We’ve officially entered the Commonwealth era of The Walking Dead. After last week’s surprise time jump – which presented us with the surreal sight of Daryl (Norman Reedus) in full trooper uniform confronting a dissenting Maggie (Lauren Cohan) – it seems that many of our survivors have gladly traded roughing it in the zombie apocalypse for the seemingly serene ways of this new community.
But what price will the likes of Daryl, Carol (Melissa McBride) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) have to pay in order to earn their keep? And is there something deeply sinister lurking beneath the surface of this newfound sanctuary? ‘New Haunts’ provides some answers…
The Commonwealth knows how to celebrate Halloween!
— The Walking Dead on AMC (@WalkingDead_AMC) February 27, 2022
What happened in The Walking Dead this week?
All the fun of the fair: We open at a Halloween funfair that is taking place in the Commonwealth, and everything feels eerily… normal? Kids are happily running around, Carol is baking, and look: there’s Commonwealth Governor Pamela Milton (Laila Robins), who is here to judge a fancy dress competition and give out “lottery tickets”. Elsewhere, Ezekiel (Khary Payton), who seems to be channelling Steve Irwin, is visibly uncomfortable but bats away Carol’s suggestion that his thyroid cancer is taking its toll. Carol is later told by a Commonwealth doctor that while her ex-husband is in line for surgery, it’s unlikely that he’ll be treated before his cancer kills him. This compels her to request the help of Deputy Governor Lance Hornsby, who says they can help one another in order to bump Ezekiel up the waiting list.
Troopers-in-training: Daryl and Rosita are training to become Commonwealth troopers. We see them taking part in drills led by General Mercer (Michael James Shaw), where they have to team up with another newbie and “clear” a building using just one non-firearm weapon per pair. Rosita and Daryl both excel at the task, but are let down by their respective partners – Mercer is clearly aware, though, that these two can handle themselves. Enter Sebastian Milton (Teo Rapp-Olsson), Pamela’s self-entitled son. During another drill, Sebastian struggles to put down one “rotter” and is bailed out in the nick of time by Daryl – just as a sneering Pamela walks by to witness the sorry scene. Sebastian is infuriated and runs off after his mother, which leads Mercer to warn Daryl to play by the rules here – even if they are shite.
Trouble in the ballroom: The Commonwealth has clearly reached a point where it can near-convincingly pretend that the outside world hasn’t gone to complete shit, so it’s little surprise to see Pamela hosting a fancy masquerade ball for the upper reaches of Commonwealth society. This glitzy event, which is attended by the likes of Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Princess (Paola Lázaro), is only accessible for a select few, however: Magna, for example, is only good enough to be on the waiting staff. One of her disgruntled co-workers looks familiar, though: why, it’s the trooper who was kidnapped by Princess in season 10’s ‘Splinter’! After his attempts to speak to Pamela – who also reveals in this scene that her late father was a former US President who wanted to “put the world back together” after the fall of civilisation – are shut down, the trooper, who is named Tyler, interrupts the Governor’s speech and takes her PA hostage at knifepoint. Tyler explains that he lost everything after the Princess incident and accuses Pamela of seeing people like him as disposable. After saying his piece, he spares the PA’s life and runs off.
You say you want a revolution? Daryl gives chase and eventually corners Tyler, who nearly slits his own throat in anguish over his dire predicament. Daryl talks him down and arrests him, but then hands Tyler over to Sebastian so he can claim the credit for apprehending the perp – that’s playing by the rules, Daryl. Back in the ballroom, Tyler yells “resist the Commonwealth, visibility for workers, equality for all!” and warns that there are “thousands” more like him. Pamela asks Hornsby if that could possibly be true, but he plays it down in a not-entirely-convincing way. The episode ends with another flash-forward to “Day 33 in the Commonwealth”: Rosita, now in trooper uniform, is raiding an apartment building. She uncovers a secret back room which is filled with resistance material featuring slogans that match those Tyler yelled out at the ball, confirming that all is not well in the Commonwealth.
Gnarliest walker kill of the week:
Ass-kicking Commonwealth trooper-in-training Rosita takes the honours this week for pulling one walker’s decaying leg off and fatally stabbing it in the skull with the shattered leg bone. Nice.
This week’s biggest question: which of our heroes are going to join the Commonwealth resistance movement?
To absolutely no-one’s surprise, all is not as it seems in the Commonwealth. They may have some semblance of a working society, but not everybody is happy – particularly in terms of the class divide which, Magna (Nadia Hilker) says, has left the Commonwealth comparable to “a city from before” the apocalypse. While Daryl and Rosita are among those to have willingly signed up to the Commonwealth’s ways, which of our heroes will smell a rat and join the dark side of the resistance – or are they the good side? The blurring between hero and villain could become very interesting in this final season of The Walking Dead…
‘The Walking Dead’ season 11 airs weekly on Disney+