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The Walking Dead 11.09 Review – ‘No Other Way’

February 20, 2022 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
Image Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC
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The Walking Dead 11.09 Review – ‘No Other Way’  

Welcome back to the final season of The Walking Dead! Hope you’re all having a good year so far. It can’t be worse than the way things are going for Alexandria right now! That said, this episode was packed with action and some heavy showdowns, right up to the last shot.

Image Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

The plot: Picking up right where we left off before the break, everyone’s in a bad spot. Torrential downpour continues in Alexandria, where walkers have breached the walls, the windmill is on fire, and Judith and Gracie are stuck in a flooding basement barricaded against said walkers. Meanwhile, at Meridian, Leah has taken control of the Reapers after blaming Daryl for Pope’s death and set off the hwacha into the herd in the courtyard, knowing Daryl’s people are hidden among them. In Meridian, the Alexandrians scramble for cover, with Negan, Elijah, and Maggie sheltering together while Daryl and Gabriel on are on their own. Gabriel ends up confronting and killing the Reaper’s man of God, the one he spared a few episodes earlier outside the walls of the town, while the other three face off with Carver, the one who killed Elijah’s sister. Daryl meets up with them and they try to negotiate a way out for all of them, but when Leah tries to get her sniper to take them out, it all falls apart. Especially when Gabriel takes out their sniper. Leah and two of her remaining allies give up their weapons and leave, but an enraged Maggie follows and shoots the other dead, wounding Leah before she runs off, then comes back to kill Carver as well. Daryl finds Leah later but lets her leave without telling anyone, and they pack up the food stores to bring back to Alexandria. Maggie goes back to where she left Alden a few days earlier, but sadly finds that he’s died and turned. Killing him, she finally breaks down. While burying him, Negan finds her and tells her he’s going his own way, certain more than ever that she will kill him someday if he stays. Back in Alexandria, Judith and Gracie do what they can against the walkers who break into the basement, but eventually it’s Gracie’s whistle that brings Aaron to their rescue, and later Lydia to his. By the next morning, Alexandria has survived another night but the damage is considerable. Right on time, the Meridian group returns with food, bringing happy reunions (Daryl and Connie!), and almost immediately the Commonwealth troops arrive, lead there by Eugene. Lance Hornsby makes an offer of assistance, or of coming to live with them. We then jump to six months later, with Maggie on the walls at Hilltop at odds with Daryl, who’s now wearing a Commonwealth trooper uniform himself.

“Adapt or die” may as well be the motto of the world of The Walking Dead. Specifically, with reference one to one’s morality–or at least, what one is willing to do, and those are two different things. The show has shown us time and time again that those unwilling to change will die, and those who see their way through to a new way or new method have a better chance at making it. Willingness to kill, to sacrifice (whether that means one’s self, someone else, or material goods of some kind), to negotiate, is essential. To let yourself be ruled by fear or anything else is to line the path to your own end and if you’re especially unwilling about it, those of others.

But at what cost, of course, is the follow-up to that. They live, yes, but what do they think of themselves for how they’ve done so?

This week asks that question primarily of Maggie, yet again, but also of her surviving companions on Meridian. The first third of the season has focused heavily on the unresolved animosity between her and Negan, forcing them into proximity, to be traveling companions in a group, and then to need to rely on and trust one another with their lives to get face the Reapers and bring food back to Alexandria. (I’m a little surprised the season break came before this episode and not after it, to be honest, given how this episode clearly closes out the actual first arc of the season.) Maggie has battled her desire to kill Negan but not acted upon it, and assured him even that she won’t do so. And Negan has explained to her, plainly and with neither cushioning nor expectation, why he did what he did to Glenn and the rest of her people. His position of going to a violent extreme to protect his own people against those who were clearly a threat, even when they had been brought literally brought to their knees. It wasn’t enough, he knew he had t break them, and in retrospect, he should’ve killed them all, he told her. Because not doing so brought them all to war with one another, costing more life and eventually costing him just about everything.

Image Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

After tonight, it’s clear Maggie took that lesson to heart. Even when the Reapers are defeated, weaponless, all of only three of them walking away willingly if unhappily, she only barely hesitates. They’ve killed her people, stolen and destroyed their home, left what’s left of them destitute and desperate. Negan left the Alexandrians alive and it lead to his downfall. Maggie shoots two of the remaining Reapers dead, tries to kill Leah, and then stabs the prostrate Carver in a move that’s very reminiscent of how Negan killed Glenn. Not exactly like that, of course–there is unquestionably a difference in her blunt, almost emotionless execution of the Reapers compared to Negan’s gleeful and brutal murder of Glenn (and Abraham and Dr. Carson and Spencer and so forth). But perhaps it’s this cold efficiency that spooks Negan the most later on. He’s seen Maggie’s rage, he know what she’ll do for those she loves, and he’s seen now that rage doesn’t just go away. And he knows she’ll rightly never forgive him for what he did.

So despite how much he’s come to care for Alexandria, the people there, to call it home as well? He knows that if he’s going to survive, he has to leave. There is no other way.

Image Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

While this is no doubt what’s mostly going through his head, I have to wonder if he didn’t finally see more of her side of things at last. He isn’t an idiot, he doesn’t not know what it’s been like for her, but surely being so close to being on the other side of his own bat, so to speak, had to be a little chilling. Maybe the reason he knows he needs to leave is because he’s been where she is. He knows what she’ll do. Or to go one step further, he knows who she could become if he stays, and he not only doesn’t want to end up dead, he doesn’t want to see her become that person anymore than she already is. I find that possible motivation the most interesting, really, though I’m not yet convinced it’s the case here. We’ve seen Negan the monster, we’ve seen Negan kill monsters. is this him taking the next step to preventing someone from becoming one, by removing himself and his influence from the situation?

Daryl, meanwhile, is once again in the role of Rick in this conflict, trying so hard to find a better way, to steer them all towards mercy and away from wrath. Truly, he’s seen so much wrath and hatred in his life, even before the apocalypse, he’s well and truly over it by now. And of everyone left on this trip, he’s the only one who shows mercy. Trying to negotiate with Leah and her remaining people, ultimately letting Leah go as well. While he’ll stand by his friends no matter what (or so it seems, up until that final scene!), after seeing Maggie throw her restraint to the wind, at knowing how many they lost to accomplish all this, he’s starting to wonder if it’s all still worth it or not. Gabriel tells him to have faith, sort of, but they both know they’re struggling with it. There’s some hope in that fireside scene, though it’s tenuous. Hope is important, choices are important–but so is doubt. And that is what makes the Alexandrians different from the villains and odds they’ve faced. They take that important and necessary step of doubting their choices, their motives, their actions. It’s only through doubt, through a willingness to interrogate their own choices and accept the possibility of new answers, that they are able to adapt and not die.

And as for that last scene? That’s a heck of a cliffhanger! Seeing Maggie say there could be another way and Daryl saying no, there isn’t? If he truly drinking the Commonwealth kool-aid? Is he truly on their side, or just playing a role inside the Commonwealth’s military force in order to achieve some other end? It wouldn’t be the first time he’s been the inside man.

Image Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

The rest of the episode throws Alexandria’s dire circumstances into sharp relief. Even with the influx of food and supplies from Meridian, it clearly won’t be easy living for a long time for them, if ever. The hits just keep coming for them, and the help and refuge that the Commonwealth offers couldn’t come at a better time. On the other end, they’ve got no other good options, no room to resist, and everyone knows it. They are fighters, survivors, even when their backs are against the wall, that’s also a big reminder in this episode. So many times it would’ve been easy for any of them–in Meridian and in Alexandria–to run, to give up, to let themselves or others die. But they never stop fighting for each other, and anyone who’s ever underestimated them has been sorry for it in the end.

Image Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

Overall, while this episode felt like it should’ve appeared with the first third of the season, it was a great episode. Lots of action, tense circumstances, with some brutal moments and choices (Alden! No!), a heartwarming set of reunions in the last few moments (Daryl dropping the apples to hug Connie!), and a good lead-in to a bigger focus on the Commonwealth and what’s coming next for the Alexandrians. I enjoyed getting to see Aaron in action saving the girls, while also getting another moment of Judith showing her little ass-kicker roots but also still ultimately being a kid who needs help from adults, too! And Lydia further cementing herself with the Alexandrians is always welcome, too. I’m curious how things will progress from here and when Eugene will get a chance to forewarn his friends of some of the realities in the Commonwealth.

What did you think of Maggie’s choice to kill the Reapers after their surrender? Negan’s choice to leave, and why? Will we see Negan again, for that matter, and under what circumstances? Will we see Leah again, for that matter? Is Daryl really loyal to the Commonwealth now or is it a trick? Will the community of Alexandria, the physical location, survive or is it a thing of the past now? Sound off in the comments and see you back next week!

9.0
The final score: review Amazing
The 411
An action-packed episode with high tension and high stakes in both Meridian and Alexandria, and not just in the thick of the action. Maggie's cold and angry execution of the Reapers, Negan's unusually quiet reaction to that and choosing to leave; the battle against the elements and walkers alike back home in the meantime. The episode felt a little out of place airing now and not with the first part of the season a few months ago, and the pacing was a little lopsided with so much action packed into the first two-thirds, but overall, an excellent episode to close out that arc and bring us into the next one.
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