by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 7.
The theme of this episode was (as the title implies) broken promises. Eugene broke his implied promise to Hornsby, getting himself into more trouble, and he is contemplating breaking his promise to keep the existence of Alexandria a secret. Leah broke her promise of obedience to Pope, allowing the man and boy she found to escape, rather than killing them as she had been ordered to do. Daryl is not loyal to Pope in any way, and is living with the Reapers under a false promise. And Gabriel broke Maggie’s order, then lied to her about the matter.
Yet the biggest potential for a broken promise is the one that Maggie made to Negan. Having just escaped from the Reapers, and with a severely diminished team, Maggie’s mission is in serious jeopardy. She has to re-take her old settlement to gather its supplies, yet she has only two people by her side… and Negan. Maggie hates to admit to herself that she needs Negan, but it is clear that she does. And knowing that he has her over a barrel, Negan offers her a deal: I’ll help you if you promise that we’re even. Maggie makes the promise, even knowing that it will be difficult for her to honor it. Of course, this is the zombie apocalypse, and they are going into a dangerous situation. It is entirely possible that either Maggie or Negan could be killed, and if so, Maggie would never have to live with the consequences of her promise. Yet somehow, I suspect that won’t be the case, and the implied forgiveness she has offered to Negan will become a stumbling block in the second part of season 11.
For now, Negan has been of tremendous help to Maggie, training her (along with Gabriel and Elijah) in the ways of the Whisperers: acting like a walker to blend among them and herd them. While Maggie chafed at this task, she quickly came to see its usefulness, and before long, she was herding as well as any Whisperer had done. The conclusion of the episode, with the horde approaching the Reaper compound, nicely sets up the final episode of this partial season (episode 1108 will be the last until 2022).
While Maggie may not have realized it, Negan was also giving her some sound advice, encouraging her to think about what she was doing. When he told her that if he had a chance to do it all over again, that he would have killed everyone on Team Rick, she didn’t immediately see the point: Maggie is about to act in the same fashion. She is out to take revenge on the Reapers for killing her people and destroying her community, and she intends to kill every last one of them. Right now, she cannot see the parallels between her mindset and Negan’s (from the days of the Saviors), but this similarity may come back to haunt her.
Meanwhile, Gabriel is going through his own issues, struggling with his faith as he has been doing since he was first introduced on the show. When he comes across a Reaper priest, who appears to be so sure of his own faith, Gabriel can’t help but respect the man, and chooses not to kill him, disobeying Maggie’s order. He then lies to Maggie, telling her that he didn’t encounter any Reapers, rather than admitting his own feelings.
Meanwhile, in the Commonwealth, Eugene’s group is paying for their illicit access to the radio by clearing out walkers from new buildings. In the Commonwealth, most people never see walkers, and any tasks that involve them are typically taken on by the military. Therefore, the position Eugene’s team has is considered to be not only dangerous, but the lowest of the low. Stephanie’s nervousness and lack of skills illustrates this. I was amused watching Eugene killing walkers so competently, and instructing Stephanie as to how to improve. It wasn’t that long ago (for the viewers) that we saw Eugene cowering as others had to kill walkers for him.
Pamela Milton’s son Sebastian is a pampered child of the elite, taking all of the privileges of his mother’s position (as Governor of the Commonwealth) without any of the responsibility. It is easy to understand why Eugene takes offense to his condescending attitude (after he has just been saved from the walkers), especially as Eugene does not understand the degree to which Sebastian’s poor behavior is protected by his mother. Whether or not Sebastian can continue down this destructive path is likely something that will be explored in later episodes. Frankly, this spoiled brat more than deserved the punch Eugene dealt, yet Sebastian will not forget this, and Eugene will continue to suffer for it.
As the penultimate episode for this portion of Season 11, the Commonwealth and Reaper storylines were both set up for some kind of confrontation. It remains to be seen if those confrontations will bring some kind of satisfying conclusion, or provide a pathway to future storylines next year.
While there was not a lot of humor in this episode, I had to laugh when Negan admitted that he had kept his Whisperer mask ‘for sentimental reasons’. Not only that, he apparently has been keeping it with him, even on this mission with Maggie. I also rolled my eyes at the door in the Reaper compound labeled ‘Food Storage’. Did they really need to put that there? It was clearly laziness on the part of the producers, so that viewers could quickly understand what was inside without getting a very close look.
For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, this week’s Walking Dead: No Man’s Land season episode has Eugene, Ezekiel and Princess clearing out walkers for the Commonwealth.
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