The Walking Dead season 9, episode 12 review: Guardians


This week on The Walking Dead, the politics of Alexandria take center stage while we also get a taste of the inner-workings of the Whisperers.

The Walking Dead finally features Alexandria after many episodes spent in Hilltop or the Kingdom. Yet the more engrossing of the duel plots is a never before seen look at the Whisperers, in particular the reveal of their provisional forest territory.

The Council of Michonne revisited

In Alexandria, Michonne scolds Gabriel in front of the council for sanctioning the dangerous mission Eugene and Rosita endeavored back in “Who Are You Now” (an astoundingly distant six episodes ago). Aaron backs Michonne because of the new threat; both witnessed Jesus’ slaying at the cemetery. The council argues the pros and cons of joining the fair and helping the Kingdom via trade.

Then while Gabriel is wrestling with the community decisions, Rosita allows him to make the call about their relationship going forward. Rosita is pregnant with Siddiq’s baby and would be understanding if Gabriel decided to bail.

Gabriel also learns that Eugene is equally as invested in his and Rosita’s love story. Eugene himself is head over heels for Rosita and has come to terms with her choosing Gabriel. Since Eugene cares most about her happiness, he lays out some statistics for Gabriel to prove he would be unwise to give up on Rosita on the basis of her pregnancy. Eugene also made stretchy pants that would fit Rosita, further illustrating his thoughtfulness.

Elsewhere in the city, Negan is back in his cage and he argues his value to Michonne. He overheard the internal opposition Michonne faces and offers his services to keep the others in line. However, all he accomplishes with his proposal is a new work order to have his cell window closed shut.

Michonne spotted Judith hanging around by Negan’s jail and questions her about her misguided connection with the murderer. Judith’s reason for speaking with him is simple – he listens to her. Judith truly believes that Negan has changed and even catches Michonne off guard by pointing out that Michonne has evolved; so why can’t Negan? This realization pushes her to tell Aaron that the people should be able to vote on Alexandria’s participation in the fair, without her veto.

A whisper in the woods

After Alpha traded for her daughter in “Bounty”, Lydia continues to be interrogated, only now she is debriefed by Alpha about her short stay in Hilltop. Alpha is disappointed that Lydia can’t provide pertinent information on their enemies.

Since Lydia’s exit from Hilltop, Henry has been tracking her pack, yet Alpha’s Beta has been keeping tabs on him and easily disarms him. When Henry admits that he has come for Lydia, the latter saves face by punching Henry upside the head. Alpha questions her daughter’s faithfulness to the group. She explains how she only trusts animals because they don’t know how to lie.

The Whisperers take Henry to their camp, revealing the vast wooded city of Alpha followers. Henry is tied up to a tree and watches Alpha enact brutal justice on a pair who challenge her as their leader. She gruesomely beheads a woman who she deemed as the orchestrator of the plot. And later that night, she orders her own daughter to kill Henry. She wants Lydia to prove her loyalty to her mother, her people, and their cause.

Luckily, all this time, Daryl and Connie have not been far behind Henry. They cause a massive disruption by pointing a herd toward the Whisperer’s grounds before Lydia can decide to act on her mother’s wishes. Walkers are ripping their counterfeits to shred and Daryl and Connie disguise themselves in order to get to Henry. Henry rushes to convince Lydia to come with them.

Weekly Walkaways

  • The Whisperer’s camp resembles Robin Hood and his merry men’s forest domicile, only instead of drinking mead, telling stories around campfires and singing, the Whisperers hang dead people’s skin up to dry and cut off the heads of anyone who challenges them.
  • Alpha’s confession to Beta that she beat some sense into her daughter when she was three years old, deepens the roots of her cruel and violent backstory. Alpha may be one of the more purely evil villains in The Walking Dead since she was an abusive mother well before the apocalypse began.
  • There is a wordless scene toward the end where Gabriel and Siddiq accept their situation with Rosita, while Eugene watches from a distance. Could The Walking Dead be setting up a zombie version of Three Men and a Baby (or Three Men and a Cradle for the French film buffs)? The showrunners should be wary about taking this storyline any further into tabloid talk show territory.
  • A theme of this episode is leadership; more specifically the willingness of others to either follow orders or side against their leaders. There is the morally centered Michonne versus the ruthless Alpha, and both are protective of their people. When the council questions Michonne’s prerogative as the head of security, she respectfully listens and bends her authority. When Alpha’s daughter deviates from the pack, she smacks her and even forces her to kill an acquaintance. And those that more directly block Alpha’s leadership are swiftly disposed of.
  • The MVP of “Guardians” is Alpha, who is single-handedly driving the story of the second half of this season. This week, she is mostly concealed behind her walker mask yet Samantha Morton is just as fierce and chilling. Alpha has the intimidating backing of a large treacherous army like Negan with the quiet creepiness of Fear the Walking Dead’s Martha.

Next. The Walking Dead's greatest characters. dark

The Walking Dead returns next week with “Chokepoint” on Sunday, Mar. 10 at 9:00 p.m. ET on AMC.