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The Walking Dead 10.08 Review – ‘The World Before’

November 25, 2019 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
The Walking Dead - 'The World Before'
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The Walking Dead 10.08 Review – ‘The World Before’  

Welcome to the Season 10 mid-season finale of The Walking Dead! Tonight’s episode left us on a hell of a cliffhanger with the reveal, at long last, of where Alpha is hiding her herd, but also with the more philosophical matter of the fight for the soul of the communities very much up in the air.

The plot! After killing Siddiq, Dante is found out pretty much immediately by Rosita, who manages to kill walker-Siddiq and sudbue Dante and protect her baby all at the same time. And even if he hadn’t been, Aaron returns from a talk with Gamma (aka Mary) with the news that he’s a traitor as well. This eventually leads to Gabriel stabbing the hell out of Dante in the prison cell later, and Aaron getting some intel on where the herd is supposedly being kept. He, Carol, and Daryl meet up with Connie, Kelly, Jerry, and Magna in the woods to cross the border. They don’t find the herd, but when Carol spots Alpha and chases her heedlessly, the entire group ends up falling into an underground cave where the herd is being kept, stranded on a ledge just barely out of their reach. While many in Alexandria mourn Siddiq and struggle with how their world has been shaken, at Oceanside, Michonne and company help apprehend a stranger who’s been lurking about but who also saved Luke’s life, unsure if they can trust him. Eventually reminded of Rick’s coda about mercy, Michonne hears the man out and learns he’s Virgil and he lives on a naval base. He offers to let them take weapons that could be capable of destroying the herd and killing Alpha, so Michonne agrees to leave with him to bring him home and take the weapons, a task that supposedly will only take a few days.

Tonight’s mid-season finale wasn’t quite as shocking as some of them have been, but it had a lot of great moments, hard moments, some surprises, and some big cliffhanger moments at the end. There’s potential for plenty of death and violence in the Whisperer War, yes, but Alpha’s stated goal has been to undermine the communities and showing them that their whole world is a lie. Alpha isn’t a sledgehammer of bombastic violence, she’s a surgeon of manipulation, making only the small, precise cuts that are needed to weaken them with the least amount of effort on her part. Her speech at the opening to Dante before she sends him in as her spy, and what he says later, confirm this as well. He was there to unsettle Siddiq, knowing that if their doctor was that unsettled and unsure, it would trickle down to the rest. We know it was working, at least on Siddiq, and in the wake of his loss and Dante’s betrayal, it’s working on many other people.

Rosita’s struggle in her grief focusing on her physical state and her changing role makes sense–she’s expressed before her desire to get back to being fighting fit and on the front lines. But now especially with Siddiq gone, she’s forced to face the fact that she can’t be that same person. She has an infant daughter who needs here, and whom she is determined to be there for. But her struggle with making that mental shift, on top of her grief, is clashing with Gabriel’s own personal struggles. Does it spell trouble for their future, or will this pass as they both go through what they need to go through? While her focus has narrowed, his is thrown wide. He’s focused on how Dante pulled this off, what did he miss, how can they keep it from happening again, how do they know there aren’t more spies on the inside? Fostering this community has been so important to Gabriel after he failed his church when the apocalypse began, and then failed to believe in Rick and tried to undermine him upon arriving at Alexandria. For him, that’s the blow cuts the deepest: Dante not only killed a man he loved like a brother, he wanted and still wants to tear down everything they’ve built here. Leading him to snap in a violent rage that totally shocked me! I don’t think we’ve ever seen Gabriel act like this. Not even with Negan! But this time, his enemy came at his family directly, with personal intent to not only destroy their homes but their connections to one another. And apparently that is something the good Father simply cannot abide.

Also, a shoutout to Eugene, too, who was so shaken up by Siddiq’s loss that he almost talked like a normal person! This is serious, people!

Aaron has also begun to question things, though he’s still landing on the more hopeful end of things. However, I think for Aaron the struggle is more about the change in his world overall; his story about coming across the ruins of a long lost Native American settlement whose story he didn’t know is telling. He’s realizing that the world he grew up in is now the same as that one. Lost, in ruins, and there will be those who don’t know it’s story, their stories. That has to be a strange thing to realize. But as his hope and faith in people and community is more intact than some of the others, I think for him it’s hardening his determination to make sure they don’t lose sight of or faith in what they have, and thus, don’t lose it entirely in the process.

Also, I applaud finally seeing him being a dad and sharing a scene with Gracie! And the return of the state license plate collection he and Eric were making was also a lovely touch.

And then there’s Carol. I was glad to see Daryl finally confront her and not let her weasel out of talking to him for real, glad to see her respond and open up, admit that she didn’t know how to open up at this point. Also I just plain loved Daryl basically reminding her that he’s her person! But Carol’s pain is so deep that I can imagine it has to be a matter of knowing that if she lets that wall down she doesn’t know how she’ll put it back up. Easier to focus on taking out Alpha and deal with the rest later, if ever. Unfortunately, her opening up and acknowledging Daryl’s words and warning doesn’t last long when Alpha appears. This is all basically confirmation that Carol is off her game because of what she’s doing to herself, because she is absolutely smart enough to know that this was a trap! However, the reveal that the herd has been hidden in an underground cave is pretty awesome. It’s a twist I don’t think anyone saw coming, and the predicament it puts that group in is terrifying and intriguing. And we’re left to wonder, was Gamma in on setting this trap for them? Or did she give them genuine information, only to have Alpha quickly use the situation to her advantage when the group was seen crossing the border? Whatever the case, I can only hope that Carol will actually snap out of it now that’s put all of them in peril.

Finally, Michonne, too, struggles in the wake of Siddiq’s loss. For her, I have to think it hits a little harder given the Carl of it all. She’s instantly, and rightly, suspicious of anyone they might’ve met since encountering the Whisperers, but that paranoia focuses on this stranger they meet. Given how Dante clearly seemed to pass muster, this man having saved Luke doesn’t do much to clear him, and Mama Bear Michonne is not in a mood to be trifled with. It was a lovely touch that the man, Virgil, said something to remind her of Rick’s coda in (what she thinks were) his last days: “My mercy prevails over my wrath.” It’s what kept him from perpetuating a cycle of violence with Negan and instead commit himself to bettering their communities, and it’s what brings to quite an interesting opportunity indeed: potential access to military weapons that could snuff out the threat of Alpha and her herd with ease.

Of course, one has to question if introducing weapons of mass destruction (to one degree or another) is really embracing mercy over wrath, on the other hand. Somehow, I get the feeling that this trip to the naval base is going to take more than just a few days, though.

And on one final note for Oceanside, as usual I loved Judith. She really is a Little Ass-Kicker! Just precocious enough and also heavily practical, which fits given who her mother is. I just love how utterly unrattled she was by Virgil trying to tell her to put the book down, and that she could see why Michonne had to go on this boat ride and take the risk by herself.

In conclusion, the first half of the season was mostly focused on setting up the conflicts that will come to a head in the back half. This one was a little quieter than some mid-seasons have been, but it fit with the kind of conflict that’s been going on so far, as well as dealing with the fallout of the Season 9 finale at the same time.

So, what did you think of the episode? What do you think will happen when it comes back in February? Who will kill Alpha? How will they get out of that cave? Whose side is Gamma really on now? Who let Negan out? Who’s going to survive the season and who isn’t? And what did you think of the new trailer for the new show?

Thanks as always for reading and watching along with me, everyone! I’ll see you in the comments and in February 2020!

7.5
The final score: review Good
The 411
A solid mid-season finale with a lot of examining on both the immediate and lasting effect on both individuals and a community of losing someone. The extended focus on various people dealing with losing Siddiq, coupled with the lingering effects of the loss of Henry, Carl, Rick, and others, was an interesting study in grief. Gabriel's murder of Dante and the reveal of the underground herd added some needed shock factor, and the promise of a naval base with weapons to spare brings the potential for intense changes in the world of the show. So, while enjoyable and full of good performances and such, this one wasn't quite as memorable as other mid-seasons have been. Not bad! But could've been a little sharper all the same.
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The Walking Dead, Katie Hallahan