Previously: Review S11x09 No Other Way
S 11 x 10 NEW HAUNTS
Directed by Jon Amiel
Written by Magali Lozano
What with the excellence of last week's episode and then this one, it seems criminal that TWD is coming to a close!
Good move to jump straight to Day 30 of our crew's stay in the Commonwealth—we've already seen the initiation process with Eugene's group, and we saw 'acclimatisation to the ways of an established community' when they moved to Alexandria back in 5B. This is different for Daryl, though, in particular; having taken on responsibility for RJ and Judith, he can't semi-opt out like he did before.
It was hard to know what he was thinking when they said they'd want to stay at the Commonwealth even when Alexandria is fixed up. He looked sad, though, like he wished home and connections to the past mattered as much to them as it does to him. I assume he wants to go back, but he's got to bear in mind what they want now, as well.
Something about the way Pamela Milton mentioned 'the Alexandria thing' sounds like its 'fixing up' isn't happening any time soon, though. Can't see her providing labour and materials to set them back on their feet, then waving cheerio and leaving them to go their own way.
So Carol's looking great and making cookies again, but in spite of her saying to Daryl 'Maybe we won't have to do anything to make it work' (Daryl: 'No, there's always something we gotta do to make it work'), she's up to her old tricks, doing her innocent, friendly 'I'm such a klutz' thing to get what she wants on the QT—this time, stealing keys so she can find out about Ezekiel's treatment, and being her usual resourceful self in order to bribe Cheesy Video Guy with the decent wine he needs for Pamela Milton's Hallowe'en party.
She's alert, taking everything in as usual—remember in 6x01 First Time Again when Morgan asked her if she was a cop; he said, 'You're always watching. You always seem ready. You know ... how to handle things.' Spot on.
I know everyone wants Daryl and Carol to be together (as do I), but there is something I love about her and Ezekiel's relationship. The easy affection. Their scenes together this week were so touching—I love his open, kind, honest face, and it was heartbreaking to see Carol finding out the truth from Tomi, but deciding to keep it from Ezekiel.
Sinister undercurrents apart, there is something I find kind of saddening about most of our friends being at the Commonwealth. Yes, it's great that they're out of the reach of people like Pope, they have food and shelter, it's a delight to see Jerry and Nabila doing normal family stuff with their children, RJ and Judith having a carefree childhood, etc—but you can't go back, Bob, and to try to recreate life-before-the-Walkers will probably not work for those who've been 'out there' all this time, because their experiences over the past twelve years have made them different people.
This was epitomised by Rosita saying it was weird to be worrying about money again—with all the dangers and hardships of life from Atlanta to Hershel's Farm, to the prison and Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom, came real freedom, the strength that evolves from making your own life or death decisions, and the discovery of inner resources that would have stayed forever hidden had the world not changed.
Look at the abused wife who became the super-smart apocalyptic warrior. The 'redneck asshole' who found a brave, honourable leader in a corner of his psyche. The socially inept nerd who was scared of everything, but dared to play Negan at his own game, and set off on horseback to find the woman he'd fallen for over the airwaves. The self-serving priest who learned the meaning of self-sacrifice. Can they surrender their new improved selves to the petty whims of Lance Hornsby? They don't need anyone telling them how to live...
So no, I didn't like seeing Daryl in his Commonwealth soldier get-up (though his legs did look good in the white shiny stuff!), or Judith in her girlie frock. It felt like it's just temporary, until they can get back to freedom and living life on their own terms.
Teaching your grandmother how to suck eggs time: Mercer organising Daryl and Rosita into Walker-slaying practice teams in the 'kill house', reminded me of Aidan and Nicholas showing Glenn and Tara how to do supply runs in 5x12 Remember. Rosita's mature, wise personality was inclined to just do what she had to and keep it zipped, but Daryl is more stubborn and confrontational. (btw, something I've always loved about Rosita is that there's never any ego stuff going on. There's never any fuss or drama, no unnecessary confrontation or drawing attention to herself; she just gets on with it.)
Despite this daft exercise, Mercer obviously saw that Daryl is The Man when it comes to dispatching hostiles. Something the loathsome Sebastian doesn't want to admit - props to Daryl for letting him pretend he'd captured Tyler, later, to impress his mother who clearly isn't that impressed by him, generally. Nice move.
Mercer seems like he's one of the good guys underneath the pumpkin coloured space suit, and I reckon he'll turn out to be an ally. I liked what he said to Princess before inviting her to be his plus one up the red carpet, and the way in which he rebuffed the steward who called her out about dress code. Love them as a couple!
I thought at first that he and Daryl were going to be locked in the Battle of the Alpha Males forever, but I think it might evolve into mutual respect. Not least of all because Mercer clearly thinks Sebastian is a dick, too.
And so to the exclusive party, and I'm pleased that we're being given big hints that all is not fine and dandy, straight away—from Connie asking Pamela Milton about the class divide and not receiving a proper answer, to lottery tickets that allow lowly workers to party with the elite, to Real Stephanie being called 'Max', to Tyler shouting that that's how it is—you screw up, you lose everything.
What with the regime sounding a bit like a social credit system, and Milton's speech ('Brick by brick, block by block, we're putting the world back together') a longer version of the 'Build Back Better' slogan of our world, it does sound as though the Commonwealth is something of a totalitarian regime—and we can't imagine Daryl, Carol, Rosita, Magna, etc., putting up with that for very long!
Other Stuff I Liked:
- When Ezekiel gave Shiva's collar to Ezra - everyone say aaahhh! Also sad, because it gave the impression that he knew he wouldn't need it for much longer.
- Discovering that Daryl's spiky ball on chain weapon thing is called the Morning Star—I always wondered why 10x11 was thus named!!
- That Judith's introduction to the world of pre-Walker music was Motorhead's 'Eat The Rich'. Bet it reminded Daryl of the old days with Merle.
Here's a good trailer for what's coming - appears that Maggie's crew are not having such a great time of things, Leah's still around, Princess appears to be locked up and looking a lot less princessy, while Eugene is in emotional tatters....
Is the Resistance an actual movement? Are there people who have been cast out of the Commonwealth? I've got a feeling this third-of-a-season is going to get better and better—I just want to see them all living happily at Alexandria again, really! We'll see...