Get it? The episode is called ‘Omega’ because we’re going to learn about Alpha, the leader of the Whisperers. IT’S CLEVER.
For real, though…the way they introduce/explain Alpha’s backstory in this one was some of the most engrossing and entertaining material The Walking Dead has put on the screen in a long time. Unfortunately, it’s brilliance was undercut by a subplot that was more pointless and stupid than the TV movie AMC is cooking up for Rick Grimes.
Let’s dive in and see how these two narratives butted heads, shall we?
Apple vs. Tree
So here’s the (mostly) good stuff.
Things open just like they closed in Hilltop last week with Henry spitting game at Lydia in her jail cell. This time, however, we get an honest-to-goodness flashback from Lydia’s perspective of the early days of the zombie uprising/apocalypse.
In Lydia’s memory, her father is a menacing douchebag who cuts off his beard to show that he’s done being a good man. Her mom, on the other hand, seems pretty sweet. Lydia does warn Henry, however, that her mom is not someone to be messed with. When Henry mentions that his mom Carol is also a badass woman, you can almost see the word FORESHADOWING flash across your screen for the Carol vs. Alpha confrontation that’s coming later this season.
As the two continue to talk, Henry continues to prove that once a guy has fallen for a girl, he will completely ignore any warning signs that she might be psychotic. He starts giving up intel on the other communities blinding hormonal speed. Daryl finally gets Henry out of there, causing the smitten teenager to pout like an idiot. Ugh…why are all the adolescent characters on this show so stupid?
Anyway, Daryl and Lydia’s sessions begin to take on a much more Clarice Starling vs. Hannibal Lector tone. Daryl knows she is lying about there not being any other Whisperers. He (and the audience) can also tell Lydia’s lying when one of her flashbacks shows us her mom killing a dude who freaks out in their survivor camp while her supposedly horrible father comforts her. She also claims (via another flashback) that her father was killed by the reanimated corpse of the guy her mom killed, which he attacked to save her after she went to go get a peak at him…which makes Lydia think her dad’s death was kind of her fault. And as if that all weren’t bad enough, Lydia seems to have adopted many of her mothers ideas about how being “soft” (i.e. human) is unacceptable, going so far as to say her capture all but ensures that Alpha would never come back for her.
Also, Lydia’s flashbacks start to get a tad bit jumbled/confusing. Dad’s beard comes back while Mom’s hair disappears. So either we have a really bad costuming/make up department on set, or Lydia is a totally unreliable narrator.
Eventually, Henry and Daryl hatch a plan…at least, I think they did. It might have been Henry being incredibly stupid and Daryl using that to his advantage. Either way, Henry takes his game to the next level and lets Lydia out of her cell to go on a date, where she gets him to eat a worm and considers bludgeoning him to death with a hammer (I really can’t say much since I’ve been on much worse dates myself). When she hears a baby cry, however, her firm stance that places like Hilltop “can’t be real” is shattered when she hears a baby crying. This causes Lydia to snap, flooding her with memories of what really happened back in that survivor camp with her parents and begging Henry to take her back to her cell.
The next day, she tells Daryl what really happened. It was her mom who was awful to her–and who killed her father when he refused to ride the crazy train with her (and let her take Lydia) out of the survivor camp. She then brainwashed her daughter into believing a totally different version of events. As someone who also had an abusive parent, Daryl sympathizes with her. He also suggest to Henry that she might be able to stay at Hilltop as a resident instead of a prisoner.
Way to go, morons
You know that new group of people whose names you can never remember? Well, they’re all mad because they can’t find Luke (and Alden). When they find evidence of more Whisperers out in the wild, Tara suggests everyone goes back to Hilltop to regroup and come up with a plan.
For once, I actually agree with Tara. Unfortunately, New Group thinks their best course of action is to sneak out in the middle of the night to continue the search and potentially leave Hilltop to go back to surviving out in the wilderness. Their plan is shot to hell when a ninja zombie attacks them and they are almost surrounded by other walkers who actually make noise.
They decide living at Hilltop isn’t so bad and head back, leading the Whisperers right to the front gate. To everyone’s surprise, Alpha steps forward and asks for her daughter back.
Gotta admit, I loved getting to see a bit of the chaos that happened when the dead first began to rise. It’s been a long time since a reanimated corpse seemed scary on this show. Add in the brilliant way Lydia’s brainwashed memories were filmed/portrayed, and this might be the best episode we’ve seen in a long time. Not only was it marvelously entertaining, but it also introduces Alpha in a way that’s much more distinct and chilling from the Really Bad Person Who is Mentally Unhinged progression we’ve gotten used to.
But then you have the subplot, which ended up being completely pointless except to lead The Whisperers back to Hilltop. Ninja zombie ridiculousness aside, we all knew they weren’t going to leave–or find Luke. Every time the show cut to them, I just wanted it to go back to Lydia going nose-to-nose with Daryl and weirding him out.
Let’s hope that Alpha showing up at the Hilltop gates will make next week’s episode as good as most of this one was.