The start of the second segment of The Walking Dead’s final season mostly revolves around the continued introduction to the Commonwealth. Episodes nine and ten show some characters join the comparatively luxurious community while others remain in Alexandria despite an apparently open invite, pushing long-held resentments and class dynamics among our ensemble to the forefront of the story.
After returning from a painfully unrewarding mission, the citizens of Alexandria are invited to join the Commonwealth, which leads to a time jump occurring between the 9th and 10th episodes. As we caught a glimpse of in the opening eight episodes, the Commonwealth is thriving, but it comes with a strict local government that may prove to be stifling to a crew very much used to living by their own rules. Furthermore, some characters have chosen to remain in Alexandria, leaving a big question mark around the circumstances of the decision(s) that separated our cast.
Introducing the Commonwealth has made room to address class warfare in The Walking Dead, though packing it into the final season might necessarily leave a lot of the nuance needed for those discussions on the cutting room floor. Regardless, it’s one of the realms the show has mostly steered away from, but the current lineup of characters gives plenty of space to make it interesting.
In particular, watching Yumiko, once a lawyer, briefly interact with her ex Magna, working as a server, poses a number of intriguing questions around the interactions between the two. Sadly, the relationship between them has never spent enough time in the spotlight, but it’s possible there will be more on the horizon for them. Magna is a character that always seems willing to speak uncomfortable truths, while Yumiko is often in the position of weighing the morality of the choices they’ve made in order to survive. Seeing how the class dynamics might play out between a former convict and the attorney that once defended her in court is an intriguing plot thread.
Likewise, characters like Daryl and Rosita are highly adept in their survival skills due to lived experience, but in the Commonwealth, they are surrounded by people that have never had to struggle just to stay alive in the same way. Employed as glorified cops with the silly costumes to match, the two seem to be committed to following their best (or only viable) career path in order to provide for their families. Daryl is immediately chosen for his expertise while the equally skilled Rosita edges her way in alongside him, smartly refusing to be separated from the only person she has reason to trust. The two have an effortless alliance that makes them a surprisingly fun team-up.
The characterization has only improved as the series has gone on, with Daryl making a surprising effort to fit in and take care of Judith as a surrogate uncle. Connie and Kelly remain a highlight, as they continue to travel together even within the walls of the Commonwealth. Their caring dynamic and mutual willingness to step up for the good of the group makes them two of the best characters on the show, particularly after their spotlight episodes in the first segment of season eleven. When they reunite with Daryl, the moment is genuine and tender.
Meanwhile, Aaron mostly appears as an action hero in the opening episodes, allowing him to shine without forcing him to delve into the same moral struggle of the first segment of the season. Carol and Ezekiel shippers will be happy to see their relationship back in bloom, and Carol herself remains the sneaky, ruthless, but mostly well-intentioned character we've grown to love.
Outside of the interpersonal drama we keep tuning in for, the final season is having a blast with the zombie deaths, and these episodes feature some truly great ones. Aaron flies into a rapidly flooding basement swinging his mace-arm wildly at the zombies that have endangered children in his care. Dragged underwater by one, he full-out crushes its skull in its hands. Meanwhile, Rosita pulls a leg off of a walker just to stab it with its own femur. A training exercise in which Daryl and Rosita are clearly the only two well-trained individuals give them each plenty of opportunities to go off on some zombies. All in all, A+ fight scenes with an added dash of gore.
In the end, the final episodes are all feeling a little rushed at this stage, but in a way that both exhibits and encourages a level of excitement around the subject matter. Everyone deserves more screen time, which is the downside of packing the cast with interesting characters. On the other hand, there's a sense of fun as the most serious moments are broken up by some of the most over-the-top scenes the show has ever delved into. Opening up conversations around a corrupt local government is giving the series room to increase its relevance, and even as we dash forward toward the final episode, the potential for future stories seems greater than it has in years. All in all, this is a great kick-off to the second segment of the final season, and it’s laying the groundwork to make us really miss the show when it’s gone.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC.
This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Sara is a horror writer, a critic, a reporter, a filmmaker, and an artist that has written for many publications and platforms. She is the co-host of the Bitches On Comics podcast as well as the co-founder and editor of the Decoded Pride anthology which focuses on works of queer speculative fiction.