by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 14.
Alpha may be dead, yet she still lives… not in Beta’s bag, but in Carol’s head. Carol will never be free of Alpha until she exorcises her own inner demons. In the zombie apocalypse, there are many people who are mentally and emotionally damaged, and there isn’t really any respite from those torments. It is easy to see how someone might become mentally unhinged, although it is more difficult to watch when it is someone who seems strong.
While Carol has had her struggles, she has usually been reasonable in her actions. It has been painful to watch her deteriorate since Henry’s death. With Alpha finally dead, I had been hoping that Carol might snap out of her self-indulgent, reckless behavior. While that hasn’t happened, something has changed in her mind. Part of her consciousness, as represented by Alpha, is taunting her, reminding her of her failures, and all of her regrets. Yet when that same part of Carol urges her to ‘look at the flowers’ (a reference back to when Carol had to regretfully kill Lizzie in season 4) she refuses to listen, and instead fights back. Carol returns to Alexandria, exhausted, but not defeated.
Beta is another character struggling with his own mental demons. Before the apocalypse, he was a famous country musician, giving hope to others. Now, he is the opposite, embracing the dead and representing the loss of civilization. While Beta lost his way with Alpha’s death, his incorporation of Alpha’s face into his own mask is a symbol of how he has embraced her philosophy, and a sign of his intention to take over the remaining Whisperers.
Although… I have to wonder what would have happened had Negan decided to take over control of the Whisperers. I suspect that most of them would have preferred Negan’s leadership to Beta’s approach (as seen by Beta forcing a Whisperer to ‘listen’ to Walker Alpha’s head), yet that isn’t what Negan wanted. Negan has no interest in Alpha’s philosophy, and only wants to return to the people he knows (and likes?) in Alexandria. His motivation for killing Alpha was twofold. First, he wanted to protect the Alexandrians by eliminating Alpha, and second, he wanted to ingratiate himself with them, so that they would allow him to become a true part of their society. I always enjoy watching Jeffrey Dean Morgan‘s portrayal of Negan, but the scene where he was (temporarily) acting as ‘Alpha’ was a standout. While I suspected all along that Negan wasn’t going to allow Daryl to come to any harm, it was still hilarious seeing Negan taunt his recent captor.
Just like Carol, Ezekiel is dealing with his own demons. He wants to do something meaningful with whatever remains of his life, and so he decided to accompany Eugene on his way to meet new people, hoping that they could at least do some good by helping everyone engage with a new community. Yet after succumbing to a coughing fit while fighting walkers, Ezekiel begins to doubt in his abilities, and wonders if he should have come at all. However, his laughter when encountering the zombie dioramas in the city shows that there Is still a lot of life and joy in Ezekiel, and I hope to see him use that to his advantage as he encounters the new community.
Those dioramas were created by a new character named Princess, who is dealing with her own mental demons. In Princess’ case, her issues stem from isolation. It has been a very long time since Princess has interacted with real people, and the walker dioramas have been her only source of company. This social awkwardness may make it difficult for her to interact with the (former) Hilltoppers, yet Eugene in particular is familiar with being on the outside of social situations, and may easily empathize. We will have to see how this newcomer integrates with the group.
While there were many lighthearted moments this episode, next week things will turn more dire, as Beta brings his new herd to Alexandria. With episode 16 being delayed until later this year, next week will be the de facto season finale.
For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, Walking Dead: No Man’s Land’s season episode this week has Daryl and Negan on their way to Alpha’s head, encountering some resistance along the way.
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