The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 12 Review
This Hilltop gang takes out the walkers and Whisperers, with character drama throughout. Lydia utters an awful line, “I’ll never walk with her.” The wall goes down and Hilltop appears to burn completely. The characters all take off in groups. Ezekiel and Daryl were supposed to protect the children, but they were separated by the walker horde.
Judith kills a Whisperer, her first human kill, and is visibly shaken by it.
In the final scene, Yumiko sees Magna return. She’s disguised herself in the horde. The drama comes from there being no Connie. Carol sees this, Yumiko gives her the look of death, clearly and rightfully blaming Carol for this. Carol is of course justified in her desire to kill Alpha and make her suffer, but the way she went about it, endangering others, wasn’t fair.
The acting and cinematography here are great. The walkers and the fire are terrifying.
Negan kills an injured Whisperer with Lucille 2.0. He seems to enjoy smashing him in the face, giving us a hint about what he’s thinking and where his loyalties lie. Beta wants Negan to continue corralling walkers, but Negan has another plan. The comic fans love his “frowny McTwoKnives” line to describe Beta, but the show’s original line, “what a dick” feels more real and on point. Negan’s acknowledging that Beta is too far gone. He’s bought into Alpha’s philosophy and will follow her until the end.
Negan, wearing his Whisperer mask, runs into Aaron in the woods. It’s a “wait, I can explain” scenario. Aaron wants to kill Negan for helping the Whisperers, but instead must protect an injured Luke from the horde. Ross Marquand’s performance seemed forced. I don’t buy Aaron as this angry, bloodthirsty tough guy he’s made out to be. The scene also falls flat because Negan could have easily taken sixty seconds to explain to Aaron that he was sent by Carol to infiltrate the Whisperers’ camp and kill Alpha. Why doesn’t he just spit that out? Instead, he stammers and stares at Aaron while saying “I can explain.” Well, just explain it already! This is forced drama for the sake of the plot. Sloppy writing. However, Aaron is an uninteresting character anyway.
Negan has another plan. Alpha wants him to capture Lydia so she can kill her. He finds her in the woods, capturing her in a Lifetime-titillating moment. Now, we’re back to the characters we care about.
Alden, Kelly, Gamma and Adam are in the woods. Adam’s crying attracts the horde because Alden stupidly refuses to let Gamma, who knows how to calm a baby, hold him. Gamma reveals she has remorse for killing her sister, and that she’d rather have killed herself in that scenario. Alpha’s manipulation has worn off and she has reverted back to her old personality. However, she still feels like she deserves a penance. When Alden, Kelly and Adam take haven in a car, Gamma draws the horde away. Feeling victorious, she begins to laugh, but this joy is cut short by Beta stabbing her. He kills her pretty quickly, leaving her to turn. This is a spooky scene. It feels like one of those old horror movies where a creepy monster rapes and kills a young girl in the woods. Gamma’s eyes are left open. A Whisperer sees Beta’s face, since part of his mask was ripped off by Gamma during the stabbing. Recognizing Beta as an apparently famous person from before the apocalypse, the Whisperer is startled. Beta cannot have his identity revealed for some reason, so he kills the Whisperer. In the comics, Beta was a rock star before the apocalypse. I suspect in the series there will be more to it than that. Maybe Beta was a famous musician who turned into a dangerous serial killer and became a fugitive. Perhaps there was a national manhunt going on for him, and that’s why Beta can’t be revealed.
The only line that bothers me is Beta’s “you will walk with us” delivered to Gamma. It’s ridiculously corny and stupid. This whole “walk with us” theme is dumb and feels like it was invented simply to give the episode a title.
The character interactions are fine. Alden is simply a boring character, and quite frankly a dumb character. He took way too long to realize that Gamma can be trusted, and by the time he realized this, Adam had already attracted the entire horde. He’s a Cardboard Walker. Like Gamma, we are simply waiting for him to die. Kelly is a much more interesting character, and she breathes energy into this act.
Gamma, Beta and Kelly did a great job with this part.
Magna tells her story to Yumiko. She claims to have lost Connie in the horde. But it’s so obvious that she’s lying. Clearly she’s done something to Connie. Maybe she killed her. Maybe she simply ditched her because it was too difficult to help a deaf person. Either that, or this is terrible acting. Magna then admits to Yumiko that she was right to break up the relationship. Magna seems to have realized that she really is a terrible, untrustworthy person. Michonne was right all along. Even Magna appears terrified of what she’s done.
Yumiko, naively, has bought into Magna’s story. Perhaps this is the same reason Yumiko believed Magna before the apocalypse when she defended her as innocent in a murder trial. Yumiko is allowing her romantic desires for Magna cloud her assessment of Magna’s character. Yumiko is angry at Carol, rightfully so, even punching her in the face. Yumiko blames Carol for Connie’s loss, refusing to believe that Magna would have done anything to endanger Connie. Perhaps there’s a hint of denial here.
Eugene and Carol have a great interaction, perhaps the first time the two have spoken in the series. Carol nearly commits suicide by letting a walker bite her, but Eugene arrives to put the walker down. Carol is truly depressed. She has been put through so much hell and has lost all semblance of feeling. Hers dialogue is sort of corny but also sort of true. Carol has done terrible things trying to kill Alpha, and feels she has nothing to show for it. This could have been conveyed in a less sappy, melodramatic way. Eugene and Carol are both likable here. Eugene awkwardly relates to Carol’s desire to avenge her son’s beheading, by likening this desire to his desire to meet Stephanie, the lady he’s been talking to on the radio. Carol advises Eugene to proceed with the meeting.
The few survivors of the Hilltop battle regroup at a cabin in the woods. Daryl, Jerry, Nabila and Rosita are there. Nabila’s terrified to see that the children are missing. Ezekiel was supposed to have them. Daryl finds Ezekiel in a daze, with no children. They’re with Earl, who was bitten while protecting the kids. He gets them to safety in another cabin, then goes into a separate room to kill himself so he doesn’t turn. Judith comes in and discovers the bite. She agrees to put him down when he dies, and leaves to watch the children until that time comes. After Judith has put Earl down, Daryl finds the cabin and all the children. He comforts Judith, understanding what she had to go through. This feels vaguely similar to young Carl seeing his mother die, although Carl couldn’t put her down. The scene is filled with emotion and Daryl plays the father role beautifully for Judith. Earl is a sweet character and the performance and delivery are terrific. However, it’s simply difficult to care that much about his death because he is such an undeveloped character. We barely knew Earl. Daryl and Judith make this scene stand up. As I said last week, Daryl is doing a great job of stepping into Rick’s role. I can imagine Rick comforting his daughter or Carl like this, after a traumatic moment. However, unlike Rick, Daryl is a man of few words. Rick would be giving a sappy motivational speech about how we all die and you have to be ready for it. Daryl doesn’t need to say anything. It’s already understood. All he has to do is embrace Judith, comforting her about the hard reality they face.
The best part of this act is when Negan takes Alpha for a walk in the woods. Alpha believes he’s leading her to the cabin where Lydia is being held captive, so Alpha can kill her, and then presumably die, leaving Negan to become the new leader of the Whisperers. However, Negan really is trying his best to talk her out of this, because he won’t allow her to kill Lydia, and if Alpha is so persistent on this idea of dying with her daughter, Negan will have no other choice but to kill Alpha, which he ultimately does.
The leadup to this moment is beautiful. Negan and Alpha have a heart-to-heart conversation. They b0oth come across as vulnerable and genuine. Negan talks about his wife Lucille, who died of cancer before the apocalypse, and explains how he lost all emotion after that, refusing to allow himself to feel the pain of losing her. Negan keeps trying to change Alpha’s mind, explaining why her worldview is wrong, and once he realizes that she really is too far gone and cannot be helped, he finally accepts that he must kill her. Alpha does admit that she loves Lydia, actually using her love for her daughter as justification for killing her. She’s truly crazy. Meanwhile, as Negan and Alpha walk to the cabin, Lydia is inside a cabin tied to a chair, slowly breaking free of her ropes. She breaks free and escapes the cabin, which is actually a different cabin than the one to which Negan is taking Alpha. Negan and Alpha kiss before she opens the door. Alpha is shocked to see her daughter isn’t there. Negan slits her throat and kisses her as she bleeds out. Jeffrey Dean Morgan knocked this thing out of the park. The performance as truly amazing. I find myself actually loving Negan despite all he’s done. This feels like his true redemption moment. The look on his face conveys that Negan really hates killing Alpha, and badly wishes he could have instead “saved” her by capturing her and changing her worldview, as Rick did for him.