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The Walking Dead 10.04 Review – ‘Silence the Whisperers’

October 27, 2019 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
The Walking Dead - Silence the Whisperers
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The Walking Dead 10.04 Review – ‘Silence the Whisperers’  

Tonight on The Walking Dead, the masks are metaphorical and the people whispering aren’t the Whisperers when bullying goes too far in Alexandria, a crisis strikes in Hilltop, and Ezekiel tries to deal with his grief.

The plot! When a tree falls in the middle of the night in Hilltop, it threatens the safety of the entire community, and kicks off several days of dealing with injuries, securing the tree, and killing the walkers drawn by the noise. Much like in Alexandria during their recent waves of attacks by walkers, the long hours and exhaustion bring out tempers and simmering issues. In this case, some kind of clash between Magna and Yumiko, and Ezekiel’s recent losses. Ezekiel freezes up when asked what the group should do, and ends up wandering off to maybe give up and jump off a high platform, but he’s spotted by Michonne and talked down. He kisses her, but they ultimately shrug it off with an amusing nod to the comics. Eventually Ezekiel gets it together after talking with her further. Meanwhile in Alexandria, people are taunting Lydia, and she’s sick of it. She’s taking to confiding in Negan, but Daryl actively discourages this as it won’t help how the others see her. She tries to confront her bullies, but it only makes things worse in the end as the three of them, former Highwaymen, end up attacking her at night. Negan steps in and saves her, but accidentally kills one of them, Margo. A new debate springs up as to what happened and what to do with Negan, but before his fate can be determined, he somehow gets free of his cell and escapes the town. Lydia claims that she let him go, though she didn’t, because she feels safer in the cell than anywhere else. Throughout this, Daryl tries to help and comfort her, to varying degrees of success. In the end, Hilltop is okay, but Oceanside suspects that Whisperers are watching them, so Michonne, Judith, and Luke are on their way there to help out, and Eugene is staying at Hilltop for now to help fix the fence.

Things aren’t looking great for the communities. First there was the forest fire, then Alexandria got hi by walkers for days, then Alpha shrank the borders, and now a tree’s falling on Hilltop and it definitely made a sound! How much of the recent hardships are the Whisperers behind? It is of course hard to say, especially now that Oceanside suspects they’re being spied on. As Judith points out, this could be the Whisperers’ plan, to get the communities to run themselves ragged so they’re easier to take out. The thing is, of course, whether or not these things are the work of their enemies, they’re wearing them down nonetheless.

Judith and Michonne’s talk, in fact, reflects quite a lot of what’s going on in this episode, from the ‘let RJ tire himself out’ analogy to their talk about bullies and how to deal with them. Don’t take your enemy at their word, but believe what their actions tell you. Some of them you can tolerate, but some you need to confront directly. And if you start giving in, they’ll keep on taking.

This applies to the bullies that Lydia is dealing with, but also with how they should be considering her, and Negan, as well. It would also help if the people in Alexandria would focus on the enemy outside instead of looking for them on the inside. Lydia abandoned the Whisperers, she lost someone in that gruesome attack during the fair as well, and she’s made no moves against anyone there since that happened. She’s laid low, she’s tried to contribute, she’s just trying to get by, really. But she’s without a home or family for the first time in her life here, even if the ones she had before were questionable at best. Daryl and Negan are, as we see, the closest things she has to friends at this point–Carol might’ve been a candidate for that, but she’s been off at sea, and probably is wary of taking in any more strays as it were. Lydia’s better off that she would’ve been with the Whisperers, of course, but she’s also in a rough spot here where it is indeed hard to know what to do. But she’s in a rough spot. Honestly, her situation reminded me a lot of the stories of school bullying we hear about all the time. And Daryl’s such a dad trying his best but just not quite getting there in this episode! His advice is, sadly, not very helpful despite that he does want to protect her and help her. He’s willing to help her, he wants to, but like Lydia says, he can’t fight those battles for her. But when you’ve got bullies of this degree, and who are this angry and lashing out, ‘just ignore them’ isn’t going to work. To go back to what Michonne said, these aren’t bullies you can tolerate. And when they take it too far, or rather, when Margo does, Negan is indeed the only person who comes to help poor Lydia, with unfortunately tragic consequences.

And it’s not like others haven’t had a chance to help–Aaron, earlier, witnesses some of the bullying and does nothing to address it. He doesn’t look like he approves, exactly, but he doesn’t say anything to chastise the Highwaymen. And given that his vote is to punish Negan, it’s clear he’s still dealing with his own simmering anger that we saw last week.

The conversation between Negan and Daryl about this in the cell basement is an interesting one. It’s been quite a while since these two had a scene, and we know how much Daryl hated Negan in the past for what was done to him at Sanctuary. But Negan is right here when he calls out that Daryl is not okay with anyone who’s going to beat up a kid, as Margo was doing to Lydia. We know Daryl had his own rough childhood, though I don’t think Negan knows that–not directly, anyways–and he feels protective of Lydia because of this shared experience of childhood abuse. But Negan has always been a sharp observer of other people, and it wouldn’t shock me to know that he’s guessed Daryl’s gone through something like this.

Another chat that connects to much of the episode is the one that happens later in this cell between Lydia and Daryl. When she talks about how she’s beginning to see how the politeness and goodness of Alexandria really is just a mask, just like her mother always said, she’s not entirely wrong. And that’s a dangerous thing. Not just in a general sense, but if Lydia really were to become convinced that her mother was right the whole time, while she’s living inside the walls of Alexandria, she could do some serious damage to the community. So far, she seems to be just shaken up and taking refuge in the one place she knows she can be safe, in the cell. But I hope that she can brought back around, and that the Alexandrians can come back around to accepting her as one of them as well.

The discussion that Ezekiel and Michonne have also reflects this idea of pulling on a mask, but they discuss it in the opposite direction–of wearing one until it becomes reality, of using it to process and deal with grief and trauma, something used to heal rather than merely to hide. I liked getting a glimpse at the more personal sides of these two, especially Michonne. She’s so often only shown as the warrior, the leader, the protector, the mother. We don’t get to see her vulnerable in this way, and I appreciated having that moment for her, and for the lightness after the crisis moment had passed between her and poor Ezekiel. Who really does need to figure out how to reinvent himself in the wake of losing so much. Who is he if he isn’t the King, if he isn’t Henry’s father and Carol’s husband? The poor man feels like a failure, and it’s hard to blame him even though none of it is his fault. But his callback line of “And yet I smile” gives me hope.

One other thing episode brought to forefront is why it’s so important that the heroes keep questioning their methods. Because when they stop doing that, that thing Aaron talked about in the season premiere, that’s when they become the trio who attacked Lydia. When they keep asking themselves that, that’s when an utter villain like Negan starts to change and be someone who acts out of his own best interest to help Lydia. That’s why it’s important.

But speaking of him: who let Negan out? Though Lydia cops to it, we know from Daryl that it wasn’t her. So who did let him out? Was it Daryl? Gabriel? Carol or Siddiq, wanting the distraction of this vote to be out of sight and out of mind? Or did he escape on his own somehow? Only so many people have access to that key, after all. And now that he’s out, where will he go and what will he do?

Other things:
– I loved the look on Eugene’s face when Luke caught his use of the scientific name for cockroaches. Hilarious!
– The kiss between Ezekiel and Michonne! I loved this little shout out to their relationship in the comics and also that, while it was clearly a mutual moment, that’s all it was. Them kind of laughing it off later was great, too.
– Lydia’s squirrel at the dinner table moment also got a laugh from me. I wish that had worked out better for her, because I admire the ballsiness!
– I don’t really get where Magna’s coming from with this argument with Yumiko, but I am curious to learn more about these two, since they’re still relatively new to us

The final score: review Good
The 411
A lot of solid character moments and fitting exploration of what masks people wear and why, how to deal with bullies, how complicated justice and being a moral person in a harsh time can be. The show has been a little more subtle than usual about exploring that theme of the season, of what lines do we cross, than it often it is, and it's still including some interesting mysteries, establishing a real sense of dread about the Whisperers (in an episode that doesn't even include them at that!), and showing some cool action set pieces. The Hilltop crisis wasn't so central to the stuff going on thematically, so it did feel poorly connected, though the crisis of dealing with the wall and the tree and the walkers was compelling enough on its own. Overall, another solid, though not stand-out, episode!