This post contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 9, “Squeeze.”
The Walking Dead might be an unevenly written drama, but I’ll give its producers this: They really know how to sear a cursed image right into your brain. In most cases, we’re talking garden variety gore—a water-logged well zombie splitting in half here, an eyeball popping out of a socket there. But this time they’ve gone too far. Sunday’s midseason premiere didn’t do anything particularly gross—unless you count forcing several of our favorite heroes to crawl through a tunnel that vaguely reminds one of a human colon. Instead, the show has employed psychological warfare—turning one of humanity’s most basic instincts against us.
The impulse to which I refer? Never fuck a person wearing someone else’s face on their face—especially if you happen to both be standing out in the middle of the woods during a zombie apocalypse.
But what’s really crazy, my fellow Walking Dead-heads, is that the sex scene might have also included some major foreshadowing. With one seemingly off-handed joke, it might have foreshadowed Alpha’s death. (To be clear, comics spoilers ahead.)
Sunday’s installment was mostly about Daryl and the rest of the group escaping the zombie horde death trap Carol led them into during last year’s midseason finale. (Connie, sadly, did not make it out of the cave before a bunch of dynamite exploded, but given that we haven’t seen her corpse, she’s probably fine; we’ll see!) It’s all mostly ho-hum—that is, until Alpha marches Negan into the woods at knifepoint, forcing him to strip naked in an ominous “look at the flowers” scenario. When he turns around, however, she’s stripped naked, too—except for her rotting zombie mask, which she’s left on. “You’re a crass man,” she says. “I reckoned you might appreciate a crass reward.”
In this strange post-apocalyptic world, it almost makes sense. Negan had, after all, tipped Alpha off that a member of her group might not be as loyal as she thinks; why not reward him with a little forest nookie? But later, as the two wind their way up to making sweet, passionate lurve, Negan asks an interesting question.
“Wait,“ he says. “This isn’t some kind of praying mantis situation, is it—where you cut off my head afterwards?”
In context it’s a fair question—but the phrasing is interesting. Because as comics fans know, it’s Alpha who eventually dies by decapitation—at Negan’s hand. The Walking Dead writers love to tease comics readers with clues like these, and they don’t always bear out—so as always, a grain of salt is highly advised. But if the show follows the comics, this week’s petite mort could become a little more permanent.