AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 10, Episode 8: “The World Before”
Directed by John Dahl
Written by Julia Ruchman
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Open Your Eyes” – click here
* For a recap & review of the mid-season premiere, “Squeeze” – click here
We’re given a look at Alpha speaking to Dante, when she tasked him with being “eyes and ears” within Alexandria. He was new to them, which would allow him to slip into the group of survivors without Lydia recognising someone from the Whisperers infiltrating them. So Dante did as he was told. He slyly did Alpha’s bidding under his mild-mannered, friendly disguise. She promised him a “special place” among the group should he succeed.
And now, he’s found. But he’s managed to get the upper hand on Siddiq, killing him. A sad, stunning blow, as Siddiq was a fantastic character. This makes things awkward for Dante when Rosita and the baby show up looking for Siddiq. He makes up a nonsense excuse. Problem is, Siddiq’s not been put down fully. While Rosita struggles against Dante, the baby cries in the bathtub and her zombie father nearly eats her. Mom is too strong for that. She puts the father of her baby down, then pummels Dante, all to save her child.
Maybe one of the more horrific scenes on The Walking Dead in recent memory. Whoa.
Aaron meets Gamma on the bridge again. She reveals that the baby in his community, left behind by the Whisperers at the command of Alpha, is her sister’s baby. She wants to see him. Aaron asks her to first take off the mask, and Gamma does, telling him her real name— Mary. Lots of truth coming out now. Just like back in Alexandria, where Daryl and the others question Dante. The guy goes on about the “cruel promises” of a place like their community, offering only emptiness in the end, or so he and the Whisperers believe. He believes people are “selfish” and “brutal.” This just pisses everybody off, particularly Rosita. When Aaron gets back he tells them what he’s learned from Mary, specifically about the walker herd. Daryl isn’t happy that Lydia ran off. He asks Carol if there’s something more to what happened. Daryl and Carol, though incredibly close, currently have a slightly strained relationship.
On the road, Michonne and the others find tracks looking they belong to a person, not a walker. They want to make sure they aren’t spotted by any scouts. Fun to see Judith and Luke chat it up. They wind up talking about books and music. Cute the way Michonne becomes the typical mom driving a car on the highway, as if this were a time before the zombie apocalypse. They decide to stop off at a library, at the request of Luke and Judith. Michonne gets a call on the radio from Hilltop. Luke is looking for music books when he’s grabbed by a walker, crowded by a couple more. He’s saved by a mystery man, who then runs off without a word. This is also when Michonne finds out that Siddiq is dead.
In Alexandria, Father Gabriel says a few words over the grave of Siddiq as the others watch on. He speaks scripture and tosses dirt over the body. Rosita tosses dirt in, as well. Eugene can barely watch, leaving quickly, and in general there’s a silence over everybody. King Ezekiel’s there. He’s sad to see someone strong like Siddiq go. He and Carol briefly talk about the situation with Alpha. She can see he’s hurting inside, deeply. Outside the walls, Rosita goes by herself to use brass knuckles on some walkers like a bad ass, She almost takes a bite, flashing back to Siddiq, the baby. Eugene comes out of nowhere to help her snap out of it. This all gets Rosita thinking about life post-baby, having a whole new reason not to die now that she’s a mother.
In Oceanside, Michonne tells the women they have to start vetting people differently in the aftermath of Dante’s betrayal. Soon they’re all surprised to see a man brought in— the guy who saved Luke at the library. Apparently this dude’s been messing with the “security system” setup at Oceanside. He claims he’s trying to get back to his family. Michonne thinks he could be a Whisperer, driven to paranoia after what happened to Siddiq at the hands of Dante. No time to mess with him much. A horde of zombies has crossed over Oceanside’s barrier, and it’s all hands on deck. Little Judith makes sure the guy doesn’t run away— “good girl,” indeed, mom.
A lot of people are questioning themselves after what Dante’s done. Like Aaron, who seems to take on more guilt than he should often. Or like Gabriel, who keeps thinking he’s responsible for not seeing the real Dante. He “loved Siddiq like a brother” and feels a deep-seated shame for not protecting the ones he loves enough. The priest confronts Dante down in the cell and stabs him repeatedly, viciously. The time of shying away from violence is truly done for Gabriel, even if it troubles him.
Daryl and Carol meet up with Jerry and some of the others. They go to the border, marked with the macabre memory of the decapitations. Then they cross over into what’s informally known as Whisperers territory. No more fucking around. However, Carol may be a bit too headstrong. She nearly walks into a trap laid out on the ground before Daryl stops her. He calls her a “goddamn ghost” ever since she showed up on the boat. He doesn’t know why she won’t talk to him about what’s going on inside her head. “I don‘t know how,” she says. But he’ll never give up on her. He says Alpha’s a “dead woman” whereas they have a future ahead of them.
The man— Virgil— at Oceanside wakes up, tied, and angry that Judith’s reading the library book meant for his daughter. She, hilariously, tells him to relax. Not to mention Big Mama’s there. Michonne asks Virgil why he’s really there. He says he went out for supplies, that he’s only trying to get back to his family. He helped Luke simply because he was able to do it. He speaks of mercy, which brings Michonne’s mind around to Rick again. And so she softens a little from her paranoia. She wants to know where Virgil lives. He reluctantly tells her about a naval base on an island in Tangier Sound. He was looking for a boat when he got caught up in everything. Might be a quid-pro-quo situation in it for everybody. Michonne’s only willing to go by herself, not wanting any of her people, especially her daughter, to be put in unnecessary danger.
Will this “end the war” for the survivors?
Or is this going to, eventually, be how Michonne leaves the show?
Either way, off on the waves she goes with Virgil.
The info from Mary doesn’t prove true. Aaron believes the herd could’ve moved, and Daryl thinks it’s bullshit. Is this purposeful misdirection on Gamma’s part? Is it part of the Whisperers’ plan via Alpha? One thing’s for sure: Carol wants a piece of Alpha, constantly surveying the landscape for any sign of the group’s leader.
It isn’t long before Carol sees Alpha in the trees and goes running after her. Big mistake. Is she being led somewhere? Everybody’s running after Carol now, too. They find zombies along the way and they’re all separated. Daryl heads through a shadowy cave and takes a tumble, winding up trapped in a hole with his friends where a horde of walkers is chomping to get at them.
“My mercy prevails over my wrath”
What a nasty, lovely cliffhanger for this mid-season finale! Better than waiting around to see Negan kill people like a few seasons ago. Plus, there’s a lot brewing character-wise that’s going to be compelling to watch develop / unravel in the season’s back half when it returns in February.