Wow. Angela Kang and her crew drove a stake through the hearts of Dead fans last Sunday. Hey, it’s better than through the head, right? The pike sequence has been looming in the minds of fans ever since Alpha and the Whisperers debuted earlier this season, and many saw the trade fair as the green light to such crucial moment. The fair was supposed to serve as a symbol of unity and perseverance to the newly collaborative communities, and Ezekiel’s intent of solidarity may not have been entirely lost. As true in the aftermath of The Walking Dead Issue #144, the communities decide to take action and begin preparing for a war with the Whisperers. However, there are a solid 13 to 14 issues between our pike scene and the start of the war, but we’ll jump into those possibilities later. First, let’s talk about Alpha’s victims.
If you have not watched Episode 15, now this the time to stop before spoilers are discussed.
Still with me? Good. Now, let’s talk about those deaths. In order of camera sequence, the following heads were revealed to the audience: Ozzy, Alek, DJ, Tammy, Frankie, Addy, Rodney, Enid , Tara, and Henry. Obviously, the most shocking reveals were the final three as those characters have had the most screen time, but each head serves a specific purpose. As told in the comics, the deaths cause some inner turmoil within the group, but each community is affected in some way, and, ultimately, Rick uses this event to rally the communities into war. In terms of Issue #144, the lineup was a bit different, but most of those characters are not in the television series by the same name. (Some of the comic characters’ names are changed, but their personalities are the same.) Characters like Olivia, Josh, Carson, Ken, Amber, Larry, Oscar have not been mentioned in the show, but characters like Tammy, Luke, Rosita, and Ezekiel are present and major contributors. So why did the lineup change?
We’ve talked at length about the different direction the show has taken over years from its literary predecessor, and this iconic scene is no different. Fans were almost certain that one death would remain the same: the King’s. Such death causes Michonne (i.e. Ezekiel’s love interest in the comics) to have a falling out with Lydia, and she briefly questions the direction/mindset of the group. Henry’s head taking the place of Ezekiel’s head could cause Carol to have a similar reaction in the Season 9 finale or in the upcoming Season 10. One could argue that the only character who has shared the same iconic death in both the comics and in the show is Glenn, and Ezekiel’s head on a pike would have had the same gut-wrenching effect. However, looking at it from a show running standpoint without Rick and Carl gone, the show needs to have a strong leader from this point forward to commence the war, and the charismatic Ezekiel fits that mold well.
Let’s also talk about how Rosita avoided an inevitable death at the hands of Alpha and the Whisperers. For a split second, I thought Rosita’s head would be shown after Gabriel said he needed to speak with “her” in an ominous way before the scene cut to Tara. Remember, Tara was discussing war tactics with Oceanside and Alexandria previously, so it would make sense for Gabriel to followup with her on a plan to meet. Hilltop plays a critical role in the Whisperers war, so its lack of a leader will need to be addressed. With the weird love triangle the show is exploiting between Siddiq, Eugene, and Gabriel, removing Rosita from the equation would ruin said story line, but that may have been fine depending on who you ask. The similarities between television Tara and comic Rosita are minimal at best, so we’ll see how it plays out since both television characters had some decent development over the years.
The reception of Dan Fogler as Luke has been a positive one among Dead fans, so letting him live was an easy choice based on viewership numbers. Plus, Luke has some redeeming qualities that could help the group cope with these loses. The Highwaymen were a cool little group for the episode or two they were shown, so it was somewhat disappointing to see Ozzy and Alek piked. Ozzy brought a certain Abraham Ford-like attitude to the scenes he was in, and his character could have continued to grow in that manner. DJ (similar to Carson) and Frankie (similar to Amber) served as examples of change within our group. Both individuals had ties with the Saviors–DJ as a soldier and Frankie as one of Negan’s “wives”–and both stuck around to work toward Rick’s vision. I think Frankie’s past life and current role in the group was somewhat downplayed leading up to her death, which left fans a bit underwhelmed. As previously noted, Hilltop took the greatest hit out of the groups with the aforementioned loss of Tara and the deaths of Enid, Tammy Rose, Addy, and Rodney.
I would argue that Enid’s death will likely have the most impact out of those Hilltop residents. Tammy Rose was a kind-hearted elder woman who took in a baby, but the character was a bit of a whiner and complainer in regard to the leadership’s direction of Hilltop. The teens Addy and Rodney were annoying and appeared to lack the maturity needed to survive in a zombie apocalypse, so maybe their deaths will serve as a wake up call to the other youth in the communities. Which brings me to Enid. Alden will obviously take exception to Enid’s death, and he has been one of the most likable former Saviors to this point. With Dwight gone on Fear the Walking Dead, I think Alden may take one the leadership role Dwight has in the comics. Comic Dwight is in charge of the Saviors upon Negan’s imprisonment, and he continues to earn Rick’s trust leading up to the Whisperer War. Comic Dwight doesn’t fancy himself a good leader, but he really has to swallow his pride and ego when Negan is set free to help, which is a very likely scenario at this point. Alden now possesses the “lost loved one” persona of Dwight, so look for Alden to possibly hold down Hilltop until Maggie returns. (Hey, we can hope.)
How will the show follow up a stellar episode this week? In what could have served as the Season 9 finale, Episode 15 delivered that gut punch fans are accustomed to at a season’s end. Although those moments have been far and few between in recent years, the second half of Season 9 has been different. Of course some will say the show is dead to them and the writers are ruining everything, but I firmly believe Season 10 will bring back the viewers. We now have a terrifying villain, and our survivors have been knocked down for the count. It is through these situations that we get to see our favorite characters at their best, and this Whisperer War promises some big moments. Personally, I just want to see Negan get Lucille back and redeem himself. Can you imagine what he would do if Alpha would go after Judith? Yeah, I want to see that fight. I hope Kang and company stay true to his growth during the war.