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The Walking Dead 11.17 Review – ‘Lockdown’

October 3, 2022 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
The Walking Dead Lockdown Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC
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The Walking Dead 11.17 Review – ‘Lockdown’  

Welcome back to the final episodes of The Walking Dead! We’re finally here to see how it ends. But there’ll be time to wax poetic later, this episode is action-packed and, as Judith reminds us in her opening narration, all about people coming together to protect and help one another, so let’s get to it!

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

The plot: Picking up shortly after the last episode, we see that in the Commonwealth, Connie’s anonymous article about Sebastian’s misdeeds in sending dozens of citizens to retrieve money for him, of all the useless things, leading to their deaths, has gotten out and people are pissed. As they should be! A protest has started outside the Union Station administrative building calling Simon’s head and justice for what’s happened, but Pamela is trying to lamely placate and claim her son is innocent. People are unconvinced, and Sebastian himself is nowhere to be found by friend or foe. Meanwhile, in the outside world, Daryl, Maggie, Gabriel and Aaron are joined by Negan and Annie as they dodge Hornsby and his cadre of loyal stormtroopers. They engage in some guerilla warfare, killing off some troopers while dodging others, cutting off their communication to the Commonwealth, and t-boning Hornsby in a car, but Hornsby is relentless and his troops undaunted. Eventually this crew lures the group that’s left into an old camp in the sewers where they’re outnumbered, but most importantly get hands on Hornsby. Negan slips out and drives off to the Commonwealth while this is going on, asking right off to meet with Mercer. He tells Mercer about Hornsby, and convinces him to also not play by the rules and let Negan go inside so he can help protect the family and friends of the others. He eventually meets up with Carol and the two of them manage to find Sebastian. Negan’s knocked down when a riot is tear gassed and arrests are made, while Jerry hides the kids in a secret stocked-up attic space, and Kelly, Connie, Magna, and Yumiko go through varying efforts to spur change in the Commonwealth, but also have an escape plan ready. Finally, Carol delivers Sebastian to his mom, who’s not happy to see him but still going to cover for him, and suggests that Hornsby may be exactly the scapegoat they all need. All this while a swarm is coming ever closer to the Commonwealth despite the troopers efforts to re-direct them.

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

This was a busy welcome back to TWD! Let’s get one thing out of the way: there’s a bit of chicanery going on with timelines and distances in this episode. We know Hilltop, Alexandria, etc, are a decent distance away from the Commonwealth, and that the cult-like community where our heroes last faced off with Hornsby & co is somewhere between the two, but closer to the former. While Negan was traveling with a car and had no reason to take his time, there are definitely some tricks of editing happening to make it look like everything is concurrent. Even when at least one night passes in the Commonwealth but doesn’t seem to for the Daryl & Maggie group. There’s also the fact that it seems to take from the afternoon of one day until the morning of the next for Rosita and Mercer to reach the swarm five miles outside the walls while driving. It’s awkward, but none of it so far makes the rough sequence of events that unfold impossible, so I’m willing to let it slide.

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

As Magna and Yumiko say in this episode, the shoe is dropping in the Commonwealth. With the stark inequalities thrown into the light for the Commonwealth citizens with the leaked information about Sebastian’s crimes, and the refusal of Pamela to respond in any way that satisfies them, the ground is getting seriously shaky for this place. As well, the fact there are divisions in loyalty are becoming more and more clear–there are the people and troopers loyal to Pamela, those loyal to Hornsby, and we’re starting to see that Mercer’s getting ready to stake his claim as well. It’s interesting that Mercer’s moves are with people very new to him, given how he was so very in-line with the Miltons before this. But then, given how badly they and Hornsby have burned him, who’s left for him to truly trust inside the Commonwealth apart from the people who’ve brought their sins to light? Rosita has always been straight with him and proven her capability; and while he doesn’t know Negan at all, he does extend some trust to the people who sent him. Aside from them, people under his own command have been shown to have loyalties elsewhere and to even betray his commands, or leave him in the dark and out of the loop.

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Mercer is far from the only ally our heroes have made here in a short time, either. Aside from the ones we’ve been following with, like Max and Tomi, there are everyday citizens who are with them. When Jerry is leading the kids through the crowd and notices they’re being tailed, all he has to do is quietly ask some people nearby to help them shake it, and they immediately do so! It’s possible these were intended to be people from their communities, but I didn’t recognize any of them right off, and I feel like if they were the show would’ve tried to establish that and remind us of them earlier on. So, more proof that Jerry is and always has been awesome, really! I also highly enjoyed how nonplussed Jerry was about seeing Negan and just rolling with it.

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Speaking of Negan and rolling with it, his inclusion in the plans is another notable mark of loyalty and trust being extended. It was a long run to get here for him, as we all know, but after the rocky and near-fatal re-introduction of him to Maggie’s life in particular, we’re seeing Negan finally, truly, be part of the team. And perhaps key to this is that he’s not trying to call the shots. He’s asking how he can help, putting his life–his family’s life, for that matter–in their hands and trusting them to look out for his as much as they’re trusting him to look out for theirs. Even knowing a smattering of information about the Commonwealth and the danger exposing himself to it poses, Negan rides right in and does what he needs to do to help. And while he tells Carol he doesn’t know why he mentioned his wife and their impending bundle of joy, deep down, I think he does it to prove that he’s changed and to show her the trust he’s extending to them. Even if that reason is an unconscious one for him, that’s what it’s about. One thing I will say got a side-eye from me here is how lamely hidden the secret door to Sebastian’s hiding place was, but again, willing to let it slide. It’s not like Sebastian himself is terribly clever, after all.

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

But it takes all kinds to survive and everyone’s also lucky when they have Carol on their team, the master manipulator. First, Negan’s speech about her being a damn magician was *chef’s kiss*. And second, watching her walk into Pamela Milton’s office, introduce herself to the woman for the first time and immediately reveal her connection to Hornsby, to her other friends, and offer up Hornsby as a scapegoat was also perfect. First in how it’s classic Carol, but also in how it was the bow tied up with the ribbon of all the other plotlines, the network of trust and reliance they all have on one another. Because when you look at it objectively, there’s almost no way this all should’ve worked out. So few of these people were able to communicate to one another, there are some three to four groups acting individually, but as soon as each sees what the other has brought to the table, they take it and they make the best out of it, with the wellbeing of all of them in mind. Daryl and Maggie see an opportunity in Negan’s anonymity; Negan takes it and delivers the message to their people in the Commonwealth; with the unrest stirred up by the article from Connie and team’s research (helped along by the information from Rosita, Daryl, Eugene, and Max), and Sebastian’s disappearance, there’s an opportunity there; and once Carol has Sebastian in hand and the ear of Pamela Milton, she’s got the opening they all need. It’s like Judith said in the opening–people, her people especially, survived by coming together and forming these found families, by trusting and not falling to the darkness. They all know one another and trust one another to make whatever best move they can for everyone and not just for themselves individually. That, if anything, is how they’ll win this.

The question is, what is ‘this’ at the current moment? Some of our heroes are right now just looking to survive to the next moment, whereas some of them are looking to enact systemic change. The Commonwealth has undeniable advantages as a place to stay and stay safe, even thrive, but it also has many failings. But failings that can yet be fixed, the question is how. I wondered previously how aware of her son’s sins Pamela was, and the answer isn’t great–while she really doesn’t believe he’s a murderer (and he’s not, not directly anyways), she chalks all this up to some youthful ‘rebellion’ that will ‘smooth out’ as he gets older, like it did for his father and uncle, and so forth. When he shows up, she doesn’t take him to task for getting people killed, for hiding from what he did, no, she’s pissed because he made her look bad. In other words, that his actions threatened her power. Ugh. This is some top tier white privilege, affluenza bullshit is what it is. And while they may help Carol and company because of the offered solution of blaming Hornsby, that will not ultimately solve the problem of the Commonwealth. It’s a temporary fix at best–which Carol no doubt knows, but as ever, she’ll work with what she’s got. So, maybe that shoe hasn’t dropped just yet after all, but it’s dangling by a lace over a pit of vipers, that’s for sure. And since they can’t just leave the Commonwealth in the rearview and call it good–it would be a terribly unsatisfying way to end this storyline!–how they’re going to deal with the problems of this place on the larger scale remains to be seen.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Even when miles apart, our heroes work together like a well-oiled machine, and it works because we know they all know and trust one another as deeply as they do. Even Negan is finally coming into the fold on his own terms and as part of the team! All the tensions that have been growing since the Commonwealth first came into the picture are coming to a head, with divided loyalties, systemic inequalities, and of course the everyday challenges of living in a zombie apocalypse coming together nicely. Some timeline funkiness and a few things that should've been either more difficult or more explained are handwaved, but overall a great launch for what the final story arc of The Walking Dead is going to be all about.

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The Walking Dead, Katie Hallahan