Last week, Negan fully integrated himself with (infiltrated?) The Whisperers. That should make for a really cool plot to follow up on this week, right?
HA! Joke’s on you–we’re not dealing with that plot thread at all. Instead, we’re going all in on Siddiq’s PTSD, the Whisperer prisoner, and the Alexandria sickness that doesn’t affect any main characters except for Rosita.
Evil Dead Arms
The episode opens with more Siddiq PTSD dreams juxtaposed with him watching over Cheryl (the sweet/sick older lady from the last couple episode), who is definitely not getting any better. Thankfully, he has all the water he’ll ever need thanks to a well system devised by Eugene.
Make note of this emphasis on water. We’ll be coming back to it later.
Siddiq valiantly attempts to treat he rest of Alexandria’s sick
extras residents, but doesn’t seem to be making any headway. As his stress gets worse, so do his PTSD dreams, culminating with one that features arms reaching up from the sofa and wrapping around him.
Meanwhile, Daryl and Carol bring the captured Whisperer into the jail cell. Gabriel is understandably pissed about them putting all of Alexandria at risk, but Daryl correctly points out that it’s now too late for them to change course.
Later, we’re treated to some redneck beefcake via a shirtless Daryl cuddling with Dog.
I hope you enjoyed that, because the episode is all downhill from here.
Peanut Butter Jelly Time
Lydia is able to sneak a peek at the captured Whisperer and recognizes him as someone who watches over the horde. This works out perfectly since Carol’s goal is find out where the horde is being kept and (somehow) destroy it. Lydia reminds Carol that the horde watchers are extremely loyal and would never betray Alpha. She then suggests that instead of torturing the information out of him, it might be more effective to show the Whisperers how great life in Alexandria can be.
After yet another Siddiq PTSD break, Carol comes in to the jail cell with a delicious looking spread of sliced apples, bread, and every flavor of homemade jam you can imagine. At first, the Whisperer appears overwhelmed at this act of kindness and the chance to taste sugary foods again. After taking a few bites, however, he promptly spits it back out in Carol’s face and declares his loyalty to Alpha.
Carol goes back into torture mode, pushing on the Whisperer’s wound and punching him repeatedly in the face, but he refuses to yield. When Daryl brandishes a knife and threatens to start chopping off his extremities, the Whisperer continues to reaffirm his loyalty, explaining that Alpha “sacrificed her own daughter for us.”
This gives Carol a great idea: Show the Whisperer that Lydia is alive, thus proving that Alpha is full of crap.
Remember this plot point about Lydia’s existence and how the rest of the Whisperers might react to her being alive. We’ll return to it later.
At first, Daryl is against the idea because…uhh…he doesn’t want Lydia to have to be involved in all this (?). Fortunately, he quickly relents and agrees to Carol’s plan. She even manages to get Lydia on board with a visit to the jail cell to show the Whisperer that she’s still alive.
Remember this plot point about Lydia going along with Carol’s plan to reveal her continued existence to a Whisperer. We’ll come back to it later.
Unfortunately, the prisoner dies before they can put Carol’s plan into action. When Siddiq and Dante show up to treat him, they discover that he has been poisoned via hemlock…which (according to Dante) Siddiq had packed in his medical bag.
Out on the Alexandria/Whisperer border, Aaron attempts to bond with Gamma. She initially puts up a wall, even telling him that she was an only child despite killing her sister a few episodes ago. Also, in case you forgot, Gamma was sent to the border by Alpha for the specific purpose of gathering intel about Alexandria and learning how large their community was.
Remember this plot point about Alpha needing to gather information on Alexandria. We’ll be coming back to it later.
To Aaron’s credit, he appears to genuinely break down Gamma’s barriers somewhat via a drawing that his daughter made for him. Just when they appears on the verge of forming a friendship, Gamma storms off into the woods. After she kills a walker that attacked her, Alpha appears out of nowhere and chides Gamma for ruining a perfectly good potential horde member. She then reminds Gamma that all the good guys are bad people while lashing her on the wrist a few times for good measure.
Trickle Down Narrative
Back in Alexandria proper, Siddiq’s mental state has been pushed to the brink by the possibility that he might have accidentally killed the Whisperer prisoner. He finally snaps and jumps into a lake to kill himself. Thankfully, Rosita decided not to be deathly ill for a few minutes and dove in to rescue him.
Back on dry land, Siddiq admits to her that he has PTSD due to being forced by Alpha to watch all his friends get slaughtered. He also admits that he kind of hates Dante because he really misses his old assistant Enid, who we barely saw interacting with him during their time on the show together, but whatever. At some point during their conversation, Siddiq has an epiphany about what has been causing the sickness in Alexandria. He runs and checks the water system he was in charge of manning in Eugene’s absence. Sure enough, it’s contaminated.
Maybe I’m just really stupid and completely missed something, but shouldn’t a contaminated water supply have affected all of Alexandria’s residents instead of just Rosita and a bunch of extras?
Whatever the case, Siddiq freaks out and completely blames himself for not realizing the water–which is the one thing EVERYONE in Alexandria uses–was was what caused the sickness.
Meanwhile, Carol asks Lydia go hunting with her…on a motorcycle.
That night on the Alexandria/Whisperer border, Gamma gives Aaron back his drawing. As he reaches for it, she grabs him and puts a knife to his throat, demanding that he tell her information about Alexandria. Thankfully, Carol shows up with Lydia at exactly the right moment to save him. Gamma sees that Lydia is alive and (understandably) loses it, running off into the woods to grieve and process her anger.
Lydia, on the other hand, is enraged at being used as a pawn in a version of a plan she willingly went along with back in Alexandria. After smacking Carol with her bo staff, she stupidly storms off into the woods on her own, which should (but probably won’t) lead to certain death.
As Siddiq broods over his deteriorating mental state and unfairly places blame on himself, Dante visits him and attempts to offer support. At some point during their conversation, Dante makes a noise with his tongue (THAT HE MUST HAVE NEVER MADE BEFORE) that triggers another PTSD flashback for Siddiq. Turns out Dante was actually the Whisperer who forced him to watch as Alpha butchered his friends.
This is confirmed once again when Dante says a phrase (“open your eyes”) that he also said during the slaughter. Siddiq attempts to overpower Dante, but Dante quickly gains the upper hand and chokes him to death.
Credit where credit’s due: Avi Nash (who plays Siddiq) is one heck of a good actor. So good, in fact, that he almost made me forget how painfully redundant his character’s PTSD storyline had become.
By the time we got to the revelation that the most obvious cause of Alexandria’s sickness was also something Siddiq was solely in charge of (but had somehow never considered) I was still willing to stay on board and see how things played out. Nash had at least made it somewhat plausible that Siddiq could be mentally compromised enough to missing something so obvious despite his intellect.
But then we got to the episode’s big twist, which might be the biggest narrative dumpster fire The Walking Dead has ever dropped on its audience.
Let me get this straight: A man shows up after the Whisperer slaughter, offers his services as a doctor, and no one was suspicious? Okay, fine. Town needs a doctor, so I can roll with that. What I can’t roll with, however, is that out of all her subjects, Alpha would send the one dude who had his face (AND VOICE) right next to Siddiq while his friends were slaughtered.
Also, what was the point of tasking Gamma with learning about Alexandria when she’s already had someone on the inside of the town for months? Oh, and let’s not forget that there’s NO WAY IN HELL THIS GUY HASN’T SEEN LYDIA WALKING AROUND!
Also, if Lydia could recognize some random Whisperer who tended to the horde, wouldn’t she have recognized Dante?
Combine all of that with Rosita’s ability to pull a fully clothed grown man out of a lake while she was deathly ill…along Lydia’s inconsistent anger over being used in Carol’s plan…and the collective plot holes in this episode were big enough to herd a giant walker horde through.
Oh yeah, and they killed off one of the show’s best characters.
I would say that I’m looking forward to how things with Dante play out next episode, but I’m honestly a hair’s breadth away from not caring at this point. Hopefully Negan’s time with the Whisperers (and the twist us comic readers are waiting for) will be enough to overcome the albatross this episode will be for the rest of the season.
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