by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 4.
The title of this episode is Silence the Whisperers, yet there are no Whisperers in this part of the story. Instead, this episode focuses on the fear of the Whisperers, and the dark places that leads the people of Alexandria and Hilltop.
No one has forgotten what Alpha did. Killing people from every community as a threat made a huge impression, just as she intended, and that threat has not been resolved. It is natural for the citizens of the ‘civilized’ communities to worry about this, even if it is not overtly affecting their everyday lives. Whenever something goes wrong, people look for someone to blame, and Alpha is an obvious target. Just as in our society, episodes of violence automatically lead to questions regarding terrorism, any problems that befall Alexandria or Hilltop are assumed to be caused by the Whisperers. The waves of herds that attacked Alexandria still have no known source, and as of yet no one knows why that tree fell on Hilltop’s wall and barn. Both of those things could have had outside causes, yet everyone jumps to the possibility that ‘the Whisperers did it’. In this sense, Alpha’s campaign of terrorism has been wildly successful. We don’t know who is scrawling graffiti all over Alexandria, but my guess is that it is multiple people: those who want to be heard yet are too frightened to speak out verbally. Fear of the Whisperers is turning into anger against the Whisperers.
Lydia is an obvious focus for this fear and anger. In particular, Margo and Alfred, who were members of the Highwaymen, and Gage, who was a friend of Henry’s, found her to be an easy target. In Episode 1003, Margo made an impassioned speech, wanting to attack the Whisperers immediately, and was shot down by Michonne, who questioned the practicalities of her impulsive plan. Unable to express her anger against the Whisperers, Lydia made an easy target for Margo. Having Alfred and Gage to back her up only made it easier. That this comes to violence is not surprising, given how high emotions can run when people are genuinely afraid.
For her part, Lydia does not know where to turn. The people who might have been her friends are the ones taunting her, and Daryl, who is supposed to be protecting her, has only tepid advice. His suggestion to ‘stay away’ from her tormentors might work in the modern day, but in a tiny community such as Alexandria, Lydia will naturally be running into them frequently. Negan’s suggestion to stand up to them was a good one, although the way in which Lydia chose to do that pushed them a little too far. Although I have to admit, I laughed myself silly when she raised her blood-stained pinky to her lips!
Negan’s intervention in the attack on Lydia had unfortunate consequences, in the form of Margo’s death. Just as Lydia does, Negan makes a good scapegoat. It was clear that Gage and Alfred were stumbling through their answers during their questioning, and that they were on the defensive, yet the council vote was still tied as to whether or not Negan had to be punished. Rick’s efforts to show that Negan could be reformed went to waste, as the majority of the council were questioning whether or not he had truly changed. Of course, this is what has worried Negan since the first episode of the season, when he spoke to Gabriel about keeping his head down. Given all of this, it’s not surprising that Negan is gone. My suspicion is that he simply let himself free. Negan is a smart guy, and I think that he always knew how to escape his cell, but chose to stay willingly, just as he willingly returned after the previous occasion when he had been ‘let free’. Yet now, knowing that his neck was on the line, Negan left.
Negan and Lydia were far from the only tormented people this week. Ezekiel and Carol are both still dealing with the aftermath of Henry’s death. Carol is still isolating herself, yet she has Daryl to listen when she needs to talk. However, Ezekiel does not have that outlet. He feels that he has failed everyone, most of all, his people. He is mourning Henry, and also mourning Carol. It is natural that he might contemplate suicide (whether or not he might actually have gone through with it is up to debate) and also natural that he would reach out to the first person who showed him some understanding. There are no professional therapists in the zombie apocalypse, at least, none we have seen so far, and the person with whom Ezekiel should be sharing his grief and fears (Carol) has abandoned him. When Michonne takes his hand and pulls him back from the brink, Ezekiel is feeling relief and gratitude, and I believe that it is this that led him to kiss her.
I think that Michonne did the right thing in rebuffing Ezekiel. Yet I smiled when they suggested that perhaps it could have worked ‘in another universe’, as this was a reference to the Walking Dead comics, where Ezekiel and Michonne were together for a time. Toward the end of the episode, Ezekiel seemed to be doing better, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see this depression of his return. Deep-seated grief of this nature is not so easily dismissed.
Michonne also bonded with Judith this episode, discussing the Whisperers with her, and fighting walkers side-by-side. I love that Michonne stopped fighting for a moment to take pride in what Judith was doing, as any mother would. I am looking forward to seeing more of this bonding as they travel to Oceanside.
Magna was also stressed, dealing with Yumiko making decisions in the heat of battle, effectively undermining Magna’s leadership of their little subgroup. Whether this leads to a rift between them remains to be seen. In comparison, Luke seemed to be doing well, and eagerly decided on the spur of the moment to return to Oceanside to see Jules once more. While this may seem sudden, in the zombie apocalypse, people have learned to seize the moment, because there may not be another.
Although his time in this episode was brief, I have to wonder what is going on with Siddiq. In the previous episode, he was experiencing blurred vision and distortions in his perception, but it was played off as exhaustion from the walker attacks. Yet in this episode the same thing happened, with no obvious cause. Is Siddiq experiencing some kind of PTSD, a medical problem, or is there something else at play? As with Ezekiel, Siddiq may have issues that need to be discussed in a professional setting, yet no such setting exists in Alexandria or Hilltop.
Another interesting issue brought up this episode was how Michonne views Lydia. Whatever her feelings may be personally for Alpha’s daughter, Michonne sees Lydia as a strategic tool: something that must be used to keep Alpha and the Whisperers at bay. She reveals this to Daryl, then asks that he keep it between them. Somehow, I don’t think that will happen. Eventually, Lydia is going to find out and feel like even more of an outsider. Additionally, Michonne told this to Daryl over the radio. Who knows if someone else might have been listening in? We already know that there is at least one other group of people out there ‘on the air’, and there was another set of radio equipment at The Kingdom, before it was abandoned. Anyone could have overheard that conversation.
It is clear that tensions at Alexandria and Hilltop are building, likely to a confrontation with the Whisperers toward the end of this half-season.
For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, this week’s Walking Dead: No Man’s Land season mission has Ezekiel, Michonne and Jerry fighting off walkers swarming through the wall at Hilltop , while Walking Dead: Our World features Ezekiel as the hero of the week. Additionally, this week is ‘Rick-or-Treat’ in Our World, where players can collect pumpkin tokens to unlock Rick cards and other treats.
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