Previously: Review 11x15 Trust
- S 11 x 16 ACTS OF GOD -
Directed by Catriona McKenzie
Written by Nicole Mirante
How I love a mid-season finale that brings some plot lines to a conclusion while digging others even deeper - I don't think it was the best of 11b, but there were some moments of real TWD excellence (my favourite episodes were No Other Way, Warlords and The Lucky Ones).
We started with Hershel channelling the young Carl Grimes when told he had to stay behind while Maggie and her fearless crew of Lydia, Elijah and Marco went off to save 'some shit-hole of a home that's not worth saving'... though of course it is.
I'm sure Negan understood that really - that Hilltop is precious to her for reasons other than Barrington House, which was worth blowing up to get rid of a few Commonwealth soldiers (Lancers?!). Like she said, Hilltop is the people, not the buildings, a place where both her crew and those formerly of Riverbend can live - and she's not going to give up the place where Glenn is buried, without a fight.
That said, it was sad to see the inside of the house now burned out, dank and dark, and imagine the ghosts walking down that grand old staircase, as it was back then: Tara, Jesus, Enid... and equally sad to see Maggie forced to leave Marco's body where it lay.
Incidentally, I was unimpressed that only Negan and (pregnant) Annie offered to go with Maggie to help—what about all those Riverbend men down in the Whisperer Wormhole? She would have said no, but they could have offered, right?
Then, after the talk that baddies always have with the main character they're going to kill, just long enough to allow rescue to arrive, she gave the impression she was debating whether or not to pull the trigger. I predicted the whole Daryl-arriving-in-the-nick-of-time thing before I even saw Maggie in the chair. Of course he'd read the signs and knew where Leah was, and he had to be the one to kill her, but it just seemed a bit ... y'know.
Then again, maybe I'm being too cynical. Maggie surmised that Leah wanted her to suffer, rather than just die. Leah wanted her to know that she was going to kill everyone who mattered to her, like Maggie's people had killed Carver and co.
Maybe she looked hesitant about pulling the trigger because of what Maggie said about revenge not bringing satisfaction, or because Maggie's a mother (thinking back to when she couldn't kill that woman in 11x07 Promises Broken) ... or maybe (stretching it a bit here) she subconsciously wanted Maggie to kill her because she had nothing left.
Anyway - hopefully it went a little way to relieving the guilt that has plagued Daryl since the death of Glenn, one of the most pivotal points in his life, what with him considering it his fault (and we will never know if Negan would have killed Glenn anyway - will we?).
Incidentally, I've always thought that part of the chip on Leah's shoulder - the bit that changed her from just fairly objectionable to the Wicked Witch of the East - is about Daryl dumping her for his old friends, Maggie included.
I liked the locust storm ... reminded me of Rick's last episode (except then they changed into helicopters). Also, the subtle way Daryl, Gabriel and Aaron signalled to each other that their arrival at the vehicle graveyard heralded the right time for their mutiny to take place—the little looks between them.
Something about they way they executed the assault felt a bit like the old days, and the vehicle graveyard setting was one of those perfect TWD sets; I'd so love to explore them.
Ezekiel's promise that he has a whole network ready to ride at dawn, and Max's low-key 'Let's Ride' would imply that, come 11c, this group will go AWOL on a mission to release many non-compliant former Commonwealth citizens back into the wild. Will Mercer go with them? I'm thinking reluctance at first, but joining them at the last minute. Connie, in particular, needs to have a go-bag at the ready, if Pamela's fury about her Sebastian's heist article is anything to go by.
The way that Max's 'out of the box' idea for using the budget surplus to help the less fortunate was dismissed in such a patronising fashion suggests that Pamela contributes more to the Rotten Core of the Commonwealth than might have been evident previously; instead, she wanted to keep it for some upcoming 'event', which, presumably, is to show off the glittering façade once more.
Her statement 'We've found a reason to live when everything outside these walls is dead' was a pertinent one, I thought—bearing in mind one of the two highlights of this episode: that brilliant, horribly sinister and terrifying ending. The way those red and black banners were unfurled was reminiscent of the Nazis, as was the rounding up of the Oceansiders. Everything outside the walls isn't dead, Pammy, though it will be if Lance has his way.
Now all pretence is over, and Lance doesn't care who knows that his plan was always to take control of any independent communities. Excellent, excellent ending. Seeing Commonwealth soldiers on watch at Hilltop was as impending-doom-laden as the trying-to-get-to-Hilltop sequence of the marvellous 6x16 Last Day On Earth. Like, we've dealt with some bad stuff before, but this...
Judging by the state of Hilltop, this move by Lance can only be to show Maggie who's boss, though it has value as an outpost, a look-out, if Barrington House is not beyond repair - when Jesus first took everyone there, he said that the windows enabled them to see what was coming for miles around.
And once again our people meet up post-battle: bloody, tired, hungry - but alive. This time, though, Daryl, Aaron, Maggie, Hershel, Gabriel, Elijah, Lydia, Negan, Annie, and everyone else who was involved now have nowhere to go. Before, they could regroup back at Alexandria, but not any longer. And the Resistance will have burned their bridges too, if they're riding out at dawn—but let us not forget that they still have Carol on the inside. Everyone needs a Carol on the inside. Before she does the sort of things that only she can do, I'm sure she can sneak them out a few cookies. I wonder if she'll make use of that old winery she found in 11x10 New Haunts?
As a Twitter #TWDFamily friend Charli said, it's in Part C that the magic will happen!
The other highlight of this episode was, of course, Maggie finding common ground with Negan, at last. I thought it was a perfect scene, touching but not over the top, and all the better for having been such a long time coming. Means they can now work together, properly, without 'that' hanging over their heads, constantly. Maggie and Negan make a great team, and with Annie a great three.
'You have big balls, Maggie Rhee. I got you, and I got your boy'.
And as Daryl knew that he owed Maggie, Negan does too.
(ps, can I be really superficial for a moment and say that I loved the leather jacket Maggie wore in this episode?)
~ RIP Marco ~
Trailers for Episode 17!!!
See you in the autumn, thanks for reading, and I hope whatever you wish to happen in the final eight comes to fruition!