The episode begins right where we left off last time, with the Hilltop in flames and Alpha’s herd drawing near. The fighters pick off what walkers and Whisperers they can in an attempt to build a blockade and slow down the herd. Gamma tells Lydia that she can’t go back out there because she know what her mother wants, but Lydia is adamant that she’ll never walk with her mother again.
Ezekiel leads the kids away, but Judith isn’t among them. She’s too busy fighting walkers, though she can’t bring herself to kill a Whisperer. Never mind that she already gave the guy a deep stab wound. Earl leads her away.
The blockade isn’t enough, and walkers continue to stream into the Hilltop. While Eugene rushes to protect the radio equipment, Yumiko spots a familiar, albeit smudged-up face among the walkers- it’s Magna.
We then join Negan and Alpha, who reminds Negan to finish off Whisperers with a blow to the heart, not the head. Many guardians were sacrificed, so it’s time to replenish, but Negan wants to teach Alpha how to savor a victory. This isn’t a victory for Alpha, as she doesn’t have everything she wants.
As Beta approaches, Alpha asks if she saw her. She isn’t amongst the dead, and Beta will not stop until Lydia has been returned. Negan volunteers his service to Frowny McTwoKnives, so he’s instructed to gather walkers.
However, this is a boring job, so Negan heads off when he spots Lydia. He ends up running into Aaron instead, and without giving Negan a chance to explain, Aaron is ready to kill him. But he can’t do that because he must contend with some approaching walkers.
Following this, Negan finds Lydia, and she’s also ready to kill him upon spotting the Whisperer mask, but Negan overpowers her, telling her that this is over.
Elsewhere on the road, we join Alden, Kelly, and for the sake of convenience, Gamma. Kelly offers to hold the crying Adam, but Alden insists that he’s fine, despite his exhaustion. His creepy baby voice doesn’t help, as Kelly tells him that not even babies like that voice.
When Gamma attempts to help, Alden again tells her to back off, but Gamma simply suggests rubbing the back of the baby’s head and make “shush” noises into his ear. Seems like the thing you’d just do for any baby, but whatever. Anyway, it doesn’t work, so Gamma offers to try. At last, Alden hands over the baby to Gamma, who is successful in her approach. She’s got the Gamma touch, I suppose.
They stop to rest when Alden asks Gamma what her sister’s name was- her name was Francis, and Adam meant everything to her. Apparently not, Gamma. You saw what happened. If Gamma had to do it all over again, Francis would be the one sitting here with her child, not Gamma. Then Gamma senses a disturbance in the force and tells the two that they should move because walkers are coming.
Indeed they are, and Adam’s crying isn’t helping. Rather than keep running, because that would make sense, they take shelter in an abandoned minivan, which can’t drive or move at all. What kind of terrible, horror-movie decision is that?
But not all three of them, mind you. Gamma leaves Adam with Alden and leads the walkers away. However, she only manages to draw away a few.
She drops to her knees for a few moments of peace that are interrupted when Beta arrives and stabs her in the chest. She weakly beats at him with no effort, but does manages to tear off a bit of his mask. Beta plunges his blade even deeper into Gamma and drives it up her chest, thus ending her life just before her retirement in two weeks. He drags her now lifeless body to rest against a tree while he reclaims his mask.
But then the stupidity. A nearby Whisperer suddenly pieces together who Beta actually is. Beta tells the Whisperer to be quiet, but the moron can’t stop talking, so Beta kills him.
Time passes as Beta waits for the inevitable. Gamma finally reanimates, but before Beta can corral her, she’s put down by an arrow, fired by Alden. Beta retreats, and I guess those walkers that were surrounding Alden, Kelly, and Adam just decided to fuck off.
Eugene is salvaging what’s left of the radio equipment while Magna tells Yumiko how she and Connie escaped. Soon enough, they were among the herd, but became separated. Carol decides that it’s time to head back before dark, but Magna might need more time to rest.
This isn’t enough for Yumiko. She tells Carol that instead of ignoring Magna, she should beg for forgiveness for the shit she put her through. That’s not completely unfair, but Carol knows that this wouldn’t fix anything. Yumiko lashes out with a pretty weak punch to Carol’s mouth before storming off.
Because Yumiko and Magna had beef before, time to deal with that. Magna didn’t ask Yumiko to stand up for her, but Yumiko wasn’t going to stand by and let Carol treat Magna like that. She knows that things don’t always work out the way she wants, and Magna decides that she can’t do this anymore.
Magna has thought about their last conversation and how pissed off she was, but now she gets it. Yumiko was right to kick Magna out, but at the very least the two seem to be on decent terms now.
As Carol rests, after taking care of a surprise walker, she asks Eugene if he knows what it’s like to want something so badly, to go after it with all you have, pissing off everyone else in the process, getting people killed, and having nothing to show for it? Eugene understands that very well.
He tells her about his upcoming, important meeting that is rapidly approaching, but he can’t share details. But due to the Hilltop attack, he can’t attend this meeting. But Carol puts it out plainly: if it’s important, then Eugene goes to this meeting. That’s it. Eugene then tells Carol that he hopes she gets what she wants as well.
Upon closer inspection of the ground, Carol finds Lydia’s stick and realizes that something has happened.
Daryl and Rosita lead a skeleton crew of Hilltop members through a clearing, while Ezekiel should hopefully be headed to the rendezvous point with the kids. Daryl’s crew arrives at said point with no sign of Ezekiel or anyone else save for a lone walker, so they fan out in search of the others.
Turns out Earl has Judith and some other kids as they take shelter in a building, with Earl assuring Judith that Ezekiel will make it because he’s strong. Such optimism. But how can Earl be so full of hope when things are this dire?
Well, we find out. He heads into another room and drives a spike through a table before pulling up his sleeve to reveal a bite mark on his arm. Judith enters just as she sees what Earl is about to do in order to protect the kids. She wants to stay with him when he finally dies, but Earl has no choice now. Alden will take care of Adam, and Earl knows that Judith will keep the kids save from him now.
He instructs her to go back with the kids and don’t come near him again. A tearful Judith takes Earl’s hand one last time before leaving him.
At the same time, Daryl and Jerry return to Hilltop, where they find Ezekiel hiding underneath a metal plate. He tells them that Earl has the kids.
Or at least, he had them. Earl does the inevitable, and Judith later checks in on him for reasons I cannot understand. As you’d expect, he reanimates and Judith is forced to put him down for good just as Daryl, Ezekiel, and Jerry arrive. Daryl heads inside and consoles Judith.
Negan returns to Alpha and informs her that he’s found the thing she’s been looking for. As it turns out, Negan’s got Lydia strapped down to a chair in an abandoned building. As the two head for this location, Alpha admires the dead, but Negan just sees them as that: dead. Alpha tells him that he’ll see, very soon, and Alpha will meet him there, but Negan isn’t ready to meet his maker.
Alpha congratulates Negan on proving himself to her yet again, like the young lion cub who must leave his pride. She tells Negan that it’s time for him to roam the Earth to a different pride. She wants him to become a lion. Negan points out that, while Beta is no Alpha, it’s usually the young lioness who takes her mother’s place.
Negan then shares his story. Before the world went to hell, he lost someone close to him to pancreatic cancer. If that wasn’t eating her away from the inside, then the chemotherapy was killing her. This cancer might have put things into perspective. She was never more beautiful to Negan, no matter how frail she got. Alpha suggests that Negan be grateful for this, as death must’ve set this woman free.
But Negan continues. When the love of his life died, he didn’t feel much. He wasn’t scared or happy- he was just here. That is his strength. He’s dead to this world, but Alpha is pretending. To Negan, she thinks that it makes her strong to say that they’re animals. That’s bullshit and Alpha knows it, and now she claims that she must kill her daughter. Alpha counters that this is Lydia’s destiny.
She continues, saying that the disease took Negan’s wife because it was what nature intended, but she couldn’t take Negan with her. However, Negan lives wishing every day wishing that she could. Lydia, Alpha says, was made to be free with her mother.
As Lydia breaks free of her bonds, Negan realizes that Alpha still loves Lydia. But Alpha disagrees: she has to do this because she loves Lydia, as she will always be her baby.
However, as Lydia finally frees herself and goes outside of the cabin, we see that she is in a completely different location.
When Alpha opens the cabin door, she finds it empty. Surprised, she turns around just as Negan pulls out a blade and slices it across her throat. As Alpha begins to bleed out, Negan gently rests the Whisperer leader down and watches until she finally dies.
Sometime later, Negan heads through the woods with a bloody sack. He pulls out Alpha’s reanimated head, which rolls across the ground and lands at someone’s feet. Who should see that Negan has ended Alpha?
It’s Carol. Her response to this revelation? Took Negan long enough to get the job done.
Well, then. The cliffhanger in the last episode was indeed resolved, though much of that battle took place off-screen. Not surprising, given how much this episode has to shuffle around, coupled with everyone being separated, but I do wish we’d stuck around at Hilltop for a bit longer to see the battle take place. But hey, not every episode with a big battle can be a “No Way Out.”
Still, though, “Walk With Us” continued the trend of giving us strong, individual character moments sprinkled throughout and provided some equally strong resolutions, not the least of which includes Alpha’s death, but we’ll save that for the end.
With everyone separated and the Whisperers out there lurking, there was a sense of dread throughout of how the survivors would meet up again or find some semblance of safety. We’re with the respective groups just long enough to get a sense of what’s happening and how the situation has worsened since Hilltop was destroyed.
Starting with Gamma, though, called it. You did too, I’m sure. Alden saw the benefit of having her come into contact with Adam and while I don’t know how many babies calm down that quickly, this moment proved that Gamma had nothing but good intentions. She’d turned a leaf and felt remorse over Francis’ death.
But she found a way to do right by herself and Adam by distracting the walkers to keep the others safe. Could Gamma have survived this episode had she not run into Beta? Sure, but more often than not, when we see people on this show lead walkers away to provide an escape for others, it more often than not means they’re about to make the sacrificial play, like Merle, for example.
At the very least, before Beta ended her, she got to hold her nephew. Interesting as it might have been to see Gamma join Alpha’s herd, there was no need. Alden and Kelly saw that she’d turned and that’s all that was necessary to get the point that she’d sacrificed herself for them.
Plus, she got a shot in on Beta by ripping off some of his mask, giving us the briefest glimpse of Ryan Hurst under the mask. You’d think that one Whisperer would stop while he was ahead and not bring up how he recognized Beta, but no. He just had to keep talking. However, Beta’s identity will be more relevant later. Not now, but later, so just keep this scene in the back of your mind for now.
Magna surviving the cave wasn’t unexpected, though clever of her to use the technique of covering herself in walker guts as a disguise. No idea how long she’d been on her own, but knowing that she and Connie were together for a moment gives us a bit of hope that we’ll see her again, too. Plus, Connie doesn’t talk, so not like she’d be able to alert the walkers.
But good that she and Yumiko are back on somewhat good terms. I don’t think it’s out of character for Yumiko to want Carol to beg for forgiveness. Yumiko doesn’t have the bond with Carol that Daryl does, coupled with her having a close friendship with both Magna and Connie. I get her being angry and standing up for Magna, and the punch could just be her venting some frustration. It wasn’t a strong hit, after all.
Perhaps Carol was just focused on something she actually could right, as we’ll see later with Negan. Her conversation with Eugene wasn’t anything new compared to the talk he had with Rosita, but things are more dire now that most of Eugene’s equipment is presumably ruined.
Earl being bitten was surprising, but gave us a great moment between him and Judith. I haven’t said much about Cailey Fleming’s performance, but she’s great with the emotional moments, and this episode was no exception when Judith told Earl that he couldn’t kill himself. But like so many others who have been bitten, they make the decision to remove themselves from the equation.
It was also a nice twist to see that Earl had the kids when it seemed like Daryl and Ezekiel had agreed that one of them would take care of them. When Earl turns and Judith was forced to put him down for good, whether intentional or by accident, it reminded me of the moment when Carl was forced to put down his own mother in Season 3’s “Killer Within.”
Not as powerful of a moment, mind you, but still a strong one for Judith who, just last episode, talked about walkers just being walkers instead of people she once knew. Now she’s forced to kill someone she just had a heart-to-heart with and we see when Daryl arrives how it’s impacted her. We’ve seen Judith kill walkers, but rarely, if at all, has she had to put down someone that she knew.
But onto the main event. So from what we can gather, either Carol was the one who let Negan go or she was at least complicit in his escape. Either way, we’ve been building towards one long game with Negan getting into Alpha’s good graces to set up this kill. Not without its moments, though.
Negan talking about his wife gives us more of the backstory from the “Here’s Negan” comic, as well as shedding some light on how he views the world compared to Alpha’s more primal outlook. Negan views people and walkers as a resource, but Alpha has this infatuation with the dead that borders on, nay, is outright insanity.
It’s a clever reveal not just that he’s been planning to kill Alpha this entire time, but how he couldn’t let anyone in on this plan. Obviously Aaron would try and kill Negan if he saw him- again, Aaron, he saved your ass- but the walkers prevented that. Plus, very nice switch to reveal that Negan hid Lydia in an undisclosed location away from Alpha, while we were led to believe that Negan was leading Alpha right to her daughter.
So what does this mean now? How will the rest of the survivors contend with the fact that Negan was the one to kill the Whisperer leader? Plus, what to say of Carol’s involvement? The Whisperers don’t just up and vanish after this, so what will Beta make of this revelation? Either way, a very good episode of The Walking Dead and I’m curious where this new development will take the Whisperer War.
Until then, see you next time.