Credit: Gene Page/AM8

During San Diego Comic-Con in July, Danai Gurira confirmed what insiders heard about in February: season 10 will be the last season for the actress and, therefore, Michonne. Gurira and company, including showrunner Angela Kang, teased an exit strategy they hope will do right by the fan-favorite sword-swinger. On The Walking Dead‘s midseason finale this week, we may have learned our first clue to how it all happens.

Kevin Carroll, an actor from HBO’s The Leftovers and FX’s Snowfall, makes his debut in “The World Before” as Virgil, a character who maintains certain parallels to another figure from the comics. On the page, Pete was a fisherman who came to be a member of Oceanside. He featured prominently as a character in the two-year time jump where Michonne tried her hand at a life at sea. In the context of the TV series, Virgil is a man who’s desperately trying to get back to his family. He lives on a fortified naval ship stationed on a remote island. He only left to get supplies but is now having difficulty getting back.

When we meet him, he’s actually saving Luke’s life. On their way to Oceanside, Michonne’s convoy decided to make a stop at a library in Waterville so Judith could stock up on new books. Luke is perusing the music section when he’s attacked by walkers. The others are too far away, but Virgil isn’t. He decides to help but then leaves his bag behind when he hears the others approaching. The presence of this stranger feels more worrisome to Michonne, who, just moments earlier, was informed of Siddiq’s death by an undercover Whisperer spy over the walkie. When they make it to Oceanside, she warns the group to make stronger efforts to vet any newcomers as Oceansider scouts catch Virgil trying to steal a sail and, presumably, a boat.

Apparently, Virgil has been tampering with Oceanside’s security in his search for supplies and a boat. So, while Michonne starts interrogating him, a herd of walkers are able to waltz straight in. Virgil attempts to flee in the chaos but Judith stops him. That night, by a campfire, Michonne has a serious conversation with this man, learning about his background and the island where he’s based. In order to pay off his debts to Oceanside for messing with their security measures, he offers Michonne something in return. The naval ship has weapons, lots of ’em. Enough to destroy, say, a horde. Though it pains Michonne to separate from Judith, she agrees to escort Virgil back to his home on a boat, if he agrees to give her this kind of ammunition. The theory is that perhaps when the Whisperer War is over, Michonne will follow a similar arc in the comics, take a break from it all, and take to the sea. Even that suggestion begs the question, what will become of Judith? Will she follow her mother off the show or choose to be without her in Alexandria? And what about R.J.?

The Walking Dead
Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The other big reveal on Sunday was the discovery of Alpha’s horde. At least, we think it was her horde. To be honest, it was very dark in that cave.

Alexandria learns of Siddiq’s death through Rosita. Remembering their earlier conversation about how he has trouble sleeping, she notices the light on in his room and goes to check with baby Coco. Instead, she finds Dante, who attacks her with a knife. As she wrestles with him on the ground, Siddiq reanimates as a walker and goes to eat a crying Coco. Rosita is then forced to kill Siddiq’s walker form and, in a rage, beats the living crap out of Dante.

His whole mission, as he later reveals to Gabriel and the others, was to spread paranoia throughout the camp. He helped tamper with the water supply, he smothered Siddiq’s patient in her sleep to make him more unhinged, he was the one who spray-painted “Silence the Whisperers” across town, and he’s been secretly leaving messages for Alpha in the woods. His mission still seems to be working. Rosita goes outside the walls to beat her anger out on walkers but finds she’s not as physically able as she once was. The tragedy has also put a wedge between her and Gabriel.

Dante believes humanity is inherently bad. We left the world in the state that it’s in and we don’t deserve a second chance. That seems to be his reasoning for walking with the dead and the Whisperers. Later, Gabriel goes into Dante’s cell and says sometimes we do get second chances, even if we don’t deserve them. That’s when Gabriel stabs Dante to death. With him dies his chance at a fair hearing in front of the council, which, in a way, means Dante’s mission is still working. Laws are what separate humanity from animals; in The Walking Dead, it’s what separates them from Alpha’s pack. Gabriel made a decision that goes against that system, even if some consider Dante’s death deserved.

In the aftermath of Siddiq’s death, the others get a much-needed tip, or so it seems. Gamma, whose real name is Mary, meets with Aaron again at their secret spot and wants to make a deal. Now that she knows Alpha is full of it, she wants to see her nephew, the baby Connie rescued when the Whisperers first came to Hilltop. To make that happen, she agrees to give up the location of Alpha’s horde. Carol, Daryl, and Aaron meet up with Connie, Kelly, and Magna to see if the information is legit. If it’s not, they’ll need to find Lydia, too.

Daryl confronts Carol about the way she’s been acting. He says it’s like talking to a ghost; she never really left the boat. The friends have a breakthrough as they cross into Alpha’s territory that night: Carol doesn’t know how to open up, but Daryl says she needs to try.

When day breaks, they reach the location Mary told them about, but the area is clear. There are no walkers in sight. Aaron still believes Mary was telling the truth as there were fresh traps laid around the area to protect it. The horde, perhaps, was simply moved. Daryl doesn’t believe it and says they need to find Lydia. However, things take a turn when Carol spies Alpha staring at them from across a clearing. Carol runs after her, forcing the others to follow. Alpha leads them into a pitch-black cave where they all, one by one, fall down a drop in the ground and find themselves standing on a rock platform where we’re guessing she stashed the horde. Was Mary being truthful, or was this all part of the plan to trap them? It’ll be a couple weeks before we find out.

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The Walking Dead

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.

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