The Walking Dead recap: Unmasking an enemy
Another foe has been revealed, another life (apparently) lost.
Everyone seems to be wearing masks these days and everyone has an opinion about them. This runs the gamut from something as standard as The Masked Singer, which plays on the conceit of hidden identities in a reality competition setting, to something more layered and thematic as Watchmen, in which cops use masks to hide their identities for the safety of their families but also to give their darker inhibitions the freedom to roam.
There’s a similar range on The Walking Dead this season: the Whisperers wear literal masks to blend in with the dead and revert to a more primitive state, while Alpha also wears a proverbial mask to manipulate her pack with falsities. Carol takes on a more brutal persona to hide her pain, and Siddiq tries to mask his own struggles with PTSD from that moment Alpha claimed the heads of his friends. With this week’s “Open Your Eyes,” these masks begin to come off and harsh truths are revealed.
Let’s start with the harshest truth: Dante.
Siddiq has been pushing himself and avoiding sleep in trying to find the cause of whatever mysterious illness is plaguing Alexandria. Not that he gets much sleep these days. He keeps reliving that night in the barn when he was forced to watch Alpha sever the heads of his friends. Rosita, recovering nicely, tries to help Siddiq when he leaps into the water to drown out the voices in his head. That’s when he realizes the only connection between all the sick people is the water and determines their supply must be contaminated.
That night, Dante speaks with Siddiq over an incident that happened during the day (which we’ll get to in a moment). During this conversation, Siddiq makes a startling realization, thanks to the visions haunting him. Dante clicks his tongue, which snaps his memories back to the barn. A Whisperer, with his face covered by a walker mask, makes a similar clicking sound in his ear while holding his face towards his battered friends. Dante is the same Whisperer, who has infiltrated Alexandria for Alpha. This is a stark contrast to the comics, which see Dante as a member of Hilltop during the Whisperer War. He’s even a love interest for Maggie in the books. On the TV show, the realization comes too late, however, as Siddiq and Dante battle, and Dante gets the upper hand. He puts Siddiq in a headlock and chokes the life out of him. Siddiq’s eyes go blank, his hands go limp, and he appears dead. I say “appears” because, sometimes, you just don’t really know what’s going on with deaths until you see the aftermath. So, what does this mean? Will anyone be able to piece together Siddiq’s killer? What’s next on Dante’s agenda?
This also explains what happened earlier in the episode. Carol brought back the Whisperer she captured to Alexandria’s jail for interrogation. Lydia recognizes him as one of the guardians of Alpha’s horde, and these Whisperers are known to be extremely loyal to their leader. Lydia suggests Carol try to show him how their life is at Alexandria instead of torturing him, showing him that there is a better way than the lies Alpha feeds them. Carol’s first attempt to spoil him with fresh bread, jams, and honey backfires when he spits the food back in her face. That was her one pass at being nice. The rebuff sends Carol into torture mode. He still doesn’t give up anything much, but he does reveal that Alpha told the Whisperers that she killed her own daughter for them and that he would now give up his life for her.
Carol, against Daryl’s wishes to keep her out of it, goes to bring Lydia to the cell in order to prove she’s still alive. But, the Whisperer is killed. Dante “accidentally” gave him hemlock and plays it off like Siddiq was the one who packed it, exacerbating his guilt. Given the big reveal, however, perhaps Dante intentionally poisoned the Whisperer. Even with the man dead, Carol still has use for Lydia.
Aaron continues seeing Gamma. He entertains her with stories about his family at Alexandria and tries to tempt her with fresh bread. Gamma, of course, is trying to use him to gain more information about Alpha’s enemies, but Aaron’s tactics are kind of working, especially when the topic of siblings comes up. Alpha later has to literally beat some sense into Gamma, and during another meeting that night, Gamma attacks Aaron and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t give up more information. That’s when Carol and Lydia emerge from the woods. The sight of Lydia sends Gamma into a spiral. After all, she killed her sister after Alpha claimed to have killed her own daughter for the good of the pack. Lydia, tired of being used by everyone for their own gains, lashes out at Carol and flees across the border into Whisperer territory, vowing to be on her own side from now on. She mentioned to Carol earlier on, before the big interrogation, that if evidence of a better life spreads throughout Alpha’s pack, there will be nothing her mother can do to stop it. Perhaps Lydia will be able to follow her own suggestion.