Those who have watched The Walking Dead for any length of time know the showrunners can go hardcore when they want to – if the source material and the situation allows it, they have no problem ripping their viewers’ hearts out.
Warning – this blog will contain spoilers from season 9 episode 15, “The Calm Before.”
The communities’ reunification trade fair was everything fans had been promised, showing hundreds of people coming together from Alexandria, Hilltop, and Oceanside at the Kingdom. The attendees enjoyed everything from live music to candy apples.
However, the inclusion of Lydia in the festivities made many people nervous – and rightfully so. Alpha was planning retaliation as only she could, cornering a number of the heroes in the woods on their way out.
It is worth mentioning the episode opened with a couple of “red shirts” joining Hilltop. A short time after they departed from the gates, they wound up dead at the hands of Alpha. The blonde-haired lady was then scalped, with Alpha wearing the flowing locks and a hat to stealthily sneak into the trade fair.
No one thought much of the unassuming “Debbie,” but her presence in the fair obviously meant nothing good. She did confront her daughter, who was enjoying the movie – of course, they had to reunite right at the time a cartoon character took off a mask to reveal their true identity. Well played, show.
Lydia informed her mom she was staying, and said all she’d have to do was scream and the community would kill Alpha in order to protect her. But she said she didn’t want to hurt her mom, or have anyone else do it, so she kindly asked her to depart.
Alpha did depart, but there was nothing kind about it. Back in the present when she’d taken Daryl off to show him a massive herd, she issued a stern warning. She said she wasn’t interested in getting Lydia back anymore, calling the girl weak. She also told Daryl that if their group crossed over into the Whisperers’ land again, they would bring the herd to their communities.
When she said she’d marked the border, comic fans knew what was coming. While the lineup of casualties was changed from the comics, we expected heads on pikes – and we got them.
The full casualty list included Highwayman leader Ozzy and his second in command, as well as reformed Savior DJ. Negan’s former wife-turned-leader Frankie was also among the casualties, as was Tammy Rose, who had been starting to shine in recent episodes.
Two of the teenagers, Addy and Rodney, were dead as well – then we got to the big ones. As expected, Henry met his end. So did Enid and Tara, two characters who had been major players in the show for multiple seasons.
After the brutal scene, Siddiq made an inspirational speech about how the group fought back together – despite not knowing each other well. To steal a quote from Rick Grimes, Alpha may have just found out she’s screwing with the wrong people.