The Walking Dead review: How to lead and how to parent


The Walking Dead introduces Alpha’s right-hand plus gives us a more detailed look into the Whisperers and Alpha’s abuse.

Last week on The Walking Dead, the series focused on the Kingdom in conjunction with Hilltop’s unfolding conflict with the Whisperers; however, this week gave us a better look into Alpha’s rulership, as well as an update about Alexandria. Alpha’s second in command might have been the big reveal on The Walking Dead‘s, but there was a lot more progress this week beyond just Beta.

This week’s episode finally offered new Michonne content, which reminded us just how much we missed her and her family. However, Michonne’s return to this season of The Walking Dead also serves as a parallel between Alpha’s leadership. As we know, Michonne’s compassionate and understanding approach to leadership is a positive archetype for any pre or post-apocalyptic leader. Compared to Michonne, we clearly see how Alpha isn’t a leader so much as a dictator.

When Alpha says, “Maybe you’re just a good liar,” to Lydia, this marks a key component to her leadership methods. As this episode shows, Alpha has never really been a parent to Lydia. The Walking Dead shows that her non-existent parenting skills mean her recon mission to get Lydia back from Hilltop only reasserts an implicit sense of dominance over her daughter.

Beneath the surface of her intimidating line and the conversation thereafter, we see Alpha knows Lydia is actually lying to her. Her decisions afterward show how emotionally manipulative Alpha is, even to her own daughter. Alpha was using Lydia as a mole, which covertly shows how little Alpha actually values her as a daughter or even a person. Because the Whisperers knew nothing about Hilltop, she intentionally put her daughter into a potentially harmful situation.

Using her daughter as disposable intel only tragically amplifies the abuse Lydia has faced over the years, especially within the den of the Whisperers. We also see how Alpha’s abuse reveals how weak Alpha is, and that she lives among her greatest weakness: the Whisperers.

Now, sure, some may question this statement — Alpha has been noted as one of the most terrifying villains of all time on the show. But consider this: With or without the skinned walker mask, Alpha needs to emotionally overpower everyone in the Whisperers because she knows that she wouldn’t survive out in the wastelands on her own. Although she’s a frightening and abusive dictator, she relies on her abuse because she isn’t powerful herself and needs to tear others down before they can even see her false-sense of power.

Dissonance in the group strikes after Alpha breaks the Whisperers’ strict non-moral code of leaving behind the weak, injured, captured, and cryers. While the fatal disagreement might have emerged from the fact that Alpha didn’t tell the others about her plan to use Lydia as an intelligence-gathering mole, it more likely signifies the fall of Alpha and her fearsome facade. Altering the rules, when it comes to handling group disagreements, shows that Alpha has a flimsy grasp of leadership.

The show artfully parallels how Alpha and Michonne handle any slippage of the reigns. Michonne always had trust from the people of Alexandria. The Whisperers have never trusted Alpha because her leadership is built entirely on fear–of Alpha and the myths of civilizations outside the group, which are conveniently constructed by Alpha.

With the secondary focus of the episode on Alexandria and Michonne, her discussion over the treaty and the Kingdom’s needs remind us how desperate it is in the apocalypse. This adds realism into the stakes of survival, despite the insurmountable walkers roaming around. The episode shows that despite her reservations about allowing Alexandria to participate in the Fair, and despite her initially making a decision for all of Alexandria, Michonne is not opposed to the community revoting on the matter.

Michonne’s scenes, especially that emotional scene with Judith, show a refreshing contract in Michonne’s parenting approach. While Negan doesn’t want to be a symbol of Rick Grimes, he’s actually using similar taunts to get Michonne to doubt her leadership. It’s Judith who reminds Michonne of her character development. We all know she’s never dismissed the needs of others, which is what makes her such a supportive leader and mother. However, the episode doesn’t just focus on parental bonds.

Uh, Gabriel and Rosita? Eugene is the underrated voice of self-aware this episode because Gabriel and Rosita are a couple now and we’re three-layers of surprised. But we’re definitely glad to see Rosita happy. Count that as one of the twists we weren’t expecting to see this season, or even in the next foreseeable seasons.

Cute to see Eugene growing from his crush on Rosita to not only supporting Rosita and Gabriel’s relationship but going out of his way to help Gabriel help Rosita with her pregnancy. It’s the little things in the apocalypse, and this small gesture expands on Euguene’s former long-standing self-centered persona from seasons past.

Then, there’s the concluding scene.

Let’s just take a moment to bask in the choreography of Daryl and Connie’s walker-led diversion and rescue mission at the end of the episode. Their momentary rebellion against the Whisperers will likely linger into the tension of the impending Whisperer War. However, this episode of The Walking Dead overwhelmingly reminds us that, like the Whisperers’ masks, not everything in the apocalypse is as it seems.

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War is certainly coming for our survivors. Since there has been such an extended lead up to the actual event, this episode could suggest that the actual war will be even longer and more strenuous for Hilltop and company than we ever thought.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 8 p.m. CT on AMC.