregation died- this is the man who takes it upon himself to kill Dante. It’s an interesting, bold move for him and it works very well.
Were this Daryl or Carol, there’d be nothing surprising about this. Having Gabriel, though, puts him in a morally grey position because while he sometimes believes in second chances, he wasn’t about to give Dante one. It’s one of the bolder moves we’ve seen Gabriel make this season since we’ve mostly seen him delegate tasks at Alexandria or speak on the council.
I also liked how he just wasn’t in the mood for Rosita’s griping. Yes, Rosita’s emotions are raw after losing Siddiq and having to be the one to put him down, but Gabriel’s got bigger problems right now with this reveal and alerting the other communities.
Also nice to see Eugene have a moment to talk with Rosita, awkward as it was. They both watched Abraham die, and now they’ve both lost someone else who had a connection to both of them. Even if Eugene couldn’t fully snap Rosita out of her funk, I appreciate that the two had a moment over this, no matter how brief it was.
Honestly, the Whisperer storyline advanced more due to Aaron’s talks with Gamma. Her revealing her real name was a nice nod to the episode’s title of “The World Before” and how she hadn’t fully shed her former self before joining Alpha. I don’t think she’d fully turn against Alpha, though. It’s hard to say whether she intentionally deceived Aaron with the herd’s location or if the survivors were too late, but I’d lean more towards a lie.
Like Alpha said, Gamma is always being tested. Her resolve may be shaken, but I don’t think seeing Lydia alive would just make her change her mind overnight. If anything, revealing her true name and that the baby is her nephew could be another way to get Aaron to lower his suspicion. He wouldn’t tell the others about the herd’s possible location if he didn’t believe Gamma even a little bit.
Speaking of, I enjoyed Aaron’s brief scene with Gracie. For one, we don’t see these two interact that often, but also, Aaron’s story about the Native Americans also tied into the episode’s title and how the Native Americans, at this point in the world, had been lost to time after almost being completely wiped out, much like walkers have done to humanity.
Plus, as mentioned earlier, I liked seeing his wall of license plates, since it was established in his introduction that Aaron has been collecting them. Nice callback and is believably handled, given that Aaron was quizzing Gracie on the state capitals.
Carol and Daryl continue their rift, with Daryl thinking Carol’s mindset never left the boat. He thinks she’s charging headfirst into trying to kill Alpha, even if that gets her killed in the process. He’s not completely wrong about that, as we know that Carol is only interested in the bottom line. It’s why she was so nonchalant about using Lydia to get to Gamma.
But given what Carol and Daryl have been through, it’s nice to see him remind her that, if no one else, she should at least open up to him. With all they’ve been through together, he deserves that much and Carol should know that Daryl is the one person she can talk to about anything, if not everything. Also, nice that Carol had a moment with Ezekiel, even though it’s too soon for him to come clean about his fate.
Oddly, the story with Michonne and company headed to Oceanside was more interesting than I thought it would be, but it has nothing to do with them specifically. Sure, I liked seeing Luke and Judith bond, but it was the introduction of Virgil where things got better.
For one, Virgil could not have shown up at a worse time. The survivors are all on edge about anyone being a Whisperer, and then this random man shows up after he’s apparently been missing with Oceanside’s security system. We’ve been through this before and now, more than ever, the survivors have a reason to be suspicious.
But he still helped Luke. Like Aaron’s introduction, a stranger can still have good intentions and remind you of the humanity that people lack nowadays when they’re more focused on surviving. They’ve all done bad things to get where they are, but that doesn’t mean abandoning civility altogether. Even if Virgil died, he’d be fine with it if it meant saving Luke along the way.
His line about mercy being in short supply was a nice callback to both Rick and especially Morgan and how both tried to be more civil instead of just unleashing wrath upon strangers. This scene wouldn’t have worked if Michonne hadn’t been the one to talk to him. It was a good decision to have her do the questioning, even if I think it was as bit much for Judith to take a swipe at Virgil’s legs with her sword.
But is this where Michonne makes her exit? We know that Danai Gurira will be leaving the series, so is the moment where she leaves? Would feel a bit empty knowing she didn’t get to say goodbye to everyone. At the same time, as Michonne mentioned, she’s only a few days out, so it’s entirely possible that she’ll return in time for the ongoing battle with Alpha.
I don’t believe this is where Michonne exits the series for good, but depending on what she finds, I could see how this leads into her true farewell from the series.
Until then, though we’ve got Daryl and company falling into a cavern and finding a herd. I say a herd and not the herd because I don’t believe this is all of it.
That is what Alpha showed Daryl. What we see here is merely the tip of the iceberg. Still, it’s a nice, surprise trap for the survivors, though I question how they all ended up in that spot. Did they all fall down the same hole? Either way, they’re surrounded and have a taste of the force that Alpha can unleash at any time. They’ll all get out of this, I’m sure.
How will they? What will Michonne find when she sails the seas with Virgil? What’s Negan up to now that Alpha has brought him in? What will Lydia ultimately decide to do? Here’s hoping we find out the answers to all of this and more when The Walking Dead returns for the second half of Season 10 next year. See you then.