Here’s what went down in Episode 10 (titled “Omega”) of Season 9 of AMC’s The Walking Dead.
Now that Hilltop has a hostage in Lydia (Cassady McClincy), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) sets about discovering who she is and what her group is all about. Using several interrogation techniques, Daryl starts to get some backstory about Lydia and her family. And, when he leaves and listens at the door, Henry (Matt Lintz) unintentionally finds out more for Daryl.
However, after listening in for a while, he realises that Henry (Matt Lintz) is dropping waaaaay too much info about Hilltop and the Kingdom. So, in he busts and releases Henry rather than have him map out the locations of every community ever.
Because, let’s face it, this new group doesn’t really seem like the sort of group that Aaron’s (Ross Marquand) welcoming committee is likely to take in since they killed Jesus (Tom Payne) and appear to be hostile. But, because Henry is thinking with the wrong head, he really isn’t taking everything into consideration.
Cassidy: Yeah, young Henry is falling into the Carl-hole that was dug for Lydia in the graphic novel. And if this plays out like it should, things are gonna get even stranger…
The Most Unreliable Narrator Ever
Lydia starts to drop her backstory, both to Henry as well as Daryl.
Daryl immediately recognises parts of the story that points to an abusive parent. While Lydia’s story shows a compassionate mother, who will one day become the leader of the Whisperers, Daryl suspects something else.
While Lydia’s backstory unfolds, viewers are shown a mother who appears to cower to Lydia’s father, Frank (Steve Kazee). He wants to leave their confinement at the beginning of the outbreak and venture outside. Lydia’s mother, who will one day become Alpha (Samantha Morton), is determined to keep her daughter safe — at all costs.
But, when Lydia reveals her father singing to her when she was frightened, Daryl points out that abusive parents don’t usually do that sort of thing. However, the eagle-eyed viewer would have been adding things up before then, most likely from the point where Frank’s beard is shaved off and then reappears not long after a member of their group is killed, indicating just how unreliable a narrator Lydia really is.
The question is, is Lydia doing this to make herself seem endearing, or to muddy the waters when it comes to truth and fiction.
Actually, it turns out to be something else entirely.
Henry, who is still thinking with his dick, decides to afford Lydia a nighttime trip out of her cell. During this time, she shows him how to eat worms. However, once she hears a baby crying and realises the extent of the community, she flips out and comes to the conclusion that her mother has been bullshitting to her all along.
Asking to be taken back to her cell, Lydia then ‘fesses up to her mother’s brutality and it seems likely that Lydia might actually be on the road to becoming a member of Hilltop.
Of course, it could also be a very elaborate plan to fuck them all over as well…
CF: This whole section of storytelling, with Lydia as the unreliable narrator, was so well done. Writer Channing Powell and director David Boyd set this up so well that if you aren’t paying attention–which seemed to be the case with the recaper at io9–you’d believe Lydia was lying her ass off. One nice little touch with the details of the story: when you see the “Lydia” tattoo on her father’s arm, something that the teenage Lydia would know doesn’t belong to her mother, but her mind wants to believe her mother really isn’t a monster. And given that Daryl has had a lot of experience with shitty parents, he know differently. Boy, does he know.
RT: I can’t praise this section of the episode highly enough. The way this played out was just fantastic. Such a creative reveal for the audience. And, I can’t help thinking about how Gimple would have fucked this up…
CF: I think if this would have been filmed during Gimple’s reign we would have had something far more straight forward, like Here’s Not Here. It might not have been bad, but it wouldn’t have been what we saw in Omega.
Alden And Luke Are Still Missing
While most of Episode 10 of The Walking Dead chooses to focus on making the viewer completely paranoid as to what is real and what is bullshit in Lydia’s story, Alden (Callan McAuliffe) and Luke (Dan Fogler) are still missing.
Tara (Alana Masterson) takes a small group out to look for them. Already, they are on heightened alert and when they come across a group of walkers feasting on carcasses, they are warier on how they kill them, aware that they could still be humans, thus, more dangerous.
Once the walkers (who really are the undead this time) are dispatched, it is discovered they were feasting on Alden and Luke’s horses. And, as Connie (Lauren Ridloff) points out, these horses were slaughtered by humans, not taken down by the undead. So, Tara makes an executive decision that they all head back to Hilltop and make a plan before setting off again.
CF: For the first time in a while a leader is actually thinking logically and not doing shit just to advance the plot. I have a bad feeling about Tara’s future, but I love how she’s really stepped up and taken over, being the sort of leader who isn’t afraid to say, “No, this is fucked up, we’re going back because we could be in over our heads.” Someone could have done a bit more of that themselves when they were in charge.
The members of Luke’s original group give in but sneak out during the night to search some more.
CF: And now the idiot balling comes–
Because walking around in the dark is such a good idea. Eventually, they work out this plan isn’t going to work so decide to head home.
Well, except for Kelly (Angel Theory). Luke saved her once and she feels obligated. Which means her sister, Connie, also decides to stay out with Kelly.
CF: Seriously, what were they hoping to find in the dark, out in the woods? Oh, yeah: they were there to give the Whisperers directions back to Hilltop. Which is pretty much what happened. As well crafted as this episode was, I hated this bit of idiocy.
RT: For a group that survived so long on their own, they are some sort of stupid in this episode.
Shit Gets Real
The others return back to Hilltop and get busted by Tara, who is on lookout duties. Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) has a little chat with Tara and they come to the agreement that Tara doesn’t know everything but she wants people to live, so maybe they should come to her next time.
Oh, and some guards have also rounded up Connie and Kelly and are just bringing them home when the Whisperers turn up not even trying to resemble the undead.
Front and centre is Alpha, who wants her daughter back.
Daryl arrives just in time to hear her demand, so it will be interesting to find out how he manipulates the situation given what he now knows about Alpha thanks to her daughter. However, viewers will have to tune into the next episode of The Walking Dead to find out more.
CF: Credit where credit is due: as Alpha, Samantha Morton is fucking frightening. We’ve already gotten the impression from Lydia’s recollections that Mom will slit your throat in a minute if you cross her, but when you see her as she was asking for her daughter, she seems like the sort of person who would scare the shit out of you even if she wasn’t wearing a zombie’s skin.
RT: She totally commanded that short amount of screen time.
CF: Now we know why AMC did everything they could not to show Alpha’s face. The impact of seeing her last night as she really is was tremendous and if we’d seen her before hand, it wouldn’t have hit the viewers the same way. As you’d asked before, I wonder how this would have looked under Gimple. Yes, he did what he could to hide Negan from the fans, but we already had a good idea what he’d look like, particularly after Jeffrey Dean Morgan was cast. While fans of the graphic novel knew what Alpha looked like, there’s a hell of a difference between her GN look (see below) and her TV look. I’m really curious to see how her story plays out.
CF: For a bit of reference, this is how it happened in the graphic novel. She actually appeared in her “skin” and pulled it off to show everyone her face. We didn’t yet realize she was crazy as fuck.
A couple of other points. I agree with you: this is one of the better episode The Walking Dead has done and probably one of the better backstories given. Considering Robert Kirkman gave no backstory on Alpha in the graphic novel, this all comes from the writing staff and they nailed it again. Please, please, let the rest of the season be as good as this. (I’ll go out on a limb and say after Laura, TWD production and writing staff decided they needed to step up their backstory episodes.)
And we’re seeing both Daryl and Tara acting like adults and thinking things through, showing a bit more complexity in their characters than we’ve seen before. If all it took was getting rid of Rick to bring out the best in other characters, they should have killed him off a while back.
Season 9 of The Walking Dead returns to AMC with Episode 11 (titled “Bounty”) on Sunday, February 24. AMC lists the following synopsis for this episode.
“The savage group led by Alpha confronts the Hilltop in a harrowing attempt to retrieve her daughter. A supply run for the Kingdom turns into a dangerous quest.”
[Featured image via Gene Page/AMC]