TV Review: The Walking Dead – Season 9, Episode 12

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Season 9, Episode 12: Guardians

PLOT: Daryl and Connie track Henry while leaders are questioned at both Alexandria and the Whisperer camp.

REVIEW: Actor Ryan Hurst is well known for playing a character called Opie on Sons of Anarchy, which is a series I have never watched. I did watch Bates Motel, though, and when Hurst appeared on that show as Chick Hogan he quickly became one of my favorite things about it. So I was looking forward to this episode of The Walking Dead, which marks Hurst's first appearance as Beta, a member of the Whisperers group that loves to wear masks of zombie flesh. His introduction did not disappoint, as Beta came off as a hulking beast of a man whose size and loyalty to his leader Alpha (Samantha Morton) should make him a great threat to the heroes of this show.

I was a bit put off by the previous episode because the scenes of Alpha standing at the gate of the Hilltop community and talking about whether or not there will be conflict between the groups gave me unwelcome flashbacks to the days of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) lording over everybody. I was much more on board with this episode, which gave us a look inside the Whisperer camp as Alpha brings her daughter Lydia (Cassady McClincy) back into the group… and finds that Lydia's normal (i.e. not a Whisperer) love interest Henry (Matt Lintz) has followed them from Hilltop.

Alpha also had to fend off one of the most pathetic attempted coups of all time in this episode, a scene which served to confirm things we already knew – Alpha isn't someone to mess with, and she has no problem with killing people – and was a showcase for a nice gore effect.

She wasn't the only one being questioned in this episode, as Michonne (Danai Gurira) also had to butt heads with several people at the shut-off Alexandria community. At this point it's getting a bit annoying that the show is holding back information from us that would explain why Michonne is so troubled by the idea of the communities working together. We need to be told what happened in the six years since Rick Grimes disappeared so we can understand why Michonne has become a pain in the ass… but at the same time, it's going to be tough to find a place for that info dump where it won't be too much of a distraction from the interesting stuff that's going on with the Whisperers.

The Walking Dead Ryan Hurst Samantha Morton

There is less interesting stuff to be found even within Guardians, though. Namely the continuation of the extremely soap opera-esque storyline going on with Rosita (Christian Serratos), Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and his unrequited crush on her, her current lover Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), and Doctor Siddiq (Avi Nash), the father of the child she's now carrying. Do I care whether or not Gabriel is going to stick with Rosita after finding out she's carrying another man's child? I can't say I do. At all.

A relationship I'm more intrigued by is the bond that's forming between Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Connie (Lauren Ridloff) as they track Henry to the Whisperer camp. When we heard that Rick Grimes was being written off the show, the news was accompanied by reports that the focus was going to shift over to Daryl, and I wasn't quite sure how that was going to work. He's a character who stays off to the side, he's not a community leader type… But if the last few episodes are any indication, this show is going to work just fine with Reedus in the lead. The stuff with Daryl dealing with the Whisperer issue and digging into the relationship between Alpha and Lydia has been great. He's not leading any community, but he is taking charge in this confrontation.

There has been speculation that Daryl and Connie are going to become an item, and after seeing him compliment her slingshot skills ("Nice."), I can buy that it's actually going to happen. Nine seasons in, Daryl might indulge in some romance. With a potential love interest and a dog who retrieves his arrows for him, it looks like Daryl's getting a good life set up, even if the arrow retrievals aren't always 100% successful. Soon he might even be showering.

Everything at Alexandria in this episode – Michonne arguing with people, the baby drama – earns a shrug from me, but the scenes at the Whisperer camp and with Daryl and Connie out in the wild had me captivated. The preview for next week's episode promises more Daryl vs. Whisperer action, and I'm looking forward to it.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: In the final moments of the episode, Daryl and Connie use the Whisperers' own tactics against them. I only wish we had seen more of them working to pull this off.

GORY GLORY: There are two major contenders for this category this week. The episode did feature an excellent human decapitation, but I think I have to give the top honor to the moment in which we see Beta peeling the flesh off a zombie's head. That was awesomely gross.

FAVORITE SCENE: A walk in the woods with Daryl, Connie, and Dog.



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Source: JoBlo

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.