by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 6.
The previous episode ended with Negan being taken prisoner by Beta, and the highlight of this episode was the interactions between the unlikely pair. Negan has proclaimed that he wants to join the Whisperers, even going so far as to kneel before Alpha, as all of the Whisperers looked on. Negan has never been anything less than clever, and his deviousness is well known, so I’m certain that there is more than meets to eye to his behavior. It’s very interesting that Negan is subservient when he knows that Alpha, or other Whisperers, are watching, and antagonistic when he and Beta are on their own. At the same time, Negan did not refuse to perform any of the tasks that Beta asked of him, giving Beta no real reason to complain about him to Alpha.
When Beta told Alpha that he didn’t trust Negan, that he didn’t agree with her decision to take Negan into the pack, Alpha challenged Beta. She asked him outright if he was angling for the Alpha position, and Beta backed off immediately. The force of Alpha’s personality, and its emotional hold on Beta, is powerful. Given what we know of Beta’s background, he likely views her as something of a savior (no Negan pun intended) who rescued him from his mental torment over his best friend’s death. There seems to be something in Beta that has to back down when challenged by Alpha; even if he feels she is wrong, he will follow her over the edge, if that’s where she chooses to lead. In this sense, Beta has already drunk the Kool-aid.
It is clear that Beta is threatened by Negan, immediately understanding that Negan has the power to influence Alpha, inserting himself into the Whisperer society. It was intentional that Beta chose to sacrifice the Whisperer who showed empathy for Negan (sharing his portion of pork) when inciting the guardian walkers to attack Negan. It was a message to the other Whisperers that their fate could be the same: siding with Negan is siding against Beta. Yet it felt like an act of desperation, and certainly the other Whisperers can sense that. I am eager to see where this storyline leads as we approach the mid-season finale.
While Negan’s antics were the most entertaining part of the episode, there were also some interesting developments with other characters. As expected, Eugene used the recovered parts from the Russian satellite to increase the radio’s range, and now has a clear connection with another community. Emotionally, Eugene has been through a rough time, being rejected by Rosita and losing his connection to Baby Coco. It was clear that he was hurting, especially when Nabila mentioned having to get back to her children. Saying that Eugene is lonely is a grave understatement. His connection with the radio woman is partially fueled by this need for companionship, and quickly leads him to a reckless choice to potentially reveal too much about the Hilltop community. Interestingly, it is the woman who reminds him that other people are threats, and that it is not safe to reveal information to strangers. That all seems well and good, but her warning that no one can know of her conversation with Eugene feels ominous and potentially manipulative. This woman’s true motivations remain to be seen.
Negan and the radio woman aren’t the only ones potentially being deceptive in this episode. Carol lied to Daryl regarding her objective more than once, using their longtime friendship to manipulate him into going along with her plan. She knew that she couldn’t get to Alpha, but she wants information, so she captured a Whisperer to obtain it. Yet I’m wondering what she thinks she could learn that Lydia has not already revealed?
The brief conversation between Daryl and Carol regarding Connie was interesting. Daryl was quick to dismiss their friendship as ‘not like that’, yet it is obvious that he cares for her and is invested in their relationship, such as it is. Carol’s encouragement shows how much she cares for Daryl, wanting him to be happy, in contrast to her cashing in on that same closeness only hours later as she deceives him. Whether or not Daryl pursues something deeper with Connie may be up to Carol, and how Daryl feels about her single-mindedness, to the point of outright lying.
So far this season, there have been glimpses of Siddiq’s PTSD, which has now come to the point of potentially hurting others. When he awoke standing at the top of windmill with Baby Coco in his arms, his panic was evident. He walked up there while unaware of what he was doing, and could have dropped or hurt his daughter at any moment. These hallucinations and trauma were caused by his experience as a prisoner of the Whisperers. Witnessing friends being killed and beheaded before your eyes, and fearing the same for yourself, would be enough to drive anyone in our world mad, much less someone living through the zombie apocalypse. Siddiq’s condition isn’t getting better, and it’s going to lead to sorrow before things turn around.
The illness in Alexandria is an interesting turn of events. It is easy to imagine that a flu virus might easily take down a number of Alexandria residents, as happened way back in season 4, at the prison. Without proper medications and vaccines, something that would be simple to cure in our modern would could be a death sentence. Yet in the previous episode, we learned that the Whisperers are poisoning the creek with walker guts. Is this ‘flu’ the result of Alpha’s metaphorical ‘poisoning of the water hole’?
There were a number of amusing moments in this episode, but the lines, ‘Everyone wants a piece of Eugene.’ and ‘Beta with benefits’ had me cracking up particularly hard. At the same time, the scene where Daryl is fearful for his life as the Whisperers and Guardians close on his position was suspenseful, with the return of actual whispering. I had almost forgotten how terrifying the Whisperers’ introduction was, their words mingling with walker moans in the forest. This reminder brought back the threat that the Whisperers represent: it feels as if they could be anywhere, at any time.
For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, this week’s Walking Dead: No Man’s Land season mission shows Carol and Daryl making their way through walkers and Whisperers in the forest, while Walking Dead: Our World is featuring Carol as Hero of the Week.
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