The Walking Dead Just Raised 2 Powerful, Interesting Questions About Its World

Daryl and Alpha showdown in the latest Walking Dead.
Photo: Gene Page (AMC)

The latest episode of The Walking Dead, “Bounty,” focused on two stories, each with its own burning question. One question was very serious. The other, less so, but no less interesting to think about in a world of zombies and death. And, thankfully, the latter brought back some of the series’ best characters, who’d been sidelined for a few weeks.

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Those characters are Carol, Ezekiel, and the rest of the Kingdom whose story took a back seat since the series came back. And the show reminded us as such by beginning with a scene from what was obviously several years ago. The now-deceased Jesus and Tara bringing Carol, Ezekiel and Jerry (who at the time was just about to have his first kid and now has several) some supplies including the charter he hopes will act as a new set of laws for their people. One that not everyone agrees with.

That was then, though, this is now. And in the now Ezekiel and Carol lead their people on what some might call a fool’s mission: into a movie theater to recover a projector bulb. The reason being that no one has seen a movie in 5 years and they believe movies inspire wonder and imagination. Ezekiel feels bringing that back to the world, especially for kids who’ve never seen a movie, could be a great thing. This ideology sounds solid until you realize it means having to kill dozens of zombies who are trapped inside the theater everyone only assumes has this bulb. But Carol agrees it’s something worth fighting for and, a few twists and turns aside, they get it, along with a poster frame to put the aforementioned charter in.

This brings us to the less serious but still interesting question posed by this episode. Is art worth risking your life over? Are non-essential things essential to a full life? It’s certainly a debate worth having and, personally, I come down on the side of yes. Is life worth living if you can’t enjoy it with some frivolities? I don’t think so. And after years surviving in The Walking Dead, the people of the Kingdom seem to agree. I wonder what movie they’ll show first. Maybe a Rick Grimes movie.

Welcome back, you guys.
Photo: Gene Page (AMC)
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Then there’s the more serious, central question to the episode which comes from the storyline between the Hilltoppers and Alpha’s Whisperers. The last episode ended with Alpha revealing herself to the Hilltoppers and asking for her daughter Lydia back. Alpha says if they give her back, there will be no conflict. At first, Daryl says “No.” So Alpha brings out more Whisperers. He says they’ll light them up with firepower, so Alpha brings out a baby to ward him off. She’s a seriously evil person with a belief system that is going to be really fascinating to explore.

Finally, Alpha brings out her trump cards: Alden and Luke, who she offers in a two for one trade for Lydia. This is a deal Daryl can’t say no to but, unfortunately, Henry has other plans and escapes with Lydia, saying he can’t live with giving her back to her abusive mother.

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So, obviously, that’s the big question here. Is it okay to give Lydia back to Alpha just because she’s her mother, knowing that she’s abusive? On the surface it’s simple. Everyone on the show knows the answer is “No.” Which is why Daryl, at the beginning, is willing to risk everyone’s life to protect her. Willing to go to war with the Whisperers so they don’t have to give Lydia back. But when it becomes a life-for-a-life situation, things change slightly. No, it’s not okay to give Lydia back but is it okay to let two of your best friends die because of it?

Henry is told that sometimes life is terrible and you just have to deal with it. Which is true. But it’s also true that maybe you don’t have to live with it, which is why he sneaks off to go get her (I’m sure the kiss Lydia planted on him didn’t hurt to get that going) and Daryl sneaks off to get Henry, with Connie in tow as back-up.

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And onto the next episode we go, thanks to these two.
Photo: Gene Page (AMC)

Maybe it’s just me, but I found the Kingdom question more interesting than the Hilltop questions in “Bounty.” That’s probably because I adore movies but also because we know the conflict with the Whisperers isn’t going away. And it could have....if everyone just lived with the horribly shitty situation of Lydia being back with Alpha. Alas, our characters have too much heart for that, and so on it goes.

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Assorted Musings:

  • It was great to see Ezekiel and Carol again but the problem with there being so many characters on The Walking Dead is whenever you are with one, you aren’t with another. What’s going on with Negan? What would Michonne think of all this? Of course, the story will get back to them but it’s always a little frustrating to be stuck in one or two places.
  • “Maybe we’re done losing for a while” Carol and Ezekiel muse as the show clearly shows us a sign featuring an ominous red triangle with a line over it. What the hell was that?
  • When exactly is this fair everyone is talking about? It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Maybe that’ll be the season finale and all hell will break loose there.
  • Alpha’s nonchalant nod for her follower to kill a baby was chilling, saying that if the baby doesn’t stay quiet, the dead will take care of it. However, she also said the Whisperers are animals and that animals bring their babies out. But animals also have self-preservation. They don’t simply allow their babies to be killed. So which is it, Alpha? Do you have self-preservation or are you just straight up evil?
  • Lydia says that Alpha broke her own rules by coming to get her. So, what are those rules and why would she break them for Lydia? I’m guessing the second half of that is more important and that maybe it has something to do with all that safety and shelter people enjoy. Maybe Alpha wants a little of that for herself and her people.
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About the author

Germain Lussier

Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo