Fans of the comics knew this was coming, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow.
Man, that was rough.
The penultimate episode of Season 9 ended in one of the biggest bloodbaths "The Walking Dead" has ever seen, claiming the lives of ten survivors as Alpha marked her territory in the most nihilistic way possible.
There's no way to sugar coat it: Ezekiel's fair did not go well.
We're just going to dive right into the most shocking moment of the hour, because we know that's all you want to talk about right now. Yep, The Whisperers just straight up decapitated a handful of residents from Hilltop, the Kingdom and Alexandria.
Alpha's victims: Ozzy and Alek (The Highwaymen), DJ, Frankie, Tammy, teenagers Adeline and Rodney, Enid, Tara and, most devastating of all, Henry.
It was just heartbreaking watching Daryl try and stop Carol from seeing what had happened to her son and even more of a punch to the gut when she finally did. And those cuts to all the dead's loved ones searching for them at the fair was equally painful to watch.
After infiltrating the festivities by wearing another survivor's scalped hair as a disguise, Alpha managed to sneak each of them away, chop off their heads and stick them on spikes marking the edge of the Whisperers' territory. She later tells Daryl that if they continue to ignore the boundaries, she'll steer a massive horde of walkers right into their homes.
While Alpha kept Siddiq alive -- leaving him to tell everyone what happened and scare them into falling in line -- he refused to play that role in her narrative. Instead, he made us all cry as he talked about the heroics he witnessed in his friends' last moments alive.
"I want to tell you a different story. Before the end, Ozzy, Alek and DJ found us, they gave us an opening and everyone fought back. They fought like hell and what they did was more than brave, because they defended each other and they sacrificed for each other and some of them, they didn't even know each other, but they still fought like they did. Like they were family. Until the very end. In the end, their time was cut short. Ours keeps going. So we have to keep going. For them and for all of us. We need to honor them. We need to honor them and we need to remember these friends and family died as heroes. That's the story that I want to tell you. That's the story I want us all to remember."
Bravo to actor Avi Nash, who hasn't been given too much to do on the show but really hit a home run with this speech.
The episode then ended with Daryl and Lydia returning to the spikes, leaving her Hilltop necklace at the site of Henry's death.
This entire episode played out in similar fashion to the comic books, but with a different end result. In the source material, both Ezekiel and Rosita were among the dead, a move made even more tragic thanks to the latter's pregnancy. When the character also became pregnant on the show, many feared it was a sign of things to come, but Rosita now lives to see another day.
As for Henry biting it instead of Ezekiel, that's just harsh -- why you gotta keep killing Carol's kids?!
Taking out Henry also marks another deviation from the comics, as the character started taking over Carl's storyline when Chandler Riggs was also killed off. His relationship with Lydia only progresses in the source material, leading to his first sexual encounter and much more. That being said, it'll be a nice change of pace for Lydia to have a storyline separate from a man's, as she struggles to find her way in a new world filled with people who may resent her presence there.
Also worth mentioning:
Poor Tara, the one person who really didn't want Lydia around was among those who died because they wouldn't give her back to the Whisperers.
Oceanside lives! We'd been worried about them since the time jump, as nobody had really referenced them in any recent episodes. But at least one of its residents was at the fair and signed the charter between all the communities. Also, yay charter, how nice is it seeing everyone together again?
Is Alpha really done chasing after her daughter? She was clearly emotional about Lydia demanding to stay at Kingdom, killing the one follower who saw her crying.
Nice of Ezekiel to honor Rick, Carl and Jesus during his opening speech at the fair. "We fought our way back to each other, we've grown," he says, "We got a lotta lost time to make up for." They'll need each other now more than ever.
The season finale of "The Walking Dead" airs next Sunday -- do you think we'll have anymore death before the credits roll?