This Walking Dead article contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead season 10 has delivered its most explosive episode yet with “Walk With Us,” which begins with a big battle at the Hilltop and ends with a shocking twist that fans will be talking about for a very long time. The episode also claims quite a few lives that will be a major blow to both sides of the Whisperer War.
How will the events of “Walk With Us” affect the rest of the season? Let’s break down the ending of the episode and see where it leaves things for the characters:
Negan Kills Alpha
Fans of The Walking Dead comic book always knew this day would come. And with almost two seasons-worth of episodes as the show’s main antagonist, Alpha’s (Samantha Morton) days were certainly numbered. The leader of the Whisperers dies at the hands of Negan, who slits her throat and cuts off her head, much like he did in the comics.
In Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s comic, Negan kills Alpha in order to gain the trust of Rick and the rest of the communities during the Whisperer War. But unlike on the show, he isn’t ordered to infiltrate Alpha’s group by anyone and he doesn’t seduce the Whisperer leader in the process. Instead, it’s witnessing an attempted rape — which is allowed in Whisperer culture — and Alpha admitting that she let her followers sexually assault her own daughter that sends Negan over the edge.
Fortunately, the TV series spares us the more grotesque aspects of Whisperer life, giving Negan’s “betrayal” a bit more nuance in the process. Earlier in the season, we’re led to believe that Negan had defected to the Whisperers in order to escape his execution after killing Margo while defending Lydia from attackers in Alexandria. He tries to fit into the Whisperer way of life and ingratiate himself with Alpha, which is seemingly how Negan thinks he’ll survive in the wild. But there’s way more to Negan’s motives than meets the eye.
The final minutes of “Walk With Us” paints the complete picture: it’s Carol who freed Negan from Alexandria and sent him to the Whisperer camp to kill Alpha and bring back her head. This was the Queen’s plan all along.
Whether Negan seducing Alpha was part of the plan is questionable, but Carol knew that charming, manipulative Negan could get close to the Whisperer leader — close enough to land a killing blow without her expecting it. Of course, there were also other inciting factors that pushed the former Savior to betray the Whisperer. Negan has his own version of a moral code (believe it or not), and while he’s cool with forcing multiple women into “marrying” him at the Sanctuary, he absolutely abhors rape and violence against children. This is why he killed the Savior who tried to rape Sasha and why he spared Carl in season 7 (although he later tried to brain the young Grimes to punish Rick).
While it’s Alpha’s encouraged rape culture that finally convinces Negan that the time is right to pull the plug on the Whisperer leader in the comics, the TV version of this scene plays with cringey sexual tension (they share one last awful kiss), as Negan leads Alpha to Lydia, whom he’s locked in a cabin but not the one her mother thinks. Negan says he’s captured Lydia for Alpha but he’s really done it to protect the young woman from her mother. After all, Alpha plans to let a walker feed on Lydia in a twisted ritual that she believes will fulfill her daughter’s destiny. But Negan won’t condone the murder of a child — not to mention that he’d already sacrificed his freedom once to protect Lydia — and tells Alpha that her beliefs are bullshit.
It’s no surprise, then, that when Alpha enters the cabin, it’s empty and her throat is cut open by her beau. Lydia, meanwhile, finds herself in a different cabin far from her mother and safe from harm. Alpha dies in Negan’s arm. One has to wonder if Negan actually developed any feelings for the creepy cult leader or at least pities her as she passes. Either way, he cuts off her head and tosses it at Carol’s feet. The Queen simply remarks, “Took you long enough.”
Here’s a scheme worthy of the very best moments in Game of Thrones, as we learn that Carol has been pulling the strings against Alpha the whole time while distracting her minions elsewhere. Of course, she almost got Magna killed and later did get a bunch of people in the Hilltop murdered in order to keep Alpha busy while Negan made his move. Was Lydia crossing the border back to her mother also part of Carol’s plan? She was the one who used Lydia to show Gamma the truth about Alpha, after all. Was she just creating a situation with which to send Lydia packing just to fuck with Alpha?
Perhaps some of this stuff was just a coincidence, but Carol has gone to great lengths in the past to get her way. Could she have masterminded the events of the last few episodes to avenge her son’s death? However deep this particular rabbit hole goes, we know that, at least for now, our Queen is victorious.
What Happens Next?
We previously wrote a spoiler-filled guide to the events of the Whisperer storyline in the comics, and it seems that the show will follow the source material pretty closely. With Alpha dead, her most loyal follower will step up to lead the pack towards war. And where Alpha might have shown weakness towards Lydia and Negan, there is only resolve in Beta, who will seek to crush the Whisperers’ enemies once and for all.
In the comics, Beta leads the remaining Whisperers and their walker horde towards Alexandria for a final assault on the community. It’s a vicious move meant to bring about “the end of the world” once and for all. The show will likely follow suit. A horde of walkers is like The Walking Dead‘s version of Chekhov’s gun, after all. The same horde that ate its way through the Hilltop will reach the walls of Alexandria by season’s end.
We’ll just have to wait and see how the remaining settlement will defend against the post-apocalypse’s version of an atom bomb. In the comics, Alexandria survives but at a steep cost that will likely leave some viewers in the fetal position. Let’s just say things are not looking good for one or two main characters on the show.