AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 9, Episode 12: “Guardians”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by LaToya Morgan
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Bounty” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Chokepoint” – click here
In the wilderness, Lydia (Cassady McClincy) is back with her mother Alpha (Samantha Morton) and the Whisperers. Just seeing her take on the posture of her clan is interesting, going from a girl walking upright to slightly hunching as she walks. Mom asks her daughter about Daryl (Norman Reedus) and the group, hoping for info. She gets angry when Lydia doesn’t have much to offer. The daughter’s seeing, more and more, she doesn’t mean a whole lot to the woman who birthed her.
Michonne (Danai Gurira) is unhappy with things at Alexandria, where Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) briefly escaped and people are doing things without her approval. Part of the problem is her wanting to keep a stranglehold on security. At the same time, her paranoia about the dangers in the world outside their little communities was proven right. Aaron (Ross Marquand) knows that. He sticks by Michonne, whereas Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Siddiq (Avi Nash) don’t dig her making major decisions on behalf of Alexandria as a whole. Siddiq brings up the fair and speaking with Carol (Melissa McBride), as well as the fact Michonne has essentially “vetoed” the decision on her own. “I‘m not willing to risk Alexandrian lives over this,” she tells her council. What good is it if one community survives while another crumbles? Have they grown THAT far apart in six years? Did losing Rick truly alter Michonne irreparably?
In the meantime, Gabriel and Rosita (Christian Serratos) navigate their pre-natal tensions. All of a sudden they both have to think about someone other than themselves in the post-zombie apocalypse— a much bigger adjustment than the world as it was before. Not to mention he’s concerned about raising another man’s child.
“You two love each other, you stop wasting time, because it’s all we have in the end.”
“Time or love?”
In the woods, Henry (Matt Lintz) tracks Lydia and the Whisperers. He manages to take down one of the quiet creeps before he’s downed by a big man called Beta (Ryan Hurst). Henry tells them he came on his own. Alpha doesn’t believe it, assuming more of his people are out there. She also doesn’t trust her daughter fully. There’s something more mysterious about Alpha than any of the villains who came before her. Her past, long before the zombie outbreak, seems to hold terrible, dark things. We soon see Henry’s led back to the current Whisperers camp, alerting us to the sprawling size of their group— far more than Lydia let on to Daryl.
At Alexandria, Michonne talks with Negan to figure out why he bothered coming back on his own free will. She sees it as pathetic “self preservation” rather than legitimate personal growth. He wants to position himself as valuable to Alexandria. She won’t accept any of his bullshit, then begins to wonder if Judith (Cailey Fleming) is spending too much time around the prisoner.
Daryl and Connie (Lauren Ridloff), along with Dog, are doing their best to track Henry and the Whisperers. They do pretty well as a team. She uses a slingshot-style weapon alongside him and his crossbow, while Dog retrieves arrows for Daryl. Meanwhile there’s a dispute between Alpha and some of her people who don’t like the leader’s exception of going “back for the lost” when it’s her daughter. Usually a Whisperer is left behind, like Alpha ordered be done with the baby last episode before Connie saved the child. A couple of them challenge her leadership, prompting Alpha and Beta to make an example of their defiance. She cuts the woman’s head off with a garrote, then makes the man hold onto it before stabbing him to death.
“He is a monster”
“No, he’s not. He’s a human being.”
“But he has done monstrous things.”
Interesting to see Michonne and Judith debating imprisonment. Michonne believes there’s no way Negan can ever be brought back into the fold of humanity, seeing him as monstrous. Little Judith isn’t convinced, thinking people, no matter how far gone, can change for the better. There was a time Michonne was almost too far gone, yet it isn’t the same as Negan. Looking at prison in a time after zombies is compelling. Morality’s shifted, even for those who refuse to let it go. Being ethical isn’t so easy as it was prior to the collapse of society. Grey moral areas have only gotten murkier. Through it all, Michonne’s decided to put her faith back in the people of Alexandria and wants to allow another vote, without her interference, on the big fair. She won’t allow tragedy to turn her into an authoritarian to any degree.
That night, Henry’s taken by Beta from where he’s held to a clearing: he’s going to be murdered. Alpha wants her daughter to kill Henry and prove she hasn’t forgotten “which side” she’s on. If she won’t, she and Henry will be killed by Beta. They’re interrupted by a sudden attack of zombies. A horde’s infiltrated the camp unexpectedly. Unprepared Whisperers are attacked without their masks. Daryl and Connie are behind it— they’ve slipped in using walker masks to pull Henry and Lydia out while Alpha, Beta, and the rest are occupied.
The war’s going to go up a notch. While Alpha’s pride force her to go back for her daughter once more? Will she leave her behind instead?
“Chokepoint” is next time.