Previously: Review 11x07 Promises Broken
Written by Erik Mountain
Directed by Sharat Raju
Not just one cliffhanger but several, then! 😱
These eight episodes have been a splendid start to a final season that just gets better and better, and this kicked off so promisingly as Negan and Maggie's gang of undead approached Meridian; of course Daryl recognised Whisperer Herding Mode straight away, so must have suspected the intervention of his friends, little knowing how few there are left compared to when he last saw them (at the beginning of Hunted).
Of course Pope wouldn't let Daryl nip away from his watchful eye to redirect the Walkers—but when Wells went off to do so and was overpowered by an assault from the rear, I found myself asking a question I've pondered a few times over the years. It's this:
Why didn't he just run? Like, off to the left, through the trees?
There was an easy opening. Walkers are slow, and he looked most fit and athletic; he could have got away. It can be done, even when there's a massive herd of them - remember Michonne, Daryl, Bob and Tyreese running from a huge mob in Indifference? Rick tearing along, followed by vast numbers in Now?
I get that Wells was over-confident, wanting to be the one to lead them away and maybe trying to prove his Walker-killing skills, but even when they started to pile in on him he had the chance to shove them off and run; he could have gained some distance and still led them away from Meridian. That would be the natural survival reaction, rather than keep trying to kill them individually. That only works if you have someone like Daryl or Carol suddenly entering stage right with a well-filled quiver.
On the whole, the Reapers didn't end up quite as scary as the build up—that marvellous line 'By the time you see them you're already dead' and the closing scenes of both Acheron II and Rendition made me think they would be more sinister/bloodthirsty than anything we've seen yet, but Pope was disposed of fairly easily, Carver is just a dick, and, as @deniselynn1966 pointed out on Twitter, new boss Leah is no Alpha.
|Pope - disposed of fairly easily|
|Carver - a bit of a dick|
|She ain't no Alpha|
Let us hope I don't come to eat my words, as what she lacks in charisma and natural leadership she makes up for in hollow-hearted, vengeful bitterness.
What a shock that was, for Daryl—he thought she'd killed Pope because saw that he was a deranged and dangerous lunatic with a God complex, but the actual reason was her desire to be Queen Reaper. We all tend to judge others by our own standards and Daryl is a decent person with (as Carol once said!) his own code—in his mind it went without saying that, now she was free of Pope's choke hold, she would want to come back to their community of like-minded, decent people.
Not so. Her true colours were finally laid bare.
She knew his people were down there amongst the Walkers, and even some of her own, but she ordered that hwacha lit anyway. Anything to keep those food stores, right?
'The black horse of famine. It rides after us all'.
I thought she was paying him back for leaving her, too. For choosing Carol and Rick's memory over her. She's exactly the sort of person who would hold onto that sort of hurt until it festers into poison.
Some other good moments:
- Daryl's nifty Frowny McTwoKnives action that made short work of rocket man Ancheta, and earlier, when he shoved Powell over the wall and alerted Maggie and Gabriel. Clearly Powell had ignored all warnings - smoking kills, right?
- Gabriel sneaking in and, with a smile, finding the gun Maggie had hidden.
- Maggie hotwiring the red truck—I wonder if it felt good to be behind a wheel again after all this time? Is this the last working vehicle in Virginia? Then managing to make short work of Deaver...
In Alexandria it never rains but it pours and howls with hurricane strength winds, especially when you haven't yet repaired the Whisperers damage, especially when the wall is blown down and the Walkers stream in, and especially when a rogue fire lights up the windmill to beckon them forth.
Loved Rosita doing a No Way Out, taking on Walker invasion all by herself.
Both Judith and Virgil talking about Michonne makes me think we will see her again one day, and because Virgil and Connie talked about her in On The Inside as well. Hope I'm not being an optimistic fool.
This week's award for loveliest moment of all goes, of course, to the scene when our friends divided into teams, and Connie said she wanted to go with Carol's group and help fix the wall—Carol's almost-tears touched the hearts of thousands, mine included!
Who do you think is going to die in 11x09? Any one or more of these?
Gabriel: I wouldn't have said so, but I've seen a couple of fan videos that have perused the possibility. I really, really hope he doesn't. Gabriel is one of those who should be there until the end, and find some happiness and stability. Rosita can't lose all her men! But I wonder if Mancea will show that he has no qualms at all about killing a fellow man of the cloth.
Mancea: Or perhaps Gabriel will kill him after all. Go on, Gabey!
Gracie: I'm thinking because she's doing rash stuff, wanting to be like Judith, and because she begged Aaron not to leave her, which is the sort of thing that can often result in the one who left saying 'she begged me not to leave her and I left' in a tormented fashion for several episodes (in any TV series!). I love Aaron and don't want him to lose anyone else, either!
Elijah: Because he was hit, in the Meridian courtyard... cross fingers he's okay. Something I really like about him, although we haven't seen very much of him yet.
Virgil: For the reasons stated in my review of On The Inside; I expected it to have already happened by now.
Leah: I bloody hope so.
Lydia: I don't know why, I just think her time might be up. I would imagine she still feels partly responsible for everything that has happened, and maybe she will do something stupid-brave that gets her killed. I hope not.
Alden: Who has probably starved to death by now. Unless he's going to do something super-heroic, and help save them all. Can't imagine what. He's either going to steam in and help them or be dead when they find him. Or something else I wouldn't have thought of in a million years, because this is TWD.
|Nice to see that oldest original Alexandria inhabitant Barbara is still vertical!|
And so to the stunning, stunning end, with Insane Hwacha Woman lighting the fuse.
I fully expect 11x09 to be her last episode. Killed by Daryl's hand. Or Carver? Incidentally, I thought it was a tad uncharacteristic of Negan to assume the Reapers were retreating, though; he's more on the ball than that.
Thank you for reading my thoughts on these wonderful eight episodes, thank you to everyone who has been involved in making them, and never mind Christmas, can we fast forward to the next eight?!
Here is the first look at 11B, with commentary and thoughts from @onterrorstreet.