“The World Before” made for a decent midseason finale, even if it wasn’t totally immune to stupidity, capably setting up the back half of the season for all-out war.
This recap of The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 8, “The World Before”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It’s very fitting of The Walking Dead both that a midseason finale opens with a genuinely horrifying scene and that the scene happens to include flashbacks and a narrated montage — even under the much more capable stewardship of Angela Kang, sometimes this show just can’t help itself.
But no matter. “The World Before” begins with the whats and the whys of Dante’s (Juan Javier Cardenas) surprising last-minute betrayal and murder of Siddiq (Avi Nash) last week. We see how Alpha (Samantha Morton) recruited him, and how he ingratiated himself into and began sabotaging the community. In the present day, we see him crouched over Siddiq’s corpse, lovingly closing his eyelids when he’s interrupted by Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Coco. For some reason, despite having been undercover for ages and run a complex one-man sabotage operation while also earning and keeping everyone’s trust, Dante gives himself away almost instantly. He attacks Rosita — though he does the gentlemanly thing and allows her to put the baby down first — and a scuffle ensues just as Siddiq rises from the dead. The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 8 gives a fairly credible impression that Walker Siddiq is genuinely going to scoff his own offspring, and the infant’s screeching makes for a suitably excruciating backing track, but Rosita is able to overpower and batter Dante and shank Siddiq in the head.
Aaron (Ross Marquand), meanwhile, continues his romantic liaisons with Gamma (Thora Birch), who has a proposition: If she’s allowed to see her nephew, who has been named Adam by the foster family at Hilltop who took him in, then she’ll reveal information about the Whisperers. It’s interesting and odd that both sides are well-aware of these meetings and neither seems particularly concerned about them, but we mustn’t grumble.
Besides, information is likely to exchange hands anyway, since Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), while he isn’t seen in “The World Before”, is still in bed with the enemy, and Dante is being interrogated by Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride), Rosita and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam). He gets to share some of his nihilistic worldview and reinforce the idea that nobody is as different as they’d like to think; a played-out and not particularly interesting moral slant that is also just true enough to work. He’s exceptionally smug about his predicament because he believes, probably correctly, that he’ll be treated to a public hearing since that’s the “right” and “civilized” thing to do. Little does he know that in The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 8, rather than being the perpetrator of the plot twist, he’ll be the victim of it. But more on that shortly.
Aaron returns with news: He has the location of the herd, which Gamma apparently just gave up on the vague assurance of a playdate. Daryl isn’t inclined to trust a Whisperer since he doesn’t waste brain cells on giving his pets fancy names and still has some leftover for basic sensible decision-making, but Lydia (Cassady McClincy) is still out and about and lest we forget, her presence is an important preventative measure. Plus I like to believe he just doesn’t have it in his Southern-fried hick heart to leave her to fend for herself, so the plan is that he’ll take a Scooby gang out to investigate the tip-off, then they’ll all go get the girl. He decides to take Carol along on this endeavour despite her having consistently proven herself to be a nutcase and lost Lydia in the first place, so perhaps what I said about his brain cells isn’t entirely accurate.
Nevermind, though, because we have a Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Judith (Cailey Fleming) subplot to attend to. Judith has decided she’s going to give the apocalypse the Samuel Pepys treatment and document everything for posterity, an idea which Luke (Dan Fogler) is keen on since he’s an insufferable aesthete and thinks a brief stop at a local library isn’t an utterly terrible and pointless idea. While there he’s attacked among the bookshelves but saved by a mysterious new character, who promptly flees, and Michonne gets word that Siddiq has been murdered by a Whisperer double-agent.
On the subject of Siddiq, he’s given a touching send-off attended by as many characters who don’t have anything else to do as possible, including Ezekiel (Khary Payton), who has a little interaction with Carol, and Eugene (Josh McDermitt), who bails out Rosita when she tries to vent her frustrations by getting into a fight with some nearby walkers. I must stress again for the record that hearing Eugene speak makes me want to floss my ear canals with razor wire, but he’s committed to his shtick at this point and it’d be weirder to rewrite him than just let him go on. (And on and on.) What I do appreciate about “The World Before”, though, is that it actually makes a point of saying that it’s dumb for die-hard post-apocalyptic survivors to almost get killed by a couple of zombies. Rosita’s incompetency actually sends her into a bit of a psychological tailspin, and she’s forced to confide in Gabriel that her sudden uselessness is giving her the terrifying feeling that she’s going to leave Coco an orphan. Gabriel, clearly distracted, basically tells her to suck it up.
It’s no wonder, really, that shortly afterwards Gabriel goes to see Dante in his cell and viciously shanks him to death. He had a lot on his mind, clearly.
At Oceanside in “The World Before”, the new guy who saved Luke in the library is caught trying to steal a boat. After a brief delay to battle encroaching walkers, Michonne has a chat with him and learns some things. His name is Virgil. He lives on a fortified island, in a Naval base, which naturally contains all kinds of useful bits and bobs such as weapons and supplies. A deal is struck. If Michonne lets him off for trying to steal the boat, she’ll sail home with him, load up as much of an arsenal as she can carry, and return with it. Fair’s fair, so he agrees.
That only leaves the exploits of Daryl and company, who all meet up in the woods and head to the giant clearing where Gamma said the herd was — and find it empty. Daryl’s relationship with Carol continues to fracture; he insists that she never really left the boat and that talking to her since she has been back is like talking to a ghost. It looks as though he gets through to her to some extent, but she quickly proves that he hasn’t by spotting Alpha in the distance and immediately giving it legs in pursuit, blindly following her into a cave where they all stupidly get trapped. On the plus side, at least they found the herd.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.