The Whisperer war is officially underway.
On The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 13, Daryl, Connie, Henry, and Lydia were on the run following their escape from the Whisperers' camp, while the Kingdom attempted to deal with a threat of their own.
"Chokepoint" was a terrific follow-up to The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 12, even though it included the inexplicable introduction of a new group that didn't feel entirely necessary.
With the Kingdom's preparations close to being completed, the fair was put in jeopardy when a new group called the "Highway Men" were threatening its success.
What neck of the woods did these misfits crawl out of? Was anyone else completely baffled as to how this group had never been encountered previously?
And now out of nowhere, they claim the road to the Kingdom as their own and prey on people who use it?
The Great Rick Grimes proclaimed that this new world is now everyone's by right. And this bullying crap was certainly not going to be tolerated.
Initially, I thought this new group might have been formed from some of the disbanded Saviors since we never really learned what happened to them.
What mainly sold me on this idea was when there was a quick glimpse of an "A" marked on one of the buildings featuring the pirates. I was confident that it was a reference to the letter's same use at the Sanctuary.
It wasn't a terrible theory and would have made far better explanation than an entirely new group coming out of the woodwork.
Evidently, I just read far too much into it. Still, that could have been a fascinating reveal had that been the case.
During their rendezvous, Ezekial made a valid point about the Highway Men's unwillingness to work with them. Stealing considerably devalues any goods if you can't trade them with anyone.
How that group made it this far on their own is beyond me.
What good are the things you steal if you can't trade for the things you need?Ezekial
It didn't take much to convince the Highway Men to work with the Kingdom instead of against them. It's a good thing Carol insisted on the talking approach as opposed to going in with guns blazing.
The projector bulb for which Ezekial risked his group's lives has paid off already paid, as a movie night was enough to woo this once adversarial group to the Kingdom's side.
In return, the Kingdom has found a valuable service as the Highway Men will keep the roads clear to help the fair go off without a hitch.
The whole situation with the cowboys felt shoehorned in, but I did enjoy and appreciate the western vibe that this group added to the episode, specifically when the cavalry arrived on horseback to help the Hilltop fend off the herd in the road.
Sure, it was a bit hokey but there was a certain charm about it.
Regardless, the Highway Men could prove to be a valuable asset to the Kingdom and the surrounding communities.
Similarly to Lydia's stay at the Hilltop, the odds are that once this group discovers what the Kingdom has to offer, they'll wonder why they had been living the way they were in the first place.
Speaking of Lydia, after Daryl helped free her and Henry from the Whisperers grasp, Connie ended up leading the group to an abandoned building where her own group had spent time.
Knowing that walkers can't climb, the plan, in essence, was to weed out the Whisperers from the herd and take them out one by one. However, Daryl and Connie's plan almost worked against them as they underestimated the brute force of Beta.
Daryl was able to get in a few good licks, but ultimately, he wasn't much of a match against the Alpha's right-hand Whisperer. Daryl was, though, able to use his wits to outsmart the ogre and give him the shaft -- literally.
It turns out Connie's secret compartment proved useful in more ways than one.
Daryl: This Beta, is he their best?
Daryl: Good. We'll kill him first.
While the clash between Daryl and Beta was highly anticipated, it ended up being a bit of a letdown. It was more of a tease than a full-blown battle of the brawns and was over as quickly as it started.
However, with Beta miraculously surviving several-story plunge, it won't be the last time the two trade blows. There's no doubt that Beta going to be gunning for Daryl with a raging fury when he gets out of that shaft. How he intends on doing that, though, is beyond me.
In the end, the plan succeeded and the group is none the worse for wear, except for maybe Henry who will need some patching up for his battle wounds. Don't worry though, he'll be back on his feet and pissing off viewers in no time!
All in all, this was a fun, fast-paced episode that pushed the overall direction of the season forward, even if the hyped up fight between Beta and Daryl was somewhat of a disappointment.
Hopefully, round two will be the confrontation we deserve.
Now it's your turn, Walking Dead fanatics!
What did you think of "Chokepoint"?
What was your first impression of the Highway Men and how do you think they'll play into the rest of the season and beyond?
Will they keep their end of the bargain or will they become a thorn in the Kingdom's side?
Hit the comments below and let me know!
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Steven Ford is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.