by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 8.
Dante is gone, but if he had known what was coming, he still would have had no regrets. He intended to sow discord amongst the Alexandrians, and he accomplished his goal in spades. He wouldn’t even have regretted his own death, knowing that Father Gabriel’s murder of him forced the priest to violate his own principles. A council leader of Alexandria has now swung toward violence and rash action, which was Alpha’s plan all along. Dante was certainly willing to give his own life for Alpha, whom he revered as some kind of messianic cult leader. Losing his life in her service was about all he could have asked for, given that he knew that he was destined to die a violent death in his apocalyptic Whisperer-world.
Dante admitted that he had not intended to kill Siddiq, yet doing so made his mission far more successful than he could have anticipated. Everyone was so emotionally devastated by the news of Siddiq’s death that they instantly rushed into decisions that probably should have taken a little more thought.
Rosita acted instinctively when she recognized that Dante was being deceptive, making sure that Baby Coco was out of danger before dealing with both him and with Walker Siddiq (who, in an ironic twist, was ready to devour his own child). After Siddiq’s funeral Rosita froze, leading herself to wonder if she would ever be able to put herself in danger again, yet I think that those nerves were temporary. Rosita is tough, but even more, she will do anything to protect her daughter. When it comes down to it, she won’t freeze in the crunch if it would hurt Baby Coco. Yet her doubts possibly spurred Father Gabriel to act, encouraging his guilt as he took on the burden of Dante’s actions, given that Father Gabriel was the person who had admitted Dante to the community months ago.
Michonne’s impulsivity in the wake of Siddiq’s death caused her to instantly assume that Virgil was a Whisperer spy, forgetting all of the hard lessons that she learned last season, when she relented on Alexandria’s isolationist policy. What was the point of that entire story arc, if she was going to throw it all away in an instant? Yet speaking with Virgil, Michonne was eventually able to see that that she might have been hasty in her assumption that he was her enemy. In fact, his settlement on the naval base might hold the key to destroying Alpha’s herd. Yet somehow, I think that the issue of the herd will be resolved before Michonne returns… if she returns. Her solo adventure with Virgil may be the way in which the character exits the show this season (Danai Gurira’s departure was previously announced by AMC).
Carol was already making questionable decisions, and Siddiq’s murder was only another excuse for her to go over the edge. I’m not sure if she was faking her emotional connection with Daryl when he tried to talk some sense into her, or if she is just swinging so wildly back and forth that she forgot all about it when she caught sight of Alpha. This is the second time this season where Whisperers have led Carol to charge blindly into a trap when she should have known better. This is not the Carol we knew from prior seasons; she has been replaced by a reckless, selfish person who only cares for her own vengeance. As Daryl said, Carol never really got off of the boat, and likely left her logic and sanity at sea. If this is what Carol has become, perhaps Ezekiel is well rid of her.
Yet I still feel sorry for Ezekiel, who is shouldering the burden of his cancer alone. The only other person who knew was Siddiq, and he is now gone. The King seems eager to fight Alpha’s herd, and I have to wonder if he will perform some kind of self-sacrificing move, wanting his death to have meaning rather than enduring an ignominious end.
I was impressed by Aaron’s willingness to return to meet with Gamma even after she turned on him last episode. The knowledge of Alpha’s betrayal has weighed heavily on Gamma, which may have caused her to re-think her course of action. It appears that Aaron has made a significant connection with Gamma, believing in her words even when her tip regarding the herd’s location turned out to be incorrect. Gamma’s revelation of her name may be more significant than it seemed, possibly representing a willingness for herself to have an identity as ‘Mary’, rather than as ‘Gamma’. Asking after her nephew was another shift, as previously she seemed to have no regrets regarding his loss, or the death of her sister. Gamma’s admission that she was concerned for her nephew seems to have touched Aaron, likely because of his own close relationship with Gracie, whom he adopted after Rick and Daryl found her in a Savior outpost during the war with Negan. I am guessing that the relationship between Gamma/Mary and Aaron will come more into play as the confrontation between the settled communities and the Whisperers comes to a head in the second half of the season. As an aside, I loved seeing the license plates on Aaron’s wall. Back when the character of Aaron was introduced on the show, he was creating a collection of state license plates with Eric, so this was a sign that Aaron still remembers his partner.
It was fun to see a little more of Luke and Judith this episode. Luke’s simple joy at finding sheet music was a pleasure to watch, as was the matter-of-fact manner in which Judith dealt with the escaping Virgil. In some ways, Judith has grown-up, assessing situations and people instantly and making logical decisions. Yet in other ways, she is still very young, taking a child-like delight in books and stories. Luke is the flip side of this: an adult who can deal with the world of the apocalypse, but who has also not lost his child-like delight in what the world has to offer, whether it be music or his interest in Jules. Somehow, Luke has not become too hardened in this universe, and I would love to see Judith follow that same path as she matures.
While the main plotline proceeded in this episode, it didn’t feel much like a mid-season finale until the very end, when Daryl’s group were led to Alpha’s herd, finding themselves trapped with it below ground. Somehow, this didn’t hold the excitement for me that it should have done, possibly because I was still mentally chastising Carol for being so stupid as to run after Alpha, even when the Whisperer leader was so obviously leading everyone into a trap. I was also wondering how Daryl could have fallen into the same trap. Shouldn’t he have heard the moans of the herd? They were extremely loud, and the sound should have been echoing throughout the cave.
My big regret this episode is that there was nothing of Negan. I truly enjoyed watching him interact with Beta and the other Whisperers, and it is this aspect of the storyline that has me most anticipating the remainder of the season next year.
For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, this week’s Walking Dead: No Man’s Land season mission shows Daryl, Aaron and Jerry chasing after Carol through the forest, dealing with walkers and Whisperers as Carol races to the old mine. Walking Dead: Our World is featuring all of the heroes from season 10 so far: Daryl, Carol, Eugene, Rosita, Siddiq, Ezekiel and Michonne.
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