Cassady McClincy as Lydia, Samantha Morton as Alpha - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 12 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Photo: Gene Page/AMC
Photo: Gene Page/AMC

‘The Walking Dead’ recap: season 9 episode 12 (‘Guardian’)

Originally posted March 3, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Lydia had the knife in her hand. She could have just plunged it into Henry’s skull and be done with it. She would have cemented her loyalty to her mom and the Whisperers might have been able to move on.

And given how annoying Henry is as a character, “The Walking Dead” might have been better off that way.

But nope. They had to show that Lydia actually had feelings for this dope. She couldn’t immediately kill Henry, hesitating, whimpering. Then conveniently, a bunch of walkers suddenly showed up and attacked... the Whisperers???

Aren’t the Whisperers master Walker Whisperers as well?

How did the Whisperers not notice the walkers before they attacked them? Most walkers are not that stealthy given the guttural sounds they usually make.

How did the Whisperers - who seem to camp out in the open a lot - not have sentries who would have noticed the walkers approaching? How did they not catch Daryl and Connie lurking so close in the shadows?

The final two minutes of the episode basically had me confused by all these plot holes. 

Overall, the episode had some great interactive play between some of the characters but what was up with the “As the Zombie World Turns” love quadrangle with Rosita/Saddiq/Gabriel/Eugene?  That plot line seemed to come from some other TV show and struck me as patently absurd, right down to love-struck Eugene’s ridiculous written documentation on why Gabriel should stay with Rosita. 

Anyway, let’s start with the most intriguing plotline involving the Whisperers:

Soon after the Hilltop traded Lydia for Alden and Luke, an intensely focused Alpha plies Lydia for intel about the Hilltop. 

Lydia provides relatively minimal information and Alpha is dissatisfied given she just retrieved her daughter. For Alpha, this was counter-intuitive to her typical “die and let die” attitude. She loves her daughter. She terrorizes and abuses her daughter. 

The Whisperers appear to wear those masks while outside of camp all the time even when no actual walkers are around. That seems a little stupid, especially in the middle of the summer.

They quickly figure out Henry - who left to get Lydia back - is tracking them and captures the dolt. 

The idiot teen tries to act all brave and silent until Alpha’s No. 2 tries to break his arm and Lydia threatens to happily kill him. He quickly folds. “I came for her,” he says, referencing Lydia, of course.

Lydia does the smart thing by saying, “You’re so stupid” and punching Mr. Hormone in the face. That was probably the highlight of the episode.

She had good reason to be angry at him. He is endangering his life by even being there and she really doesn’t want him dead. It also sends a message to her mom: she’s a tough gal. 

But Alpha realizes quickly that this immature lust machine had bonded with her daughter. Lydia, who conveniently never mentioned Henry to Alpha - tries to play it off by simply saying they were cell mates and she was just being nice to him. 

“He’s dumber than I thought” for chasing after her like that, she says. Well, at least she thought he was dumb to some degree.

At this point, her mom suddenly becomes impressed with Lydia.  

“Don’t sell yourself short,” Alpha says. “Maybe you’re just a good liar.” Her reward? An apple!

Later, some of Alpha’s minions are clearly not happy because Alpha making an exception about leaving the weak behind for her own “cub.” 

“We gave up two of theirs for your girl,” says one of the Whisperers. “I don’t like that math.”

So he challenges her - in “Black Panther” fashion. “You’re not fit to lead anymore,” he says. 

But there is no real challenge.

Alpha quickly hones in on the dude’s girlfriend, who notes that they lost multiple people to the Hilltop “You didn’t fail me,” she proclaims. “You failed all of us.” 

Then she gets all wimpy and says, “I don’t want to fight you.” (Then what was the point of all this tough talk, lady?)

Alpha smells weakness and doesn’t waste any time. “Too late,” Alpha says. She cuts the woman’s head off and holds it up. Then she hands the head to the boyfriend and stabs him to death. Later, she feeds the bodies to the walkers.  

Later, Alpha has her No. 2 take her mask off and she confides in him: “It’s been years since that happened. It felt different this time.”

“The pack believes in you. And I because of you,” No. 2 says, as if he’s in some sort of “Lord of the Rings” film. This killing was a way to remind the pack that she rules the roost. (A rule that other dictators on the show understood. See the Governor and Negan.)

She tells a story about Lydia putting plastic on her face and almost chocking herself when she was three years old. Mommy’s punishment: hitting Lydia so hard so she wouldn’t do it again. 

“You have to protect whatever you love, even from themselves.” 

Yes. Alpha is an infomercial for domestic abuse!

As the episode nears the end, Henry is still inexplicably alive. 

“Having him gives us an advantage,” she says to No. 2. 

And that’s when she tests her daughter by telling her to kill Henry. 

***

Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 12 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Photo: Gene Page/AMC


Oh, yah. Alexandria! Almost forgot about them!

Let’s do a quick recap because I honestly have forgotten a lot of the details myself. 

Michonne, at a council meeting, offers a Cliff’s Notes version in the guise of being annoyed that she’s out of the loop. 

Here’s more detail: 

We have to go back to episode six as a reminder that what led to Jesus dying started with Father Gabriel’s desire to improve ways to seek radio communication out in the world.

So Rosita (now inexplicably Gabriel’s girlfriend) and Eugene (still pining for Rosita) go set up a relay to boost the signal. That’s when they run into the Whisperers. A herd of walkers mixed with Whisperers go after them. Eugene falls, hurts himself and they hide. Then they overhear the Whisperers talking. 

Later, Rosita gets escapes and hides Eugene, who is later found by Daryl, Jesus, Aaron and Michonne, among others. But as they fight off walkers, Jesus is killed by a Whisperer.

That’s when they learn that there are humans in masks masquerading as walkers.

They manage to get to the Hilltop. In the meantime, at Alexandria, Gabriel is so worried about Rosita, he leaves Negan’s cell unlocked. Negan leaves and then comes back.

Gabriel doesn’t think what has happened should cause Michonne to isolate Alexandria. 

But Michonne has been less about United Nations-type cooperation lately and more about Alexandria First. Aaron was not supportive of this but now that the Whisperers are out there and Jesus is dead, he’s in Michonne’s camp.

Siddiq mentions that the Kingdom trade fair is coming up. Michonne had told Carol no at the Hilltop. But he thinks they should go. He said the Kingdom is suffering without more trade. 

Michonne, focused on security, noted the roads suck on the way to the Kingdom and the Whisperers are out there “ready to kill us.” 

***

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 12 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Photo: Gene Page/AMC

Later, Michonne confronts Negan after hearing he escaped and came back while she was gone.

He claims he could have hidden in her apartment and bashed her head in but chose not to. But she knew that he came back because he discovered the world out there wasn’t hospitable anymore for him. He tries to butter her up, saying, “If you don’t kill me, you need to learn to trust me.” 

“Preservation over revenge,” she says, dripping sarcasm. “You think that earns me your trust. If spouting fresh BS is considered change, Negan, you are a changed man!” 

He says he’s aware that things at Alexandria aren’t going so well and he could be of service. He says she created a charter giving power to the people but is actually making all the key decisions. A good racket, he says admirably.

And then he tries to place himself as a sounding board as a “former leader,” that a good leader like her could use to her advantage. 

The charm offensive is just offensive to Michonne - for now. 

Michonne, who is clearly in super exasperated mode this entire episode, then finds out Judith has been (gasp!) talking to Negan. “He listens to me,” she explains. “Not everybody does.”

She forbids Judith from seeing him ever again. “He’s a monster!”

“No, he’s not!” Judith responds. “He’s a human being.”

Michonne said he killed people they cared about. “If we let him out, it’ll start all over again.” 

“People don’t really change,” she adds.

“You did,” Judith says.

The fact Negan complimented her leadership style and Judith objected to it makes her change her mind in terms of making the final call regarding the trade fair.

She tells Gabriel (who theoretically oversees the council) that they should have a vote on whether to go to the Kingdom. She will vote no but she won’t veto the group if they decide otherwise. Why? She doesn’t want to be like Negan. 

Inevitably, at some point Negan will be of some use soon once he learns more about Alpha and will be on the Classic Road to Redemption. 

***

Random thought: wasn’t Eugene seriously injured in the leg not too long ago? He seems to be walking just fine now. Has that much time elapsed already? 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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