by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 2.
While Acheron, the River of Woe, flowed on this week, there was some light at the end of the tunnel, at least for Eugene’s group. He, Ezekiel, Yumiko and Princess were all accepted by the Commonwealth, and can see the promise of assistance. Whether or not that promise can be fulfilled remains to be seen.
Maggie’s group went through the wringer and had to deal with tough situations, yet finally escaped to the other side of the tunnel. However, their momentary salvation was torn apart by an attack from the Reapers. Maggie has clearly entered their territory, and they have no compunction about defending what is theirs. Somehow, I suspect that this encounter will go poorly for both sides.
Maggie’s venom toward Negan increased dramatically when he left her literally hanging, refusing to help when her life was on the line. Yet when it came down to a life or death situation for the entire group, Maggie trusted Negan enough to give him her pistol so that he could defend their rear. Negan’s return of the pistol afterward, and her acceptance of it, signaled a temporary truce between them, and one that is desperately important as they face the Reapers.
For Negan’s part, his lie of omission regarding Maggie’s whereabouts was understandable, as was his coming clean the moment she reappeared. It wasn’t like he had another option after Maggie revealed what he had done, yet even so, his reasoning was indisputable. Maggie had just stated that she was close to killing Negan herself.
The group’s anger toward Negan was just coming to a head when Gage reappeared in the next train car, shifting the focus to a new crisis. Clearly, some of them wanted to save Gage, but felt that they had to abide by Maggie’s decision. Alden and Negan were the lone dissenters, with Alden aggressively attempting to open the door. This brings Alden to an interesting dilemma. Originally, he was a Savior, but was unhappy with life under Negan. When he was Maggie’s prisoner at Hilltop, Alden told her that he wanted to follow a better path, and became loyal to her. Yet in this episode, Alden couldn’t understand Maggie’s callous disregard for the life of a friend, while Negan was the only other person who wanted to help Gage. Negan’s and Maggie’s roles in Alden’s life have now reversed again, and Alden may be re-thinking Negan’s place in the group.
Yet there is another mystery: where did Gage and Roy go? We know that they went topside and both lost the supplies that they had been carrying, but we don’t know how that happened. We know that Roy got wounded, but not how or why. Is it possible that they met up with the Reapers and were forced to betray their friends? Now that Gage and Roy are both dead, we may never know.
Gage’s death bothered me, and not just because of Maggie’s decision not to help. It was not believable that he killed himself, rather than attempting to fight the approaching walkers. Additionally, it clearly wasn’t that difficult to open the door, given that the walkers were easily able to accomplish this feat. This cheapened Gage’s death, and made it feel completely unnecessary.
In the Commonwealth, Yumiko’s insightful analysis clearly unsettled the auditors and impressed Mercer. Yet Eugene knew none of this and was genuinely terrified (as seen by his construction of a shiv). Even so, Eugene was able to keep his head and deal with Mercer’s questioning. When Mercer said that Eugene was a terrible liar, he had no idea that he was actually speaking to a man who has a proven track record of lying to survive when his life is on the line. Eugene spent months lying to Abraham and Rosita, telling them that he had the cure to the apocalypse, just so they would protect him. He spent days (weeks?) lying to Negan and making defective bullets for use in the Savior war. In comparison, Eugene’s performance during Mercer’s interrogation was only the barest of lies. Everything that Eugene said was true, except for the implication that he and his companions were not from an established settlement. He avoided answering Mercer’s first question by elaborating on the second, thereby protecting the secret of the existence of Alexandria.
There were a number of references back to earlier seasons in this episode. Maggie disappearing underneath the train car with walkers attacking mirrored Glenn’s disappearance under the dumpster. In the train car as the walkers swarmed outside, Negan and Gabriel recalled when they were trapped in a similar situation at the start of the Savior War. Gage’s death behind the window was reminiscent of Noah’s death in the revolving door. And Eugene making the shiv in his cell was a callback to the group creating makeshift weapons in the Terminus train car.
For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, this week’s Walking Dead: No Man’s Land season episode shows Maggie, Daryl and Negan making their way through the train tunnels, while Walking Dead: Our World continues its Acheron event, which allows players to unlock Mercer as a playable character.
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