Tales of The Walking Dead Explains Alpha’s Origin

Take a trip back in time and witness the events that turned a meek mother into one of The Walking Dead's greatest villains: Alpha

Samantha Morton as Dee standing by a riverboat paddlewheel in Tales of the Walking Dead episode 3.
Photo: Curtis Bonds Baker | AMC

This Tales of the Walking Dead article contains spoilers.

Dee (Samantha Morton) isn’t the kind of woman who can let her guard down and relax. When you’ve been through as much horrible stuff on The Walking Dead as she has, it’s natural to have a little trouble slipping into a cocktail dress and going to a dinner party, but that’s just what she has to do. Not because she wants to; Dee is definitely not dinner party material. She has to, because Lydia wants to, and because the leader of her community wants her to. Dee will do anything for her daughter.

It’s been a full year since Dee killed her husband and the rest of the survivors trapped in an old factory, because they were too weak to survive outside of its walls. They’d slow her down. Dee doesn’t need an anchor. Like a bizarro world Rick Grimes, Dee’s only mission on Tales of the Walking Dead is to protect her daughter and train her how to survive in this new world of the dead. Far from the hungry, panicking survivors huddled in a smelly factory, Dee and Lydia (Scarlett Blum) have been taken in by the benign party dictatorship of Brooke (Lauren Glazier), who heads up a band of cheerful survivors traveling up and down the swampy rivers of undead America in an honest-to-goodness steamboat.

Brooke is riding the apocalypse out in style, and the survivors gathered around her are going to do likewise. That means Zumba classes on the Lido deck and formal parties in the dining room, with formal place settings, white table cloths, Dixieland jazz, and mandatory formal attire. Brooke is clinging tenaciously to a world that barely existed before the walkers; now that they’re plying the river from refueling station to refueling station, it’s even more ridiculous to behold. Brooke has certain expectations, and if Dee doesn’t want to meet them, then she’ll be off the boat, and Lydia will be staying behind to enjoy birthday parties and desserts as the world decays.

Ad – content continues below

Clearly, Lydia isn’t learning the kind of hard lessons needed for survival, and Brooke’s relaxed attitude towards security—they’re in a river in a swamp, with gators and snakes to keep the walkers at bay and walkers to keep the people at bay—is second only to her attitude towards Dee’s parenting when it comes to setting off Dee’s internal alarms. Dee isn’t a great parent by any means; we’ve seen plenty of that in action on mainline The Walking Dead, but she’s got a good sense of danger, and when she keys on newcomer Billy (Nick Basta) as a suspicious character doing suspicious things, she might be onto something Brooke is completely unwilling to see.

Dee will do anything to keep her daughter safe, whether it’s dressing up or stealing knives from the kitchen to protect herself from potential outside threats.

Unsurprisingly, things go bad on the ship when Dee’s paranoia is ignored. She might be abrasive, but she’s survived a long time on her own and kept her daughter alive. Her comments about the viper in their midst go unheeded and Billy’s gang take over the boat, promising Brooke they’ll keep her in charge of the fun stuff, and Billy will take over the hard decisions of survival, like culling the drains on resources. Billy is willing to adapt to the new world, even if Brooke isn’t. But Billy’s new order is a direct threat to Lydia. So, Billy and friends have to die, Brooke and friends are left to fend for themselves, and Dee is off with Lydia again to train the girl how to hunt walkers and keep herself safe.

It goes poorly. Lydia is resistant, trying to salvage her mother’s last vestiges of humanity at every turn, only for Dee to strip those away, one by one, painting herself and her daughter with walker blood and hiding under a spatchcocked walker corpse to avoid danger. Lydia only wants to go back to the boat, go back to a world that no longer exists, and when she tells Dee that she hears the fairies whispering to her from the trees, and she wants to go join them, Dee interprets that as a signal to make Lydia “look at the flowers”.

However, Lydia’s demise is interrupted, not by fairies, but by people wearing walker skins as masks, who come shambling out of the swamp to stay Dee’s killing hand. A brief meeting with the Whisperer’s leader Hera (Anne Beyer) and a blow to the head later, and Dee is gone. Instead, “Dee” smashes to Alpha in her cave, head shaved and filthy, talking to the only person who could understand the burdens of leadership and raising an ungrateful child in a zombie-filled world. Alpha has been unburdening herself to the mummified head of Hera, the very woman who took her in, taught her the ways of the Whisperers, and saved Lydia’s life.

When Dee spares Brooke at Lydia’s behest, she slashes the cruise director from hell across the cheek with her blade. Dee calls that her mark. In that sense, Brooke will always remember Dee, and her failure as a leader, wherever she goes in. With Dee complete abandoned, Alpha chooses to wear Hera’s face in a similar fashion. Brooke’s scarred face is a warning; Hera’s desiccated face is a tribute. Brooke will never forget Dee and what she lost. By donning Hera’s face, Alpha will never forget her past as Dee and the humanity she gave up to keep her daughter safe.

Ad – content continues below