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The Walking Dead 11.02 Review – ‘Acheron: Part 2’

August 30, 2021 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
The Walking Dead - Acheron Part 2
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The Walking Dead 11.02 Review – ‘Acheron: Part 2’  

This week on The Walking Dead, we wrap up the two-part season premiere as our heroes escape both the tunnels and the processing at the Commonwealth. Maggie and Negan find a sort of common ground, Eugene proves himself a damn good liar, Stephanie is real and so are the Reapers! Let’s dive into it.

The plot: In the Commonwealth, the four Alexandrians try some different stances with their jailers to get processing overwith. Yumiko takes an aggressive stance, showing them how much she’s learned about them from all this and demands they be expedited. Princess seems to get in basically by asking to use the bathroom, Ezekiel is MIA for a while, and Eugene is freaking out. Eugene finally gets an interview and is told by Mercer that he knows he’s a bad liar, so he needs to answer honestly. Eugene manages to calm down enough to spin an amazing tale with just enough truth to work, while sticking to the story that they have no community, it’s just the four of them. It works, he’s brought in, Ezekiel is revealed to have gotten medical attention. They’re moving on into the Commonwealth, and what’s more, Stephanie arrives and she and Eugene meet in person at last! Meanwhile in the DC tunnels, the train group is reunited with Maggie soon enough, who pistol-punches Negan, but only moments before Gage, who abandoned them last week, appears on the other side of a stuck door. Maggie refuses to open it and they all watch him die. Maggie reveals a horrific situation she ran into on the road with Hershel that changed her, made her colder, and she and Negan have a moment of understanding. As the group is closed in on on both sides, she even chooses to give him a gun to help defend them. Ultimately, they’re saved by Daryl arriving behind some of the walkers, clearing a path, and using a grenade to blow up the larger group. Once out of the tunnels, however, the group is attacked on the road by the Reapers.

There are some big things happening here, but front and center, once again, is the dynamic of Maggie and Negan. Maggie did indeed pull off a Glenn and escape by going under the train, and loses no time in punching Negan in the face with a gun!! Which really should’ve left him a little more bloodied up for the rest of the episode. But this punch has really been a long time coming, and Negan is ultimately damned lucky that’s all he gets. He makes some…I won’t say “decent” points, but he makes some points worth considering in that he didn’t actively try to kill her, just didn’t help her, and this came shortly after she straight up said she would murder him. The others don’t care, of course, they’re willing to kill him in an instant on Maggie’s word.

But mere moments later, Negan’s life is saved by, essentially, Maggie doing exactly what he just did. Gage returns, after having left with Roy and their extra ammo last week, saying he’s sorry, he got lost, he won’t ever do it again, and begs them to open the stuck door to let him in. Maggie, faced with someone who jeopardized their lives by leaving, says they don’t have enough ammo to take on the walkers coming in behind him. She doesn’t kill Gage–they get to watch him stab himself in the heart twice and be ripped apart by walkers for that–but she also doesn’t save him. It’s exactly what Negan just did to her, and while I won’t say it puts them on exactly the same level when you consider their pasts, it certainly puts them closer to an understanding in that classic “We’re not so different, you and I” kind of way. I won’t deny that the timing of Gage’s return is very convenient, but the way their situation is set up necessitates that, and it pretty much worked, so I’m not bothered by it.

When Maggie then relates the horrifying house she found, the trap for her and Hershel that she got them out of, the tortured women, and how it changed her…one, that was a stunning and captivating monologue by Lauren Cohan, and two, it drives home just how true Maggie’s claim that she is not the same woman who left six years ago. I’d love to go on about this moment alone and this change in who she is, but there’smore episode to talk about! In this moment, the understanding this creates between her and Negan lands even more when he finishes her statement about whether or not places like Alexandria are born of luck or just rare human goodness. Maggie’s acceptance of all this is confirmed later when she hands Negan a gun to help fight off the walkers, and when she asks him to continue guiding them once they’re out from the tunnels. Likewise, Negan handing the gun back is a sort of confirmation on his end. These two have, at the very least, a truce for now, born of necessity but also of this new understanding.

But in this moment of reaching the surface, newborn trust, and escaping with relatively low losses, the group is now faced with a frightening group who I assume are the Reapers. We know the Alexandrians are out of ammo, have only hand to hand weapons, and have been going all night with no rest, so this is a bad situation all around for them. One of them has been taken down already, and I don’t doubt there are more to come. I do wonder at the timeliness of running into the group, but I think some of the tunnel set-up implies that it might be something of a funnel where there’s only one way out, and the hanging bodies are an even more obvious sign that this area is maybe being actively watched and guarded.

Final note on this plot: that tracking shot of Daryl taking down walkers in the cars was amazing! Loved it, one of my favorite action shots ever on this show! The murals he found were also interesting, I wish we had more time to see them in full. An interesting note from Talking Dead, everyone in the murals is fighting one another and not the walkers around them. As far as the note he finds and keeps, I wonder if that might factor into the set-up for the Carol & Daryl spin-off we know is coming.

Over at the Commonwealth, we skip any conversations about staying or going. They’re not needed, they take up time, and I appreciate that it’s a given that the other three more or less don’t question giving Yumiko a chance to reunite with her brother she thought was dead. Because they all know that loss, they all have people they would do anything to have back from the dead. Jumping right into the business of achieving that, it was very enjoyable to see Yumiko turn on her lawyer mode on the interviewers, twisting it around to flex her own skills, show just how much she’s been able to learn about them, and cleanly make her demands based on the fact that the Commonwealth needs them (or at least, needs her). Also, the whole “we want to speak to your manager” bit was fun. Overall, in this plotline, I liked that we steadily lose track of the group one by one, starting with Ezekiel early on, then not seeing Yumiko after this interview, then Princess after she asks to use the bathroom (love that she knew she could speak Spanish with that one guard before even approaching them, further supporting her observations of all of them from last week), leaving nervous Eugene the last man standing. With no idea of what’s going on or what’s going to happen, he gets desperate enough to sharpen a shiv (which we all know he wouldn’t be great at using), before finally being brought in for his own final interview.

Now, I wondered if Eugene was going to crack. After all, he’s the one who went over to the Saviors in order to survive, and while I didn’t think he would turn full-on traitor (he didn’t then, either), I wondered if he would tell the truth about Alexandria in his anxious state. Instead, right after they tell him they “know” he’s a terrible liar, he spins an amazing tale. Amazing because it’s almost entirely true, and his nerves, his anxieties, are all entirely true. The only lie in there is about he and his friends not coming from a larger community, and the truth in the rest of it absolutely sells it. The detail of Eugene’s hands on his knees going from shaking to being still under the table is an excellent touch to show how he takes in what’s been said and turns it to his advantage. Eugene is a smart man if not a fighter and obviously brave one, but like Maggie, he’s not the same person he was six years ago. Once he knows that they think he can’t lie, that’s everything he needs to know to do exactly that and get away with it. Because from his fear of his friends’ judgement right through to being a virgin, I believe that every word of what he said was true, exactly as he tells them. Great wrap-up, too, with that final line about having told the goddamn truth.

The quick reunion here is heart-warming, and hey, Stephanie is real! Alright! Of course, we know Eugene told her about being from a community as well as some details about it. It would seem she hasn’t told anyone else that information though, or else the Commonwealth is really doing a long con here. So how much can she be trusted? How much can any of them be trusted? Will the Alexandrians come clean about where they’re from? It would presumably have to come out eventually, but revealing that information will need to be done very, very carefully at this point.

What did you think of the episode? Was Maggie right to not help Gage, or was she only doing it because of what he’d done? Was what she did any better or worse than what Negan did to her last week? What would Glenn think of what she chose here, and is that even a fair question to ask? Can Stephanie be trusted, and can the Commonwealth overall? Who’s going to survive this encounter with the Reapers, and how? Sound off in the comments and see you next week!

9.0
The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Some great moments in this episode--Maggie's chilling monologue about the house of horrors she found, her equally chilling decision to let Gage die right in front of them, Daryl's fantastic tracking shot going through the train car killing walkers, Yumiko going full lawyer on the interviewers, and Eugene's lie that's all-too-true and that the Commonwealth seems to have believed. On top of those, some excellent and more subtle moments--the murals that Daryl finds, the unspoken ways in which Negan and Maggie reach their understanding (or truce, at least), Yumiko and Princess's 'I want to speak to your manager' bit. Bonus, a grenade in the mouth, Stephanie appears at last, and the Reapers show up in force! All-in-all some excellent stuff and a solid episode. The changes we see in Eugene and Maggie alone from the people we once knew them to be makes for some quality watching in this one, I think Maggie letting Gage die and Eugene's still-a-virgin speech are going to be up there in some of the most memorable moments on this show.
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The Walking Dead, Katie Hallahan