There are spoilers ahead for this week’s review of The Walking Dead. AMC’s horror drama continues to tread careful ground as the Commonwealth story develops. This episode’s low-key approach echoes the previous two instalments into the final season’s second act. However, this is not a bad thing, and the series thrives. The Commonwealth storyline is utterly refreshing from the annual threat of another big group of bad guys. This week’s episode focuses on the themes of ambition and power. The Commonwealth look set to expand its empire with three new communities on its radar.
“The Lucky Ones” takes the Commonwealth on a guided tour of Alexandria, Hilltop, and Oceanside. Alexandria has seen better days as Aaron gives Pamela and her entourage the tour. There’s a throwback to Deanna Monroe, the original governess of Alexandria, a woman who bought Rick’s group into the fold during the back half of Season 5.
It seems like an age ago now. Pamela reveals that she once knew Deanna and is dismayed to find out from Aaron that Deanna died from a walker bite many years ago. There are often references and easter eggs to the show’s past time, and they always feel good. The throwback to Deanna was a nice touch.
Arguably one of the most short-lived characters in the series, Deanna had wasted potential considering the Alexandrians would fight Negan one season later. That was a confrontation worthy of watching. This scene is a particular highlight to an episode that moves along as quickly as the Commonwealth’s horse-drawn convoy.
Daryl informs Pamela of Alexandria’s troubled history. He reveals to the Commonwealth leader that Alexandria has fallen several times in the past, courtesy of season-spanning wars with the Saviors and the Whisperers. A walker breach alerts the Alexandrians, confirming that Alexandria is not as fortified a settlement as it could be. However, best not to get settled in, as the Commonwealth swiftly moves on to Oceanside.
The community by the sea last appeared during Season 10 at the climax of the Whisperer War. Pamela and her entourage arrive to meet Rachel, the Oceanside leader. The meeting becomes a nonstarter as Rachel says they will only join the Commonwealth if Maggie agrees. Frustrated, Lance vents to Aaron, threatening to cut off aid to Alexandria if the other communities fail to join.
On the road, the Commonwealth convoy encounters a small group fighting walkers. Beleaguered, Maggie, Lydia, Elijah, and Diane continue to survive at the Hilltop. However, doubt is beginning to spread about Hilltop’s longevity amongst the group. Lydia voices concerns to Daryl while Diane attempts to persuade Maggie to take the Commonwealth’s deal and join them. Eventually, Diane and other Hilltoppers abandon their community and opt to join the Commonwealth. Maggie ponders on this decision, appearing conflicted in whether she made the right choice.
Pamela and Lance do all they can to persuade Maggie, but their efforts fall flat. Her hesitance to join the Commonwealth remains vague. Mercer and his forces help take out hordes of walkers while Pamela takes Maggie hunting. The Commonwealth extend their hospitality to the Hilltop with supplies. However, none of this is enough to sway Maggie onto team Commonwealth. After rejecting their offer, she recalls a conversation with Pamela in which everything has a price. In doing so, Pamela is left disappointed, and Lance with a face like thunder.
Elsewhere, Eugene and Max’s relationship is delicate following the conclusion to the Stephanie storyline last week. After Max and Eugene connected over the radio waves from across the country, it provides the perfect example that long-distance relationships can work out. That’s until the Commonwealth discovers someone communicating with outsiders. Now, with Chelle Ramos’ Stephanie exposed as an impostor, Eugene does some soul searching. He reflects on recent events with Rosita at a lake, where they reminisce about home.
Eugene decides to hold back the information he knows on Stephanie’s deceit, putting it down to a simple breakup. Later, the oddball scientist and Max begin to bond over his novel as they take their first steps toward forming a new relationship. Their chemistry feels genuine while the opening flashbacks of Eugene and Max on the radio warm the heart. Elsewhere in the Commonwealth, Ezekiel prepares for his thyroid cancer treatment. He’s not pleased to discover that Carol had worked with Lance to move Ezekiel to the top of the waiting list. He’s further upset that others will suffer due to the privileges he receives.
I’m saving the best for last with this review. Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) is shaping up to become one of the show’s best antagonists. As the show reaches the halfway mark, the tide is beginning to turn in favour of the newest big bad. Hornsby is not an original villain from the source material, with elements from another storyline adapted to suit his story. Lance’s endgame is unknown, but his ambition to build an empire of communities is abundantly clear. After Eugene discovered his band of secret operatives within the Commonwealth last week, it’s clear he has the numbers.
Plus, he has the power and ambition to expand the Commonwealth to new places as Pamela’s right-hand man. He has caches of supplies outside the Commonwealth, as seen last week on the poppy farm, and intimate knowledge of how the Commonwealth works. Hornsby is far more than a humble, hard-working Commonwealth representative.
The final scene is particularly noteworthy for Hamilton’s deranged portrayal of Hornsby as he guns down walkers with a tiny revolver. He picks them off with chilling ease, reflecting his patient commitment to the cause. The last shot has him pointing the weapon directly to the camera, affirming his intention to remake the world.
To conclude this review, “The Lucky Ones” is a reflective, low-key episode with poignantly written throwbacks to the golden age of The Walking Dead. Lance’s ambitions to build an empire darken the future as he guns down walkers with chilling ease during the episode’s final scene. Pamela remains committed to the Commonwealth and warns Lance that if he expands an empire too far, he could risk losing it.
For more The Walking Dead content, Flickluster recently reported that a new spin-off featuring Maggie and Negan would debut on AMC in 2023. What do you think of the eleventh season of The Walking Dead so far? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below!