“Walk with Us” was a great episode full of twists, turns, deaths, and genuine surprises — and the Whisperer War isn’t over just yet.
This recap of The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 12, “Walk with Us”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Well, where to even begin with “Walk With Us”? One of the better episodes in ages, and in many ways the payoff for almost everything Angela Kang has done since taking over from Scott Gimple as showrunner, The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 12 felt a lot like a finale. There were twists and turns and character deaths and major developments that pretty drastically reshaped the current arc of the story, and none of them felt forced or ridiculous as such things have in the past. As it turns out the show was playing a long game and playing it surprisingly well.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – at least not to anyone who was passingly familiar with the source material – that Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) was working against Alpha (Samantha Morton), though it might come as a bit of a shock that he was doing so at the behest of Carol (Melissa McBride), who had evidently released him from Alexandria’s prison for the purpose. And while it was virtually a given that Negan would eventually kill Alpha – I even alluded to it in last week’s recap – I imagine few people expected it to happen midway through the back half of the season.
What this revelation also does is re-contextualize a lot of things that happened earlier in the season and felt, at the time, like random happenstance at best and deliberate stupidity at worst. Gamma (Thora Birch) being welcomed into the community and Lydia (Cassady McClincy) running away seem pretty integral developments in this plan, though I’m not entirely sure how much of it was planned and how much was just good fortune. If you think about it too much it all probably falls apart; there have been a lot of very lucky coincidences throughout, but I like the idea of the show actually having a long-term plan more complex than just “Whisperers are bad.”
The Whisperers are bad, obviously, and some are much worse than others. It hasn’t been much of a secret that Beta (Ryan Hurst) was being gradually positioned as the real Big Bad, and that was solidified in “Walk With Us” by having him kill Gamma (and thus prove my heroic self-sacrifice prediction correct). We’ve also seen Alpha weaken; both mentally, in how she trusted and developed an obviously personal relationship with Negan, and physically, as we saw in her near-death delirium last week. The only obvious downside of this whole arc, for me, was the idea that we were supposed to be genuinely unsure of what Negan was up to. The tension in the episode’s climax was dependent on us believing he had kidnapped Lydia and was leading Alpha to her; I never thought that for a minute, especially when earlier in the episode Negan had attempted to explain himself to Aaron (Ross Marquand) – even Negan’s mercy-killing of a badly-wounded Hilltop survivor was undermined by Alpha chastising him for damaging the head so they couldn’t join the Horde.
As I suggested last week, it was certainly satisfying to see Negan slash Alpha’s throat – even more so to see him roll her chattering, zombified head at Carol’s feet, largely because that part of things wasn’t as easy to predict. Unlike my issues with Negan’s alignment, I had pretty earnestly bought into the idea that Carol was just in a psychological tailspin and was probably due for being offed. The question is how much of her development since Negan’s escape has been an act and how much has been genuine; she has made a lot of really idiotic and reckless decisions, and they don’t gel with how calculated she’d have to be in order to pull this whole thing off. I’m not sure how much sense any of that makes, but then again I’m also not sure how deeply we’re supposed to interrogate it.
You know all this is interesting stuff to unpack since I haven’t even mentioned yet that The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 12 opens where last week’s episode left off, with the Giant Battle™ fully underway. Daryl (Norman Reedus) is flailing that morning star around. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is irrationally concerned with his burning radio equipment. Everything’s on fire. It’s a pretty intense opening, made more so when Judith (Cailey Fleming) stupidly gets involved in the fight and shanks a Whisperer rather than a mere zombie. Her moral crisis is short-lived since ill-fated blacksmith Earl (John Finn) whisks her and the rest of the children away, receiving an off-screen bite in the process. “Walk With Us” does not end well for him. He attempts to kill himself and fails, leaving the shell-shocked Judith to deal with his reanimated remains. How’s that for an utterly grim character moment? It does lead to a nice one between her and Daryl, though, so you take the rough with the smooth.
There are some other decently effective character moments scattered around here. Magna (Nadia Hilker) somehow stumbles into the battle as part of the Horde and is immediately recognized, which struck me as very contrived, but it made for some solid scenes between her, Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) and Carol. The stuff with Gamma, Alden (Callan McAuliffe) and Kelly (Angel Theory) was fine, if predictable. Eugene remains Eugene, one assumes to the eventual danger of everyone.
The first order of business for The Walking Dead going forwards must surely be showing us what Michonne (Danai Gurira) has been up to. While I’m glad that we didn’t have to wait a week to see the outcome of the Giant Battle™, it only makes sense at this point. That should give Beta time to rally the troops and prepare for revenge. Suddenly, the Whisperer War looks a lot different, and I can’t imagine it’ll end without a few more surprises along the way.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.