It looks like the rest of The Walking Dead this season is essentially going to be a countdown clock ticking off the time until Henry dies. Can we speed that up and make it happen in the next episode? Please?
Lydia is back with her mama, Alpha, who questions her about her time as a captive at the Hilltop. The girl claims that all she told the Hilltoppers were lies (which may or may not be true; we don’t know for sure yet), but she’s kind of stingy with details about what she learned inside the community. Alpha is disappointed with her daughter. When Lydia asks if the only reason she rescued her was for the intel, Alpha responds that it’s a stupid question – as if to say, of course that’s the only reason.
Lydia finds a yo-yo in the woods and pulls the string off it. That detail doesn’t pay off in this episode, but will probably come around again later.
Henry eventually catches up with the Whisperers and almost immediately gets captured by Alpha’s number two guy, a burly dude logically enough called Beta. When Henry says he’s come for Lydia, the girl struts up and punches him in the face, presumably so her mom won’t doubt which side she’s on.
The Whisperers drag Henry to their camp in the woods and tie him up. Meanwhile, Daryl and Connie follow their trail. In a neat trick, Daryl has trained Dog to fetch the arrows he kills Walkers with.
Upset that they risked their lives (and lost some of their own people) to rescue Lydia, a grumpy Whisperer challenges Alpha’s leadership. It isn’t the smartest idea. Immediately recognizing that the man’s girlfriend is the real brains behind the attempted coup, Alpha beheads her with a garrote, hands the man her head, and then stabs him in the gut.
At the urging of Beta, Alpha later sets up a test of Lydia’s loyalty. She gives Lydia a knife and orders her to kill Henry. Lydia hems and haws for a moment, just long enough for the scene to be interrupted by an attack by real Walkers. Some of the Whisperers stop whispering and start screaming as they get eaten. Others put on their masks and mingle in with the herd. It turns out that the attack was orchestrated by Daryl, who slips in and frees Henry. The boy says he won’t leave without his girlfriend. Rejecting that idea at first, Daryl grudgingly agrees. Lydia herself hesitates for a moment, but then runs off with the two of them.
Sweet Home Alexandria
It’s been a while since we’ve seen what’s going down at Alexandria. Michonne is kind of pissy when she finds out that nobody told her about the radio relay that Eugene and Rosita almost died installing. She’s still firm in her stance that Alexandria should be self-sufficient and cut itself off from the other communities. Aaron sides with her isolationist views, but other members of the council, especially Gabriel and Siddiq, want to attend the fair at the Kingdom. They’re upset that Michonne will overrule them with her power of veto, which effectively makes her the sole governing power of Alexandria and makes their council a sham.
By this point, Gabriel knows that Rosita is pregnant with Siddiq’s child. Rosita says that she still wants to be with Gabriel, and leaves it in his court to decide whether they stay together or break up. Of all people, Eugene urges Gabriel to stay with Rosita, and even draws him up a helpful chart of pros and cons to make the decision. Gabriel ultimately decides to save the relationship.
Negan is back in his jail cell. Although he tries to maintain his swagger when Michonne visits, she sees right through him and knows that he came crawling back to safety when the scary world spit him out. Negan insists that he’s a changed man and offers to be a sounding board for Michonne whenever she has leadership troubles, but she’s having none of it and orders that the windows in his cell be closed so he can’t eavesdrop on stuff going on outside anymore.
While she’s with Negan, Michonne spots Judith spying on her through the window. She confronts the girl later, and Judith confesses that she’s spoken to Negan. It stings when she says, “He listens to me,” implying that Michonne doesn’t. They argue about whether Negan is rehabilitated or not, and Michonne sends Judith to her room with a “Because I said so!” classic mom move.
Despite all her resistance and her anger, Michonne lets the others get to her and concedes that she won’t veto the council’s decision to send a delegation to the Kingdom’s fair. She still disagrees with them and thinks it’s needlessly dangerous, but doesn’t want to be a oligarch like Negan was.
Remember how the change of show-runner at the beginning of this season seemed to promise that perhaps the series might finally break from its rut of making idiot characters do stupid things just to create conflict and drama? The Henry storyline shoves us right back into that damn cycle, unfortunately. The kid’s a bad character and it’s a huge knock against the show that the plotting for the back half of this season is predicated so heavily on his actions.
The stuff going on in Alexandria this week isn’t terribly exciting, either. I could not care less about the soap opera drama around Rosita, her baby, and her three love interests. Michonne’s leadership woes are slightly more interesting, but only insofar as that Michonne is an inherently compelling character. As if the series hasn’t suffered enough after losing both Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan this season, I’m not sure how it will survive when Danai Gurira leaves next season.