Movies & TV / Reviews

The Walking Dead 11.13 Review – ‘Warlords’

March 20, 2022 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
The Walking Dead Lauren Cohan Image Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
The Walking Dead 11.13 Review – ‘Warlords’  

Tonight on The Walking Dead, Aaron and Gabriel get duped on what they think is a mission of peace and extending a hand to another community, when the truth is far more violent and terrifying. And we’re left waiting to find out how this plays out until next week!

Image Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

The plot! The episode does some good nested flashbacks to show us what happened. Starting with Lydia about to head out to the Commonwealth as well, and Elijah offering to escort her to a checkpoint, a wounded young man arrives at Hilltop before she can go, and gets a promise from them to help someone before he dies. When they go with Maggie to investigate, they come across trooper walkers, and Aaron. We come to learn that a week ago, he and Gabriel were recruited to go with Aaron’s boss, Carlson, to reach out to a closed off religious community about joining the Commonwealth. They go and the place is creepy AF, meet the creepy AF leader, and then it turns out Carlson is a former CIA operative/assassin, and he’s actually here to find a stolen convoy of Commonwealth goods that included weapons. He was sent by Hornsby specifically, who mentions that the convoy was “for that other thing.” Carlson kills the leader, has Gabriel cuffed and tries to shoot Aaron except he’s out of bullets. The young man who rode to Hilltop and died, Carlson’s likewise innocent assistant, is directed to Hilltop by Negan, who is part of this community, but shot as he rides away. Aaron gets away, eventually finding Maggie and company, while Gabriel is freed by Negan and his new friends. Carlson starts shoving people off the roof, none of whom know anything about stolen weapons, but the people here plan to fight back. Maggie, Lydia, Aaron, and Elijah have also gotten inside and stolen a trooper’s radios just as the episode ends.

Image Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

This episode had fantastic pacing. It might seem an odd thing to praise right off the top, but the flashbacks were expertly placed to peel back the layers of this situation, the tension was on point, the intensity of Ian the Warlord and Carlson were compelling and terrifying, and the twists were perfect. We all knew this thing was going to go sideways, even if Jesse’s death in the opening scene hadn’t told us outright, but the ways in which it happened were unexpected and the show really pulled them off well. Carlson in particular; his early scenes and his weird intensity are suddenly seen in a whole new light once we know more about him. The addiction metaphor is made obvious with him–mentioning being sober, his new Zen lifestyle, being retired from his old work, but then as soon as he accepts the job, licking the liquor from his finger, doing it again before starting the slaughter–but it works, and it explains his intensity in a new way once we know more about him. His unexpected turn from cowering to commanding is a shock that absolutely works, particularly with how Ian was equally intense and terrifying in his own way. I don’t expect Carlson to last more than another episode, maybe two, but I’m certain I’m going to enjoy watching him while he’s here.

Image Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

His story of course gives us another glimpse as Hornsby and some tidbits about what he’s up to. It’s still a mystery, but now we know there’s some “other thing” out there, something Hornsby is trying to hide from Pamela and which requires significant supplies. I’ve got no guesses as to what that thing is. Hornsby’s twisty enough that it’s still unclear what his true aim is, and whether it’s in and of itself a bad thing, and if it is, who’s it bad for.

Image Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

Along those lines, I enjoyed Maggie and Lydia’s conversation about the choice to turn down the Commonwealth’s offer. Maggie’s distrust is not unwarranted, and not just based on the story from her youth of her father’s farm and the corporate farmers look to buy it out. She’s fought so hard to save this place, to keep it, rebuild it, and rebuild this family she’s found, I don’t blame her for not wanting to trust these people she doesn’t know and being suspicious of the strings tied to that offer, or of the idea that her land isn’t hers anymore. Independence has a high cost, but there’s something to be said for not owing anyone anything, for being able to say everything you have is truly yours. But Lydia makes very good points, too–why does ‘getting by’ have to be the status quo when it doesn’t need to be? And she has understandably had more than enough of that lifestyle. Thank you, next. She’s done scrapping to get by when a good thing is right there and offering you something better. I don’t blame her for going, especially as most of the people she was closest to are in the Commonwealth now. Of course, she’s younger and hasn’t seen what it’s like to give up one’s freedom in the way that Maggie has. Neither of them is wrong, though, and it was good to see someone ask Maggie to answer for that choice, to ask for her reasons. It was also nice that the conversation was respectful. They didn’t agree but they weren’t angry at the other person for feeling differently.

Image Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

It was also nice to see Gabriel doing well in the Commonwealth; hearing God again, preaching unity, forgiveness, seeing the humanity in one another inside the walls as much as they did outside when they needed the help of strangers to survive. He also got some of the best lines of the episode! His blunt takedown of Carlson’s terrible plan–and it was terrible, if the intent had actually been to add to the Commonwealth’s numbers. As the episode goes on, of course, Carlson’s insistence makes sense, but Gabriel’s “Yeah, I’m not doing this,” and “Your plan is shit and I don’t want to die,” remain high points!

Finally, we’ve got a Negan sighting! I was surprised to see him in with a group like this, given the little we know about them, but everyone he’s with at the end seems much more normal than Ian and his front door soldiers. I like Annie, the woman we see him with who gives that speech to inspire the remaining people. She’s got some Rick vibes to her, so I hope she makes it out of this bad situation. I look forward to learning a little more of how Negan ended up with them and how he was okay answering in any way to a man like Ian. He’s not exactly the religious type, you know?

Image Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

And we’re left on a big cliffhanger as the assault on the building begins in earnest! It seems clear that the weapons aren’t here, and while Carlson strikes me as smart enough that he should know that by now, I’m not sure he cares at this point–he’s had that taste of the liquor, that taste of this old life, and he doesn’t want to stop. But who does have the weapons? What were they originally intended for? Will the Hilltoppers and Alexandrians find out more about Hornsby’s plans and Carlson’s real mission here? For that matter, will they all survive this one? I know some characters already have spin-offs lined up, but not all of them! Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments, and see you next week!

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Excellent pacing, a dash of action, plenty of intrigue about Hornsby and the duplicitous Carlson, and a new and dangerous situation for our heroes kept this episode moving quickly while keeping interest high. Some great guest stars and we also have a good number of the old gang back together as this situation in the apartment building starts escalating. And the mystery of what is Hornsby really up to keeps growing. I was a little let down that we're left on such a cliffhanger, but it does it's job, and I am ready for more.

article topics :

The Walking Dead, Katie Hallahan