Be warned! This review will cover aspects of the episode. Spoilers will lurk like groaning walkers…
Well, that was… underwhelming. After last week’s tension-filled exploration of how Samantha Morton’s Alpha came to be the bald-headed psychopath she is in the present world of The Walking Dead, this week’s standoff between her Whisperers and the Hilltop gang largely had all the dramatic drive of a slowly deflating balloon. People stood around and talked, Henry decided to flee with Lydia, then the young woman saw sense and decided to return to her mother, violence and all.
All the air seemed to be sucked out of the encounter, save for one or two solid segments, one of which was Lauren Ridloff’s Connie rescuing the infant that Alpha had decided could be left for the dead because it wouldn’t stop crying. The sequence of her in the field with the dead, shot to bring you into the world as she experiences it worked well, though any real danger was itself defeated by Darryl and the others arriving to her rescue.
This week’s main storyline also brought us right back to the sheer hormonal moron attitude from Henry, even if he thought he was doing the right thing, putting everyone in danger yet again. As for him deciding to run off at the end? Daryl and Connie might be headed to look for him, but if we’re honest, we’d leave him out there if he’s going to cause this much trouble in future. Maybe he can just be a thorn in Alpha’s side for a while. Doubt she’ll be quite as forgiving, though…
A rare win for the communities is no bad thing, it’s just disappointing that it had to come in an episode that lacked much in the way of substance. That could also stand for this week’s B-plot, which jumped in time (anyone else surprised to see Jesus show up at the start?) and mostly focused on King Ezekiel, Carol and Jerry (who have been largely absent the last couple of weeks) leading a band of Kingdom warriors to hunt down Elk. But the King also had a sub-mission in mind, heading to a cinema to retrieve a projector bulb.
For all its emotional significance (and yes, the chance for another win), the story felt like one that could’ve been told in about two minutes, skipping as it did over much in the way of action or dramatic weight. Sure, the place was swarming with the undead, but everything went off without a major hitch, unless you count Jerry dropping the bulb (Oh, Jerry), which as it turns out, was also fine.
Hardly a classic episode, then, even if the commitment to actual joy here and there for the characters was a welcome one. We don’t hold out too much hope for the communities properly reuniting, but perhaps the Whisperers will spur something now we know they’re out there. They can keep Henry.
Highlight: The Mission Mix.
Lowlight: Any scene with Teen Angster Henry.
Kill of the week: Throat-stab zombie.
Quote of the week: “Natural selection” – Alpha’s cold reasoning for abandoning the baby.
Zombie of the week: Popcorn!
MVP: Jerry, even if he is a clumsy nincompoop.
The big question: Will the fair become a giant bloodbath? We have concerns.
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The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC in the States and Mondays at 9pm on Fox.