Warning: this story contains spoilers for Sunday's "Dee" episode of Tales of the Walking Dead. "Let me tell you how I died," says Dee (Samantha Morton) to start Sunday's episode of Tales, revealing the origin of the woman who will become Alpha on The Walking Dead. But Dee's death is a figurative one: the end of Dee is the beginning of Alpha, who doesn't die until Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) takes her decapitated head years later during the Whisperer War. On Tales, Alpha is born when Hera (Anne Beyer) and the Whisperers — survivors who talk in hushed whispers, walk with the dead and wear walker flesh — find Dee moments before she can kill daughter Lydia (Scarlett Blum) to spare her from life in the zombie apocalypse. (Read the "Dee" recap here.)
Sunday's "Dee" episode of the anthology series takes place after The Walking Dead Season 9 episode "Omega," which unmasks Alpha through the scrambled memories of a present-day Lydia (Cassady McClincy). "Omega" flashes back to the earliest days of the apocalypse, when a six-year-old Lydia (also played by Blum) holes up in a Baltimore basement with her unnamed mother (Morton) and her father Frank (Steve Kazee).
"Omega" reveals Alpha's abuse skewed Lydia's memories of her father, who is an abusive and overbearing husband in one flashback and a loving father in another. ("I had it all mixed up. It was a lie, but the lie wasn't mine," Age 16 Lydia says.) On day 43 of the apocalypse, Frank and Lydia watch as Dee murders a panicking survivor she calls "weak" before shaving her head bald.
When chaos breaks out and Frank refuses to let Dee leave with Lydia, Dee kills her husband, shushing her daughter as Age 6 Lydia watches. Age 16 Lydia's jumbled memories remember her mother telling her: "Your father was a stupid man. World's over. We're doing what I want now. He was soft. Now he's dead." She remembers Dee, in the Baltimore basement, holding a bloodied Whisperer skin mask: "Put it on. This is how we live."
In "Dee," mother and daughter have lived aboard a riverboat community on the bayou for over a year. After a violent coup by Billy (Nick Basta) forces Dee and Lydia to abandon the boat, Dee discovers they can walk among the dead by using walker guts as camouflage. When Lydia asks what happened to daddy, Dee reminds her: "Baby, your daddy was weak. Don't be like him."
"Dee" only briefly recalls the events of "Omega" from Alpha's point of view: "The world fell apart, and I got stuck in a basement with Lydia's dad, Frank. I'm not sure if I meant to kill him. I'm glad I did."
After failing to save Lydia from this world, Dee plans to commit a murder-suicide. But before she can kill Lydia, a pack of whispering people wearing walker skins steps out of the woods: "We see you. Spare her. Stop her." The alpha Whisperer is Hera, whose flesh later becomes the skin mask worn by Alpha in Seasons 9 and 10 of The Walking Dead.
"I was keeping myself from my nature," says Alpha. "But that was the end of Dee and the beginning of me."
The events of "Dee" take place before The Walking Dead Season 10 episode "We Are the End of the World," which flashes back to seven years before the Whisperer War and Alpha's rivalry with Carol (Melissa McBride).
In that episode, Dee and a slightly older Lydia (played by Scarlett's real-life older sister, Havana Blum) are surviving alone when they meet the future Beta (Ryan Hurst). Teaching him the guts trick she learned in "Dee," she anoints him "Big Man" — and then "Mr. B," and then just "B" — taking the name "A" for herself. Sometime after that, Alpha and Beta lead their pack of Whisperers until their deaths: Alpha dies in The Walking Dead Season 10 episode "Walk With Us," and Beta dies in "A Certain Doom," ending the Whisperer War.
Any discrepancies between "Dee" and "Omega," both written by Tales showrunner and co-creator Channing Powell, can be explained by the older Lydia's muddled memories as an unreliable narrator.
In a 2019 interview with EW, The Walking Dead's showrunner Angela Kang said of the episode: "It really made sense for us to tell this [Alpha/Lydia] flashback story [in 'Omega'], except it's an unreliable narrator story too, because Lydia is realizing that her own memories about her mother, and her parents, and what it means to be in the world may be scrambled because she's this victim of this very emotionally abusive and physically abusive relationship."
New episodes of Tales of the Walking Dead premiere Sundays on AMC and AMC+.