by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 3.
The name of this episode is Hunted, and that was the theme. Carol’s group was hunting the horses, while Maggie’s group was being hunted by the Reapers. Ultimately, Carol’s group was successful in their endeavor, while Maggie’s was not. Both groups made sacrifices, although in Carol’s case, it was to sacrifice the future benefit of the horse to feed the community. In Maggie’s case, it was losing all of her friends whom she had brought with her to Alexandria.
Yet while Carol’s mission kept Alexandria going for another few days, it is Maggie’s mission that holds more potential for long-term success. If Maggie can access the resources of her prior community, then Alexandria has a chance to regain its footing, rather than eking out an existence from day to day. Maggie feels the weight of this responsibility for Alexandria, and it is driving her to go on, despite the significant losses she has encountered.
The scene with the Reapers attacking Maggie’s group in the dark was clearly supposed to be intense, yet I found it more confusing than anything else. It was difficult to tell who was who, and other than a couple of Maggie’s people (whom the viewers barely knew) we didn’t really see anyone in danger. That feeling of emotional separation carried on into the old mall where Maggie was pursued. It was great to have Negan save her life, yet at no time was I actually concerned for Maggie, and I did not feel involved in the scene.
Part of this might also have been the Reapers themselves. In the additional episodes at the end of season 10, it took multiple people to take down one Reaper, and in the end, he actually killed himself. The implication was that the Reapers were highly trained and even one of them was a significant threat. Yet in this episode, they were dropping just as quickly as Maggie’s group, perhaps more so. The promise of the Reapers as being a significant threat was not fulfilled, and that was disappointing to the viewers.
Perhaps part of my disappointment was also that I had been hoping to see more of Eugene’s group and the Commonwealth in this episode, and that storyline was put on hold to refocus on the struggles of Alexandria.
Maggie’s fickle attitude bothered me as well. In the last episode, she was willing to sacrifice Gage without any hesitation at all, yet this episode, she was far more reluctant to leave Alden behind. Alden and Gage were both citizens of Hilltop, and Maggie would have known both of them well while she was in charge there. Even Alden calls out Maggie on this inconsistency, and her quick, ’Gage made his choice.’ response doesn’t truly explain her actions. In the end, it felt as if the story was being constructed purely to force Negan and Maggie together, so that they will have to rely on each other for their joint survival.
Despite the lackluster nature of this episode, it was nice to see Rosita and Aaron (and Coco) make an appearance, since we hadn’t seen much of them for a while. I also appreciated the scenes with the children of Alexandria, portraying them as adult beyond their years, accepting the long absences of their parents and the reality of having to eat horsemeat even as they do something as ‘childlike’ as playing a card game. It reminded me of Carl in the earlier seasons, growing up in the apocalypse and coming to accept his new reality far too easily. It was also nice to hear the reference to Buttons, the horse whom Aaron and Darryl (unsuccessfully) went to recover a few seasons ago.
It is my hope that while this episode was not as exciting as it could have been, that it has laid some groundwork for a more compelling mission for Maggie and Negan as they work together to save Alexandria.
For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, this week’s Walking Dead: No Man’s Land season episode has Negan and Maggie escorting a ‘wounded survivor’ to safety.
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