There are major spoilers ahead for this review of The Walking Dead. It’s all about having trust in your fellow man or woman. Lance is on the warpath as he hunts for those responsible for killing Toby Carlson and the Commonwealth unit assigned to the Riverbend complex. After Aaron and Gabriel successfully fabricate a cover story to explain the deaths of Toby and a dozen Commonwealth soldiers, Lance Hornsby is on the warpath. He’s picking holes in the story, curiously pondering why they would leave Gabriel and Aaron alive. He surmises but fails to prove that they had help from others within the cult, those they may know. Ahem, Negan.
Daryl keeps a wary eye on proceedings as Lance disarms the tension and believes them. The Commonwealth representative is slimy and cunning and isn’t letting this go. He’s out for blood and determined to find those responsible. The next stop on his agenda is the Hilltop. This will bring us back to where we started at the end of Episode 9, the mid-season premiere. Lance suspects the Hilltop community has provided sanctuary to the cult and intends to flush them out by any means necessary. Shortly before they arrive, he tasks Aaron and Gabriel to kill a small group of zombies.
No problem for the one-eyed priest and a man with a gauntlet for a hand. Daryl lends a hand as they tidily deal with the undead, including a gloriously gruesome shot of Aaron punching a zombie through the head with his gauntlet. Lance, in the meantime, watches with an expression that positively drips evil. Listen very carefully, and there’s a strong chance you could hear a cackling laugh. The Commonwealth slime ball is convinced by Aaron and Gabriel’s role in killing Toby Carlson, Lance’s top Commonwealth and ex-CIA interrogator, first introduced in Episode 13.
At the Hilltop, Maggie refuses Lance’s entry into the community. Daryl steps up and persuades Maggie into letting them enter, asking her to trust him instead. Maggie relents and permits the Commonwealth entry. Now we’re all caught up with the time jump from Episode 9. The Commonwealth enters the community and sweeps the place. A suspicious Lance attempts to prove a car found at the settlement was the same one seen leaving the complex. He’s a dab hand with engines, conveniently descending from a line of car fanatics. He fixes up the engine and turns it over. But the engine won’t start, disproving his theory.
Maggie gives his soldiers until sundown to do their job and leave. Lance is smiling, perhaps relishing the challenge that lies ahead. He later speaks to Maggie’s son Hershel and returns his hat. Lance wants answers and by the look of things, he’s about to get them. Elijah then jumps into the fray and slams Lance against a wall, leading to a stand-off between the Commonwealth and Hilltop communities. Daryl even drops the F-bomb, for the first time in the show’s eleven-year history. Lance takes stock of the situation, and his unit leaves the Hilltop before things turn any uglier. However, he’s certainly not finished with the Hilltop.
His mission is far from over. The stolen weapons are still at large, and neither party are closer to finding them. Lance and a small team of Commonwealth soldiers track down Leah at a camp a little further away. Lance presents Leah with a job offer. Considering his position with Maggie at the Hilltop and the losses Leah suffered because of Glenn’s widow during the mid-season premiere, it’s pretty clear what the offer will entail.
In the Commonwealth, a collective of smaller stories gathers momentum as he heads toward the second mid-season finale. Eugene and Rosita meet with Connie and Kelly, the Commonwealth’s top two journalists. They inform them of Sebastian’s schemes that led to the deaths of dozens of innocent people. Most notably, April, a Commonwealth resident from Episode 14. April’s name is found on the list Connie and Kelly received anonymously during Episode 11. We still don’t know who provided Connie and Kelly with the list, or what it means. If one thing is for sure, there’s a bigger story at play.
So Eugene goes to Max and asks her for help to recover any information she can to uncover the truth. A secret conversation in an office is interrupted by a janitor who appears surprised by their presence. There’s a strong chance the janitor will play a role in events later. That’s just a feeling. Informed of Sebastian’s schemes against innocent Commonwealth residents, Max confronts Mercer in a gymnasium about the state of the community. She encourages him that he can affect change, especially with the support of the Commonwealth loyal. Mercer is reluctant to do so. Max hopes that he can become more than simply a face on a Commonwealth propaganda poster. Yumiko’s brother, Tomi (Ian Anthony Dale), says it best. Why upset the apple cart if it keeps you safe?
Mercer struggles with his guilt after killing Alves and Castle, the two Commonwealth soldiers in league with Sebastian’s schemes. As his relationship with Princess deepens, his guilt worsens. He struggles to sleep, admitting his role in killing the soldiers. In killing two of his own people, he’s sacrificing his morals in protecting the Commonwealth. He further admits his fear of becoming a part of the problem. On the bright side, we learn Mercer’s real name is Michael. There we go then.
In the end, Max agrees to help Eugene as they search for answers. Eugene and Max kiss as the oddball scientist commits to their relationship. Speaking of love, Ezekiel and Carol appear closer than ever to revive their relationship. Carol is secretive about her work with Lance and the Commonwealth. Ezekiel is positively bristling with enthusiasm for life as he recovers from his thyroid cancer treatment. The former Kingdom leader has also set up an unofficial clinic to help those still on waiting lists.
Tomi is depressed after losing a patient and taking pills. Plus, for reasons unknown, the episode devotes several minutes to watching Ezekiel, Tomi, and Carol save a woman’s life in critical condition. Not sure if it mattered all that much. In conclusion, Daryl’s F-bomb was a surprise, and Mercer’s character development humanises the military leader and solidifies him as an ally. Carol and Ezekiel’s will they/won’t they subplot might not become a thing after all, as Carol hilariously shoots his expectations down. Whereas Eugene finally gets to kiss Max.
Lance’s evolution throughout the Commonwealth saga has been enthralling to watch as he abuses his position of power, matched by his ruthless cunning and general sliminess. His proposal for an alliance with Leah promises a mid-season finale that cannot be missed as the show bows out for the second to last time. Plus, let’s not forget The Walking Dead has officially wrapped as the stars posted their tributes to the series last week. What do you think of the eleventh season of The Walking Dead with one episode before the mid-season break? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below!