by Transmute Jun
Spoiler Warning: This review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 11.
Hilltop’s walls are in flames, and the walkers are literally at the gates. The dramatic ending to this episode is still with me. The disbelief and rising panic of the Hilltoppers was evident in this scene, caught between a wall of walkers and a wall of fire. Even worse, on the other side of those fires are the children, hiding from Alpha’s onslaught.
It was clear that a direct showdown with the Whisperers was inevitable. While Alpha might not have planned on this exact timeline, she knew that Alexandria had found her horde. This meant that she had to act quickly, before the Alexandrians destroyed what remained of her Guardians. Alpha chose to attack Hilltop, which is a lesser target, but one that could come to Alexandria’s aid. By taking out Hilltop first, Alpha isolates Alexandria, and also hits them emotionally. This is exactly what she did when she created her ‘border wall’, striking out for maximum impact.
Negan suggested to Alpha that the communities be forced to kneel and join the Whisperers. Later, Alpha responds that they will join, as part of her herd. Yet that may not be the whole story. Alpha may wish to use the Hilltoppers in her herd to convince Alexandria to surrender. Sacrificing the smaller group to intimidate the larger would be an interesting plan.
Of course, Negan’s true motivations remain to be seen. While we would all like to think that he’s working secretly on behalf of Alexandria, I feel that he might be angling toward simply taking over Alpha’s group. He has gained Alpha’s ear, and antagonized Beta, working to split them apart. While Alpha likely suspects that Negan’s motives are not ‘pure’, she is still listening to what he has to say, and possibly acting on some of his advice. It remains to be seen how much she has been taken in by his charms, such as they are, or whether she is actually using him. I suspect that there will be an instant showdown between this mismatched pair if Alpha comes across the children (particularly Judith) and attempts to harm them.
For his part, Negan is looking more and more like a Whisperer. Not only has he earned his ‘skin suit’, but he is participating in Alpha’s flagellation ritual. Even without the mask, Negan is appearing more gaunt and ‘wild’. He is moving away from the well-fed, civilized Negan who lived in Alexandria.
I was glad to have Eugene return in this episode. It is not surprising that he has become so attached to Stephanie, so quickly. He has always been emotionally needy, latching onto whomever showed him any form of attention and kindness. Yet Stephanie clearly seems to be reciprocating, suggesting that she is in a similar place. She has been extremely skittish, revealing less about herself and her community than Eugene. Even so, Rosita’s unexpected ‘appearance’ on the line did not frighten her off completely. Stephanie came back, not only speaking to Eugene, but agreeing to meet with him in a week’s time. While that will likely take until the end of the season, it’s not that much time in terms of the show. However, there need to be some survivors from Hilltop to meet with Stephanie.
Rosita tested Eugene, to see how much he was truly involved with Stephanie, and he passed, refraining from kissing her. These emotions Eugene has for Stephanie will remain strong, despite whatever other issues might accompany their ‘date’ and the meeting of the two communities. It occurs to me that if Hilltop is destroyed, the survivors will need a new place to call home, and as such, may be more willing to become a part of Stephanie’s community.
I was also pleased to see Carol reconciling with Ezekiel, even if it was fueled by her concern for his health and the tension of the coming battle. To be fair, Ezekiel sought out Carol as she was wallowing in her own misery. He knew what she had done, but still felt that he needed to reach out and bring her back into the fold. That spoke volumes about his love for her, and clearly it meant something significant to Carol as well.
It was nice to see Alden again, but I was disappointed that he has not matured emotionally since we last saw him. As a former Savior who worked hard to convince Maggie that they weren’t all ‘bad’, his lack of sympathy for the former Whisperers is sad to see. Maggie was still grieving for Glenn when she first met Alden, so his grieving for Enid is no excuse.
Next week will surely bring a lot of excitement, yet I suspect that it will not bring much in the way of resolution. Regardless, I am very much looking forward to Episode 1012.
For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, this week’s Walking Dead: No Man’s Land season mission has Ezekiel and Carol fighting off walkers in the woods, so that they can have an uninterrupted heart-to-heart.
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