‘The Walking Dead’ Delivers a Shocking Change From the Comics in ‘A New Deal’ (RECAP)

the walking dead season 11 episode 18, teo rapp-olsson as Sebastian
Spoiler Alert
Jace Downs/AMC

The Walking Dead

A New Deal

Season 11 • Episode 18

rating: 3.5 stars

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 2, “A New Deal.”]

Well, we’re definitely not getting The Walking Dead’s source material ending.

That much is made clear by the surprising final minutes of “A New Deal,” which sees Sebastian Milton (Teo Rapp-Olsson) wind up as walker chow. Given the impact Sebastian has on that story’s final events in the comics, it’s a shock to those who expected something similar to happen on the show. But first, quite a bit happens in the episode before we get to his big death.

the walking dead season 11 episode 18, melissa mcbride as carol peletier

Jace Downs/AMC

Just as Team Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) are about to come to blows, Carol (Melissa McBride), Pamela Milton (Laila Robins) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) walk in. (How did they get there so quickly? Meh, who cares.) Pamela de-escalates the situation and takes Hornsby into custody for Sebastian’s crimes, but not without Daryl stabbing him in the hand first. “Don’t worry,” he says, as Hornsby screams in pain. “He’ll live.”

The whole group goes back to the Commonwealth, although some depart to start rebuilding Alexandria; Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Lydia (Cassady McClincy) among them. Lydia has a particularly heartfelt goodbye with Carol, which makes it at least questionable whether these two characters will see each other again. On a show like this, emotional goodbyes are always suspect! Plus, Judith (Cailey Fleming) tries to tell Daryl they should try to help the people of the Commonwealth, which is not what her semi-adoptive dad wants to hear. “Goddammit, just stop!” he snaps. “Stop it.” Yikes, Daryl. Yikes. Him getting angry at Judith, I understand — but the swearing just felt mean.

Most of the episode revolves around a Commonwealth celebration called “Founder’s Day,” which is exactly what it sounds like: a day that celebrates the community’s founding under the Miltons. Judith goes missing after Daryl’s outburst only to be found hiding in Gabriel’s (Seth Gilliam) church, and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Stephanie (Margot Bingham) go to Hornsby for “damaging information” about Pamela only to be told they’d be better off making nice with her than trying to bring her down. As Hornsby says, it’s impossible to bring down the Miltons without toppling the entire Commonwealth.

the walking dead season 11 episode 18, pamela and sebastian milton

Jace Downs/AMC

If Hornsby won’t help them, they opt to get that damaging information for themselves in the form of a confession. As part of Founder’s Day, Sebastian is expected to give a rousing speech. Stephanie, however, gets him to admit that the whole thing’s a joke; the random “lottery” at the celebration is rigged, and in fact, the whole place is rigged so that the rich can do what they want while the poor stay poor. “The Commonwealth is built on buying into bulls**t,” he says. Unwittingly, he’s said all of this on a tape recording.

Later, at the ceremony, Sebastian steps up to the podium to give his speech… and instead, what comes out is his rant to Stephanie. Naturally, the common people of the Commonwealth aren’t pleased to hear themselves called “pathetic” and that their whole lives are lies. And while all of this has been happening, Hornsby’s mysterious group killed a group of workers, who then turned into walkers. The unrest and the undead throw the party into total chaos. People scream, run, get devoured by the dead — only Judith and Daryl seem able to fight back.

Realizing Stephanie was responsible for his embarrassment, Sebastian tries to throw her to a walker. Instead, he ends up struggling with one, and as he screams for help, not a single member of the Commonwealth lifts a finger to save him. The walker tears into his neck, and he bleeds out in the street as his snide recorded voice echoes through the streets.

the walking dead season 11 episode 18, Teo Rapp-Olsson as Sebastian

Jace Downs/AMC

Other Observations

  • Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sad about Sebastian, but — I really was expecting a major death at the end of the series, which is something he causes in the comics. As it is, I don’t see anyone taking that source material death, which again makes me worried for the overall impact of the ending. We know the four core characters are safe, and now we’re (probably) also not getting that final gut punch? Bummer.
  • I do think this episode did a good job of making Sebastian somewhat sympathetic, though. He was a sniveling, dried-up booger of a human to the very end, but he just wanted his mom to love him (he has a nice line about Pamela wishing he was his late brother). And while his phrasing was harsh, he wasn’t wrong about how the Commonwealth works.
  • Hornsby has to be tied to the Civic Republic Military (CRM) somehow, right? Like, that’s really the only explanation for his confidence that he’s going to make it out of all of this unscathed, and his comment to Pamela about certain “alliances.”
  • Major death flags for Annie (Medina Senghore) in this episode as she and Negan went to the Commonwealth hospital only to be informed of potential complications with her pregnancy. Either she won’t make it, or the baby won’t, or they both won’t. Otherwise, what was the point of the scene?
  • Death flags for Ezekiel (Khary Payton), too, who gets a nice, long goodbye with Carol (he intends to stay at the Commonwealth, she intends to go back to Alexandria).
  • Rating: 3.5/5. Am I the only one who feels not much has happened so far? We have six episodes left, and we’re yet to see the smart walkers, to learn what Hornsby’s actually doing, to get any answers about Oceanside, or to tie up loose ends about Rick (Andrew Lincoln) or the CRM. This was fine, but I’m hoping the show kicks it into gear, and fast.

The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC