TV Review: The Walking Dead - Season 9, Episode 10

Season 9, Episode 10: Omega

PLOT: The Whisperers move in on Hilltop while the leader's daughter gives information on her history.

REVIEW: Omega is an episode of AMC's The Walking Dead that I didn't expect to get any time soon, if ever. It's basically an origin story for the new villain, Alpha (Samantha Morton), the leader of the group called The Whisperers that go around wearing masks of zombie flesh and prending to be zombies themselves. This is a character we haven't even been properly introduced to yet; she only showed up to speak one line while capturing Luke (Dan Fogler) and Alden (Callan McAuliffe) at the end of the previous episode. So we're getting a glimpse of her back story before we even get to know her in present day, which is something this show has never done for a "big bad" before.

This was a strange but interesting way to tell an origin story, because the person telling it - Alpha's daughter Lydia (Cassady McClincy) - gets details mixed up along the way, giving Alpha credit for things Lydia's dad Frank (Steve Kazee) did, saying Frank did things Alpha actually did. Did her mom used to sing to her when she was little, or did her dad? Did her dad cut his beard once the zombie apocalypse began, or did her mom cut her hair? Some viewers could have been as confused by her jumbled up memories as Lydia was, and I'm not even 100% sure I got all the facts straight... But I'm going with the idea that the zombie outbreak that happened in the safe haven Lydia and her family were hiding in was indeed caused by the dead body Alpha left lying around after she killed a guy while trying to shut him up. And that happened because it was at the point in the timeline before people realized that anyone who died would become a zombie, they didn't have to be bitten. I was shocked to find that characters in The Walking Dead stayed clueless to that fact for so long, since that's information given within the first night of the outbreak in the movie that started all this stuff, George A. Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. If these people don't know that any dead person is a danger, they deserve to get munched.

The majority of Omega involved Lydia sitting in her cell at Hilltop, giving out details on her history to Daryl (Norman Reedus) and fellow jailbird Henry (Matt Lintz). This could have been quite dull, but the episode managed to hold my attention and McClincy really impressed me with her performance. I thought it was a clever touch that all three of these characters have either suffered abuse or are close to someone who did. Henry mentioning that his adoptive mother Carol (Melissa McBride) used to cut her hair short because she had an abusive husband but has now grown it out because she finally feels safe was nice. It was also nice that the show tapped into Daryl's back story of being abused - we saw long ago that he sports scars on his back from the beatings his father used to dole out - as a way to get him to connect with Lydia.

Daryl is a deeper character than he often appears to be, and Reedus always does great work when he's given more to do than just growl his way through scenes, when he's able to show Daryl's emotional side.

The Walking Dead Nadia Hilker Alanna Masterson Eleanor Matsuura

The few scenes of side plot in here involve the search for Luke and Alden, and my favorite thing about those scenes was how we got to see Tara (Alanna Masterson) taking her wobbly steps into becoming the leader of the Hilltop. Tara gets bashed a lot, but I'm a fan of the character and like to see her evolving.

Omega could be called a filler episode, since it ends with a moment I had thought would arrive much earlier in the running time, but in the end I think there was enough drama and character work to make it worth being part of the season. It wasn't just another example of the show spinning its wheels, something it has done quite often in the past.

The episode also earns some bonus points with the song that was sung to Lydia when she was a child. That's "Lydia the Tattooed Lady", first heard in the 1939 Marx brothers movie AT THE CIRCUS. Morton and Kazee both sang it in Omega, but neither could live up to Groucho's performance.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: The zombie attacking the people who hadn't seen NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was a good one, but a zombie scene earlier in the episode had more action, with zombies taking knives, arrows, spears, and slingshot ammo to the head. I liked Tara doing a checklist to make sure a zombie wasn't a Whisperer before trying to take it down, "Funky walk, check. No weapons, check. Okay."

GORY GLORY: Those early-in-the-episode zombies are seen munching on some horse guts.

FAVORITE SCENE: Lydia finds some worms to eat while taking a night walk with Henry. When your significant other sucks the dirt off a worm snack before passing it over to you, you know they're a keeper.




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