Another relatively uneventful episode, “Omega” delved into the backstory of Alpha and the Whisperers, but didn’t deliver much in the present-tense besides a welcome cliffhanger.
This recap of The Walking Dead Season 9, Episode 10, “Omega”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
You’ll have to excuse me, but I don’t feel very sorry for Hilltop’s new detainee, Lydia (Cassady McClincy). A lot of “Omega” is devoted to her, and the rest of her group, the Whisperers, by extension. She spends much of the episode as a wannabe sympathetic figure; the victim of brainwashing by a psychopathic, abusive mother, who went bonkers after the walker outbreak, killed her nice-guy father, and consistently abused her. That’s certainly a sad backstory.
Here’s the problem: This is all after the Whisperers have stalked our heroes for weeks, for no reason, and killed a major character. Their behaviour thus far has been senseless and primitive, motivated only by what seems like a wacky desire to dismantle fledgling communities so that the dead can roam freely, and they can roam with them.
It’s hard to reconcile these two things, especially since Lydia throughout the previous episode and some of this one was nakedly a Whisperer spy, trying to glean information from resident soft boy Henry (Matt Lintz). The transition is a bit much to take. For once, I’m with Daryl (Norman Reedus), whose sneaky plan to eavesdrop on Lydia’s whining to Henry was just about the smartest, most non-Daryl thing he’s ever done – a level of imagination you wouldn’t expect from someone who names his dog “Dog”.
A lot of “Omega” was also devoted to The Walking Dead’s favourite storytelling device: Flashbacks. These ones concerned the backstory of the Whisperers and Lydia’s tortured history with her mother, Alpha (Samantha Morton), the nominal leader of the murderous dress-up clan. By the time we’ve established that she’s a Grade-A senseless psycho, she and her troops are marching on Hilltop in an eerie visual; it’s weird to see the Whisperers, still dressed as walkers, abandoning the act and just striding upright without a care in the world. We’ve had a few solid moments thus far this season that have leveraged the inherent creepiness of the Whisperers, and I hope we get more.
What we’re also starting to get in “Omega” are moments of stupidity and lazy writing that we haven’t seen much of this season, and I sincerely hope we get less of those. The main plot is consistently fine. Daryl is functioning as a strong leading figure in Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) absence, and the scenes he shared with Henry and Lydia, which were somewhat different in tone depending on who he was talking to, helped to show the character as deeper, more complex than the show has allowed him to be in ages. But various people nipping off in the dead of night to track down their compatriots despite the fact that doing so is remarkably dangerous and counterintuitive? Nonsense.
Weirdly, “Omega” felt a bit like another time-killing, scene-setting episode, teeing up action-packed instalments to come but not really delivering much in the meantime. It was fine, obviously; that seems to the baseline level of quality for this ninth season, which is, admittedly, ten times better than the show has been for years. But there are some worrying trends beginning to pop up that I’m slightly irritated and perplexed by, especially since the first half of the season managed to avoid silly “idiots in crisis” B-plots almost entirely. Now that Alpha is on the doorstep with her hilariously overwrought Southern accent, maybe we’ll get some more focus, and some more craziness, and some more moments which echo that stellar midseason finale. I’m still holding out hope.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.