Tales of the Walking Dead Episode 3: “Dee” and The Making of Alpha

 - Tales of the Walking Dead _ Season 1, Key Art - Photo Credit: Curtis Bonds Baker/AMC

Tales of the Walking Dead in its first two episodes told stories of an expanded universe: the other people which inhabit our world but haven’t been characters in our ongoing narrative. To me, they’ve been richly powerful stories where the writers felt free to tell compelling tales, free ideas from the shackles of what we’ve already seen on television. Tales of the Walking Dead Episode 3, entitled “Dee,” breaks from that formula to fill in on the backstory of one of the greatest villains in The Walking Dead history, Alpha. Were they successful? Kind of. We’re about to get into spoiler territory here, so if you haven’t seen Tales of the Walking Dead Episode 3 yet, then proceed with caution.

Breaking the (new) Formula

I think what’s made this new spinoff series so refreshing so far is that the writers have had a ton of freedom just to tell interesting stories. Episodes 1 and 2 felt fresh because they were fresh—sure, there were subtle nods to the main series, but there was no concern with trying to advance the plot of the main series. Great actors were cast to play unique roles, and it was entertaining. Here in Tales of the Walking Dead Episode 3, that new formula was tinkered with. While I was excited about the premise of this episode, I didn’t like the results as much as I hoped to.

Tales of the Walking Dead Episode 3 picked up Alpha’s backstory, as well as Lydia’s. We had previously seen in the flagship series how they started off in the zombie apocalypse, so part of my criticism of this episode was that this episode wasn’t needed narratively. At best, it was a chance to see Samantha Morton shine as Alpha again, and at worst, it felt like a doubling down on things we already knew—for the most part, at least.

Dee walking with Lydia in Tales of the Walking Dead Ep3

A character like Alpha almost works better with less backstory and less explanation. We got to see enough of her origin in Season 10. That was effective. Less is more with villains. Tales of the Walking Dead Episode 3 attempted to focus on why Lydia was so estranged from her mother, but did any viewer need any more explanation there?

While this new series does seem like a great vehicle to fill in gaps on characters backstories, this one didn’t click for me. With The Walking Dead in its home stretch, perhaps a true nostalgia blast with a character such as The Governor would have been a better choice—or even the story of Alpha’s rise to power in The Whisperers? Retreading ground on the mother/daughter dynamic felt more like an infomercial for the main series than a worthy third chapter in this new series.

The Reveal

By far the best part of this episode (besides simply seeing Samantha Morton again) was the closing moments. The Walking Dead had never given us any indication that The Whisperers existed before Alpha. This was a huge moment in terms of the show’s mythology, an acknowledgment that this group existed before her and saved the life of Lydia. My hard feelings towards the rest of Tales of the Walking Dead Episode 3 aside, these closing moments made it all worth it.

I have a lot of lingering questions about the end of this episode. Why did they want to spare Lydia? Does this speak to a relevance she has? Our minds can run away with possibilities here. Were The Whisperers there at that moment because they had been following Lydia for a specific reason? Did Dee become Alpha and the leader of The Whisperers all because they wanted her daughter? What were The Whisperers doing before Alpha joined them? What was their purpose, and did that purpose change as a result of a damaged, violent woman taking over as their leader?

Dee, before she was Alpha with Lydia in Tales of the Walking Dead Ep3

One also can’t help but wonder if this moment was designed to signify importance to Lydia still to come. As The Walking Dead heads into its final eight episodes and spin-offs are announced taking our heroes to new locations, could Tales of the Walking Dead Episode 3 tip the hand that Lydia will be a leader at the conclusion of the main series? It makes sense; if Daryl, Maggie, and Negan are all moving to new locations, Lydia could have been spared in order to be a future leader of the new world.

Final Thoughts

While I didn’t enjoy Tales of the Walking Dead Episode 3 as much as I hoped I would, it was still a good episode of television with an ending that was truly exciting for long-time fans of the overall franchise. With three episodes left in this spin-off series, I do hope that we get more of the formula the first two episodes had—great character stories with connections, nods, and winks to the flagship series. Will we see another character like Alpha get more of their backstory revealed? Perhaps, and there is a place for that. My hope is that any ground that is covered with established characters feels new and exciting and that it uncovers new corners of the Walking Dead universe.

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Written by Andrew Grevas

25YL Media Founder

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