After the confrontation at the bridge camp, Anne is disillusioned with her place in the communities and heads back to the heaps, where she uncovers a special walkie-talkie that puts her in touch with the owners of the helicopter we’ve seen tooling around since Season 8. Gabriel catches her talking to them, and she’s forced to admit she’s been trading people in exchange for supplies, which is, presumably, what some of the Scavenger traps were for. In some clear Whisperer foreshadowing, the person on the other end of the radio refers to the people that serve as his payment as As or Bs (in the comics, the Whisperers eliminate names and use a ranking systems that defines certain people as Alphas or Betas).
Any hope that surrounded that magical helicopter is dashed when we learn what its beneficence costs, as is any hope for Anne’s redemption when she reveals her part in it. And to complete her journey back to the dark side, after Gabriel refuses to go along with her plan to sacrifice someone for her own escape, she smirks, “And here I always thought you were a B.” and cold-cocks him with a pistol.
It looks likely that Gabriel will be her sacrifice of choice, given the price for her passage away from the communities (a journey she cannot make alone for some reason, be it distance or danger) was definitively “An A.” If the Whisperers are at the root of this arc, then it stands to reason this is a demented way of recruiting members and pressing them into service to increase their numbers. The Saviors operated in a similar capacity, but with more humanity. That should give you an idea of what to expect once this new nemesis finally does show up.
The episode feels a little plodding and predictable, in part because the leftover vengeance mentioned above, but also because after the two-year time jump and the general exhaustion audiences feel surrounding the Savior conflict. Things aren’t as bleak or as bullet-ridden as they were in Season 8, and the show would’ve been the poorer for not showing the wounds left over after such a violent conflict, not to mention the performances remain at the heart of what still makes The Walking Dead such compelling television. But after nearly three seasons of murder, revenge and more murder, but the faster anything regarding the Savior conflict is wrapped up and a new antagonist shows up, the better.
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC, The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.