“The Walking Dead” Season 11, Episode 9 Review: The Best Episode in Years

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Maggie finally gets the episode that she deserves in The Walking Dead’s powerful return to Season 11.

CREDIT: AMC

The Walking Dead has had its ups and downs over the years. AMC’s zombie drama can be powerful and profound at times. Some episodes are illogical and poorly produced.

It’s rare that the show has been so good as tonight’s episode, “No Other Way”. A great twist and a tense ending to the Reapers storyline all work together to make this episode best.

Angela Kang’s production quality has risen significantly and the show simply has never felt or looked this good. Season 11, Part 2’s music, cinematography, and action are all as great as ever. It’s hard to believe that AMC has released such a poor and uneven Part 1.

Adios, Reapers

Season 11, Episode 8, was an episode that I found to be a bit offensive. Leah (Lynn Collins), and Carver (Alex Meraz), had decided to take the revengeful route. Instead of letting Daryl (Norman Reedus), and his friends go about their business, or finding a diplomatic solution to their grievances following Pope’s death. Leah launches a volley from the Reapers ‘hwacha, a device that can fire hundreds of fire arrows at once.

 

The episode was ending with things looking very grim for our heroes. So, the show went on a break. We are back at the action exactly where it left off. It’s a great action sequence.

The hwacha is largely ineffective and serves to scatter everyone into smaller pockets. Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), runs into the Reaper priest, who talks a lot of mumbo-jumbo until Gabriel takes him through without blinking an eye.

This Gabriel is more ruthless and no-nonsense than the snivelly old Gabriel. He is now one of my favourite characters. The six bridge episodes had only two episodes that were good. This was largely due to the characters’ strengths.

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Carver also tracks down Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Negan’s last follower, and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari), who is badly hurt. They almost lose to the Reaper fighter, whose fighting skills are evidently on a different level.

With Maggie and Elijah both dead, Negan manages to fool the Reaper by throwing sand into his eyes, and then ringing his actual bell. The odds of the Reapers losing Carver and the priest are getting worse.

 

Daryl and his company bring the hostage back to their compound yard. Daryl tells Leah, her two remaining Reapers, to come out and drop all their weapons or he will kill Carver. The Reapers appear but don’t release their weapons. They can walk, but Daryl says so. Leah however has an advantage.

When she walkie-talkies to a fourth Reaper, a bullet strikes the ground next to them. One by one, a sniper is standing high above them all. Leah tells Leah, clearly not the jilted lover, “Do the woman first.” Carver is shot in the leg by the sniper.

Leah and the audience didn’t know that Gabriel took care of the sniper after he had dealt with the priest. He replies, “Call me Gabriel,” like a badass. Negan smirks. Leah pales.

She asks, “Does this deal still stand?”

“No,” Maggie says. “You would have killed all of us.”

However, Daryl still has a soft spot in his heart for Leah. He informs her that she and the two other men can drop their weapons. Carver must stay. Leah agrees to the deal and the three of them hurry off. Maggie kneels in front of Carver, then turns her attention to Elijah. He lies painfully on the ground.

Gabriel

CREDIT: AMC

We can see her resolve before she moves. At this point, the music is very dramatic. Maggie rises in slow motion. She walks slowly towards the other Reapers, stepping over the Carver. She reaches for the revolver, which is tucked in her back.

“Holy crap,” I thought. I thought “Are they really going there?” Part of me thought that Daryl would stop her. But then she fires at them and shoots them in the back, as they run off to safety. I was so amused that I watched the entire scene again after it was over.

This scene was both in its composition and in terms of its narrative implications, one of the most memorable in The Walking Dead’s history. It is all shot flawlessly. Maggie follows the unsuspecting Reapers. After shooting Leah and the second guy, she puts one down, but not out, and then turns around to shoot the first guy with another bullet. Daryl, clearly distraught, runs past Negan, who is looking on with a thoughtful look on his face. Maggie returns to Carver, but she is out of bullets. She grabs the ice ax or whatever it is and cuts his chest open.

It is absolutely brutal. Damn. That scene was the best I’ve ever seen of Maggie.

Leah escapes thanks to Daryl’s mercy. It’s possible that we’ll get an unexpected visit from her in future. However, the Reapers–lousy, savage villains for most of the time–are no longer around. The survivors load up a cart full of food, including all kinds of vegetables and artichokes. Then, they return to Alexandria.

Maggie encounters two other people along the way. She first returns to Alden’s wounded body (Callan McAuliffe). Alden is dead, surprising no one. Zombie Alden crawls on the floor, and Maggie allows him to get ridiculously close before inserting a knife in his brain. She weeps as she looks at his corpse.

His burial place is the second location where they meet. Negan is just arriving as she’s just finished. He appears to be very close to using a club he carries. He informs her that he witnessed what she did to the Reapers, and that it is only a matter of time before she does the exact same to him.

He says, in a threatening tone, “I’m not gonna let you do this.” She grabs her knife. He says, “I’m going on my own path,” and then turns his back and walks off. It appears that Negan has left the group, ending the bitter rivalry between them.

Will he be allowed to return? Will he be able to contribute to the conflict between Maggie’s people and the Commonwealth? We will see. However, I don’t think this will be the last time we see Negan.

It’s interesting. It was earlier in the season, when Maggie & Negan were discussing Glenn and Abraham’s deaths. He seemed to be going to apologize, she thought. Instead, he said that he should have killed them all. He was correct. Negan and the Saviors were ruined by Rick and his gang living. He should have killed Rick and the other Savior murderers in his sleep to protect his people.

It’s hard to believe Maggie took these words to heart and that she recalled them when she set down the Reapers. This makes perfect sense in a world where the sword is your only weapon of choice.

Saving Gracie

Mmmmm brains!

CREDIT: AMC

I was critical of Gracie (Anabelle Holloway) in Episode 8. She made some terrible and stupid decisions during that episode.

Someone said I was actually referring to, because they were picking on such a tiny child.

However, I am not picking on the child, but I am critiquing her bad writing and the poor decisions she made. This girl grew up in terror, surrounded by horrors that we cannot imagine. She comes from a generation that was raised in a zombie apocalypse and is familiar with the survival strategies and dangers involved in such an uncertain existence.

Is it possible that she is acting like a child who has never seen a zombie? Why is Judith (Cailey Flaming) so savvy, brave, and skilled but Gracie is an idiot?

Yes, I was criticized by many for calling her that, but again, it is because she wouldn’t be. She was probably put in a corner by the writers.

It’s not surprising that this episode’s second story was about Aaron saving the girls from the zombies. Aaron isn’t the first to find himself a demon, and it is a very exciting rescue.

Things fall apart slightly when Lydia (Cassady McClincy), shows up and magically takes Aaron out of his basement. This is the classic Walking Dead scene. They don’t show Lydia how to get him out. He’s hanging from broken pipes on the basement floor. Zombies grab his legs. The next minute Lydia appears and says, “I’ll return!”She finally helped him out of the window, climbing on a rope.

“We are not told how the rope reached him or why it appears so tangled to the basement wall. Maybe she just gave it to him, and he just climbed it. But couldn’t he have climbed out of the basement window without rope? What is the rope doing for him?

It’s frustrating. It’s a minor issue in the story. I can ignore it and continue my story. But, it’s one of the show’s worst tendencies. And even though this episode was a good one, we’re back.

Oh, Hello Commonwealth

The Commonwealth

CREDIT: AMC

Daryl, Maggie, Gabriel and Elijah (minus Negan and Alden) return with the food cart to Alexandria. Daryl is thrilled to see Connie Ridloff safe and sound. It’s a great reunion, even though Lydia is clearly upset that Negan won’t be coming back.

Unfortunately, no good thing can last forever. Just as things were looking up, an alarm sounded. Someone–or something–is coming.

It’s the Commonwealth, naturally. An assortment of Storm Troopers dressed in red and white armor, looking silly, have arrived. Just as everyone is aiming their guns at each other, Eugene (Josh McDermitt), assures everyone that they are all friends and there’s no need to show any force.

Eugene decided to reveal the truth to his friends and gave Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) their location. Hornsby and the Commonwealth are now in Alexandria. Hornsby says that they are more than willing to contribute resources to Alexandria’s rebuilding. Hornsby adds that he has a more intriguing offer for you. He invites you to live in the Commonwealth and experience all the excitement. This is an implied statement, and not a direct offer.

There’s a six-month time-jump from here. Maggie is pictured with her friends behind the walls of what appears to be a Hilltop that has been rebuilt. Below, a formation of Commonwealth soldiers is seen.

Maggie says, “It doesn’t have to be that way!”

A Commonwealth soldier comes forward and takes off his helmet. “Yes. Daryl responds, “Yes. Oh damn!

This is an interesting twist that will fuel the next eight episodes. Episode 10 will take place at the Commonwealth shortly after this episode and before the six-month time jump. It’s possible that we will work through the six remaining episodes to get to the showdown between Maggie & Daryl. We’ll continue to learn as they drag us along by curiosity.

This episode was very strong and very exciting. It also marked a return to form for The Walking Dead After. . . quite a long lull. Other than a couple of bridge episodes, the six episodes of Season 11’s first eight episodes were quite weak. The other episodes of Season 11’s second season were also pretty lacking in luster (other than a few). The Whisperer War was a long and tedious story.

The Walking Dead would be an incredible show if they could keep up with the excitement and intensity of these episodes. As it stands now, I’m happy that we have this episode and I’m looking forward to next week’s.

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