Each week, we comb through the guts of The Walking Dead, much like a horde of hungry walkers, to bring you the episode’s best moments, surprises, and other post-apocalyptic curiosities. This week: Eugene makes the most out of a bad situation, Michonne rectifies a bad situation, and Henry is a bad situation.
Season 9, Episode 12: “Guardians”
Least surprising reveal: Looks like Alpha wasn’t a product of the apocalypse—she was always an abusive, unhinged individual. Can’t say we didn’t see this coming.
Best new term for walkers: “Hungry ones”
Best new character: Beta is a menacing force in the Whisperers’ camp. We expect great (terrible, yet great) things from him before a hard-fought battle to the death in the coming seasons.
Plot line we most want to see: We understand why Michonne wouldn’t want to include Negan in just about anything, but it certainly does seem the man is ready to have some sort of role in society. Let’s hope something happens to push this forward, because more Negan screen-time is always a good thing.
Best (potentially) deleted scene: While we loved the walker herd attack diversion Daryl set up to free Henry, we really wanted to see more of him setting it up.
More training needed: Dog is a very good boy when it comes to tracking and alerting about nearby walkers. But when it comes to fetching and returning arrows, he needs to work on the “drop it” command.
String theory: Lydia finds a blue yo-yo stuck in the dirt at the Whisperer compound, digs it up, and removes and pockets the string. Later, Alpha decapitates a Whisperer with some sort of cord. This feels like foreshadowing for Lydia and her string.
Best facial expression: Henry’s I’ve made a huge mistake face after Alpha kills the two Whisperers who tried to rise up against her.
Most sympathetic: It is pretty incredible how a year ago, Eugene was one of the most reviled characters on the show, having sold out to the Saviors and turned on his friends. Now, it’s hard not to feel bad for the guy who seems to just genuinely want whatever’s best for Rosita, who he admits to being “head over hammertoes” in love with, even though she’s pregnant with someone else’s child and has no romantic interest in him.
Best line: “If you’ll pardon my French—you being a man of the cloth and all—you’d be a damn fool to let her go. Listen, we’ve been through the stew me and you—you never gave up on me, even when I did. Even with bad peepers, you saw things I didn’t. So let me kick what I’m saying: Rosita is the best thing that’s happened to you since this whole shitstorm started, so you’d do well to ponder long and hard about this before tossing the literal baby out with the proverbial bathwater.” —Eugene to Gabriel
Most disturbing image: Everything about the Whisperers’ camp. From the entirely skinned walker (look for it in the background when Alpha and Lydia first arrive at camp) to the way Alpha handled her challenger and his girlfriend, we were left feeling plenty uneasy. These people do not mess around and have been set up to be great antagonists for the upcoming episodes.
Best kill: The walker ambush on the Whisperers’ camp. After an entire episode of being frightened by everything Alpha says and does, then wondering how the heck Henry was going to get out of being on the wrong end of Lydia’s knife, the sudden, unexpected attack is just as much of a shock to the audience as it is to the Whisperers. Daryl and Connie (and Dog) did good.
Episode MVP: Michonne. We still don’t really know what exactly happened that made her so cautious and afraid to mingle with the outside world, but we’re glad that Negan and Judith were able to help her see that she might be going too far. Even if participating in the fair turns out to be a huge mistake, she was right to let the people choose.