“Stalker” proved a thoroughly bizarre and disjointed episode with lows reminiscent of the show this used to be, and highs that suggest it’s smarter than we give it credit for.
This recap of The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 10, “Stalker”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It’s easy to forget just how embarrassingly awful The Walking Dead was just a couple of seasons ago, and in many ways, “Stalker” is something of a reminder. It’s an odd episode, morphing constantly throughout the hour from a standard filler episode full of illogical decision-making to a surprisingly tense and stylish slasher-horror before finally devolving into a hazy, delirious climax. I’m still not sure whether or not I even liked it.
But I can respect it, especially since it becomes clearer throughout that The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 10 knew what it was doing, even if the question of why it’d choose to do things quite this way remains elusive. A cold open in which Beta (Ryan Hurst) descends through a hidden trapdoor in an isolated RV and begins roaming subterranean passageways by lamplight is a fittingly curious start, though I don’t suppose anyone imagined that he’d claw through the earth in Alexandria and begin a killing spree. Yet here we are.
The foreshadowing might have given it away. Rosita (Christian Serratos) wakes in the night to tend to her child, and when she turns around a Whisperer looms over its crib — she’s dreaming, obviously, but it’s a clue of things to come. It just isn’t something I imagined happening at this point in the season. When Gamma (Thora Birch) arrives at Alexandria’s gates to tell Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) about everyone trapped in the cave, that felt right; so too when a mistrustful Rosita socked her in the mouth and she awoke in captivity, being taunted about Dante (Juan Javier Cardenas). We’re reminded how little time has passed since that double-agent killed Siddiq (Avi Nash), even if it has been months in real-world terms. Despite Gamma’s honesty about the baby abandoned at Hilltop being her nephew, and later about having killed the child’s mother, her sister, at the behest of Alpha (Samantha Morton), nobody is willing to trust a Whisperer so soon after one moved among them.
For reasons unclear to me, Gabriel spends these scenes talking in a kind of grandiose tough-guy way that suits him about as well as Gamma’s hilariously ill-fitting clothes suit her. But he’s the one who trusts Gamma enough to allow her to point out the location of the cave on a map. Putting together rescue teams, he clashes with a still-grieving Rosita and gets oddly worked up about how the Whisperers are cowards, suggesting that they should be taken alive and have their teeth pulled to prove it. Nothing about Gabriel makes much sense to me; it’s almost as if he’s forgotten how much of a useless coward he’s been for the last ninety-odd episodes. Nevertheless, he sets out, and in so doing leaves Alexandria largely undefended.
The parallel plot in The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 10, concerns Daryl (Norman Reedus) tracking the Whisperers through the woods, eventually ambushing a group that contains Alpha herself. They fight, and both emerge badly injured. Daryl’s vision is compromised and he’s stabbed in the leg, which is where “Stalker” felt most like an older, much worse version of the show when characters would often make ludicrous decisions just to imperil themselves for dramatic effect. At one point Alpha lures more walkers to Daryl’s hiding spot rather than confront him directly in her weakened state, and he’s forced to yank the blade from his leg to fight them off, leaving him bleeding to death and delirious.
It’s around this point that Beta emerges from the ground within Alexandria’s boundaries and goes on a creepy nutcase rampage, offing a family and then kneeling in their lounge as their corpses all rise as walkers around him. He’s there to retrieve Gamma, obviously, but the turncoat has befriended Judith (Cailey Fleming), who helps her escape through her house in a sequence that lives up to the “Stalker” episode title. Judith shoots Beta through a door, but he’s wearing a bulletproof vest, thus proving that the Whisperers aren’t as one with the wild as they claim, and is able to fight Rosita until Gamma intervenes by threatening to commit suicide — a no-no since Alpha wants her alive. When we next see her and Beta they’re walking alone in the woods, only to be set upon by Gabriel and his rescue team. Beta is able to flee into the woods since Gabriel is a terrible shot, but he believes Gamma when she claims that she didn’t know Beta would be coming for her.
Naturally, I have questions about all of this. I wonder why, if the Whisperers had such easy access to Alexandria, they didn’t just pile in during the night and slaughter everyone. I wonder how Beta even knew Gamma had surrendered herself, and why Gabriel would believe it wasn’t an elaborate plan since that’s exactly what it looked like — him having some kind of man-of-the-cloth instinct doesn’t convince me, nor should it convince anyone else.
These questions only persisted when The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 10 returned to Daryl and Alpha, both still delirious from blood loss, ranting and raving at each other in a kind of hazy trance that had all the hallmarks of a dream or a flashback but was apparently neither. Eventually, Lydia (Cassady McClincy) arrived and briefly debated killing her mother at her own urging, deciding instead to leave her alive and carve “Your way is not the only way” into a countertop. When Daryl woke up alongside her, propped against a tree, you could easily imagine that the whole thing had been a weird fever dream. Yet apparently not, since “Stalker” ends with Alpha waking up among her Whisperer brethren, and her chanting of “We are the end of the world” closes the episode.
Again, I’m not sure which parts of this — if any — actually worked as intended. But for the first time in ages, I’m legitimately wondering what the show might think to do next.
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