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The Walking Dead 11.03 Review – ‘Hunted’

September 6, 2021 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
The Walking Dead Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC
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The Walking Dead 11.03 Review – ‘Hunted’  

Tonight on The Walking Dead, the hunters and the hunted alike contend with how to survive, the sacrifices it will ask of them, and how to scratch out an ounce of hope in a hopeless situation.

The plot! Picking up right where last week left off, Maggie’s group is set upon by the Reapers in the night. Many of her group are killed and the rest are scattered, while Maggie herself runs from a pursuing Reaper (or two or three) into an abandoned building. She narrowly escapes them a few times before running into Alden, and both of them are saved by Negan. Alden is gravely wounded, and soon after they also lose Duncan and then Agatha to injuries and walkers respectively. Taking refuge briefly in an abandoned church–after we’ve already been given hints the Reapers have some twisted fundamentalism going on–Maggie is forced to choose to leave Alden behind or not, as he’s unquestionably slowing them down. She chooses at last to give him supplies and a weapon, and leave him in the church (he blocks the doors), while she and Negan head off to complete the mission to get the supplies Alexandria badly needs. Back home, Carol gathers her own group of cowgirls to track some escaped horses to bring back, as they’ll expand the community’s reach considerably, as well as their hauling capacity. They eventually recover 4 horses, bringing a much needed positive note to their home, but Carol tearfully slaughters one for the meat it will provide to sustain them all even if just for one more day. Magna frets over Carol giving Kelly false hope about Connie’s survival, and the kids bond over games, eating habits, and the promises grown-ups make. Meanwhile, an injured Gabriel kills a Reaper who’s at first glad the supposed man of God is the one to kill him, a man who will pray even for his enemy, but Gabriel chillingly informs him “God isn’t here anymore.”

Much like the last two episodes, the evolving Maggie and Negan dynamic dominates much of this episode, as circumstances continue to narrow to not only force them to coexist, but now to have to rely solely on one another to keep each other alive and to provide any hope of a future for Alexandria. The stepping stones of the last two episodes have put them, and the audience, at a sort of understanding of who they both are in this time, of judgement and past/present actions, and a need to trust one another to a degree. There is still no love lost between them nor will there be, and while Maggie may accept his presence and certain motivations of his to stay alive, she doesn’t fully trust him. And that’s 100% fair! Who would, given what he did to her husband, the father of her child, not to mention her friends and community? Negan tries briefly to say he’s changed, but she’s not buying it and he doesn’t waste any more breath trying to sway her–he’s not stupid. But even as she pins their current situation on him (for being part of the attack that destroyed Hilltop and all of its resources and crops), he makes the simple point: she still needs to decide what to do about Alden. In the broader sense, she may blame him for the lack of supplies and food for his past actions, but the point remains that the future of those things and of Alexandria, rests on her now. And that decision isn’t just about Alden, and if he lives or dies, it’s about trusting Negan, the only one left with her at this point.

Damn. Now that is a hell of a thing for Maggie to have to do.

But she does it, and does it her way. While it’s made clear without directly stating that yes, she was harsh with Gage about his fate because he had already chosen to abandon them and steal their supplies while he was at it, with Alden, she’s far more giving. She leaves him with food and a weapon, not to mention in as safe a place as she can, before leaving him. She’s giving him the best chance she can and plans and hopes to save him, too, before she leaves with Negan to try and take Meridian. That near-final shot for these two is beautiful–the crowbar dripping blood in the foreground with Maggie in the background, both in focus, the weapon and blood feeling larger than life, make it very reminiscent of Lucille dripping with the blood of Glenn (or any other number of victims). The way the showing is delving into and evolving the relationship here is so impressive to me. At every turn, they respect the positions of both of them–Maggie who saw this man brutally murder her husband to make a point he’d already made, and Negan who absolutely did that but who has also changed since then–is a tough balancing act. It doesn’t expect Maggie to forgive him, nor should expect it–nor, for that matter, should we expect her to. Hell, I don’t think Negan forgives himself or expects or wants it either. There’s a reason he’s never apologize. It would be pointless, no matter how he feels about what he did. There’s no making up for it, there’s no recovering from there, no matter how much he may regret it. Nothing will bring Glenn back or erase the memory of seeing his fate from Maggie’s mind. The best that can happen is that Maggie learns to give up that hate, to walk away from it, because that hate will do more damage to her than it ever can to Negan. To paraphrase Rick (and Carl and Siddiq and the quote itself from the Quran), it’s whether her mercy can prevail over her wrath. I think she’ll get there, but it’s still a long road to go. Wrath, punishment, hate, those things won’t bring her relief or healing. We see her clinging to hope, to protecting life with Alden, Agatha, and Duncan, but also laying down harsh judgement as he does with Gage. She tells Negan he doesn’t get to decide who lives or dies anymore–and while she isn’t outright murdering people, she’s still making those calls herself. And while Maggie might be a better judge of life and death than Negan ever was, that doesn’t mean she has more of a right to do so than he ever has. It’s one thing when someone is willing to give their life–like Alden is–versus someone is begging for their life like Gage was.

Speaking of giving and taking life with shades of religion upon it, Gabriel continues to be in a real bad place! We’ve been seeing his loos of faith and mercy for a while now, most recently coming up in the add-on episode where he and Aaron found Mays in the supply warehouse, the man who’d kept his twin chained up for years and who nearly made them kill one another. His line to the injured Reaper who expresses some relief or gladness that the man of God found him and will pray for him, is quickly denied in that chilling statement: “God isn’t here anymore.” Yet, Gabriel still prayed as he walked, Psalm 23, the shadow of death verse. Was this due to his faith? Or just a familiar mantra to help him focus and keep moving? I suspect we’ll see more of Gabriel’s faith, or lack thereof, tested with the Reapers now that we’ve seen clear signs of them having a creepy, twisted sort of Christian faith.

Meanwhile, back in Alexandria, there are different kinds of hope being clung to. Aaron is clinging to hope in a general sense for their community, in getting the walls back up, in doing something practical to help. Carol is in finding the horses they lost to expand their ability to search far and carry more cargo back home. Kelly is clinging to finding a sign of Connie out there (speaking of, yeah, where is she? We know Virgil found her alive!). Magna is hoping her found family can heal from their losses and changing relationships. Finding the horses is a big win for the community, no doubt, especially finding four of them. Which once again leads to Carol making a hard but necessary decision in killing one of the horses for food. She tears up while doing it, though, which I feel like she wouldn’t have done all that long ago. There was a time she would’ve done this sort of thing with no remorse, no tears, no hint of ‘softness’ whatsoever. I’m glad to see her getting more of her humanity back, more of (what I consider to be) a healthy and emotional reaction to what she’s doing. A person can’t be hard all the time, you lose too much of yourself doing that, and ever since she and Lydia didn’t go over that cliff at the end of last season, Carol’s been making her way back to this. She’s not all the way there, and I don’t know what ‘all the way there’ would even look like for her. But I’m just glad to see her more in touch with her own emotions, and trying to help Kelly have some hope, considering she’s the one at fault for Connie’s potential death.

Unrelated to much else, the scenes with the kids were cute. Two of those was just enough, and these writers continue to be able to write kids in a way that feels genuine and not overly precocious or annoying.

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Of what we learned about the Reapers? The continuing trajectory of Maggie and Negan? Will they be able to trust one another enough to get what Alexandria needs to survive? Will Alden survive at all? Will Carol and Kelly find Connie? Will Gabriel find his faith again? Sound off in the comments!

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
I continue to be very impressed with how the writers, and actors, handle the evolving relationship of necessity between Maggie and Negan, respecting both sides and never ignoring the sins of the past while acknowledging the necessity of their present. It's a complex tension between two complex people, but they both have the interests of Alexandria at heart. Meanwhile, the darkness in Gabriel continues while Carol continues to find her own kind of light, though she can never quite leave behind taking on the hard choices in order to help and protect the ones she loves. Overall, another excellent episode.

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The Walking Dead, Katie Hallahan