If last week's episode, 'Morning Star (opens in new tab)', felt like a pre-battle ensemble piece reminiscent of Game of Thrones' 'A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms', then 'Walk with Us' is The Walking Dead's Helm's Deep. Beginning precisely where episode 11 left us, we're given a siege for the show's history books, as Daryl, Carol, Ezekiel, and the rest of Hilltop fend off Alpha's horde against the barracks of a burning Hilltop.
If I have one complaint from the sequence, it's that I wanted more of it. The battle seems to just... end, without giving much explanation of how everyone got out, managed to get split up, where the herd went, what happened to Hilltop, and why The Whisperers weren't able to completely decimate the entire group overnight.
The death fake-out with Magna - unexpectedly appearing amongst the horde as a Walker, only for a later scene to reveal that she was just blending in - also felt a little cheap, undermining the shock value of that pre-credits opener and bringing back bad memories of Glenn's first not-death in season 6.
The subsequent vignette of post-war recuperation scenes also felt reminiscent of The Walking Dead's Terminus days, as unlikely pairs of people are brought together while they wander towards their shared rendezvous point. We get a surprisingly touching heart-to-heart between Eugene and Carol, a horrific end for minor character Earl, and a fatal redemption arc for Gamma, who meets her maker at the hands of Beta, enraged and on the warpath.
His revealed identity, and one now very dead Whisperer's response to it, seems to confirm that the show is following the same comic book backstory for Alpha's second-in-command, who was once a famous celebrity of the pre-apocalypse days. How that will play into the story going forward is anyone's guess, but a flashback to Beta's life during the height of his fame would certainly make for an interesting way to add layers of nuance and empathy to this fairly one-note villain.
Of course, we need to talk about that ending. Despite the showrunners' efforts to make it look as though Negan really was invested in The Whisperer war effort, we (and especially those familiar with the source material) knew a betrayal was all but inevitable. But that lack of surprise factor didn't make one villain's death at the hands of another any less satisfying to watch.
At one point, it appeared as though Negan was trying to offer a way out for Alpha, to see if there was any remaining part of her humanity left for redemption. But, after confirming his own fears that this cult leader was dead set on killing her daughter, the Saviour made no hesitation in slicing the Whisperer villain's throat, taking her head as a trophy for Carol, who we now know had let Negan free for exactly that purpose.
The two unlikely allies finalising their deal with a reanimated Alpha cranium made for a perfect finisher, and though Carol's long-game has finally paid off, it hasn't quite redeemed her recent actions in our eyes just yet. This character has put dozens of others at risk over the course of this season, and there needs to be some sort of consequence for that.
All in all, 'Walk with Us' is easily the strongest episode we've had from this second part of The Walking Dead season 10, and quite possibly the best of the season yet. With Alpha gone, that leaves Beta as the final (and arguably far more dangerous) villain to deal with before we inevitably move the story onwards to The Commonwealth. Eugene still has a date to catch, after all.