The Walking Dead on Sunday unmasked the Whisperers, peering into the traumatic past of the captured Lydia (Cassady McClincy) to reveal secrets behind her mother, Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton).
Day 23 of the apocalypse. Lydia (Scarlett Blum), aged five or six, is holed up in a moldy basement with her mother and father, Frank (Steve Kazee). They're tucked away with panicked strangers.
A quick-tempered Frank wants to flee, but the mother — who in the future will be known only as "Alpha" — says it's too dangerous. "Every day is Halloween, baby," Frank tells the frightened Lydia. "Don't you see all these freaks pretending there's something to be hopeful about?"
Day 43. Same rotting basement with no hope of rescue and no end in sight.
One survivor, a stir crazy Matias (Javier Carrasquillo), pounds on boarded up windows — the lone line of defense against the grumbling undead on the other side of concrete walls.
Alpha pounces on him, pressing him into the ground as she scolds his weakness now putting them all at risk to be killed. "There's no room for you here, so shut your mouth," she hisses, forcing his mouth shut and accidentally suffocating him.
In the present, Lydia admits to Henry (Matt Lintz), "My mom walks 'cause that's what the dead do."
In the past, Matias' corpse, laid out in the center of the room, reanimates and terrifies a curious Lydia. Walker Matias lunges at the girl, who survives only after Frank grapples with the walker as it tears into his neck.
"You can't bend, you break," Lydia tells Henry. "He broke."
Then, a flashing glimpse of the past. Alpha holds a walker's limp face in her hands like a cheap Halloween mask.
"Put it on," she tells Lydia. "This is how we live."
Lydia's past is conflated. She was too young to remember the world as it was before it went to hell, her history handed down by her mother over the years.
"But deep down I knew, I knew what she was," Lydia admits. "I knew what she did."
Flash back to that same moldy basement. Walker Matias rips into the flesh of an unknown man as the survivors around them are now in full panic.
The chaos and sudden emergence of violence has put them in danger, Alpha says as she rips wooden boards from the windows.
"We gotta get outta here," Alpha says, but Frank — clutching Lydia close — doesn't want to abandon his friends.
Alpha, coldly and firmly, commands the situation.
"Those aren't our friends, Frank. They're idiots we got stuck with. They're panicking, and that's putting us in danger. Get up. We're leaving."
A frightened Lydia can only muster "daddy."
"You go if you want, but Lydia stays with me," Frank says. "The hell she does," Alpha tells him.
Frank tells Lydia to wait while he clears a path to the stairs. Lydia begs him not to go.
Just a few steps into his mission and Frank is quickly felled by the chaos. Alpha steps forward and presses her hands to Frank's mouth.
As Lydia watches, Alpha turns to her daughter and raises a single finger to her lips. "Shh..."
"He was against the wall. Scared," a tearful Lydia admits to Henry and Daryl (Norman Reedus) from her jail cell. She struggles to admit the truth.
"And my mom was there. With that cold look in her eye. And she... she got her knife... and then she..."
Daryl tells her to stop. They've heard enough.
Outside, a swarm of Whisperers materialize at the Hilltop gates. Alpha leads the pack.
Daryl, Magna (Nadia Hilker), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) and Tara (Alanna Masterson) look on as Alpha and her pretend walkers halt.0comments
"I am Alpha," she declares. "And we only want one thing from you. My daughter."
The Walking Dead next returns with 'Bounty' Sunday, February 24 on AMC.