Clearly, Lydia isn’t learning the kind of hard lessons needed for survival, and Brooke’s relaxed attitude towards security—they’re in a river in a swamp, with gators and snakes to keep the walkers at bay and walkers to keep the people at bay—is second only to her attitude towards Dee’s parenting when it comes to setting off Dee’s internal alarms. Dee isn’t a great parent by any means; we’ve seen plenty of that in action on mainline The Walking Dead, but she’s got a good sense of danger, and when she keys on newcomer Billy (Nick Basta) as a suspicious character doing suspicious things, she might be onto something Brooke is completely unwilling to see.
Dee will do anything to keep her daughter safe, whether it’s dressing up or stealing knives from the kitchen to protect herself from potential outside threats.
Unsurprisingly, things go bad on the ship when Dee’s paranoia is ignored. She might be abrasive, but she’s survived a long time on her own and kept her daughter alive. Her comments about the viper in their midst go unheeded and Billy’s gang take over the boat, promising Brooke they’ll keep her in charge of the fun stuff, and Billy will take over the hard decisions of survival, like culling the drains on resources. Billy is willing to adapt to the new world, even if Brooke isn’t. But Billy’s new order is a direct threat to Lydia. So, Billy and friends have to die, Brooke and friends are left to fend for themselves, and Dee is off with Lydia again to train the girl how to hunt walkers and keep herself safe.
It goes poorly. Lydia is resistant, trying to salvage her mother’s last vestiges of humanity at every turn, only for Dee to strip those away, one by one, painting herself and her daughter with walker blood and hiding under a spatchcocked walker corpse to avoid danger. Lydia only wants to go back to the boat, go back to a world that no longer exists, and when she tells Dee that she hears the fairies whispering to her from the trees, and she wants to go join them, Dee interprets that as a signal to make Lydia “look at the flowers”.
However, Lydia’s demise is interrupted, not by fairies, but by people wearing walker skins as masks, who come shambling out of the swamp to stay Dee’s killing hand. A brief meeting with the Whisperer’s leader Hera (Anne Beyer) and a blow to the head later, and Dee is gone. Instead, “Dee” smashes to Alpha in her cave, head shaved and filthy, talking to the only person who could understand the burdens of leadership and raising an ungrateful child in a zombie-filled world. Alpha has been unburdening herself to the mummified head of Hera, the very woman who took her in, taught her the ways of the Whisperers, and saved Lydia’s life.