Saddle up, everyone: it’s time for one last ride through The Walking Dead. Better bring ample supplies, mind, because we’re in for a veeery long goodbye, with season 11 of everyone’s favourite weekly zombie variety hour set to be the show’s longest ever. There’s 24 undoubtedly bloody episodes to gorge on from now until 2022.
With the proper introduction of the Commonwealth, Maggie’s lingering face-off with Negan and Daryl and Carol preparing to say goodbye, there’s plenty to look forward to – so let’s get on with it, shall we?
What happened in The Walking Dead this week?
- Everyone’s getting a bit hangry: Season 11 opens with the majority of our heroes staging a wordless and frankly breathless Mission: Impossible-style raid on an army barracks, which is teeming with the undead, as their desperate search for supplies goes on. After just about pulling off this night-time heist (and grabbing a few of the still-functioning automatic weapons left by the walker-soldiers), the group head back to a bleak-looking Alexandria, which is crop-less and still very much reeling from the Whisperers onslaught of season 10 as the survivors face up to their latest challenge: they need food, and lots of it.
- Investigating the Meridian: Maggie brings up Meridian, a place with a guaranteed stockpile of supplies where she and her people (a few of whom now live in Alexandria) used to live. However, it’s a) not nearby and b) overrun by a group of baddies – likely the Reapers – who carried out some form of awful slaughter there (“The rest of us barely getting away with our lives”). This new enemy “come at night, and by the time you see them, you’re already dead,” apparently. Of course, Maggie wants to go back there “for Alexandria”, with Daryl, Gabriel, Alden and Negan all among the willing-ish volunteers who join her.
- Going underground: Forced to take shelter from a freakish monsoon (what is this, the apocalypse?), Maggie and co. head down into an abandoned Metro station on the outskirts of Washington D.C. When Negan cautions against the group carrying on their journey along the pitch-black rail tracks Maggie emphatically shuts him down, demanding that he – the appointed local tour guide – give them directions. Passing some troubling graffiti (“If there is a God, he will have to beg for my forgiveness”) and wincing through some loud, creaking noises (supposedly the storm – “that is God telling us to turn around,” quips Negan), the group then comes across a road/rail-block: a ton of rotting corpses in body bags. Great!
- Maggie and Negan butt heads, part 67: Maggie orders the group to clear a path through the body bags (which Negan theorises is an operational mass grave) while putting down any of the poor corpses which have reanimated. One massive, bloated walker emerges from a dark corner and nearly kills Negan, who is forced to take it out single-handedly when no-one steps forward to help him. Infuriated, Negan points the finger at Maggie and accuses her of “playing dictator” and leading them on “a death march”. Maggie retorts by saying that she only brought Negan along because of his local knowledge, but Negan isn’t having it – he knows that Maggie’s ultimate goal is to bump him off (“I’m living rent-free in her head”) in revenge for what he did to her deceased boyfriend Glenn. Funnily enough, he then unwisely brings up her late husband (“I put him down like a dog”) and Daryl beats him down. Maggie declares openly that killing Negan is “always on my mind” – she doesn’t know how long she can withhold her murderous desire for, mind: “Keep pushing me, please.”
- Horde’s-a-comin’: Sensing the general bad vibes, two of Maggie’s group abscond as they continue to clear the way through the body bags, but it quickly becomes clear they all have bigger problems: a horde of walkers is heading their way. Half of the group tries to take them out, while the others attempt to force their way into a nearby subway train. Nearly all of the group manages to climb to safety on top of the carriage, though the commotion spooks Dog, forcing Daryl to go after his beloved mutt. Last up is Maggie, who struggles to pull herself to safety – and then everything gets a bit Lion King as Negan appears in her view and silently refuses her desperate pleas to pull her up. He then turns away, leaving Maggie seemingly at the mercy of the undead.
- Meanwhile, in the Commonwealth: Later, we check in with Eugene, Yumiko, Ezekiel and Princess as they continue to wait in Commonwealth purgatory. The four are each hauled in for questioning by a pair of “auditors” from this strange new community while a gruff-looking man in an orange stormtrooper suit silently keeps watch. The four are told they are currently at the “level one” stage of assessment, and are each asked numerous questions about their backgrounds (we find out, for instance, that Yumiko is a lawyer who studied at Oxford) as well as how they came across the train station in season 10 and the location of their current settlement.
- Time to reprocess your life: Back in their holding cell, the quartet debrief on their respective interrogations as they try to suss out what the situation is. There are numerous other survivors around them in similar cages, and we see one poor prisoner being hurled out of his cell and told he will undergo “reprocessing” due to some unexplained indiscretion. Seems the Commonwealth do not mess around…
- The Wall of the Lost: Princess has quickly observed the habits of the Commonwealth guards patrolling their cells, and the four hatch a daring escape plan – with Eugene and Yumiko somehow getting their hands on the guards’ stormtrooper gear. They just about make it out of the complex, and as they rush past a giant basket of useless US dollars they encounter a huge “Wall of the Lost”. On it are hundreds of messages and pictures of family, friends and loved ones of the Commonwealth’s residents, with anyone on it who comes to the community looking for sanctuary allowed entry, no questions asked. Princess spots a picture of Yumiko on the wall, which appears to have been put there by her brother, Tomi. The escape is off, everyone – we’re all heading into the Commonwealth after all!
Ugliest walker kill of the week:
It has to be when Negan takes on the Last Of Us-esque Bloater in the subway tunnel. Are The Walking Dead’s zombies capable of hideous evolution? Because if so, our survivors are (not) in for a treat this season.
This week’s biggest question: what role will Negan play in the final season of The Walking Dead?
From outright bastard to defeated prisoner to part-vindicated Alpha-slayer, Negan’s TWD journey has been eventful to say the least. But with very few allies on his side at present and shot-caller Maggie not looking in any mood to forgive him for his past crimes, Negan’s outcast status in the show can surely only go so far. With season 11 (hopefully) set to provide us with closure on a whole range of plot points, Negan’s fate is up there in terms of what fans want to see resolved the most. Will he avoid being slain by Maggie? Could he turn and join the next clan of villains? Or will he just sneak off one day and ride off into the sunset? Whatever the outcome, here’s hoping we get a fitting end for one of TV’s most dastardly figures.
‘The Walking Dead’ season 11 will premiere weekly on Mondays in the UK on Star on Disney+, starting August 23