NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Walking Dead”, including a major character death, are present in this review
The Walking Dead has certainly been taking its time throughout most of Season Ten’s front half, carefully settling up the seemingly inevitable next battle between the protagonists and the Whisperers. With just a couple of episodes left for the show in 2019 then, The Walking Dead had to start kicking things up a notch in anticipation of its subsequent midseason finale, and boy did it rise to the occasion! “Open Your Eyes” is a likely contender for Season Ten’s best episode to date, finally delivering on some long-simmering tension at Alexandria, and eventually culminating in a very shocking twist, one that should have the show’s leftover fans positively buzzing in anticipation of the year’s final episode next week!
After Carol and Daryl bring back a Whisperer prisoner from Alpha’s borders, Gabriel scolds them for their recklessness and needless provocation of Alpha… And that’s it. Yeah, admittedly, in one of the rare sour notes of this episode, there aren’t really any repercussions for Carol and Daryl going off-book and bringing a Whisperer into town. Instead, they predictably try and fail to get information from the guy, until he lets slip that the Whisperers believe Alpha killed her daughter. Carol then decides to ask Lydia to present herself, despite Daryl’s protests, in an effort to prove that Alpha is a liar. Before they can employ this strategy however, the captured Whisperer dies, having been fed hemlock by accident, and having a violent reaction to it. Okay, granted, hemlock poisoning doesn’t work that way in real life, but whatever, the guy is dead, and an increasingly sleep-deprived and exhausted Siddiq appears to be the culprit.
Siddiq’s survivor’s guilt after the events of Alpha’s border drawing last season has continued to present an interesting challenge for his character, especially when Siddiq has effectively been entrusted with most of Alexandria’s health care and operation at this point. With Eugene currently away from Alexandria as well, Siddiq has to rely on Dante a lot more, though even this isn’t enough to prevent Siddiq from cracking when Cheryl, the elderly patient in his care, passes away from illness. Siddiq nearly drowns himself as a result, with Rosita ultimately pulling him out of the water, and urging him to keep going, since he’s stronger and smarter than he gives himself credit for. There were actually a lot of really nice moments between Rosita and Siddiq in this episode, and that tied together beautifully with the awesome twist that unfolded at the end.
This twist starts coming into play once Siddiq notices that the water supply in Alexandria has been tampered with, suggesting that his fatigue may not actually be responsible for some of Alexandria’s current problems. When Siddiq goes to mope about this, he’s visited by Dante, who attempts to comfort him by talking about shared accountability in Alexandria, and how everyone in the village must look out for each other. Once Dante starts clicking his teeth however, Siddiq comes to a horrible realization, recalling again his recurring memory of having to watch Enid die before Alpha’s border drawing, and realizing that the Whisperer forcing Siddiq to watch Enid’s murder also clicked his teeth in the exact same manner! Yes, in a truly unexpected turn, Dante has been a Whisperer spy the whole time, a truth that’s kind of been staring viewers in the face to be honest, since Dante did just kind of show up out of nowhere this season. Even fans of the comics would probably be thrown here too, considering that Dante was a very different character, and a denizen of Hilltop, in the printed panels. Regardless, after Dante realizes that Siddiq has deduced his true allegiances, there’s a scuffle between the two men, and Dante is forced to strangle Siddiq to death, in order to protect his secret! Yes, after so many emotional scenes and so much drama with Siddiq lately, he’s been unceremoniously killed off in this episode. This is a great shock, and one that primes The Walking Dead well for its midseason finale to come next, since Siddiq has been such an important character over the past couple of seasons especially!
Outside of the core storyline surrounding Siddiq and the captured Whisperer, this episode also an equally effective subplot shared between Aaron and Gamma. The two strike up an unlikely friendship in this episode, following Aaron lending Gamma some bandages during the previous episode, and the two get talking about their former lives, and eventually begin opening up to one another. After Alpha chastises Gamma for getting emotionally involved in what’s clearly an intelligence-gathering operation however, Gamma begins to reject Aaron’s friendship, and even tries to threaten him for information! Carol thankfully shows up to bail Aaron out when this happens, though after seeing Lydia, Gamma becomes confused and flees into the woods. This was a smart way to throw Gamma for a loop, but Lydia storming off into the woods after this, claiming that Carol used her just like her mother did, feels a little forced. Carol seriously didn’t tell Lydia her strategy? Why? Lydia’s a reasonable girl, and Carol keeping her in the dark was simply begging for something exactly like this to happen!
Still, it’s great to see The Walking Dead become more engaging after a bit of a sluggish tenth season so far. “Open Your Eyes” presented an interesting ace-in-the-hole for the protagonists, namely the knowledge that Alpha has lied about Lydia being dead, even if Carol stupidly squanders this by not telling Lydia how she could be useful for Alexandria, and truly letting Lydia decide for herself if she wants to help. Fortunately, despite that annoyance, this episode’s conclusion was still awesome, with Dante being revealed as a double agent for the Whisperers, a twist that likely no one saw coming, despite it being so obvious in hindsight. Dante having to kill Siddiq to protect his secret was also wonderfully dramatic, taking out one of Alexandria’s most important citizens, right as Alpha no doubt prepares to strike again. Alpha’s subterfuge has once again beautifully exploited the blind spots within the protagonists’ communities, proving for the latest time that Alpha is consistently at her most dangerous when there’s no way to see her coming!
- Siddiq's mental anguish threatening to spill over
- Budding friendship between Aaron and Gamma
- Dante being revealed as a Whisperer spy
- Carol and Daryl capturing a Whisperer has no real consequences
- Carol keeping Lydia in the dark is stupid and forced