The fair has arrived and reunions are happening everywhere, but nothing stays peaceful for long on The Walking Dead. Here’s our review of “The Calm Before”!
“The Calm Before” opens with Hilltop community members head out to the Kingdom. Somewhere along the way, they’re ambushed by Whisperers, and Alpha is seen scalping the blonde woman while singing the song that Lydia said that she’d sing to her to keep her calm when she was little.
This is a whole damn mess.
At the Kingdom, Ezekiel welcomes everyone to the fair, naming Rick and Carl Grimes as architects of it. It was their vision, along with Jesus’, that these communities would live and thrive together.
“It took us far too long to fulfill the promise of what Rick Grimes and his son Carl envisioned, the same promise Paul Rovia, better known to most as “Jesus,” believed in when he brought us all together those many years ago. We’ve always been bound to each other. We always will be. We fought our way back to each other. We have grown. The crossing over the river may be gone, but we have rebuilt a bridge, nonetheless.”
Unfortunately, celebrations are cut short after the introduction because I group is going out to look for Daryl, Connie, and Henry.
Just before everyone heads out, Daryl, Connie, Henry, Michonne, Judith, AND Lydia arrive at the Kingdom. Carol and Ezekiel get emotional that Judith remembers them, and it made my heart melt.
The excitement ends when Tara notices Lydia and reminds Daryl that she wasn’t part of the deal. He was only supposed to get Henry. Michonne promptly calls a meeting with the leaders to discuss this new development.
During this meeting, Gabriel tells everyone that Alexandria has granted Lydia asylum. Tara points out that retaliation will be against Hilltop, not Alexandria, for keeping Lydia. This is all very true, but Michonne gets her to listen:
“I thought we were on the same page.”
“We were. And, look, when she came to my gates, I asked her to run away. And when she didn’t, I was angry.”
“Then you know why I’m not okay with this.”
“I do. I also know why Rick didn’t trust me when I showed up at the gates of the prison. And how people didn’t trust you after seeing you on the other side of the Governor’s firing line.”
“I was gonna kill you on sight when you washed up on our shore.”
Tara says it’s a fair point, and Michonne goes on to say they need to form a pact. An attack on one community is an attack on all. They also decide to send people from each community to Hilltop that same day to help protect Hilltop.
Ezekiel brings out his awesome charter for everyone to sign. Ezekiel and Carol, Tara, Oceanside’s representative, Rachel, and Michonne tells Gabriel that the head of the council should sign it, so he’s the ASZ rep.
Around the Hilltop after the meeting ends, Henry and Lydia watch as Daryl gets ready to leave, and they both say they’d like to go help since it’s their fault, but Ezekiel comes up and stops them. He tells them they just got there and he better see them at the movies that night.
Carol and Ezekiel have a moment about their son dating now, and the we move to Luke trying to get Alden to sing. He even tries to get Enid to say she wants him to sing. Alden makes no commitment, though.
Finally, we see Connie and Kelly. They share a very emotional moment when Kelly tells Connie that she left without saying goodbye and goodbye could be there last. Then Connie tells her that she couldn’t let the baby die. In fact, it brought back lots of feelings that she’d thought she’d pushed down.
What happened in Connie’s past? Did she have a baby? Perhaps in her journalism, did she come across a child she couldn’t save or one that died in front of her? I’m really interested in that backstory.
Kelly hugs Connie, and things are settled between them again.
Elsewhere at the fair, Michonne talks to Saddiq, telling him that he can come to Hilltop the next day, but to enjoy the fair for now. She asks him to keep an eye out for Judith, and he makes the comment about needing the experience. When she asks what he means, he’ll tell her when he gets to Hilltop.
At the food area, Addy stops Henry. She apologizes for causing trouble with telling on him and Lydia. Henry tries to get away from her, but it seems like a ploy on Addy’s part because some boys go up and talk to Lydia. They tell her that Addy likes Henry, and it looks like Henry likes her, too. They also ask if she plans to cause any trouble here. This causes Lydia to storm off.
As everyone is getting ready to leave, they all say their goodbyes at the gate. Magna and Yumiko wish Luke luck tonight as he takes the stage, and they hug everyone goodbye.
Before Daryl leaves, Connie stops him and writes him a note that says, “Be safe.” He tells he to be safe, too, and asks if she’ll take care of Dog while he’s gone. SHIP IT LIKE WHOA!
Next, Ezekiel asks if Daryl would consider making the Kingdom his home after all this is done. Daryl tells him that he’ll think about it. After he walks away, Carol tells Ezekiel to enjoy the fair, but he says he won’t enjoy it until she’s back.
It seems to me that every person that is told to have a good time is going to die. We’re spending all this time worried about Hilltop, but it will be the Kingdom that gets it.
The Highwaymen are out keeping the roads clear, and Daryl and the others show up and that’s when we find the ambushed stuff from Hilltop. No bodies, though.
When asked if he thinks it was the skins, Ozzy responds:
“Strange times. Strange ways to cope.”
That goes without saying.
Carol, Michonne, Daryl, and Yumiko go tracking the people that were drug away while the others go to Hilltop. Side note: Magna and Yumiko are a couple! YAY!
While they’re following the trail, they get surrounded by walkers and Whisperers. It’s an obvious trap and there’s no way out. After they kill all the walkers, the Whisperers come out of the woods. Beta is there to Daryl’s surprise.
“You just had to give me the girl. No one else had to die. Now that deal is done.”
The episode changes drastically after this.
We’re back at Kingdom after everyone has left, and we see the face that Alpha stole earlier. This is a page straight out of Daryl Dixon’s playbook. Shit is about to get bad.
Inside one of the homes, Rosita and Eugene make peace with their situation. She thanks him for talking to Gabriel, and he tells her he had to. Together, they sit down at the radios and begin to work.
Outside, Henry’s walking around Hilltop, looking for Lydia. Tara, Gabriel, and the Oceanside rep are talking about fighting techniques and how they can help each other. Tara is anxious to leave, though.
“I just want to get on the road. Got to leave at first light.”
“I understand, but your community is in good hands – with the people you sent out already.”
“I know, but I want them to know they can count on me when trouble comes. That they have a leader that shows up for them.”
“I don’t see any reason anyone should doubt that.”
“I’m gonna go gear up. When I get back, we should talk about training facilities.”
Tara feels like she has so much to prove, and she’s grown so much over the last few episodes.
At the stage, Alden and Luke are trying to figure out what to sing, and Enid tells Alden she’ll only make fun of him for the rest of their lives.
I literally just spent this episode figuring out who’s going to die based on their dialogue.
Off to the side, Henry finds Lydia and talks to her, telling her that everything those guys said was a lie, and he likes her. Then they share a kiss, and Henry hears the pipes messing up, so he goes to take a look.
Alpha continues to walk around the fair, taking in bits of conversation here and there that help her talk to Ezekiel when he comes her way.
After Ezekiel introduces himself, Alpha tells him that she can’t believe Michonne came, and then says she hopes to one day meet the Queen. Ezekiel seems to think she’s a bit off, but goes with it. When she mentions the clothing booths and sweater weather, Ezekiel gives her his arm after she ominously says:
“I have a feeling it’s going to be a hard winter.”
During the movie, Ezekiel and Henry are nowhere to be found, and Alpha comes and sits beside Lydia. She touches her hand and puts a finger over her lips.
The timeline switches again, and we’re back in the woods. Alpha approaches the group, and Daryl lashes out.
“You ain’t getting her back.”
“You think this is about my daughter?”
She goes on to say that Lydia isn’t one of them anymore, and she was weak.
Alpha leads Daryl away from the rest of the group and shows him the horde she has.
“My people are among them, steering them. The only reason you and your friends are alive is because I let you live.”
“What do you want?”
“Nothing. You don’t got a single thing to offer me. I’ve seen how you live. I’ve walked your streets. It’s a joke. Your communities are a shrine to a long-dead world. My people, the Whisperers We live as nature intended.”
“That’s just all the bullshit you feed your sheep so they’ll follow you.”
“They follow me ’cause I am the Alpha. And if the Alpha doesn’t assert herself, then there’s chaos. So that is what I’ve done.”
“What’d you do?”
“Your friends back at the camp are fine. Tell them the next time they cross into my land, my horde will cross into theirs. The land between the broken interstates and the river to the south is mine. I’ve marked the border to the north. You’ll see it as you leave.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“You’ll see it as you leave. Go. Your friends will be waiting for you in a field due north.”
Daryl asks if she killed Lydia, and she remembers the night before. She tried to take Lydia, and Lydia told her that these people she’s with would kill Alpha to protect her and all she has to do is scream.
Alpha tells her she was just trying to protect her, like all mothers do for their children, but she was never one of them. Alpha walks away and Lydia cries. In the present, Alpha tells Daryl:
“I don’t think you can protect my daughter, but I hope I’m wrong.”
Daryl walks back to the field to find Carol, Michonne, and Yumiko. They all start their journey back.
At the Whisperer camp, Beta walks up on Alpha.
“I want to be alone.”
He turns a leaves without another word, but another whisper comes out of the woods, disturbing her. She stabs him in the head and kills him.
We switch back to our group again, and we seem them stumble upon Saddiq in the woods. He’s bleeding and tied to a tree. He’s crying, and they stagger up a hill to see the pikes in a row that demarcate the northern boundary now.
Ozzy, Alek, DJ, Frankie, Tammy Rose, Addy, Rodney, Tara, Enid, and Henry.
Daryl runs to Carol to protect her from seeing Henry, but it’s too late. They really need to stop killing Carol’s children like this. It’s damn awful.
Saddiq is left alive, though, and back at the Kingdom, he tells everyone that Alpha wanted to keep him alive for him to bring fear into the communities with this story, but instead, he tells them how Ozzy, Alek, and DJ showed up at the last minute and helped them try and get away. He says that everyone started fighting together, even though they might not have known who they were fighting beside. The fought as a family.
“And in the end, they Their time was cut short, but ours keeps going. So we have to keep going. For them and for all of us. We need to honor them. We need to honor them, and we need to remember these friends, our family, died as heroes. That’s the story that I want to tell you. That’s the story that I want us all to remember.”
This is the second time that Saddiq has used the word honor in regard to someone’s death. The last time, it was Carl.
The episode ends with winter arriving, and Daryl walking with Lydia to where the pikes still stand. She places her necklace at the base of what was Henry’s pike, and they walk away together.
So, two things here:
#1 Daryl Dixon has a daughter now. It’s canon, and he’ll protect her at all cost.
#2 The pikes remain in place because no one has crossed that boundary. This means there was no retaliation.
So, what does this mean for the finale? Right now, it appears like all the communities are in a real bind with a huge snow storm blowing in, and Kingdom falling. They must cross the boundary to get where they need to go, but will this mean a new war with the Whisperers?
We also need to give a special shoutout to Bear McCreary. His score this episode was emotional and moved the scenes along so well. No lie, the score brought me to tears.
What do you think will happen in next week’s finale, “The Storm”?