Well done, Channing Powell and David Boyd, for a beautifully multi-faceted episode. Great move to take us right back to the beginning again, when the first bewildered, terrified survivors were sorting into wheat and chaff—yes, right back to the time when they didn't even know that you have to kill the brain of a dead person.
Showing Alpha's early days, as the truth gradually emerged from Lydia's skewed/deliberately misleading recollections, has added so much to the emerging Whisperers story; it was always what was missing from The Governor and Negan. I know we gained hints as time about those two as time went on, but it's so much more effective to show the point when a person allows their inner psycho to take over, rather than let us hear about it from a perhaps unreliable narrator.
I already love Samantha Morton as Alpha; that strange coldness in her eyes, right from the start, and how, after her first kill, she shaved her head... remind you of anyone else??
Shaving off their humanity along with their hair, perhaps, except that Alpha didn't have an Otis bald patch and Shane didn't start playing Walker dress-up. Or try to make the kids do so.
Meanwhile, back in the present day Hilltop cells, the increasingly clueless Henry told Lydia that his second mum is 'tough. Not someone you want to mess with'—which has got to be a set-up for an eventual showdown between the two of them, particularly with their individual hair stories. A while back, Twitter chum Andrew asked why on earth Carol would grow her hair so long in such dangerous and Pantene-scarce times; Andrew, you have your answer!
How far is Lydia to be believed? I'm sure we'll find out soon enough; is she going to be protected by Daryl and Hilltop, starting a war?
Michonne said Daryl was the best judge of character she knew, and we saw some fine evidence of this. He broke Lydia down in a way that neither Rick nor anyone else could have done. He's patient... and there's so much all-knowing stuff going on in that head, that we don't hear. We want more of it! BTW, Henry: when you were young and cute, your naïveté had a certain charm. Now, things like giving up the name and location of your home to a killer who wears a Walker mask is just...
A lovely bit of Walker despatching at the start, from Tara, Magna and co, with their innovative weapons, when they first went out to search for Luke and Alden. Really hoping those two aren't dead as I love both characters, and I don't think Enid could handle it! (Alongside them was Glenn II, of course, aka Kal, who we haven't seen in a while; talking of which, where is the lovely Eduardo?)
Tara has never been one of my favourite characters but in this episode I really started to like her. Stuff like letting Magna and co sneak out via Sasha's woodstore tunnel, even though they were seen, and ticking off Yumiko for doing so in a 'I'm the boss, but I'll still listen' sort of way—I think she'll be a better leader of Hilltop than Jesus or Maggie, because she is upbeat, practical and doesn't have a hundred and one issues going on.
And finally.... that ending! When Yumiko and Tara saw the Whisperers through the binoculars—the sight of them marching, mob-handed, up the road and over the carefully ploughed field; terrifying, or what!
I don't know if this sounds sexist; what the hell—I think the new enemy being a woman is somehow more dark and scary, especially as she is a mother, too. The lunacy in her eyes was apparent, right from the start, and the Deep South accent really sets it off; the two seem sinisterly incompatible.