Review: The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 21 – “Outpost 22”

You know the deal, there will be spoilers ahead. Catch up with last week’s review of The Walking Dead before you read on. As the series finale creeps ever closer, this week’s offering from the world of The Walking Dead delivers one of the more action-packed episodes from this third chapter to the final season trilogy. We’ve got the world’s worst Commonwealth soldier who falls asleep on the job, a lengthy gunfight, and a great big train. With nine-tenths of the main cast absent from last week’s stalling episode, the story picks up with those captured and sent away in a Commonwealth convoy.

The episode opens with Maggie, Gabriel, and Rosita escaping the convoy courtesy of the aforementioned sleeping Commonwealth soldier. If there were an award for the worst Commonwealth soldier, it would go to this guy. Much like my attention span for the series, sometimes it’s easy to find yourselves nodding off. It’s not the case, however, for this episode. It’s far from the most thrilling, compelling forty-something minutes of television, but it has its moments. Gabriel and Rosita successfully bail from the back of a truck, but the sleeping soldier wakes up in time to stop Maggie from joining her friends. The vehicle veers off the road, killing the drivers, and Maggie takes to the road. Glenn’s widow feels guilt-ridden by the responsibility of failing to protect Hershel after being abducted by the Commonwealth. Her plight is symbolised best by a child walker.

With back roads and the woodlands crawling with Commonwealth patrols, our groups find themselves scattered far and wide. Daryl and Carol are tracking the Commonwealth train, following information from a now deceased Lance Hornsby, and link up with Maggie after she kills the child walker at a railway crossing and subdues a Commonwealth soldier on patrol. As illustrated by another monologue from Judith, in which we see a montage of Maggie’s journey until this point, the episode focuses on the last of the Greene family as she struggles with her guilt over Hershel’s disappearance.

Daryl - The Walking Dead.
Daryl – The Walking Dead. (Pic: AMC).

Carol reiterates the value of family in the new world and points out that the Commonwealth removed the group from the settlement while separated, implying Pamela’s fear that the group would be stronger together. Themes of family, love, and unity have been recurring throughout this final chapter of the trilogy, in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, supported by Judith’s introductory monologues to each episode. As Daryl and Carol track the Commonwealth train, they learn that Connie has been captured and reassigned as a ‘Designation Two,’ a title assigned to those sent away to unknown locations and never seen again, according to the captured Commonwealth soldier on patrol.

This subplot could, in some way, set the groundwork for Daryl’s spin-off in Paris. Could he become one of the designated to disappear? As we know, Daryl will end up in Paris without knowing how he arrived. With Negan’s wife Annie and Hershel missing, this subplot could even carry over to Maggie and Negan’s New York side story and send them on a journey to find their lost loved ones. Meanwhile, the redeemed Savior tyrant is languishing with Kelly and Ezekiel at a Commonwealth labour camp under the sadistic scrutiny of the Warden.

This guy is a Kenneth Branagh lookalike who makes little impact on the episode. Another would-be, short-lived villain who’ll likely be dead within two episodes, guaranteed. In fairness, the series has three more episodes to see if he can make more of an impression on the series. Something tells me he won’t. As is often the way, these villains, similar to Toby Carlson from Episode 14, are bit-part characters swiftly overlooked one episode after their eventual demise. 

King Ezekiel - The Walking Dead.
King Ezekiel – The Walking Dead. (Pic: AMC).

The group is assigned to clear debris for the Commonwealth’s ever-expanding train line. With Annie sent away from the labour camp to an unknown location and Negan desperate to find her, Ezekiel begrudgingly agrees to work with him as they plan a revolt against the Warden. Negan recognises the Warden’s use of fear and intimidation to force the workers into line, killing those who attempt to escape. During his rule as the head of the Saviors, Negan established his presence with fear and violence. It makes for a neat parallel to Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s former villain, while his scene with Ezekiel is a highlight of the episode.

Sadly, there is no revolt, at least for the time being, but there is a gunfight and a bike chase between a Commonwealth and Daryl that culminates in a stunt so daft it feels like it came out of an Arnie action movie in the 90s. As the action dies down, Connie and Daryl are reunited. There’s little suggestion of the will they/won’t they storyline from a few years back, and it’s a shame. There’s also little time to let these characters breathe and allow any chemistry to shine through. Daryl had all but verbally admitted he liked Connie in Episode 10 earlier in the season. At this stage, the series flits from one location to the next, jumping between set-piece to set-piece, resigning character development to the cutting room floor. 

Despite the train being under their control, the captured train driver kills him out of fear of the Warden, who he believes will kill him should he escape and return to the Commonwealth. Ezekiel, Negan, Kelly, and the other prisoners at the labour camp are delivered on buses back to Outpost 22, which, as it turns out, is Alexandria, now a reclaimed territory under the control of the Commonwealth. Rosita tricks a friendly Commonwealth soldier into disclosing this information, posing as a surviving soldier over the radio. Maggie declares the group will save their children and take back Alexandria, while Pamela will “never see it coming.”

Negan - The Walking Dead
Negan – The Walking Dead. (Pic: AMC).

“Outpost 22” is a lively episode brimming with a (Common)wealth of action (sorry…, bad pun), including a mildly exciting yet poorly choreographed gunfight around the Commonwealth locomotive. Throughout the majority of the sequence, few bullets ever hit their targets. Daryl’s bike chase puts me in mind, strangely, of the Stormtrooper speeder chase from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. If you consider the fact the Commonwealth soldiers even look like Stormtroopers, it makes it more difficult to ignore the similarities.

To top it off, we’ve got Maggie’s damning declaration to take back their people and former home from the Commonwealth, echoing Rick’s speech in the Terminus train car from the Season 4 finale. Other notable highlights include Connie and Daryl’s reunion and Ezekiel’s ridiculing conversation with Negan about his tyrannical past.

What do you think of the eleventh season of The Walking Dead as the series approaches its inevitable conclusion? Feel free to give us your thoughts in the comment section below!

Alexandria - The Walking Dead.
Alexandria – The Walking Dead. (Pic: AMC).
Matt Bailey

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