“Silence the Whisperers” ironically excelled in conversation, providing a well-written hint of tragedies to come.
This recap of The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 4, “Silence the Whisperers”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 4 was unashamedly a calm-before-the-storm episode, the kind that, not too long ago, would have been this show at its absolute worst. But no longer. Aside from one brief moment of Eugene (Josh McDermitt) being… well, Eugene, “Silence the Whisperers” excelled, somewhat ironically, in conversation. It opened and closed with a melancholy montage of happy, smiley camaraderie, friends working together towards a common goal, and in the world of The Walking Dead that can only mean one thing: Several of them are due to die quite horribly.
I’m assuming that the midseason finale will be the knocking down of all the dominoes that these early episodes have painstakingly stacked, but for the first time in ages, even after a really good ninth season, I’m happy to watch the show buy time for itself. There are still too many characters, but it’s suddenly a pleasure to watch them interact. At one point in “Silence the Whisperers”, Michonne (Danai Gurira) encounters Ezekiel (Khary Payton) on a lonely hilltop, and they kiss, and then they talk about loss and learning to live with it, and they laugh about the silliness of the whole thing. It feels like the kind of thing — the kissing, the conversation — that might happen among people who have lived together for years and lost almost everything they love in the meantime.
Almost everything. Michonne still has Judith (Cailey Fleming), whom she’s trying to teach about leadership and waging war, and the scene of the two of them offing walker heads alongside each other was great. Like mother, like daughter, biology be damned. The writing in The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 4 is so much better than it was just a couple of seasons ago that it’s a genuine surprise to see moments that you know wouldn’t have worked then suddenly bring the house down. If this isn’t the best the show has been, it’s certainly the most effortless.
If it’s about anyone in particular, “Silence the Whisperers” is about Lydia (Cassady McClincy), who continues to be tormented by her peers and misunderstood by even those who genuinely want to protect her, such as Daryl (Norman Reedus). Her only true ally is Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who is, like her, simultaneously a part of and apart from the community. When she’s ambushed and assaulted, Negan is the one who leaps to her defense, accidentally killing one of her attackers in the process of defending her, and finding his fate a matter of debate for the council, who’re split down the middle. Aaron (Ross Marquand) thinks he should be killed, but at least in part because of what he has done in the past — it’s an excuse to get rid of him despite Rick’s wishes. But Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and eventually Daryl, who doesn’t care about Negan but cares about and believes Lydia, disagree that the job of the council is to settle old scores. If anyone else were in Negan’s position, there wouldn’t even be a discussion, and they all know it — including Negan.
In more well-written conversations, Daryl discusses this with Negan himself, and then with Carol (Melissa McBride), who is still obsessing over the threat of the Whisperers. Daryl rightly points out that if they don’t fix what’s happening at home, it won’t matter what Alpha (Samantha Morton) does — there won’t be anything left for them to lose.
The Whisperers are the specter that hangs over The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 4, even though we don’t see any of them. When Daryl radios Michonne for advice about the Lydia and Negan dilemma, she frames it explicitly in terms of how it might affect their larger conflict. If something happens to Lydia, whatever warped compassion has prevented Alpha from wiping them all out until now will cease to shackle her. They need Lydia now more than they need to remember what Negan once did.
As it happens, the decision is made for the council anyway: Someone lets Negan out of his cell. Lydia at first claims it was her, but Daryl knows better. They talk while she’s imprisoned, about how the communities at Hilltop and Alexandria and Oceanside aren’t as different from the Whisperers as they claim. Whenever they’re scared they turn on their own; find a target, and hone in on it with ruthless efficiency. It if isn’t Lydia, or Negan, who is it going to be next?
The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 4 ends with whispers, getting louder.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.