Occasionally, The Walking Dead sneaks up on you with a surprise. Episode 10 of Season 9 of The Walking Dead, titled “Omega”, did just that. The dialog was moving and from a narrative perspective the visual cues were on point. While we hear and see the story of Lydia, experienced through flashbacks, we don’t know if she told the truth, or not, but one thing is clear; the writing for The Walking Dead is better than it has been in a long time.
The Lydia Story
In the zombie apocalypse the stories of the survivors are all difficult. Some, like Rick’s, tell of the courage it took to find loved ones. Some, like Morgan, go through a personal hell to find any semblance of meaning to their lives. Then there are stories like Lydia’s that make you realize that child abuse and PTSD are sadly alive and well, even if the rest of the world is dying or dead.
Flashbacks tell us first, of a story as told by Lydia about her father who appears to make one bad choice after another. Lydia explains, at first that her mother tried to protect her and was the simple voice of reason. The mother figure Lydia presents is bullied by a father that she describes as “cold”. As the episode unfolds, however, Lydia changes her story and remembers that her mother was the one who bullied her father. The switch seems to come after Lydia is released from the cell by Henry.
|The Comics vs The Series|
|In the comics, Lydia becomes the girlfriend of Carl. When they killed Carl off, it seemed almost impossible to continue a storyline with the Whisperers that would be similar.
The choice to use Henry as her confidante and savior, is interesting to say the least, but strange on many levels. The fact that he bridges two domestic abuse stories may ultimately prove very interesting on a character level, both for Henry and Lydia, and Henry and Carol.
It’s clear that Daryl has asked Henry to help him get to know Lydia, but it’s not clear that Daryl trusts her completely. When Henry, let’s Lydia out of the jail cell, and they tour Hilltop (including a worm dinner). Lydia stops near a table and it seems she’s reaching for a hammer. She tells Henry that places like Hilltop shouldn’t exist. When a baby cries, Lydia has a barrage of memories about her father that send her over the edge, and she asks to be returned to the jail cell. She asks Henry to stay, and Henry hold her hand through the bars.
Daryl’s interactions with Lydia are more complicated. First, he sees the issue of telling Lydia anything about the Kingdom as a danger, and scolds Henry about it. Second, Daryl recognizes a pattern of abuse on Lydia’s arm. He seems keenly aware of what being beaten is like. Third, Daryl watched the pair while they were out of the cell, and what he thinks about what happened is unclear. In the end, it does seem that Daryl has warmed up a little, to Lydia.
Ultimately, however, we are left with many questions about Lydia and her ability to tell the truth. She did tell Henry, no one would come looking for her, didn’t she?
The Daring Mission
There are several thematic elements to The Walking Dead that remain tried and true; family first, and don’t split up! Both were on full display in tonight’s episode where the search for Luke and Alden continued.
Tara lead a group out to search for Luke and Alden, but they decide to come back when horses are found cut and skinned. Tara says they will search again when they have a plan. But, for a reason (that really eludes logic), Kelly, Connie, Magna and Yumiko leave Hilltop and begin searching, at night, for Luke. Connie and Kelly keep searching for Luke, even after Magna and Yumiko leave. Tara has had them followed and returns them back to Hilltop in the morning, but they are almost intercepted by the Whisperers. Connie is separated from the group, and disappears into a corn field, while the others make it back into the gates.
Lydia’s mom, now devoid of her Whisperer mask, demands her daughter back.
Other Storypoints in this Episode
- Tara’s grip on leadership seems tenuous at best
- The line between Henry and Daryl about Henry being glad Daryl was his mom’s friend seemed important, but not apparently so.
- The narrative style of the flashbacks worked. The little visual cues that Lydia was remembering things wrong, coupled with Daryl’s observation about much of it ringing hollow, were well done.
- Why was Connie separated?
- Lydia has given Hilltop the location of the Whisperer’s camp.