by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 10.
The title of this episode is Stalker, and one was present on both sides of the Whisperer border this week. Beta stalked Gamma, all of the way into Alexandria. At the same time, Daryl stalked Alpha, following her in an attempt to take out the Whisperer leader. While episode 1009 was supposed to be tense and compelling, I found this week’s episode to be much more so. Although there were a few moments of ease (such as Judith speaking to Mary), suspense was building throughout, as it became clear that Alpha and Beta were planning a big move against Alexandria (one that will be put into motion in next week’s episode).
Beta’s infiltration into Alexandria was well planned, and had clearly been in the works for a long time. The tunnel he used was guarded, with matches and a light source, passing directly underneath Alexandria’s walls. Yet I have to wonder if this tunnel was Alpha’s idea, or Beta’s. While Alpha wants to destroy Alexandria and Hilltop, she seems to favor methods more in tune with her philosophies, shunning man-made tools for using walkers and subterfuge in their place. The use of a RV, matches, and the digging tools that must have been necessary to build the tunnel do not seem like something she would do. I am wondering if Beta possibly created this plan without Alpha’s knowledge. Then again, I suppose that she might know of it, but ordered Beta to oversee this project, knowing that he would be better suited to those techniques.
Beta has proven himself to be extremely single-minded. He could easily have caused more chaos in Alexandria, and taken out more of its citizens, however he went straight for Gamma. Which leads me to wonder… how did he know where she was being kept? How did he know where to get the key? The Whisperers must have other spies in Alexandria, beyond Dante.
While at the beginning of the episode I was wondering if Gamma’s change of heart was truly legitimate, by the end I was with Father Gabriel in believing her to be wanting a different life. She still doesn’t seem to regret the loss of her sister (only that she was the one who killed her) but seems to desire a more ‘human’ life, free of Alpha and her manipulations. One thing that the apocalypse has shown us is that people have the ability to adapt and change, and to rebuild their lives from nothing. Mary and Lydia might not be so different after all. Certainly, Mary’s actions in helping to save Judith and RJ, and then Rosita, (and possibly more Alexandrians, who might have been in harm’s way if Beta had stayed) were not entirely self-serving, as she could simply have run away to be free of the Whisperers.
I found Gabriel’s attitude to be somewhat disconcerting, but when Rosita pointed out that it had only been 2 days since Dante had killed Siddiq, it made a lot more sense. The meek and terrified priest viewers first saw on the show has evolved into a strong and compassionate man, but one who still has flaws, like the rest of us. His love for Baby Coco and anger at Siddiq’s death (as well as Dante’s betrayal) brought out the worst in Gabriel, almost reminding me of a humorless Negan (in his Savior days). Fortunately, Gabriel seems to have realized relatively quickly that like everything, balance is key. It doesn’t pay to be instantly trusting, yet it also isn’t right to be instantly judgmental.
Daryl’s encounter with Alpha was short and vicious, as they both injured each other in ways that could potentially be fatal in a world with limited medical capabilities. The shots emulating Daryl’s bloody haze of vision were effective, and explained why he was in such bad shape at the garage where both he and Alpha took refuge. I found it interesting that even when seriously injured, both of them used the weapons they found familiar: Alpha luring in walkers to take out her enemy, while Daryl improvised with man-made objects to kill them.
The sight of Lydia at first appeared to be Alpha’s hallucination, yet it seems that it actually occurred. Alpha’s conversation with her daughter was revealing. The Whisperer leader does not value her own life, but does value her pack, and wants her ideals to go on. She wanted Lydia to kill her and take over the pack, to live as she had lived. Yet Lydia refused, saying that she wanted a different life, instead rescuing Daryl and leaving the message to her mother, ‘Your way is not the only way.’ This message has a double meaning, because it shows that Lydia has learned how to read and write, a skill that she struggled to master as she lived in Alexandria. Lydia has embraced the ‘civilized’ way of life.
While there were no truly humorous moments this week, I enjoyed seeing the walkers with bushes growing out of them, as if they had been lying on the ground for a long time, decomposing. Additionally, I mentally cheered when I saw Judith holding her gun and doing what was necessary to protect RJ. This is the Judith to whom viewers were introduced, and she remains a strong and capable fighter when it comes to those she loves. Rick would be proud of her. And while she was more of a background character, I was sorry to see Laura die. As a former tough-as-nails Savior who had integrated into Alexandrian life, it is a shame to lose her in the community. We need to see more former enemies integrated into the current communities, showing the way for people like Lydia and Mary.
For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, Walking Dead: No Man’s Land‘s season mission this week shows Rosita searching for Baby Coco in her nightmare, worried that she is being attacked by walkers or Whisperers.
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