The Walking Dead follows up a great season ten opener with a disturbing and gruesome episode two. "We Are the End of the World" shows the origin of the Whisperers. The meeting of Alpha (Samantha Morton) and Beta (Ryan Hurst) is revealed. Two Whisperer sisters make their presence felt with different results. Alpha keeps a secret from her followers. Her bond with Beta is reaffirmed when they realize their boundaries have been crossed.

"We Are the End of the World" opens with a card that says "Seven Years Ago". In the past, a woman crashes her car. Alpha and a ten-year-old Lydia (Havana Blum), covered in blood, are walking with a herd. The herd rips the woman apart as she tries to escape. Lydia screams when she sees the woman devoured. Alpha grabs her daughter and runs towards a sanatorium. Alpha breaks down the door and faces a hulking man wearing a ski mask.

In the present, Beta shaves Alpha's head in their camp. He wants to return to their old camp. Alpha orders Beta to gather a herd with the sisters, "They have a scent for the dead." In the past, the hulk bangs his machete in warning. Alpha replies that she is hard to kill and "will not leave this Earth without my daughter." The hulk allows them to stay for one night.

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In the present, Beta walks with the sisters among a few walkers. He tells them to gather as many as they can find. The first sister, Frances (Juliet Brett), becomes distracted by the warmth of the sun. Her older sister (Thora Birch) warns that Beta will see that she's not committed to the cause. She should have left Frances behind.

In the past, Alpha bathes Lydia, who's disgusted by the smell of rotten blood. Lydia is terrified by the sound of growling walkers outside. Alpha hums while searching through cans of food. The hulk warns her to stop. He asks for her name. She replies, "The dead don't have names. We shouldn't either." Alpha embraces their freedom. She wonders why he is wearing a mask. He likes wearing the mask. And the sound of the dead, "It's the only song I want to never end."

In the present, Beta attracts straggling walkers to him with noise. As they gather a herd into a field, Frances again stares at the bright sun. She remembers what happened at the Hilltop. Frances was the girl who's baby wouldn't stop crying. Alpha made her leave it in the dirt for the walkers. Frances begins to cry. The walkers move to attack her, but are killed by Beta. Her furious sister asks, "What's wrong with you?" An angrier Beta says she "will pay."

In their camp, Frances is thrown to the ground crying by Beta. She weeps that her baby is "with them in a better place." Beta motions for her to be killed, but is stopped by Alpha. Beta warns she is "uncommitted" and her "actions threaten the entire pack." Alpha tells him that he will never understand what it's like to abandon your child. Beta brings up Lydia, he thinks that Alpha killed her. She orders Beta to bring Frances to her.

In the past, Alpha puts Lydia to bed. She gives her a stuffed bunny rabbit toy to sleep with. Lydia refuses, she's not a baby anymore. She wants to be like her mother. Alpha is overjoyed to hear this. She congratulates Lydia, but reminds her that she will "be left behind" if she doesn't. Lydia begs for her mother to "never leave her." She promises to do better. Alpha chastises Lydia for calling her "mama."

In the present, a terrified Frances approaches Alpha in her dark lair. She cries and begs for mercy. Alpha orders her to remove her skin mask and kneel. Frances screams, but instead of killing her, Alpha draws her close and comforts her. Frances thanks Alpha for her mercy.

The Whisperers in camp are stunned to see Frances return alive. Another Whisperer woman approaches Frances, she tells her she also thinks about that place. They were safe, had livestock, maybe they could go back. Frances' sister pulls her away. Beta questions why Alpha let her live. Alpha warns him never to question her again. Beta tells her that Frances' weakness "unsettles the pack." They want life. Alpha retorts it is a "fantasy." Beta says they must go back and "see it up close." He has seen Alpha stray from the camp at night.

In the past, Alpha explores the sanatorium. She runs into walkers, but is saved by the hulk. They plow through walkers together. Alpha "likes killing" with him. He watches as she cuts open a walker and collects its entrails in a bucket. He rips open a chest cavity to help her. She calls him "big man", then changes it to "Mr. B." He thought they didn't have names. She replies, "It's not a name. It's a letter." If he is "B", then she proclaims herself "A". Alpha teaches him that it's not only moving with them when covered. You have to become them. They feel nothing. Alpha tries to remove his mask. He tells her to leave and runs away.

In the present, Frances' sister wonders what it was like to "be alone with her." Frances exalts Alpha's power. She claims Alpha watched her daughter die and didn't shed a tear. Frances apologizes to her sister for risking their lives. The following day they all walk with the dead. They are bringing herds together. Everyone looks up as the satellite streaks across the sky. As the walkers stray, Frances sees a walker with a baby carrier. She flashes back again to the Hilltop. Frances removes her mask and attacks Alpha screaming. The dead surround them. Her sister tears Frances off Alpha, then throws her into the dead. She pulls Alpha to safety as the walkers eat Frances.

Back at the camp, Alpha takes off the sister's mask. The sister has no regrets. Frances was "uncommitted," she had to protect Alpha. Alpha tells her, "We are stronger when we kill our own blood." Beta is angry at the "mayhem." They lost their people and the dead. In the past, Lydia sneaks out of bed past her mother. She dips her hands in the bucket of blood, "We are all monsters now." She walks by herself, covered in blood, down the hall.

In the present at night, Alpha has gathered her followers. She anoints the kneeling sister as Gamma. Everyone whispers Gamma's name. The next day, Gamma asks Beta if he is angry with her. Beta "feels nothing" for her. Gamma informs him that Alpha has left. She saw her walking towards the old camp.

In the past, Alpha awakens to find Lydia missing. She follows her bloody footprints. Lydia opens a door and releases the walkers behind it. Alpha sees a picture of the hulk with another man, but their faces are scratched out. In the present, Beta returns to the old camp. He sees Alpha with the Lydia's toy rabbit. In the past, Beta confronts Alpha, he warned her not come there. Alpha holds up her knife, she needs to find her daughter.

In the present, Beta realizes that Lydia is alive and Alpha wants her back. He asks why Alpha lied. He tells her that Lydia is never coming back, no matter what she wishes, or if she tries to replace her. In the past, Alpha kills the walker in the picture with Beta, who screams "no" for his only friend.

In the present, Alpha breaks down. Lydia is "her daughter, her baby." She could not kill her. Beta extends his hand to her. She holds it. The others cannot know that Lydia is alive. The girl is dead "to her." Lydia was not like her. Alpha destroys the camp in anger. In the past, Beta rages and thrashes the room. He confronts Alpha, but is stopped by Lydia, "She's trying to save you!" Alpha embraces her "baby'. She tells her, "Don't you dare leave me again."

Beta kneels over his dead friend. Alpha invites him to "walk with her in darkness and never be alone again." He replies, "I am the end of the world." She touches him and says, "We are the end of the world." She lifts up his mask, but we don't see his face. He can't leave his friend. She hands him her knife. He doesn't have to. Lydia watches in horror as Beta cuts off his friend's face.

In the present, Beta still wears the skin. He tells Alpha of smoke on the border. She knows "the enemy may have crossed." We must teach them a lesson. She puts on her skin mask. She and Beta clasp their hands together, " We walk in darkness. We are free. We bathe in blood. We are free. We love nothing. We are free. We fear nothing. We are free. We need no words. We are free. We embrace all death. We are free. This is the end of the world. Now is the end of the world. We are the end of the world." Alpha and Beta lead the Whisperers back to the old camp. At the end of the forest, Alpha removes her mask and steps into a clearing. She looks up to see Carol looking down at her from the cliff.

"We Are the End of the World" was the creepiest episode of The Walking Dead in years. Samantha Morton continues to be fantastic as Alpha. The dynamic established between Alpha and Beta was fascinating to see. Beta knows Lydia is alive, but it's clear that Alpha will not allow her daughter to be harmed. Gamma emerges as a new Whisperer lieutenant, but there is dissatisfaction within their ranks. Frances' rebellion may have lit a spark. Alpha will certainly retaliate against the settlements for crossing the boundaries. The Walking Dead returns next week with "Ghosts" on AMC.

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Julian Roman at TVweb
Julian Roman