Leadership featured at the forefront of The Walking Dead this week. With Alpha, Daryl, and Michonne, they laid a path forward. Here’s our review of “Guardians.”
I’ll be honest, “Guardians” felt a little like filler, but I believe too many people equate groundwork for the future with “filler” because nothing obviously dramatic happened. That’s an oversimplification of things, in my opinion.
“Guardians” shows us three leaders (Alpha, Michonne, and Daryl) and their approaches to different situations. This will help us predicate how they’ll behave later this season.
Before we get into that, there are a one thing that we need to tuck away quickly.
With some help from Eugene, Gabriel finally decides that he’s going to stick with Rosita even though she’s going to have Saddiq’s child. Eugene tells Gabriel that it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it, and if he doesn’t stay with Rosita, he doesn’t deserve her.
“Guardians” ends with Eugene watching Rosita, Gabriel, and Saddiq enter a house to presumably talk about their future.
Ways this could end?
Eugene could get the pike treatment from the Whisperers. This would have Rosita, Gabriel, and Saddiq mourning his loss and also the audience would feel hurt because we’ve seen how selfless Eugene has been.
The other option is that Rosita dies her comic!death. Now, this isn’t very happy at all, considering Rosita is pregnant in the series. However, The Walking Dead loves man pain. Rosita’s death would trigger a three-for-one on the man pain scale, not even counting the additional man pain that would be felt by Daryl and Aaron.
Another reason why it could be Rosita is that we haven’t experienced the death of a baby yet. In the comics, Lori is shot and killed and crushes Judith in the process, but this never played out on screen. Add into this the fact that Connie saved the Whisperer baby in 9.10, and a life for a life.
My money is on Rosita meeting her comic end this season.
Onto, Michonne in Alexandria…
It becomes quite clear to us early on that Michonne has rigged the system so that she’s the failsafe. Gabriel and Saddiq continually make jabs about defense being the deciding factor of anything and Michonne is in charge of defense, so….
Granted, she has every right to be pissed at them since they went out without her knowledge, and this led the Whisperers to them since Eugene and Rosita went out too far.
Still, Michonne is checked for her behavior by the council, and it doesn’t sit well with her, which leads us to Negan and his proposal later in the episode.
He offers his ear as a “former leader” to help Michonne. He calls her out on her bullshit about writing a charter that basically makes her leader without being called leader. It’s during this discussion that Negan let’s it slip that he’s been listening to the conversations of the ASZ for years from his window.
When Michonne tells him that they’re fixing his lock and taking away his window, she notices Judith outside.
**sidenote: This scene is shot so differently, and I’d really like to know why it was done this way.**
Seeing Judith takes us down a whole other path with Michonne.
She feels like Rick to me in this episode. Everyone’s telling her she’s wrong while she clings to a “Rick-tatorship” mentality, and she’s neglecting her kids.
If there was one criticism of Rick Grimes, it was that he didn’t pay attention to his kids enough. He loved them, but he wasn’t always present. This forced them into the confidence of some unsavory characters.
This is the first episode we’ve seen R.J. in some time, and when Judith tells Michonne that Negan’s the only one who listens to her, something snaps. She tells Judith to go away because she needs a minute, and I think this set Michonne on the right-ish path for now.
Later that evening, she goes to Aaron and tells him she’ll support them going to the Kingdom’s fair if they vote again, but now he’s not sure it’s a good idea. I’m pretty sure he’s right, but they’ll go anyway, and then Michonne will feel guilty when it all goes south.
Meanwhile, we’ve been getting an extremely rude awakening with The Whisperers. Honestly, if the Terminus plot had ran long, we might have seen crazy like this on a smaller scale before, but we didn’t.
The Saviors were bad guys, but I don’t think they tripped into batshit crazy like this either.
Henry has chased after them and of course they’ve caught him because duh. Daryl Dixon didn’t come out of the woods to babysit a well-mannered child. Carol drug him out to watch Carl 2.0 because she knew it was necessary.
Through all these scenes we see Alpha treat her daughter horribly and also commend her for being a good liar. We also meet Beta for the first time as he captures Henry.
What transpires in the Whisperer’s camp isn’t unexpected because we’ve established that they’re very out there, but it does show us that the writers aren’t playing games when it comes to demonstrating Alpha’s issues. If those same issues translate into ramifications for the rest of the cast is another question, specifically characters who have been around for several seasons and have plot armor.
To further illustrate that that Alpha’s abusive af, she tells Beta the story of how she almost watched Lydia die when she was a toddler, only to beat her once she was sure she was okay. This women isn’t sane. This woman doesn’t even border sane.
When two Whisperer’s tell Alpha they believe she’s wrong for going after her own daughter when she wouldn’t do the same for anyone else, she tells them they can challenge her if they don’t think she’s the right leader. The man challenges her and another woman comes forward, too. We see how paralyzed with fear these people are around Alpha, though.
She cuts off one woman’s head (with little effort) and stabs the man in the side. All the while, Henry’s not five feet away, watching and realizing he should have just stayed home fixing those pipes in the Kingdom.
Of course, Alpha flexes her power again that night when she decides to make Lydia kill Henry to prove he’s not important. Otherwise, Beta will kill both of them.
Lydia shows some backbone and gets sassy with her mom as she holds the knife, but I truly believed Lydia would have killed Henry. It would have been awesome had she turned the knife against her mother as she invoked the fact that Lydia’s dad was weak, but that’s a lot to ask. (Heads on pikes in the background…so much foreshadowing)
Thankfully, Daryl and Connie chose this moment to arrive and save the day.
I’ll begin this section of the review by telling you that I’d ship this in a damn heartbeat, and I would probably fall over if Daryl learned sign language to communicate with Connie. Not only is she a brilliant woman, but she also notices Daryl’s soft side right away.
No, it’s not because they’ve shared screen time, and I hate Caryl. It’s because Daryl deserves happiness and if Caryl didn’t happen in S3 or S4, it’s not happening. I love their relationship for what it is, but romance it is not.
Back to the rescue, Connie and Daryl have taken a page of the Whisperers playbook and donned walker masks to both lead walkers into camp and try and steal Henry away. However, Henry refuses to leave without Lydia.
Eventually, Daryl drags them both away.
How will this mesh with comic content, though? In the comics, Lydia is banished, but she runs away here. Will Alpha simply believe her daughter has been abducted or will she finally come to terms with Lydia not wanting to be with her anymore?
One thing is for sure, next week, Daryl Dixon will try and take out Beta. In the preview, he asks Lydia if Beta is their best, and when she says yes, Daryl says they’ll kill him first.
“Guardians” laid the groundwork for the final four episodes of this seasons. It may have been filler to some, but I think the parallels in leadership between Alpha and Michonne (their way or the highway) will become very important. Even if Michonne backed off in the end. That foil was there for a reason.
What did you think of episode 12? What do you hope to see next? Share your thoughts with us!