In this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Silence the Whisperers,” we learn that Ezekiel, like Carol, has also been struggling since the death of Henry. Not only did he lose his Queen in Carol, he lost his entire kingdom (The Kingdom), as well as his identity. Ezekiel is a broken man, and when he struggles to exhibit his leadership abilities when another wave of zombies crashes The Hilltop,. Ezekiel hits rock bottom.
In fact, Ezekiel rides his horse away from The Hilltop and briefly seems to consider taking his own life. Fortunately, Michonne spots him and talks him off the ledge, literally in this instance. In comforting him, however, Ezekiel mixes up his signals and kisses Michonne (it’s the big kiss we saw in the season 10 trailer out of Comic-Con). It is not, however, as it appears. Michonne is not upset or angry, but she’s not receptive, either. She understands that Ezekiel is grieving and confused, and she forgives him for awkwardly kissing him. Within the hour, they’re already making fun of the kiss. Michonne, however, lets Ezekiel know that she’s there for him in the future, if he “acts like an idiot” again.
The Hilltop storyline is essentially a repeat of the storyline last week in which zombies crashed the walls of Alexandria. Here, a tree “falls” and crashes The Hilltop fence, so its denizens have to fight off another wave of zombies. The takeaway here, however, is that Eugene is relocating to The Hilltop to help them fix the wall (and avoid Rosita), while Luke is heading to the Oceanside with Michonne and Judith in case the Whisperers crash their community next. Luke, however, mostly goes because he’s in love with one of the Oceansiders, Jules. There’s also some tension between girlfriends Magna and Yumiko. We learn that, pre-apocalypse, Yumiko was Magna’s lawyer, and we know from Magna’s prison tattoo that Yumiko must have lost at some point. In either case, Magna doesn’t appreciate that, in times of conflict, Yumiko treats her like a client instead of like her girlfriend, or someone who can take care of herself.
The meat of the episode centers on Lydia and Negan, outsiders in Alexandria for different reasons. Several Alexandrians — Rodney, Gage, and Margo — are bullying and taunting Lydia because of who her mother is. Negan is the only guy around willing to offer comfort to Lydia, but Daryl and Co. don’t want Negan anywhere near Lydia. The bullying of Lydia eventually escalates until Rodney, Gage, and Margo confront her and demand that she leave. When Lydia refuses, they attack her. Negan arrives in time to save her life, but in doing so, he pushes off Margo, who hits her head on a wall and dies.
Negan is blamed, accused of murder. Lydia tries to defend him, but not everyone is willing to listen. To his credit, Daryl hates Negan but sides with him on this (and Daryl also acts as Michonne’s proxy), while Aaron can’t bring himself to take Negan’s side, even as he understand that Negan may not have meant to kill Margo. In the end, it’s a moot point, because Negan is releases from his prison cell and he leaves Alexandria before he can be executed. It appears that it was Brandon who released him, for reasons that may or may not be clear. Lydia, meanwhile, takes up residence in Negan’s prison cell because it’s where she feels she belongs (and, to be honest, it’s the safest place for her at the moment).
— Ezekiel saying to Michonne that they could have been a good couple “in another universe” is a direct nod to the comics, where the two were a romantic pair.
— If Luke and Michonne head to Oceanside in next week’s episode, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s when Kevin Carroll’s character, Virgil, enters the series.
— We only witness it briefly, but Siddiq is still suffering from extreme PTSD, leaving him virtually incapable of helping Lydia. It doesn’t do anything to discourage theories that he’s an Alpha mole.
— I don’t know why everyone is having such a hard time warming up to Negan. All he did was brutally torture and kill scores of people across numerous communities for years. It’s time to forgive and forget! But seriously, I get it, but he does seem liked a changed person.
— This episode, by the way, was directed by The Walking Dead alum Michael Cudlitz, who played Abraham on the series. He directed an episode last season, as well.
— What was up the big goodbye to Luke, as he left to Oceanside? There was an unusually wistful pop song being played, and everyone waved goodbye to Luke as though he was leaving their lives forever. He’s just going to another community for a while!
— I love Judith, but it is a little strange that killing zombies has become a mother-daughter bonding experience for her and Michonne. I wouldn’t trust a 10-year-old to cook herself an egg without burning the house down, but Michonne has complete confidence in Judith’s ability to fight off a horde of zombies.
— Next week, we see the aftermath of Negan’s escape, and Kelly’s life appears to be in danger.