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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

[RECAP] Season 9, Episode 12 of The Walking Dead, "Guardians"

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In episode 12 of season 9, entitled "Guardians", we as viewers are given closer visibility to the inner workings of the day to day terrifyingly, savage life of The Whisperer camp.  This includes an especially brutal confrontation scene that, personally, is one of the more graphic take downs ever seen on this show in recent memory (at least in my recent memory).  We also get to (finally) revisit Negan in the cell as well as touch base with our love square that is Rosita - Father Gabriel - Siddiq - Eugene.  Where to even begin...

As already mentioned, our core story line in this episode is with Lydia, rejoining her mother Alpha and the Whisperer camp.  We see the Whisperers almost create a sort of cocoon around Lydia, who is not wearing any sort of a mask, protecting her as they trudge along in their walker masks to their current home base.  During this journey, we see Alpha essentially interrogate her daughter Lydia as to what occurred to her during her time at the Hilltop.  Did they beat her?  Did they touch her?  Do they have weapons?  Do they have trade system?  Lydia has little to no Intel to offer her mother and she is notably annoyed and irritated at this.  Alpha, however, ever the astute leader, points out how they seemed very determined to want to keep her for...some sort of reason or other.  She is clearly suspicious of her daughter and what information she shared with them.  Lydia insists that she fed them a sob story, essentially, to ensure that they would take pity on her and not hurt her.  Alpha is clearly wary of her daughter's story but has no other option other than to believe her.  Lydia, on her part, tries to probe her mother to see if she came back purely to get information or if she really came back to get her because she loves her.  Alpha's not taking the bait however and calls her a "stupid girl".  Thanks mom.

Back at Alexandria, Michonne is furiously trying to get to the bottom of why Rosita and Eugene were out there in the first place setting up the new satellites for their radio system (MARK MY WORDS, WE WILL BE MAKING CONTACT WITH THAT RADIO...maybe even with Rick?).  Father Gabriel, however, stands by his decision on how they should be trying to reach out to other communities rather than cutting themselves off from the rest of the potential world at large (isolationism vs. globalism, if you will).  Fresh from losing Jesus, Aaron seems to side with Michonne's school of thought and understandably so.  Siddiq is siding with Gabriel on this though and brings up the Kingdom's fair and how important this is to King Ezekiel, enough that it should be put up to a fair vote with the council.  Michonne is not being swayed by any of this though and it is clear her sole priority is ensuring the safety of Alexandria at all costs.

It's here where we also get an interaction between Gabriel and Rosita that illustrates that she has had the conversation with Gabriel on her pregnancy and how it is definitely Siddiq's child.  She seems to understand that it might be too much for Gabriel to deal with and essentially gives him an "out" in case he wants to take it.  He seems conflicted though and here is where Eugene comes in to give him what amounts to a Pro's vs. Con's list of staying with Rosita and raising a baby that is not technically his.  What it boils down to is that Rosita is an amazing catch of a woman and if Eugene cannot be with her (poor Eugene), he would would still want to see her be with someone she truly loves and that would be Gabriel.  Eugene's words seem to have done the trick because we later see Gabriel came to Rosita's doorstep with a bag of "stretchy pants" that Eugene gave to Gabriel to give to Rosita, to accommodate her expanding belly.  They smile and enter the house, seemingly back together, with Eugene staring longingly from afar.

Michonne is not done with her rounds at Alexandria, however, and she visits Negan in his jail cell, back from his stint on the outside.  She's fully aware of his escape and return and is shocked to hear him offer his services to her.  Negan hears an immense amount from the window in his cell and feels that she losing control of her people at Alexandria and, former leader to current leader, he feels he can offer her counsel on how to deal.  She finds the idea utter ridiculous and scoffs at this, even though he insists that he can be much more useful to her out there than in here.  She turns though and sees Judith listening outside the cell window and immediately orders that window and cell be refortified and then runs off to deal with Judith.  She comes to find out that Judith was on her way to go talk to Negan and Michonne finally seems to learn of their regular talks. She is appalled and tells Judith that she shouldn't be talking to him but she says that he's one of the few people that listen to her (awww, I'm loving this Negan - Judith pairing).   She even tells Michonne that people change.  Michonne completely disagrees to which Judith reminds her that SHE'S changed (presumably in the 6 years post Rick when she became a hard-lined isolationist).  At this, Michonne has nothing to say other than to tell Judith to go to her room and give her a moment.

We ultimately come to find out via a conversation between Michonne and Aaron that she has decided to let the council have a fair vote and decide among themselves if they want to send a delegation to the fair.  She will not veto whatever the consensus is.  It seems that the decision was made in FAVOR of going to the fair and Michonne has to sit back and hope that she won't regret this decision (SPOILER ALERT: She will).

But back to the main story at hand which is back at the Whisperer camp: Alpha and Lydia and the Whisperer pack that was with them are back at the base and we can see that there are MANY Whisperers (hundreds perhaps?).  Some are setting up temporary shelter, some are dissecting a deer and hanging meat to dry, etc.  What we don't realize right away is that Henry has tracked them down and is hiding in a nearby ditch.  A Whisperer sneaks up on him and Henry overpowers him with some fancy Akido stick work...but he's no match for the MASSIVE Beta, the second in command of the Whisperers.  He manhandles the young man and pins him on the floor threatening to break every limb until he comes clean.  He admits that he's from Hilltop but he came alone and he came for Lydia.  Lydia calls him an idiot and promptly punches him in the face.  Young Love.  Alpha decides to take him with them and tells Beta and everyone to be on alert because there could be more of them around.

What Alpha is NOT counting on is dissension in the ranks, which comes to light when a male Whisperer confronts Alpha on her poor leadership by trading two of the Hilltop's men for Lydia.  Two for one doesn't seem like a good deal he points out, not to mention the fact that Alpha has broken her own rules by going back FOR Lydia.  She points out that they were able to get some useful Intel as well, but we know based on her conversation with her daughter that that is not exactly an accurate statement.  It's at this point that Beta grabs the man from behind and holds a rather enormous knife to his throat.  Alpha makes her case that he has the right to challenge her...but she has the right to defend herself as well.  She mentions that everyone in the pack follows her by choice and she obviously has gotten them this far.  We think at first that she will make a move to strike him but instead she pulls in his wife/girlfriend and accuses HER of being the person that is truly challenging her.  Alpha states that she witnessed them conspiring together and she is aware that he is only doing her bidding.  The female Whisperer seems to concede to this fact by raising again the same points her male companion did.  She does finally say however that she has no interest in fighting Alpha.  Unfortunately, Alpha says it is already too late and in one of the most brutal scenes on this show (and that's saying a lot), she comes up behind the female Whisperer with a thin piece of wire, pulls the wire across her neck until she fully pulls her head off.  GROSS.  But, effective.

She then hands her head to her Whisperer boyfriend, in true sociopath fashion, while telling him that he shouldn't cry because crying is for the weak...before she stabs him in the gut with her knife.  Both corpses are eventually dragged out near where a group of walkers are milling around for feeding time?  Not quite sure, but the walkers descend upon the bodies immediately.

After the incident, Alpha and Beta are alone and he supports her by saying that she has taken care of them and she needed to do that to remind the pack who's boss, basically.  Alpha is a little shaken but agrees and tells him a story about Lydia when she was three years old and almost suffocated on dry cleaning plastic bags.  She was turning blue but she saved her just in time...and then beat her so that she would remember NEVER to do that again.  Apparently, that is the "loving" tactic Alpha uses to rule her nest of followers.  Beta says that in regards to Lydia they should use the boy to ensure that she knows her place is still loyal to the pack.  To that end, come nightfall, Beta has Henry restrained and Alpha has Lydia by her side.  Alpha throws a knife on the floor and orders her daughter to pick it up and kill Henry to prove where her loyalty lies, otherwise, Beta will kill them both.  Lydia is emotionally torn on what to do but before anything else can happen we hear an exclamation of "Guardians!".  This is apparently what the Whisperers refer as the walkers as, since they hide within groups of walkers.  We come to realize that the group of walkers from earlier had been lead to the base by a mask wearing Daryl and Connie.

As the walkers descend upon the Whisperers and begin to attack, Daryl grabs Henry but he insists that he's not going without Lydia (stupid teenager).  Daryl concedes because there's no time to waste and they make off into the night in an attempt to find safer ground somewhere.


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