A strong episode with a great showdown and a welcomely high-spirited subplot, “Chokepoint” was The Walking Dead continuing to better itself.
This recap of The Walking Dead Season 9, Episode 13, “Chokepoint”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The strength of the Whisperers, as villains and as survivors, is that they blend in. They wear the faces of the dead and mimic their staggering, lopsided gait. They live outdoors and embrace primitivity. Their leader, the strongest, is the Alpha (Samantha Morton). But this is why Beta (Ryan Hurst), her second, stands out. He doesn’t fit. Despite his disguise, he’s still evidently alive; this towering, grimacing man with long hair and a beard and a… waistcoat? He’s dope. I’m glad he’s still alive.
And he is, obviously, although it was touch and go in “Chokepoint” for a while. In one of the better showdowns in The Walking Dead history, Daryl (Norman Reedus) took him on mano-a-mano, outsmarting him and knocking him down an elevator shaft. Daryl has been great this season, where the writers seem to have found the right tone for his tough-guy nomad stoicism. “This Beta, he there best? Good. We’ll kill him first,” he said to Lydia (Cassady McClincy), which would have been a great plan had he actually checked if Beta had snuffed it. Unfortunately, he was too pleased with himself and left the big man wounded, but alive, presumably ready to burst through more walls later in the season.
Even the plan – the “Chokepoint” from which the episode gets its name – was uncharacteristically clever for this mob. Daryl and Connie (Lauren Ridloff) took the high ground to separate the Whisperers from their zombie “guardians”, which worked a treat. Well, Henry (Matt Lintz) picked up a nasty leg wound, but that’s the price of being young, dumb and in love. I’m still firmly opposed to their young romantic union, but whatever. Kids in this show are historically annoying, and even though this ninth season has done away with a lot of its lingering problems, it didn’t excise them all.
At least negotiations are better now. As the Kingdom prepares for a knees-up, they run into another group who call themselves the Highwaymen, and while it looks like everyone is gearing up for a fight, the situation is able to be resolved peacefully. Carol (Melissa McBride), whose usual tactic is to set troublemakers on fire, instead decides to appeal to the Highwaymen’s softer, more dramatic side, offering them a movie night. What’s this? Levity and cleverness and a bloodless solution to a problem, in The Walking Dead? Well, I’m shocked. I just hope they don’t all sit down and watch the previous season.