This Walking Dead article contains major spoilers.
“The Calm Before,” the penultimate episode of The Walking Dead season nine, delivered one of the most shocking climaxes in the show’s history. While the fair at the Kingdom saw all of the communities reunite against the latest threat to their hard-earned peace, Alpha dealt a terrible blow that sets up the next chapter of the show, a bloody war between a militia formed by the communities and the savage Whisperers.
Believe it or not, at the heart of this conflict is a border dispute. When Rosita and Eugene unknowingly crossed into Whisperer territory, they drew the attention of this animalistic faction and its walker horde. The invasion was a transgression Alpha couldn’t forgive and thus began the violent events of the latter half of the season. It began with the death of Jesus in a creepy graveyard, a knife cutting straight through his back, and now death has crept into the Kingdom.
Enid, Tara, Henry, and a few others are kidnapped during the fair at the Kingdom and executed by Alpha and her cult of zombie-flesh-wearing followers, likely decapitated one by one in a manner best left to the imagination. And why? Not only is it about punishing the communities for taking her daughter Lydia away from her, but also Alpha’s twisted way of marking the border, the one Daryl and Lydia don’t dare cross again in the final minutes of the episode, as they pay Henry’s final resting place a visit during the first snowfall of winter in Virginia.
In a stunning recreation of the infamous panels from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s Walking Dead comic, Alpha places each of the 10 decapitated heads on pikes in order to show a stunned Daryl, a heartbroken Carol, and the rest of their people where exactly the Whisperer’s dominion begins. Watch the scene below:
Message absolutely received.
It’s worth noting that the show decides to kill off three main characters that don’t actually exist in the source material. In issue #145 of the comic, Ezekiel and Rosita are the major characters doomed by Kirkman’s cruel pen, so it’s not an accident “The Calm Before” uses them both as red herrings as the episode heads to its climactic scene. Worst of all, Rosita was also pregnant when she was killed off in the book, making this is a stomach-churning event rivaled only by Glenn’s death in issue #100.
We’ll just have to wait and see why Ezekiel and Rosita were spared on the show and what showrunner Angela Kang has planned for them. Whatever it is, it’s likely not going to be another movie night…
Meanwhile, with Tara’s death and Maggie still on sabbatical, the Hilltop needs a new leader to prepare the settlement for the war to come, and something tells us Daryl is finally ready to fill that role. Will Michonne, Daryl, and Ezekiel be enough to protect their communities from the Whisperers and the massive horde of undead that Alpha is keeping in a canyon as a final solution against her enemies?
The episode ends with Siddiq telling his story of Enid, Tara, and Henry’s final moments before their brutal deaths. More than the fair itself, it’s a rallying call for all of the communities to band together against the enemy beyond the border marked by the blood of their loved ones.
We broke down what happens during the Whisperer War elsewhere, but what you need to know going into the next episode is that the communities are going to arm themselves once again for a war that was all but inevitable to begin with.