Lydia has been imprisoned in Hilltop and is now locked in a cell opposite Henry the sympathetic who wants to know her life story
She talks a lot about her life just after the apocalypse - and we get a flash back to her, her dad and her mother and them living in a shelter. In her recap, her dad was kind of an arsehole, being harsh and uncaring while her mother tried to comfort her and convince her that the world wasn’t ending while her dad was uncaring and awful and wanting to run off and generally snarling.
Lydia adds her own commentary about how her dad was the worst but her mother was strong and did what she had to - including at one point having to kill a man who was noisily panicking about being surrounded by scary zombies. Something Daryl thinks was necessary and understandable to survive since the apocalypse has you make hard choices. Later her dad ends up killed trying to save her from a zombie
This added to the lessons Lydia learned from her mother - you had to be hard, you had to be strong, and other bizarre ideas like “hunger is a gift”. She’s also convinced that settlements like this cannot possibly last becsause the world belongs to the dead and instead they have to wander around with zombies, catch blood poisoning from all the rotting meat and eat earth worms or anything lese they can just about scavenge without alerting the rotten nastiness around them
This makes perfect sense
Meanwhile Henry, listening to all this, decides it’s a great idea to tell Lydia about his parents and the other settlements in the area - until Daryl intervenes because they’re supposed to be questioning her and how can Henry possibly be this clueless? HOW?! Henry insists Lydia is a nice person and Daryl is a big ol’ mean meaning for not trusting the enemy agent who tried to kill one of them
Henry also sneaks her out in the middle of the night to eat earth worms (because that’s a thing the Whisperers do) and nearly get hit in the head by a hammer before she realises that maaaybe this settlement might actually be here to say
And Daryl confronts her - he recognises the marks on her arms as that she has been beaten - and guesses rightly that it was by her mother. As a man abused as a child himself he can see some parts of her story that don’t make sense - how her father has been cast as the villain but the story is inconsistent.
While I like Daryl examining his own past (and Henry bringing in Carol and how she cut her hair to avoid her abusive husband using it as a way to hurt her and has only grown it out now she feels safe which is a nice touch), I do think that this is somewhat simplistic - I mean “my abuse didn’t look like that” is not a valid way to criticise another’s abuse. Nor is pointing to an abuser’s acts of kindness proof that they weren’t/aren’t an abuser.
With Daryl poking a different story emerges - Lydia’s father was the supportive, caring, protective one and all the bad actions Lydia has ascribed to her dad actually came from her mother. Her mother told her her version of events over and over and over and over so many times that Lydia herself came to believe them (classic gas lighting); from simple things like cutting her hair through to the violence and willingness to leave
And, above all, her dad’s death - not at the hands of a zombie, but at the hands of Lydia when he refused to abandon their friends when they were struggling against the newly raised walker.
Again I’m going with good but simplistic here -on the one hand gaslighting like this is such a common abusive tactic - telling Lydia the beatings make her stronger, how they have to be hard and how weakness is terrible while at the same time stressing that her dad was the bad guy.
What I consider simplistic is that Lydia, after years of believing this, could apparently be turned by a couple of minutes of Daryl’s doubt.
But Lydia now recognises her mother as the big bad - which is awkward, because her mother arrives with a strong of Whispers all within easy mow-down-with-nows range to demand her daughter back
While that’s all going on, Tara leads a search party including Marga and Yumiko and Kelly and Connie looking for Luke and Arden- but as they realise the Whisperers are way more numerous and way more organised than they originally thought Tara insists they return to Hilltop to safety, overruling Marga who wanted to split up because she’s suicidal… Kelly disagrees and tries to intimidate Tara into keeping up the search but Tara just walks away away heading back
The new people argue over what to do and Marga has changed her tune a little: She’s not going to jeopardising their new home and safety by disobeying Tara. But the rest insist they have to find Luke because they stick together - Yumiko especially insists they sneak out and find him. She insists and calls a vote - everyone votes to go find her
Which they do… only to find that sneaking around in the dark surrounded by zombies and Whisperers is super super dangerous. They realise they’re really outnumbered and in danger and Yumiko and Marga realise they need to go back to Hilltop. But Kelly insists she has to stay and find Luke because she owes him - and Connie insists that she can stay and convince Kelly to come while the rest return.
Marga and Yumiko fret back at Hillltop only to find Tara has arranged guards to bring Kelly and Connie back safely… yes Tara knew they were going to sneak out - and Tara made sure she protected them because she sees them as her people. And if they disagree with her in future, that’s fine - they can talk to her
Tara is looking like a great leader which is going to make the communities not co-operating seem even weirder
Ok, I call bullshit. No, I call Great Steaming Elephant Turds
There is no way Carol, Look-at-the-flowers-Carol raised a boy THIS DAMN NAIVE. And yes, I loved the story of her hair, her history and what it means for her now and how she feels but I still cannot imagine her lowering her guard or being so divorced from reality she would have Henry grow up being This Stupid Good.