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The Walking Dead 11.20 Review – ‘What’s Been Lost’

October 23, 2022 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
The Walking Dead Carol Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC
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The Walking Dead 11.20 Review – ‘What’s Been Lost’  

Welcome to this week’s The Walking Dead! Carol, Daryl and Yumiko take center stage this time as they scramble to find their friends and find a way to be anything but helpless against Pamela Milton in their fight to survive.

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

The plot: Carol and Daryl both just barely dodge their would-be kidnappers and take on a risky prison break to get the only person who might be able to tell them where their friends have been taken: Lance Hornsby. Hornsby is happy to help so long as it helps him, and he leads Carol outside the Commonwealth towards where he says their friends have been taken. After some troubles, Daryl rejoins them and when Hornsby lets slip that there’s a train running to and from the place they’re headed, they cut him loose with the intent to proceed alone. Hornsby ruins his chance to walk away when he tries to gun them down and is killed by Carol, however. Back in the Commonwealth, Yumiko is being forced to prosecute Eugene for his crimes by Pamela, who threatens both her missing friends and her brother if Yumi refuses. When her attempts to find answers on her own fail, Yumi doesn’t seem to have any recourse but to do so, and even has Eugene’s blessing to do what she must to save the majority of them. At the last minute, Yumi decides to hell with that, and uses her public announcement to defy Pamela and say that she will be defending Eugene instead.

This week’s opening Judith narration talks about what’s always been a major theme of TWD: the only thing more dangerous than the dead is the living. The Commonwealth with its twisty politics, Pamela Milton in particular, are a top example of that of late! But Judith goes on to say that we all need people we can count on, both in words and actions, and talks about how having the strength to put someone else’s life ahead of our own is perhaps the way to get back the things we’ve lost.

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

The episode very much dials in on this thesis statement, as our survivors fight with everything they have throughout the episode to literally and figuratively find what’s been lost: justice and their loved ones. Neither is easy when up against the odds they face. The political and military might of the Commonwealth, and of Pamela Milton, is nothing to be scoffed at. The streets are dangerous, the prison is dangerous, the world outside the walls is dangerous, and perhaps most dangerous of all are the sheer numbers the Commonwealth has. Pamela’s opening scene is a reminder of exactly this, that her power is more than just herself and the troopers, it’s the size and strength of the community she leads. All she needs to do is tell the Commonwealth that these people are their enemies and it’s over. In a fight like that, the survivors can never hope to stand up to the sheer size and might of the Commonwealth.

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

But Pamela doesn’t want a conflict like that, she doesn’t want to run a war machine, she wants a nice, smoothly running city that adores her and happily gives her power. She’s no general, but she does enjoy the power that potential strength gives her. Her image is already tarnished by the recording played at the festival last week, by the accusations previously slung against Sebastian, and it’s this that she can’t stand. But she sees a way to get it back by having Eugene’s confession and by having his own friend, Yumiko, be the one to condemn him. What better way to show that she’s right and has been right, and perfectly innocent, all along? Turn her enemies against each other, show that only the ones who follow her are acceptable or welcome in the Commonwealth, and no one will care that the rest of them are gone. They’ll fear outsiders unless assured they’re the acceptable kind and fall in line, and Pamela’s power base only grows from there, building its own momentum as it does. As Carol later pointedly asks, does the Commonwealth in truth want to connect communities or conquer them?

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

While Carol and Daryl fight the physical battle of searching for their kidnapped friends, doing the immediate work of the moment of finding and rescuing, as well as what I imagine is the legwork on finding out what’s happened to the hundreds of missing citizens, Yumiko is fighting the metaphorical battle in front of the masses. She despairs throughout the episode not only at being forced to condemn her friend, a good man who did nothing wrong here, but at going against the ideals of justice, something she had dedicated her life and livelihood to once and only recently was able to start doing so again. Justice isn’t nothing to Yumiko, it isn’t the flexible, near-meaningless thing used to paper over acceptable sins on the path to power that it is to Pamela. She’s already become frustrated at the lack of true justice in the Commonwealth as she’s seen the lies underneath the veneer of this place, the way undesirables are removed, the way the system is rigged from the get-go. A system built on lies and inequality is an injustice in and of itself, and now this?

Yumiko’s forced to face the conundrum of one life held up against many. One life held up against an ideal. But if she caves this once, is that truly the end of it? Not only is there no promise that Pamela won’t continue to blackmail her with her friends lives, but Yumiko will have the guilt of Eugene’s death on her as well as having ruined herself through this compromise of her morals. If one time is okay, then why not another? That road only leads to becoming part of the problem in the Commonwealth. But Eugene reminds her, even while absolving her of whatever she feels she must do to him, is that they and their friends have unwavering faith in one another. This is, I think, key to why Yumiko changes her tact in the end and declares her intent to support and defend Eugene: She knows her strengths, and she knows her friends’ strengths. She knows what’s right and what’s wrong. She knows that they will fight like hell, and that while they may forgive her if she condemned Eugene, she knows, too, that they would want her to do the right thing. Like Judith says, they’re all willing to put the lives of the others ahead of themselves, and that’s how they’ve not just survived, but thrived, by making a world where trust exists, making a world where they each can truly be their best selves. A world where what comes after is as important as making it to the next moment.

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

I have to applaud how Yumiko turns the public announcement scene around on Pamela. She makes her brother untouchable by calling out who he is and what he does in front of everyone, turning him into a more recognizable person. She talks about faith in her people and in the system, and you can see how it resonates with the civilians who applaud her, while the rich elites Pamela met with earlier are the ones more shaken up by how her speech ends. That said, I don’t think they are immovable in their opinions. Yumiko’s announcement, especially after being introduced by Pamela’s people, underscores what was heard on Founder’s Day after all–that something isn’t right here, isn’t just, and she’s going to drag that out into the public eye for all to see.

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

This vision of a more secure future is at the heart of the Commonwealth. As Hornsby says to Carol, it was always there when they founded this place and even while his slogan-spewing is mostly bullshit to try and save his own skin, there’s a kernel of truth there. A place where it’s not about who you were, but who you can become. It sounds great, right? But the reason it went wrong is also there in his ramblings: Pamela wanted all the credit, he let her have it, and I’ve already covered how poorly that’s gone. But that ideal still remains and it could be fostered to grow in the place of the flawed system they have now. If the survivors win this, the fate of the Commonwealth will be in their hands. Will they burn it down? Or will they turn into something better, something more like their own communities were? Something better that they can give to the next generation.

Of course, Hornsby is too much a creature of the flawed world he’s built to be part of it. Even when given the chance to walk away, or try in some way to prove himself to them. I’m not sure there’s anything that he could’ve said her to convince Carol and Daryl, though I do think they would’ve let him go on his way if he hadn’t grabbed the gun. They rightfully have no investment in his survival or his allegiance–he’s been part of the rotten core of the Commonwealth as much as Pamela has–so letting him walk away was the best deal he was going to get. Hell, they let Negan walk away, but he was smart enough (by then!) to not try and pull some shit and try to attack them in return. Hornsby’s chameleon-like presence will be missed, though, he’s been a highly enjoyable character!

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

For me, this episode really highlights how the kind of decisions that our survivors have made are different from those most would make. I know for some scenarios on the show, fans love to comment how showing mercy to certain people or trusting them is a bad idea or something they would never do–Rick not killing Negan is a prime example. But the other communities they’ve encountered are often there to show how different choices would’ve turned out, to show how and why the survivors are different, why they keep surviving, why they’re the ones who generally come out on top (though not without losses). The one time they did choose to let themselves be compromised and be hired knives to kill Negan’s people in the night it was the one action that took them down a terrible and bloody road. Because they’ve been genuine in seeking mercy and equality, in trusting one another and seeking a better future together, their community reflected those values in a way the Commonwealth doesn’t. It’s a place that claims to support those, but in truth does not, and those cracks are now showing. It goes to show that our survivors are unique as much as they are everyday people, and how those values and pursuits are what make them stronger than other groups that have managed to survive this long.

And that’s this week’s episode! What did you think of Yumiko’s situation and her decision? OF Carol and Daryl’s rescue of Hornsby, and Carol’s conversations with him? What awaits the survivors in whatever prison camp scenario they’re being bussed out to? And where the hell is Mercer? He’s not at Pamela’s side, is he among the bus of kidnapped hostages, or is he in the wind as well? Sound off in the comments below and see you next week!

The final score: review Good
The 411
The survivors' search for their friends and their fight for justice take center stage in a somewhat surprisingly tense mid-arc episode. It's got action, deep moral quandries, high stakes, and a lot resting on the actions of a few key players. The episode highlights the differences between the Commonwealth's insincere façade and the genuine trust that exists between our survivors, and how these differences are playing out for both of them in the long term. It's nice seeing Yumiko in the spotlight again, it's been a while since we spent much time with her, and she's got quite an important role to play in what comes next for everyone. Daryl and Carol doing their thing like the badasses they are, and Hornsby getting to spit out one more killer campaign slogan before succumbing to his worst instincts and paying the price for it. A solid episode, as I like to say!

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The Walking Dead, Katie Hallahan