The Walking Dead review: Despite new allies, danger is very, very near


The Walking Dead’s “Chokepoint” offered more insight into the Whisperers’ warped ideas as well as a tense face-off between Daryl and Beta.

Following the cliffhanger and simultaneous rescue from last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Chokepoint” focuses on the tension between the Whisperers and Hilltop, but the episode often reads as another filler episode before the dramatic Fair. While the episode toys with the plot by bringing in a new potential alliance for Alexandria and the surrounding communities, the once ominous preamble to the Fair’s festivities seems a bit too predictable after this episode.

Although the series could rely on viewers’ long-awaited predictions for the multiple beheadings at the Fair to give us a twist, this episode offers a critical clue to the long-foreshadowed narrative. None of the antagonists have died since The Walking Dead resumed from its mid-season hiatus. The lack of deaths on the series’ running tally suggests the season is conserving its character kills for a noteworthy moment. If no main characters have died in a while, viewers develop a false sense of security in the plot and this episode wields that pre-fair security to give us more insight into the Whisperers.

“Chokepoint” fully depicts the Whisperers as a cult. For instance, the undead skin wearing horde calls walkers the Guardians, viewing them as some kind of deity or protector. The Whisperers’ sense of humanity and civilization-based communities is so skewed because they idealize the undead more than they even respect the living.

Establishing the group as a cult allows the show to better explain their warped morals and concurrently explain why they easily trade lives to fight Hilltop and other communities. Beyond not respecting life, they believe turning into a walker is a macabre gift. It’s why they’re so fearless and why threats are virtually meaningless. Interjecting Lydia’s implied trauma (during the fight scene with Beta and company) shows the hold their corrupt ideology has on everyone.

In Lydia’s case, her reopened trauma shows some powerful character development, as she decides to actively help Daryl, Connie and Henry instead of surrendering and feeling weak, like she’s accustomed to with the Whisperers. Apart from showcasing Lydia’s character progression, “Chokepoint” serves to remind us of another character’s evolution throughout the years.

The standoff between the Kingdom and the Highwaymen reinforces Carol’s collected demeanor and quick-witted leadership skills, which she’s only gained from seasons of walker and enemy slaying. Carol’s unique approach to non-confrontational compromises allows us to meet the Highwaymen, likely one of the Kingdom’s new extended allies.

Though we should’ve assumed the ominous symbol was too calculating for the chaotic Whisperers, the Highwaymen’s proximity to Alexandria, the Kingdom, and the Fair puts them at direct risk for becoming Alpha’s targets. However, The Walking Dead will hopefully present their predictable alliance in an unpredictable way.

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While the predictability in “Chokepoint” might seem a bit underwhelming, how the series will inevitably execute our expectations could be the key to regaining the series’ suspense. After all, The Walking Dead is known for its remorseful deaths scenes — not because they happen, but how they happen. King Ezekiel wants the Fair to be a symbol, and it will be — just not for community and civility. Alpha’s proximity to the protagonists is a symbol of war and tragedy.