‘The Walking Dead’ Delivers On Its PTSD Storyline In A Huge Way

After a week spent watching Negan troll Beta and The Whisperers, The Walking Dead turned its focus back to a storyline that has been burbling in the background all season long: Siddiq’s PTSD. Every episode this season has taken at least a moment to check in with Siddiq, as he has tried in vain to deal with the trauma of witnessing his friends decapitated at the hands of Alpha and The Whisperers. The storyline has also been the source of a lot of speculation this season, and in this week’s episode, the groundwork the series has been laying finally paid off.

The Siddiq storyline, meanwhile, converged with another C-storyline this over the last few episodes: A stomach illness that has befallen a number of Alexandrians. The source of that bug was also a topic of speculation. As predicted, the bug was the result of water contaminated by walker guts, thanks to Gamma (strangely, though Aaron seemed to witness Gamma contaminating the water, it did not register).

As it turns out, Dante was well aware that the water was contaminated — he was helping to contaminate it — and he didn’t say anything, as a number of Alexandrians got increasingly sick. We now know why: Dante is a mole for Alpha. After Siddiq’s struggles with PTSD come to a head this week — triggered the most whenever he’s around Dante — he sat down and had a heart-to-heart with Rosita, who pulled him out of the water in what appears to have been either an attempt on his own life or an effort to quell a panic attack brought on by his PTSD. During his conversation with Rosita, Siddiq finally realizes its the water that’s making everyone sick (and led to the death of one Alexandrian).

After, Dante attempts to comfort Siddiq, but during the conversation, it slowly dawns on Siddiq that Dante is one of the voices he’s been hearing inside of his head during his PTSD episodes. Dante was there on the night of the Whisperer massacre. Dante was the one holding him, making him watch as his friends, especially Enid, were brutally murdered. Dante clicked his tongue in Siddiq’s ear on the night of the massacre, and now, whenever Dante clicks his tongue again, it triggers Siddiq’s PTSD. He does so again, and Siddiq finally pieces it all together: Dante was a Whisperer. Before Siddiq can escape and tell the others, however, Dante grabs him and chokes him to death. Coco’s father is dead.

Meanwhile, Carol brings the Whisperer hostage back to Alexandria to interrogate him and find out where Alpha’s camp is set up. The hostage, however, refuses to crack, despite Carol and Daryl’s best efforts. When the hostage mentions that he’d never turn on Alpha, who sacrificed her daughter for The Whisperers, Carol sees a crack. Lydia is obviously still alive, so Carol schemes to present her to the hostage and break his spirit, but Daryl puts up a roadblock, saying that he doesn’t want to involve Lydia. It’s all for naught, anyway, because Dante slips the hostage some hemlock and kills him, scapegoating Siddiq’s absent-mindedness for the death.

Carol doesn’t give up so easily, though, because elsewhere, Aaron has been working on Gamma, trying to suss the humanity out of her. Aaron makes some headway, too, by offering her bread and letting her have a picture his daughter drew for him. However, when Gamma goes back to Alpha for a debriefing, Alpha hardens her up again with a few whips to the wrist. When Gamma returns to Aaron this time, she takes him hostage and holds a knife to his throat. That’s when Carol — with Lydia tagging along — makes a sudden appearance.

Seeing Lydia, Gamma’s spirit breaks, knowing as she does now that Alpha did not make the sacrifice she claimed to have made. Gamma runs away, and she can later be seen in the forest crying. Lydia, however, also realizes that Carol has used her, and Lydia feels betrayed, too. She runs away, darting into Whisperer territory, telling Carol that she isn’t going to take sides; she’s only going to choose her own side.

That’s where the episode leaves off, as we head into next week’s midseason finale: Gamma knows about Lydia; Lydia is in the wind; Negan has infiltrated The Whisperers; and Siddiq is dead, but no one else yet knows that Dante is a mole. Don’t forget, either, that there is a contingent including Luke and Michonne headed over to Oceanside, as well. The stage has been set, and all the ingredients exist for an explosive midseason finale.

Additional Notes

— If there was any doubt about Siddiq’s fate, it was extinguished with a touching In Memoriam to his character on The Talking Dead last night.

— Moreover, Siddiq’s grave is seen in the Next On trailer, and Dante is seen in jail, so at least he’ll be a suspect in Siddiq’s death.

— I half thought that a huge comic moment was going to arrive in the midseason finale, but based on these scenes, it looks unlikely. Instead, focus will shift to Michonne and the Oceanside, plus the introduction of a new character, Virgil, played by The Leftovers’ Kevin Carroll. Honestly, that’s okay, because I’m not ready for that big moment to arrive, anyway.