Friday, October 25, 2019
[RECAP] Season 10, Episode 2 of The Walking Dead, "We are the End of the World"
The episode flashes back and forth between the present day state of business with the Whisperer and with a time period approximately (6) years in the past, when Alpha was on the run with a bigger Lydia (no longer a baby but seemingly about 10-11 years old at that point). After witnessing a particular gruesome death (man, I’m so used to everyone being so martial by now that I forget that there were a lot of civilians completely ripped apart by walkers in the early stages of the apocalypse…DAMN), Alpha and Lydia seek refuge in what is apparently a mental institution guarded by a large formidable man with a large machete (who we have now become to know as Beta). What follows is a negotiation by Alpha that convinces Beta to allow them to stay, for one night, before moving on to another location. It’s in these memories, we see still a strong Alpha…but also one that undeniably loves her daughter. We see a woman who gently bathes her daughter and carries around her toy bunny rabbit, while at the same time trying to convince her daughter that she needs to toughen up. Lydia, being a child eager to please her mother, WANTS to toughen up and even tells her mother Alpha that she aspires to be strong like her.
Alpha is deliriously happy that Lydia is alive and well (although she got a MAJOR talking down to for disappearing on her like that) but Beta is clearly crestfallen that this man has been put down (was he friend? A son? A coworker?). Alpha ends up taking this opportunity to lure Beta toward her side, convincing him that they can all coexist together and survive among the dead (particularly since they were able to kill so many walkers together). She seems to do a good job convincing him based on the fact that they are currently united, six years later, and with that he removes the man's shirt and face and voila! Beta is born.
She cant say she didn’t warn her sister to control herself and self-preservation is a very real thing in this post-apocalyptic world. But for this, she is rewarded by receiving a ranking and being anointed by Alpha as “Gamma”, something that seems to irk and rattle Beta. Threatened much? It literally feels like a child vying for his mother's attention and being incredibly jealous of having to share the spotlight with anyone else.
The major scene as far as I’m concerned however, is more toward the very end when Beta confronts Alpha in her secret area that very much resembles a nest (a bit literal in representation but understood). It’s in this moment that we get a rare glimpse of the vulnerability and love that Alpha apparently STILL HAS for her daughter Lydia. Beta seems to be stunned that Alpha did not kill Lydia the way everyone THINKS she did but Alpha tearfully retorts that she COULDN’T ever kill her because that was her BABY. How could he expect her to kill her, she tearfully pleads from him? All the while, clutching Lydia’s old toy bunny. We witness her internal struggle, eventually spilling into the external, as she completely destroys her nest and all hope of having Lydia back underneath her wing.
By the end of the episode, Alpha resets herself and realigns with Beta to focus on the task at hand of making sure our heroes are clear on the parameters of their borders. Particularly when she has her stare down with Carol at the very end of the episode (which also happens to be how we ended last week’s season premiere).
But now that Alpha’s vulnerability is exposed and known to at least Beta, how will that influence her decision making? Can be Beta FULLY be trusted to not divulge or take advantage of Alpha’s weaknesses? And is Gamma a true “believer” or merely a survivor looking to get by until a better opportunity presents itself (or an opportunity to overthrow Alpha presents itself)?
Only time will tell…
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9:00pm EST on AMC.