The Walking Dead managed to cram an awful lot into its extended 55-minute run time this week as the show bid its now-customary farewell until February. Mid-season finale ‘The World Before’ carried on last week’s themes of suspicion and murder while also chucking into the mix a new character, a Carol/Alpha chase sequence and a delightful-looking boat trip — a set of substantial developments which will have us pondering all things TWD over the coming three-month break.
Dante finally meets his inferno…
Siddiq’s death last week at the hands of Dante may have had some of you at home shedding tears, but the Whisperer-in-hiding responsible for the good doctor’s murder at least got his comeuppance before the mid-season break.
Dante’s mole behaviour inside Alexandria is firstly detailed — he was responsible for painting the “Silence The Whispers” graffiti, contaminating the community’s water supply and smothering poor old Cheryl (you know, Cheryl!) to death — as we discover that Alpha selected him to go undercover as he’s “the kind of man they’d trust: practical, loyal, smart.” This flashback will also disappoint those who’ve harped on about a Walking Dead season 10 plot hole (why Dante wasn’t recognised by ex-Whisperer Lydia at Alexandria) as it’s revealed that Dante was actually a relatively new Whisperers recruit who only joined the skin mask-wearers after Alpha’s daughter left.
Rosita is the unfortunate soul who stumbles upon the Siddiq murder scene, prompting Dante, murderous glint fixed in his eyes, to set upon her. As they grapple, Siddiq reanimates as a walker and horrifically advances on his baby daughter Coco, who Rosita placed in the bath for ‘safety’ when confronting Dante. In the nick of time, though, Rosita manages to throw the bad doctor off before stabbing him in the chest and killing ‘zombie Siddiq’ just as he’s about to start munching on their child. Phew!
Dante becomes the fourth occupant of the Alexandrian jail (after Negan, Lydia and the Whisperer from last week) as he tells Gabriel, Rosita, Daryl and Carol that he hadn’t intended to murder Siddiq as part of his evil plan – but, y’know, shit happens.
Dante had been in Alexandria for four months prior to being found out, in which time he managed to induce plenty of paranoia and “push you [all] into making bad decisions”. As Siddiq is laid to rest (Ezekiel: “He was one of those people I really thought would live forever”), a determined Rosita tells her boyfriend Gabriel that she “cannot die” (the second ridiculous statement about immortality that’s made in Alexandria this episode) as she must protect her child. “Maybe Dante was right,” she adds. “Maybe we’re not as strong as we think we are.”
This admission irks Gabriel enough to go and confront Dante alone, who puts forward the wholesome, Whisperers handbook-approved notion that family is “a meaningless idea”. Gabriel, who admits he isn’t the bravest survivor going, then comes over all steely as he speaks up in support of his girlfriend and Siddiq. “Do we deserve a second chance? I dunno… but sometimes we get one anyway,” he says before stabbing Dante over and over again. Having abandoned his and the Council’s own jurisdiction by taking justice into his own hands, Gabriel is later seen burning Dante’s body (a Dante’s inferno, you might say) late at night where he is joined by a silently-approving Rosita.
Just another tumultuous day in Alexandria: in the space of 24 hours, the community has gone and lost both of its doctors. And, given Dante’s undercover ways, they certainly won’t be letting anyone new into Alexandria without some serious vetting procedures being put in place…
Michonne sails off into the sunset
Google searches for Bloodsworth Island in the Chesapeake Bay are about to skyrocket. It’s not often in The Walking Dead world that we get to know the precise, real-life location of our survivors — the equally walker-ravaged Atlanta and Washington D.C. are the only two big American cities we’ve come across in 10 seasons — but ‘The World Before’ finally confirms that very soon we’ll escape the small part of Virginia that the action is currently ensconced in for pastures new.
After an inadvisable stop at a library in which Luke’s life is saved by a mysterious new person, Michonne, Judith and co. arrive in Oceanside to the bad news of Siddiq’s death. As Michonne tells Oceanside that their allied communities need to be stricter in vetting who they let in through their doors from now on, the aforementioned mysterious new person is then quite literally dragged into the action after being caught trying to steal a sail.
Questioned excessively by Michonne, the man only reveals that he’s desperate to get back to his family — but, in order to do so, he needs a boat. Just as we start to get somewhere, though, there’s another walker breach, and the man nearly escapes — until he is non-fatally prevented from doing so by young Judith. Walker invasion dealt with, the questioning resumes and the man eventually reveals that his family are located on a naval base on Bloodsworth Island, which is apparently two days’ sail from Oceanside. “It’s hard to find, and fortified,” he adds.
Realising that he needs to make a deal in order to return to his family, the man then declares that the base has a stockpile of weapons which could be put to good use taking out Alpha’s horde once and for all. Sailing off into the sunset to the Island is an appealing prospect for Michonne (and the show itself, given Danai Gurira’s imminent departure from The Walking Dead) and, after a remarkably short amount of time deliberating her choices, she takes up the option of accompanying our new Islander friend as, she says, “I have to find out.”
That fact-finding mission starts off very well indeed as the man agrees to Michonne’s demands and finally introduces himself as Virgil. The two sail off, with the distinct possibility that Michonne may never see any of the people she leaves behind on land again…
Oh lord, have they finally found Alpha’s horde?
Finally this week – and this year! – we get a Whisperers vs Everyone Else update. GammAaron’s blossoming friendship continues as Gamma breaks Whisperers tradition by taking off her mask in front of an enemy and introducing herself as Mary. In exchange for revealing the apparent location of Alpha’s horde of walkers, Mary wants to see her abandoned nephew at Hilltop — a plot line that will surely be explored in the latter half of season 10.
Armed with Gamma’s intel, Daryl, Carol and Aaron rendezvous with Magna’s Hilltop group in a bid to finally take out Alpha’s army of the undead. Fearlessly crossing over the Whisperers’ border, our heroes are crushed to discover that the horde isn’t where Gamma said it would be. While Aaron maintains that she isn’t lying, the rest of the gang admit defeat and skulk off to safe ground.
Carol, though, spots Alpha lurking across a clearing and gives chase. Our heroes unwisely follow Carol and Alpha into a dark cave, with Daryl bringing up the rear: where did everybody go? As he takes a series of increasingly uneasy steps into the darkness, the inevitable happens and he falls down an opening into the depths of the cave. Fortunately, he’s reunited with the rest of the group. Unfortunately, though, they’ve also all landed in what appears to be a trap set by Alpha, with a mass of walkers all around baying for blood: aaannd cut! That’s your lot for 2019.
As we said last week, The Walking Dead‘s 10th season has taken its sweet time to heat up. But there’s also been enough action, intrigue and admittedly quite exciting developments across its opening eight episodes to keep us, and more importantly our TVs, switched on each week — and we’ve got plenty of questions that need answering when the show returns in 2020.
The Walking Dead continues Mondays at 9pm on FOX.