For those who’ll remember last week’s closing moments of “Acheron Part II”, the Reapers emerged, killing Hilltopper Roy and cutting off Cole’s hand, and here we are. The pre-credits sequence is hard to watch and leaves no time to prepare as chaos ensues. The group is scattered, arrows are flying out of the dark, and it almost feels like a dream.
Cole and Duncan are killed, Gabriel is slashed and left with a knife in his leg, while Elijah is lassoed by a Reaper into the dark. It was a sequence reminiscent of Season 7’s opener, in which Rick, lying distraught on the roof of the RV imagined all of his friends being murdered by Lucille. No one is spared, everyone’s a target and for some breathless beats, I was convinced we were set to say goodbye to some of our most beloved survivors. Well, perhaps everyone other than primary cast members, because of plot armor, remember?
Sadly, the growing body count will account for the majority of Maggie’s crew, a small group of woefully undeveloped characters serving one purpose only, to provide a shock factor when they’re inevitably killed by a walker or otherwise. It’s equally sad to say, but no one’s that fussed. This is a trend that is regrettably a part of The Walking Dead’s predictably formulaic episodic structure in recent years.
Duncan later dies from wounds sustained in the fight with the Reapers, Agatha is devoured by a group of walkers, while former Savior Alden (a character who deserves far more than to meet his fate in some grotty old church hall) forces Maggie to abandon him believing he has become dead weight. It’s all about survival in “Hunted” and desperate times call for desperate measures. This is made painfully clear in Carol’s tiresome mission to track down and return horses to Alexandria, later forced to put one down to feed the starving community.
Other high points of praise include a superbly executed jump scare in a staircase between a Reaper and an unsuspecting Maggie, some stunning cinematography of horses against a sunset, and Gabriel killing a Reaper, refusing to pray with the dying man. Gabriel coldly declares that “god isn’t here anymore”, before killing him. This moment illustrates how developed and engaging Seth Gilliam is to watch on screen.
High praise has to go to Frederick Eo Toye. Best known for his work on Alias, The Boys, and 11.22.63, Toye captured the post-apocalyptic landscape of Georgia in startling, beautiful detail. From the strangely excessive use of wide-angle camera angles and tracking shots to symbolic imagery of wooden crosses, eerily lit shopping malls, and beautiful Georgian forests, The Walking Dead’s third episode of Season 11, “Hunted”, felt like a crossover between The Road and The Revenant.
Toye has successfully lifted The Walking Dead’s cinematography game to a whole new level with “Hunted”, a trend becoming more commonplace in recent years as the series settles into its eleventh and final season. “Hunted”, however, despite the dazzling cinematography, was also a grisly, unrelenting episode, delivering blood and brutality in equal measure. The Reapers are in town and the group is scattered, forced on the run by this deadly new military faction.