by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 16.
Viewers have been waiting months for this (former) season finale, yet it was over so quickly that I have difficulty processing everything that happened. Perhaps it was all relative, but if felt as if the Whisperers went from a threat to a non-issue in the blink of an eye.
The scene where Beta met his end, which should have been a major focus of the episode, was over in seconds. To be fair, the actual time elapsed, in which Lydia distracted Beta, Negan engaged him and Daryl crept in from behind, was short, but I wanted to see more of a contest between them. Despite this, I was pleased to observe the cooperation between Negan and Daryl to take down Beta. Both of them had fought Beta individually in the past, but it took the pair to be successful.
As viewers have seen many times throughout the series, it takes working together to deal with a threat. We saw people drop everything to cooperate and work for the common good. Everyone knew what they had to do, and when there was a problem, there was no dithering as to who should go on and who should be sacrificed. Carol was obviously pained to leave Beatrice, yet she went on. No one quibbled with Gabriel when he had to stay behind; they simply took Judith and left. Negan told Lydia that she could make it out, and she went, leaving him behind. Later, when Lydia made the argument that she was best-equipped to lead the Whisperers to the cliff, the others accepted her words and let her go.
Lydia has had a lot to process in the last few episodes, and it was difficult for her to learn of her mother’s death when there was so much unresolved between them. Even more, the two people whom she has come to think of as surrogate parents (Negan and Carol) were the ones who were responsible for Alpha’s death. Lydia’s speech to Carol, telling her that Alpha ‘was never really her mother’, implied that Lydia was disassociating herself from her time with the Whisperers, yet her visceral connection to Alpha’s mask showed differently. When Lydia tossed the mask over the cliff, with the remnants of her mother’s horde (Alpha’s ultimate weapon), it was her final acceptance that this part of her life was behind her and recognition that she is open to something new. Combining this with forging bonds with Carol (by saving her from going over the cliff) made a powerful moment, and one that left me more satisfied than Beta’s demise.
While the Whisperer War is now officially over, we don’t know for certain that all of the Whisperers are dead. Many of them could simply have run away when things started to go awry, and it is possible that a few of them might show up in future episodes, still roaming the area.
The return of Connie is not entirely unexpected, but her rescue by Virgil is somewhat surprising. Why has Virgil returned? He knows that Michonne went in a different direction (on the boat), so this implies that he has accepted his need for company and was returning to the one civilization of which he knew.
As for Connie, I am eager to see how her return impacts the fragile relationship(?) between Daryl and Carol. I know that I am probably in the minority on this, but I feel that Carol and Daryl had their potential moment years ago, and the fact that it has never happened has made that potential grow stale. Of course, the new sequel series that has been announced with the pair (to follow the upcoming finale 11th season of the original show) suggests that there is much more Daryl/Carol to come.
Of course, one of the most anticipated moments of this episode was Maggie’s return. Her mysterious companion (a literal ‘deus axe machina’ when rescuing Gabriel) is interesting, but ultimately, everyone wants to know what she has been doing and why she was gone for so long. It looks like we will have to wait until the new episodes next year to find some answers to these questions.
The end of the episode (the scene that was originally meant to carry viewers out of the season) showed Eugene, Ezekiel, Princess and Yumiko being surrounded by guards in Stormtrooper-style uniforms. Comics readers know that these troops are representatives of the Commonwealth, the final group our survivors encounter in the comic book series. This tie-in to the source material is much appreciated, even understanding that the remainder of the story may easily turn out differently from the comics. Whether these troops will be adversaries or allies remains to be seen, and my guess is that the answer will incorporate elements of both, as it does in the comics.
There was time for a few humorous moments in this episode, but my favorite was that Negan took a moment to be slightly star-struck when he recognized Beta from his former career as a country singer.
While the upcoming season 11 has been announced as the final season for this flagship series, viewers will have to wait at least a year (late 2021) to see it. Fortunately, additional season 10 episodes (mostly focusing on individual characters and how they deal with life in the aftermath of the Whisperer War) are currently being created, and will be aired early next year.
For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, Walking Dead: No Man’s Land’s season episode this week shows Jerry, Carol and Daryl cleaning out the last of the Guardians after the Whisperer War.
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