UK TV review: The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 2 (We Are the End of the World)
We’re All Monsters Now9
The Dead Don’t Have Names7
Neil Brazier | On 14, Oct 2019Reading time: 5 mins
This is a spoiler-free review of Episode 2 of Season 10. Already seen the episode? Read on for full spoilers after its UK broadcast.
After a fiery opening to the tenth season of The Walking Dead, We Are The End of the World focuses on the Whisperers as they return from their winter vacation, and takes us back seven years to see how Alpha (Samantha Morton) became who she is. Unusually, we have a backstory for a villain – we’re still waiting for Negan’s, after all – but it is a compelling episode that gives more depth to Alpha, Beta (Ryan Hurst) and the Whisperers. It also introduces us to the sisters, notably Gamma (Season 10 newcomer Thora Birch).
Greg Nicotero is in the director’s chair again and his bloody signature is peppered throughout, opening with a particularly gruesome feeding session that will have you wriggling your nose to make sure it’s still there. Any zombie-slaying scene is always unpleasant, yet unsettlingly satisfying. The series has been criticised in the past for unnecessary, beautified violence, but it is the nature of the show to be horrific and this new season has so far felt, new, clean and different with its violence, which is thanks to Nicotero’s red-stained paintbrush.
In the present, the Whisperers have returned and, in order to protect themselves, they need to round up a new herd. Alpha sends the Sisters out hunting, as they have a knack with the dead. One of these, Frances (Juliet Brett), is the girl who lay her crying infant to die when the Whisperers approached the Hilltop back in Bounty (Season 9, Episode 11). She is still living with the trauma caused by that incident, which risks the lives of both her living and dead family. It us up to her sister to show their loyalty to the cause, at great personal risk. But the greater the risk, the better the reward.
Gamma remains something of a mystery for now, but Birch appears to have embraced The character and already this looks like one intriguing and compelling Whisperer to watch. Alpha has taken to her too and might see Gamma as a replacement for her daughter, the one who still lives in Alpha’s memory. Last season, we saw how brutal the Whisperers can be to one another; if Alpha starts showing weakness to the loss of her daughters, there could be more inner conflict within their camp.
This episode gives us more depth to the Whisperers. During flashbacks, we see more of the history between Alpha and Beta and how their dynamic has been strange since the beginning. This makes these characters more than arbitrary villains playing off the heroes and maybe makes them more sympathetic to the viewer, echoing the question raised last episode about the blurred lines between good and evil.
This may be the strongest start to a season in years. Already we have established both sides of the borders and identified weaknesses in both camps. Tensions are carefully balanced on a knife-edge and anything could tip this into all-out war. Adding Gamma and more layers to established characters, after just two episodes, The Walking Dead is must-see TV once again.
The Walking Dead Season 10 premieres on FOX UK at 9pm on Mondays. Don’t have pay-TV? You can also stream it live and on-demand on NOW TV, for £8.99 a month, with no contract and a 7-day free trial. Seasons 1 to 9 are available on Sky Box Sets and NOW TV until November 2019.
Entrails and innards (spoilers)
During the flashbacks we learn how “Mr. B” became “Beta”, assuming his backstory is true. We learn that his camp was overrun by the dead, but he survived and has since taken up residence in a sanitorium. This could be a sign that his story is crazy. On a wall in a room there is a picture with the faces scratched out, but it is clearly Beta and another guy. Could they be related, or in a relationship? They are pictured outside a rehab clinic – maybe they were addict and sponsor? But either way, they were close, so close that Beta kept the other alive after death, like Hershel at his barn, and even after Alpha stabs the reanimated relation, Beta keeps him close, by wearing his clothes – and his face.
In these flashbacks, Beta still wears a mask, but we don’t know why. When Alpha tries to remove the mask, she is forcibly stopped and told to leave, but the second time she tries, he lets her in. This is the start of their relationship and Beta’s devotion to Alpha. It isn’t a romantic relationship they share: he is loyal to her; he understands and enjoys her company and view of the world. They sing the song of the dead together.
A young Lydia (Havana Blum) wants to be as strong as her mother, but she is still scared of the new world and her trepidation upsets Alpha. She tries to be brave but ultimately needs saving. Alpha loves her daughter, that is clear, but she hates that she is not strong, like her. At her core, Alpha wants her daughter to be by her side and this tests Beta’s patience, which is already wearing thin, between Frances’ lack of commitment to the cause and Alpha’s lenience and sympathy to the girl who too has lost her child.
Alpha pushed Frances too far and is attacked by her while out herding. This results in Frances’ sister trying to save Alpha and, as a reward, is anointed as Gamma. This makes her number three, if the Whisperers are following the traditional Greek alphabet, giving us a power trio. Beta has been the sole loyal servant to Alpha for at least the past seven years – will he be able to share his Alpha with another, or will this cause further conflict within the group? It should be good to see Thora Birch, an actor with a strong resume, holding at least some of the power within the Whisperers.
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC