The Walking Dead delivers the best episode of season ten. Fans of the comic will cheer its thrilling storyline. The show has truly become must see television once again. The Hilltop falls in "Walk With Us." Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride), and the others fight valiantly against the Whisperer horde as fire engulfs everything. Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) makes a surprising discovery during the attack. As the survivors flee to the emergency rendezvous, difficult choices are made. Mary (Thora Birch) and Earl (John Finn) make the ultimate sacrifice. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) fulfills a promise.

The Hilltop burns! Flaming walkers pour through a breach. Carol shoots arrows from atop the gates. Daryl swings his mace, "We got to jam 'em up!" He orders the fighters with shields to hold the walkers. Alden (Callan McAuliffe) and Earl launch the trebuchets. Yumiko, Kelly (Angel Theory), and Aaron (Ross Marquand) fight Whisperers among the walkers. The dead pile up before the shields. Mary warns Lydia (Cassady McClincy) not to go outside, "You know what Alpha wants!"

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Ezekiel (Khary Payton) flees with the children. He realizes Judith (Cailey Fleming) is not with them. Judith is in the yard slicing up walkers. She stabs one through the stomach, then sees she has actually killed a Whisperer. She recoils in shock, but is taken away by Earl. Eugene watches as the tower starts to buckle. He races inside to try and save the radio. The breach holds, but the wall collapses. Everyone retreats. Yumiko sees Magna (Nadia Hilker), covered in blood, walking with the horde. Carol watches in despair as explosions destroy the Hilltop.

The next morning, Negan clubs a burned survivor in his skin mask. Alpha (Samantha Morton) chastises him, "Through the heart. Many guardians were sacrificed. We must replenish." Alpha wants Lydia. Beta (Ryan Hurst) confirms she is not among the dead. He promises to bring her back. Beta orders Negan to herd walkers.

Negan enters the woods. He tries to corral a few strays, but sees a hobbled Lydia fleeing. Aaron pulls a sheet of aluminum with an unconscious Luke (Dan Fogler). He encounters Negan in his mask. Aaron pulls his sword and readies his mace hand to kill Negan, who tries to "explain." Walkers start to surround them. Aaron backs off to save Luke.

Negan drops his skin mask as he approaches Lydia. She smiles at first. But he grabs and subdues her, "Sorry kid, this sh*t is done." On the road, Kelly, Mary, and Alden, who's holding baby Adam, are together. Adam cries, but Alden still refuses to let Mary hold him. She tells Alden a trick to soothe him. It works. Alden reluctantly gives in. Mary is allowed to hold her nephew for the first time.

They sit to rest and eat. Mary looks at her nephew longingly. She tells the others her sister's name, "Frances." She should be the one sitting here. Mary hears movement in the woods. Walkers are coming towards them. Adam starts crying. Mary leads them to an old van. She forces open the door, then puts Alden and Kelly inside. Mary closes the door. She starts screaming to distract the walkers.

Mary leads the walkers to a riverbank. She kills them all. As she breathes a sigh of relief, Beta stabs her in the abdomen, "You. Will. Walk. With. Us!" She pounds his chest as life pours out of her. She rips Beta's mask in half, finally revealing his face. He places her by a tree to reanimate. A Whisperer looks at Beta, recognizing him, "It's you. Your voice sounded familiar." Beta slashes his throat. Mary comes back as a walker, but an arrow shoots into her skull. Beta flees into the woods. Alden puts away his bow. He escapes with Kelly, who holds Adam.

Eugene tearfully looks at burnt pieces of the radio. Carol walks over to a log, where Magna tells Yumiko her story. She and Connie were together with the herd in the cave. But she lost her hand when they started moving. Carol wants to get to the rendezvous. Yumiko punches her. What happened in the cave was all her fault. Magna is not upset at Carol. She understands Yumiko was right when they argued before. She breaks up with Yumiko.

Eugene checks on Carol after the punch. He admits that he needs to meet someone, but doesn't tell her the details about Stephanie. Carol advises him to go. Eugene reluctantly leaves. Carol looks down and finds Lydia's staff.

Daryl, Rosita (Christian Serratos), Jerry (Cooper Andrews), and Nabila (Nadine Marissa) walk to the rendezvous. They arrive, but the children are not there. Nabila wails as Daryl orders everyone to spread out and search.

The children are with Earl in a shack. He gives them water and comforts them as walkers are outside. He promises to protect them, "You are all doing great." Earl goes into the next room and pounds a spike through a table. He's been bitten. Judith walks in and sees what's about to happen. "I don't have a choice," he says. Earl is going to be with Tammy Joe and his son. Alden will care for baby Adam. He tells Judith, "You are so strong and so brave. But now I need you to keep the kids safe from me." Judith goes back into the room.

Daryl and Jerry return to the smoldering Hilltop. They find Ezekiel under debris. In the shack, Earl plunges his head unto the spike. Judith comes out, but Earl is now a walker. He snarls and grabs her hand. Daryl, Jerry, and Ezekiel reach the shack. The children come running out to meet them. Daryl goes inside to find Judith. She killed Earl. She sits alone on the floor. Daryl takes her bloody sword and embraces her.

Negan gives Alpha important news, "The thing you've been looking for...I've found it." Lydia wakes up tied to a chair in a shed. She struggles to escape. Negan leads Alpha through the woods. Negan has proven himself by finding "her." Alpha wants him to become a "lion". Spread her gospel to the world. Lydia continues to fight to free herself.

Negan calls out Alpha. Beta is no lion. The young lioness should take her mother's place. He talks for the first time about his wife. Even when the cancer ravaged her, she looked more beautiful. "Death set her free," replies Alpha. Negan doesn't buy her philosophy. He is dead to the world. But he knows Alpha is lying, "To say emotions aren't real, that we are animals, that is bullshit. And you know it."

Why does she have to kill her own daughter? Her own "flesh and blood." Alpha tearfully says, "It is her destiny." Lydia frees her arm. She frantically unties the other ropes. Alpha walks towards the shed with Negan behind her. Lyia escapes and opens the door. A field lies before her. She is not in the same place.

Alpha opens the doors to her shed. It is empty. When she turns around, Negan slashes her throat. He holds her as she bleeds out in utter shock. He kisses her gently as she dies. Negan walks with a bloody sack. He tosses Alpha's head towards a pair of boots on the forest floor. Alpha's walker head growls. Carol smiles with satisfaction, "Took you long enough."

Insert the golf clap here. Carol had freed Negan and sent him to infiltrate the Whisperers. Negan has gone from the villain to the hero. The Whisperer War had significantly deviated from the comics, but Alpha still meets her doom at Negan's hands. I suspected as much. Once Negan saved Judith in the storm, then returned to his cell. He was no longer the same character from the Saviors. Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been phenomenal. He has been the best part of The Walking Dead. Michonne returns in next week's, "What We Become" on AMC.

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Julian Roman at TVweb
Julian Roman