Well, so much for The Reapers.
The Walking Dead‘s 11th season returned last Sunday. As you can probably guess from the fact that it’s taken me until Friday to get around to watching and reviewing it, it didn’t exactly arrive with the type of fanfare that previously greeted every premiere of The Walking Dead. Not to belabor a point that I’ve been making since this season began but it’s been a while since The Walking Dead was really a big deal. It definitely had a good run, especially during the early seasons. However, I don’t think anyone will deny that the later seasons have been frustratingly uneven. Season 11 is the show’s last, though the future does hold the promise of Walking Dead movies and perhaps a Walking Dead anthology series. The Walking Dead may be coming to an end but it’s definitely not dead yet.
When Season 11 started, it appeared that the majority of the episodes were going to center around the Alexandrians battling The Reapers. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to that, as the Reapers weren’t really that interesting. Beyond all of the babbling about religion, there wasn’t that much to separate them from The Whisperers or the Saviors. So, as you can imagine, I was happy that this episode featured what appeared to be the nearly complete and total destruction of the Reapers. Maggie and her group ruthlessly and systemically destroyed every Reaper that they came across, with the exception of Leah. Gabriel killed a sniper, which leads me to wonder why Gabriel still wears his collar when its obvious that it means nothing to him. Negan watched as Maggie killed every Reaper that she saw and he wisely decided that it was probably time for him to head off on his own before Maggie got around to killing him. Indeed, the interesting thing about Maggie is that we really only cheer for her because we know her and we’ve been conditioned to be on her side. She’s just as ruthless as the show’s bad guys and she uses the exact same justifications that were previously used by everyone from The Governor to Negan to Pope. Even the fact that she’s mourning Glenn doesn’t really make her all that different from those she’s attacked. In the world of The Walking Dead, everyone has lost someone.
(And really, it was pretty much Rick’s fault that Glenn died.)
Meanwhile, Alexandria was hit by a violent storm and a walker invasion but, as usual, everyone there managed to survive. Afterwards. Maggie, Darryl, and the gang finally returned home. However, also approaching Alexandria were Eugene and the Commonwealth.
The show then jumped forward 6 months. Maggie was still in charge of Alexandria but it was impossible not to notice that Alexandria no longer looked as clean and peaceful as it once did. Surrounding the town were the soldiers of Commonwealth. And leading the soldiers was …. DARYL DIXON!
Now, that is an effective cliffhanger!
So, what’s going on here? Is this yet another case of Daryl going undercover (booo!) or has Daryl truly changed sides? I’m hoping that he actually did change sides, just because the whole undercover Daryl thing has been done to death and I think that Maggie and Darryl have a more interesting dynamic as rivals than as allies. Given the history of the characters, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where Daryl might chafe at Maggie’s leadership style. Or perhaps Darryl truly believes that the Commonwealth is offering up a better society than what’s going on at Alexandria. I mean, honestly, Alexandria does require a bit of commitment on the part of its citizens. I probably would chose not to live in Alexandria.
So, which is it? Is Daryl a friend or a foe? We’ll find out over the upcoming weeks!