By Nick Maslow
September 02, 2018 at 10:02 PM EDT
Ryan Green/AMC

We still don’t have a name for the mystery character played by Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins, but we know some things — like the gal loves her markers. Whether she’s actually sniffing them (maybe that’s why she seems so messed up in the head) is another story.

Also, we know that: She has some sort of connection to the truck stop (confirmed by the showrunners). She has a walker named Pervis (well, had a walker named Pervis that she traded in for a new walker that used to be Quinn). She’s been using Pervis as her lapdog. She always has some sort of mud on her personage (perhaps to mask her scent among the dead). And she doesn’t like the whole “take what you need, leave what you don’t” thing because it breeds weakness (Quinn was weak, but he was then reborn strong as a walker). Additionally, on the press site for AMC, the character is labeled as “Filthy Woman” in photos — which, come on, folks. Let’s do slightly better.

Whoever this woman is, she seems to act as a conglomerate of the group’s collective darker tendencies, an evil doppelgänger of sorts who turns the good intentions of everyone against them. The “take what you need” boxes were meant to help people, and we find her now tainting the water bottles. June confronts Quinn, a man who jacked Al’s SWAT van when they weren’t looking, and tries to get him to see the good in the world again. Pinkins’ character then uses that trust against Quinn: he shows up to meet June at what he thinks is the meeting point, only to realize the mile marker had been changed when the “Filthy Woman” (we really need a better name for her) uses Pervis to kill him. Her dreads and walker companion are a nod to Michonne but, again, a warped version of the good that we know.

This is also why I think Pervis is actually the man who initially started the “take what you need” boxes and whose truck now lies with Sarah and Wendell. “Take what you need, leave what you don’t” was his motto and then it became the same phrase marked on zombie Pervis’ face. When Quinn rose again as a walker, she branded him with “People you know,” which is something he said earlier as he pointed a gun at June’s head. “We can work together. We can help each other,” June says in that scene. He responds, “No we can’t. We’re all the same: doing things to protect the people we care about, people we know, people we love. That’s where it stops, right?” That’s why “Filthy Woman’s” hair is so big, it’s full of secrets!

We also know from the season 4 trailer that she ends up writing “I lose people, I lose myself” on Morgan’s forehead at some point, or maybe he does it to himself. Either way, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

She’ll no doubt become a foil for June, who’s following pretty much the exact same progression as Morgan — someone who is trying to be a better person in the face of their past mistakes. This recycled character development made her scenes this week drag. I suppose if everyone is crying all the time about wanting to find redemption, it eventually loses its impact.
(Recap continues on the next page.)

June and Al have been camping out in the SWAT van since the storm cleared, but they ran through their supply of food and, more importantly, diesel. Al doesn’t want to abandon her ride, but they also can’t keep scavenging what few supplies linger around the area. A garbled voice comes over the walkie, which is also running out of battery, and compels them to go in search of higher ground and a better signal. Complicating matters is the virus Al contracts and new character Quinn, who did find diesel and snatched the SWAT van when they weren’t around.

June doesn’t want to leave her friend alone, but Al claims there’s medicine on board that can make her better. It ends up being a ruse to get June to get the van back, as June finds out when she’s confronted by Quinn at gunpoint. That’s when they have their discussion about what kind of people they want to be in this world (yadda yadda yadda), and though it doesn’t seem to stick this time, June ends up knocking the gun away and going in search of the meds. Instead, she just finds Al’s tape recordings.

As it happens, perhaps a little too conveniently, there are meds in an overturned bus lying right next to the SWAT van. June goes back to confront Al about her lie, saying she was almost forced to turn into the person she used to be, the same person who let all those people at her former camp die. June ends up learning a little more about Al: those recorded interviews she collects aren’t just the stories of strangers, but the stories of people she knew and loved. She can’t part with them because, as she mentioned earlier in the episode, it’s better to watch recordings of loved ones than be apart from the real people.

They end up getting a better signal and meeting up with Morgan, who’s been making Sarah, Wendell, and Jim wait for him while he goes in search of others. June, pulling one of Morgan’s moves, gives a speech over the walkie’s open channel, hoping to get a hold of Quinn. She does and also convinces him to join their group by meeting at the 27-mile marker. That’s when the “Filthy Woman” strikes. Worse for Al, she now has the SWAT van. Morgan had also spotted this woman earlier foraging through one of the boxes on the road, and it seemed like she knew him, so she’s bound to cause more psychological collisions.

This mystery woman has the potential to be an interesting villain, but I fear Fear will get in its own way again. The momentum is gone amid an excess of self-psychoanalysis and entire episodes dedicated to specific characters. The walker fights (like the one attacking Al by herself at the car) are predictable, and everyone’s stories are sounding the same. I’m not convinced a villain like “Filthy Woman,” who seems like she’ll force Morgan and June to circle back on things they’ve addressed far too many times, is in the best interest of the plot.

Where’s that massive zombie fight sequence in an elevator, already? I’m ready for that.

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