‘The Walking Dead’ 11B Premiere: Maggie’s Revenge (RECAP)
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 9, “No Other Way.”]
For those who weren’t fond of the Reapers storyline, great news: You only have to watch another 45-ish minutes of it.
Yes, the Reapers arc comes to a close in “No Other Way,” the second-to-last premiere episode that The Walking Dead will ever have. Whether or not you predicted that their demise was coming so soon, you might not have called how it happens… and, specifically, what Maggie (Lauren Cohan) does to make it happen. Here’s how it all goes down.
The episode picks up right where it left off, with the group separated and evading the Reapers in their own ways. Daryl (Norman Reedus) barely manages to avoid the newly in-charge Leah (Lynn Collins) and one of her people; Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) has a heavy run-in with the preacher he chose not to kill in one of the previous episodes and they have a tense conversation about God and faith; but the real action is with Maggie, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari). Reaper Carver (Alex Meraz) tracks the survivors down, and he’s ready to kill Maggie when Negan — who’d vanished during the fight — reappears and saves her, knocking out Carter with a bell. “Well, ding-ding,” he quips. It’s a quintessentially Negan moment, even with their lives on the line.
Elijah, however, wants to do more than just temporarily knock out Carver because the guy killed his sister, but Daryl’s idea of using him as a bargaining chip to guarantee their safe exit is what Maggie ultimately ends up going with. He contacts Leah and demands a meeting. As such, they all meet up outside the Reapers’ fortress. Things escalate, and Leah calls for her sniper, the preacher, to kill Daryl and the rest of his group… only to receive the unpleasant surprise that her sniper has been killed and replaced. “Call me Gabriel,” Gabriel says over the radio. Nice.
Knowing she can’t outmaneuver them, Leah asks if their initial deal — for Maggie’s group to take Carver, drive away and let him go — still stands. Angered, Maggie says no. Daryl says yes. Negan says “you know what I think.” And thus, the Reapers start to leave… until Maggie, remembering what they did to her people, gets up and fatally shoots them all (except Leah, who she hits in the arm) as they flee. For good measure, she kills Carver, too. And just like that, the Reapers are no more.
After that final shootout, several major things of note happen. First, Daryl finds Leah. He talks to (or talks at, since she doesn’t answer) her but doesn’t kill her, which seems destined to come back to bite him later. Second, Maggie goes back to the church where the group left Alden (Callan McAuliffe) and — surprise! — he’s died and turned. His death hits her hard; she sobs after she stabs his reanimated corpse in the head.
Third and perhaps most surprisingly, after she buries Alden, she has a chat with Negan during which the former bat-wielding antagonist says he’s made up his mind to leave the group. Why? He knows what Maggie did to the Reapers was “what [she] was always going to do,” and if he stays in Alexandria, she’d kill him… because, as with the Reapers, part of her has always meant to. She lets him go. It’s worth noting that there’s precedent for this; In the comics, Negan’s end does involve him wandering off into the woods. But the show has moved that up quite a bit in the overall story, begging the question of how he’ll factor into the rest of the series.
Many Happy Reunions
Meanwhile, in Alexandria, the storm’s still raging. Aaron (Ross Marquand) learns that his daughter and Judith (Cailey Fleming) are trapped in a rapidly flooding basement with walkers pouring in. He’s able to smash through a window and get them out, but he’s unable to escape himself and almost ends up feeding the watery walkers. Thankfully, Lydia (Cassady McClincy) comes through and pulls him to safety with a rope.
After, everyone comes back from Meridian with the promised food — it’s a win for a group that desperately needed a win. Daryl’s quite happy to see Connie (Lauren Ridloff), who he’d thought was dead; Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Gabriel reunite (if you remember, she hadn’t wanted him to go on the mission in the first place). But poor Lydia’s upset to hear that her friend/father figure Negan left.
It’s straight from a victory into a conflict for the heroes, as Jerry (Cooper Andrews) calls from the gate that someone’s coming. “Someone” is the Commonwealth, with Eugene (Josh McDermitt) riding in tandem with the armored forces. He explains the situation and they let the soldiers in, and then then they have a group meeting in which Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) offers them materials to rebuild their homes… or “another, more interesting” offer. Presumably, to join the Commonwealth.
It seems not everyone was on board. As the episode ends, we skip six months to show a team of Commonwealth soldiers rolling up to the decimated Hilltop’s gates. Maggie, watching from above, says, “It doesn’t have to be this way.” Daryl (!!!) removes his Commonwealth soldier helmet and glares up at her, saying, “Yeah, it does.” What happened here?!
- I’m glad the Reapers storyline is over and we can (presumably) focus on the Commonwealth for the remainder of the show. The Reapers were a cool idea that never quite panned out; they started out well, but in the end, they were really just another religious cult.
- I was shocked by Alden’s death. Not because I didn’t think he’d die, but because I thought that if he did, his fate wouldn’t have been left hanging for as long as it was. I half-expected them to find the church empty and for Alden’s fate to be left an eternal question mark, a la Heath (Corey Hawkins).
- Calling it now, Leah and Negan are going to meet. Or at least, I hope they do. They have a unique shared perspective, given that they were both “villains” at one point and did horrible things in the name of family/community. Not saying there’ll be any romance — I think Negan’s only true love is Lucille (the human, not the bat). But as far as platonic character pairings, they’d make sense.
- Maggie taking down the Reapers was both completely in character and incredibly tense. This episode as a whole (minus some weirdness with Aaron escaping the basement) felt like a return to form for the show, and I’m excited to see what happens next with the Commonwealth.
- Rating: 4.5/5. After a slower 11A, 11B has started off with a bang. Let’s hope the momentum continues.
The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC