REVIEW: The Walking Dead, Season Nine: Ep. 15 – The Calm Before
I don’t quite understand why this episode went through a background story of two residents from Hilltop at the beginning. As Alpha (Samantha Morton) kills them within the first few minutes, it would have been enough to just show them packing up and leaving, freeing up some time to have other elements in the plot.
The fair finally arrived and we hear that King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) places the fair on the foundation of Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl Grimes’ (Chandler Riggs) legacy, all the while not forgetting the work that Jesus (Tom Payne) had put in for helping the three communities come together.
Of course, this is The Walking Dead. If something looks like it’s heading in a good or pleasant way, buckle up your seatbelts and grab some tissues because things will probably take an upsetting and dark turn. This episode was no different, building you up with the surreal feeling of the fair and then knocking your emotions right back into the ground.
The Mutual Protection Pact, the document that we saw and referenced through the season finally sees it’s day in this episode: we see the main communities (Hilltop, Alexandria, The Kingdom and Oceanside) signing it to finalise the pact.
The pact itself unites all of the communities together: if one of them is being attacked or fighting, they will all fight together.
One flaw about this episode is that the fair was pretty much just all filler.
The episode often cut back to the fair but nothing really happened to catapult the narrative forwards. There was some character development, however, as Alden (Callan McAuliffe) and Enid (Katlyn Nacon) finally upgraded their relationship to boyfriend and girlfriend, while Henry (Matthew Lintz) and Lydia (Cassady McClincy) also admitted their feelings for each other.
Readers of the comics knew one thing in particular was coming: The Whisperers were going to infiltrate the fair. And, in this episode, Alpha did. This was probably one of the very few scenes in the episode where it wasn’t actually filler: as she walked away with King Ezekiel after standing talking to him, I was sure he was going to be dead the next time we saw him.
Somehow though, he escaped death, another plot line around him maybe?
After Beta (Ryan Hurst) and a small group of Whisperers trap Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) and Michonne (Danai Gurira), Alpha walks Daryl away from the trapped team. At this point, we actually get to see the size of The Whisperers – and they are a HUGE group.
Something at this point set me off in a panic: Alpha discloses to Daryl a boundary between her territory and theirs. If you have read the comics, then you would understand why this panicked me. It left us all with the burning question: whose heads will be left on the spikes?
When we first saw the boundary line, I was surprised that King Ezekiel was spared death (unlike in the comics). I was also shocked to see Henry’s head on one of the spikes. They do have a thing for killing on members of the Lintz family in this show I’ll give you that: Sophia – played by Madison Lintz – died all the way back in season two and now her brother, Matthew Lintz, has had his character die this season! If this wasn’t bad enough, they both played characters who were family to Carol!
However, I do understand why they killed him off: he was Lydia’s weakness.
I believe that taking out Henry was Alpha’s best chance of getting her daughter back and keeping her for herself. Without him, she possibly has no other reason to stick around with the main communities. If that is Alpha’s design though, I don’t think it will work: Lydia understands now that the communities would do anything to protect her from her former group – or any other danger. When Alpha has Lydia up against a wall, Lydia reminds her mother that all she has to do is scream and someone will come and save her and most likely kill the whisperer leader.
Before this wraps up, there is a scene between Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) during the fair scenes were they are repairing a radio. Why this is important is because it is speculated by fans that Rick Grimes will reappear at the season finale, through the means of communicating by radio. Now that would be a standing-on-a-piece-of-lego kind of cliffhanger to end the season on.
The actual cliffhanger wasn’t that much of a hook this week, it simply ends with Lydia placing down her necklace by Henry’s spike on the boundary line. However, the trailer for next weeks season finale is the one to bring the punch.
Look at the season finale trailer here: