‘The Walking Dead’: We Are Never, Ever, Ever Getting Back Together (RECAP)
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 8, “For Blood.”]
After this, Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) going to need to listen to a whole lot of Taylor Swift. And maybe some Adele, too.
Needless to say, things don’t go well for the archer and his sort of, maybe, kinda girlfriend Leah (Lynn Collins) in “For Blood.” (That sound you hear is “Donnie” and “Caryl” ‘shippers cheering.) But in a lot of ways, the first midseason finale of The Walking Dead’s eleventh and final season feels like it should’ve been a two-part episode. The 41-minute installment poses more questions than it answers, and the questions it does answer are few.
Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) successfully driven the horde to Meridian, with the help of her friends. Daryl, inside Meridian’s walls, must come to terms with the fact that Leah isn’t pretending to be a Reaper like he is, which places her in grave danger. In Alexandria, a deadly storm threatens to break the community apart plank by plank, leaving them vulnerable to the walkers outside. Here’s how it happens.
In Meridian, Maggie and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) make it inside the walls and begin the second part of their plan. While she goes after a car to knock down the gates and allow the walkers in, Gabriel finds himself a window so he can serve as lookout and sniper. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) continue to walk with the walkers.
While all of this is going on, Daryl has a series of uncomfortable conversations with the Reapers that culminate in the ultimate uncomfortable conversation with Leah. No longer able to pretend he’s on their side, Daryl kills a Reaper and throws the guy over the wall, discreetly gives Maggie directions on where to go within the compound and, as the Reapers unleash a new weapon (which looks like dozens of arrows strapped to dynamite sticks?), he comes clean to Leah. He tells her about how he’s connected to “the enemy” and asks her to join him, saying that the people they’re fighting are good people with families.
Pope (Ritchie Coster) arrives on the scene and orders them to light up the weapon, despite the fact that his people are on the ground and will be killed by it, too. No amount of pleading from Leah will convince him to stop, so, left with no choice, she kills their leader. Meanwhile, Daryl takes care of the other Reaper on the roof. For a brief, shining moment it appears she’s on his side… then she pulls a Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi and picks up her radio, telling her remaining companions that Daryl killed Pope and that he’s with the enemy. When Daryl asks her why she did that, she explains, “You would do anything to protect your family. So would I.” So… it’s safe to assume that they’ve probably broken up now, right?
In Alexandria, everyone’s hiding out in the main house from a torrential storm. Everything’s falling apart as usual, so people split into teams to address various problems: Carol (Melissa McBride), Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Kelly (Angel Theory) go to repair the wall; Aaron (Ross Marquand) and his team go to fight the fire; Rosita (Christian Serratos) and a still-alive (yay!) Virgil (Kevin Carroll) stay behind at the house to defend it.
We only see what happens to Rosita’s group, who end up battling a horde of walkers that descend upon the house. Really, Rosita does most of the battling. When things look especially dire, she tells the group to let her out and then close the door behind her — she then takes on at least a dozen walkers by herself. When she gets back inside, she’s winded… but hopefully not bitten. Hopefully.
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of it. While Rosita’s efforts were noble, the walkers do end up getting in. Youngsters Judith (Cailey Fleming) and Gracie (Anabelle Holloway) wind up trapped in the rapidly-flooding basement, with water getting in on one side of them and walkers behind a door on the other. Uh-oh.
As the episode ends, Leah allows Daryl to escape and she calls off the Reapers who are still outside the compound. At first, Negan can’t believe their luck. “They’re retreating!” he exclaims. “But why?” Maggie questions. “Why” soon becomes clear — Leah lights up the massive weapon, sending arrow after arrow their way.
- This midseason finale reminds me of Season 6’s “Start to Finish” in that we’ve ended on a major cliffhanger with the fates of nearly every major character left in question. I’d be okay with that if we’d had an action-packed season so far, but as it stands, unfortunately, this felt like a lackluster conclusion to a mostly lackluster first third of Season 11.
- I’d hoped “For Blood” would see the conclusion of Maggie’s mission so we could spend time focusing on the Commonwealth. The show still has to adapt most of that arc. I’m not sure whether 16 episodes is going to be enough time to see it through, and balance the Reapers for however long they have left (is Leah going to go after Alexandria?), and resolve the Maggie-Negan conflict, and hopefully offer some answers about Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira), and set up the Daryl and Carol spinoff.
- Did the show forget about Alden (Callan McAuliffe)? It’s odd that TWD would leave his fate hanging for this long. I’m starting to wonder if he’ll be on one of the crosses, or if he’ll have vanished without a trace a la Heath (Corey Hawkins), and he’ll show up when we least expect. This is an awfully long wait just for confirmation that he’s dead, which most fans have guessed.
- Maybe Alden will be with the CRM?
- Rosita scared me this episode. I kept thinking about her dream about Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and how, if read a certain way, it could spell her impending doom. It doesn’t immediately appear that she was bitten, but it didn’t look like Carl (Chandler Riggs) was bitten, either, when that went down. Until we have confirmation that she’s fine, I’ll be concerned about her.
- Rating: 2/5. It’s disappointing that the Reapers’ storyline is continuing, and I was hoping for answers about Alden and something — even if just a snippet — from the Commonwealth. I’m starting to wonder how the show is going to tie up its myriad storylines in time.
The Walking Dead, Returns 2022, AMC