The Walking Dead spends most of its hour this week introducing us to the new Big Bad villain for the rest of the season. I’m really left questioning whether she ultimately seems as fearsome as intended, or if the show has already demystified her too much.
Alpha and Omega
The main story thread this week sees Lydia, the young Whisperer who was captured last week and locked in a cell at the Hilltop, telling Henry about her personal history while Daryl eavesdrops from outside. Much of this is depicted in flashbacks, starting near the beginning of the apocalypse. Young Lydia, her father Frank, and her mother (Samantha Morton, not given a name so far) are hiding in a shelter with a group of other people as the world outside goes to hell. In the early versions of the story, Lydia portrays her father as a hotheaded and possibly abusive jerk. Her loving mother, on the other hand, tries to shield the young girl from the extent of the horrors happening around them.
In the process of bonding with Lydia, clueless Henry stupidly tells her too many details about his own parents and the Kingdom. Daryl charges in and yanks him out of the cell, then yells at him for being an idiot. Apparenly, Henry was totally unaware that Daryl was using him as a pawn to get Lydia to talk.
Daryl then takes over interrogating Lydia again. Skeptical of everything she told Henry, he presses her until her story changes, and we find out that Lydia’s father was in fact the kind and loving parent, while her mother was… not. When another man in their shelter goes stir crazy and tries to open the door, Lydia’s mom coldly murders him in front of everyone. Because this is early in the apocalypse, nobody is aware that all dead bodies will reanimate, so they leave the corpse lying on a table until they can deal with it in the morning. It comes to life in the middle of the night and kills Lydia’s father.
A moron ever since he was a child and no smarter now, Henry goes all-in for Lydia and believes that she must be a good person at heart. He breaks her out of her cell after nightfall to take her on a tour of Hilltop. Lydia steals a hammer when he isn’t looking and considers bashing his head in, but puts it back after hearing a baby cry. Moaning, “Places like this aren’t supposed to exist,” Lydia has a panic attack and asks to be brought back to her cell. She also asks Henry to stay the night with her.
When Daryl finds them in the morning, Lydia seems to be more forthcoming. She finishes her story, this time admitting that it wasn’t a zombie that killed her father. Her mom is a full-on sociopath and murdered him when he threatened to take the girl away from her. Nonethless, Lydia insists that her mother will not be coming for her, because that’s not her way. She would have already written Lydia off as a loss by now. She has no feelings for anyone.
Just as Daryl, who has his own history of parental abuse, starts to go soft for Lydia, the girl’s story is one again belied. A big group of Whisperers march toward the Hilltop gate in broad daylight. Lydia’s mother, not even bothering to wear a mask, announces herself as “Alpha” and demands her daughter back.
With their friend Luke still missing, the rest of the Newbies – Magna, Yumiko, Connie, and Kelly – want to go out and search for him. They all feel that Tara is being overly cautious in ordering them to stay at the Hilltop until she can come up with a plan, so they sneak out in the middle of the night.
They’re attacked by Walkers in the woods (regular Walkers, no Whisperers). After dealing with that, Magna and Yumiko decide that maybe Tara was right, so they head back toward Hilltop. Kelly and her sister go on alone.
In the end, this storyline goes nowhere. Tara sends people out to bring Connie and Kelly back anyway, and they’re all safely inside the Hilltop walls before the Whisperers arrive.
I liked the idea of the Whisperers more when I didn’t know much about them. By giving Alpha a backstory (even one that changes a few times as Lydia tries to obfuscate it), the episode winds up painting her as just another psycho, little different than the many others these characters have previously faced. I’m underwhelmed.
I also find it impossible to care about the Newbies. Other than perhaps teaching Magna to trust Tara a little more, their storyline is utterly pointless and a waste of time this week.