FoCC Review: TWD Episode 1114 – The Rotten Core

by Transmute Jun

Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 14.

This episode was clearly setting up the confrontation that will take over the Commonwealth for the rest of the season. Daryl learned that Sebastian will not let him alone, particularly when Daryl was not whole-hearted in his endorsement of Sebastian’s lies as to his walker-killing prowess. Rosita got dragged into this bad blood when Sebastian threatened Coco in addition to RJ and Judith. Understanding what was at stake, Daryl and Rosita both agreed to do what Sebastian had asked, only to learn that they were not the first ones to have been assigned this onerous task. However, it does appear that they were the first military (i.e. competent) personnel to have undertaken the mission.

Sebastian has been shown before to be a privileged brat. Yet with this episode we learned that he is not simply spoiled, he is also without compassion, or even basic moral character. Treating other people’s lives as worthless, and expendable for your own personal desires, is just about the lowest level to which any human being can sink, and Sebastian clearly hit that bottom long ago. Sebastian is not only making threats; he is carrying them out. This means that Rosita and Daryl made the right choice in going along, even if they resented it. For the same reasons, Mercer was correct that Daryl and Rosita had to give the money to Sebastian, else he would have made their lives a living hell, or perhaps followed through on his threats against their kids.

Mercer already understood much of the corruption that exists within the Commonwealth, yet it seemed that this episode he had perhaps been pushed a little too far. Mercer accepted Daryl’s statement that Sebastian had ordered the mission readily, likely because that story rang true far more than the tale that Daryl and Rosita had been out for personal gain. And when the other soldiers corroborated Daryl’s version by admitting that they had sent over 30 people on this mission before (… and why were they so stupid as to blab right in front of Mercer?). Mercer didn’t hesitate in killing them. Whether he admits it to himself or not, Mercer knows that a revolution is coming, and he (consciously or unconsciously) is choosing the people whom he wants behind him when it finally arrives.

Carol has been playing the game with Lance for some time, understanding the politics that run this world. Yet in this episode, she witnessed how far these schemes reach, putting the lives of ordinary people at risk. Clearly, she was sickened by this revelation, yet intelligent enough to play the part Lance desired, pretending that she ‘understood’. Did Lance buy her act? It seemed as if he was suspicious, although perhaps he was only worried about what was happening with Carlson.

Carlson is yet another small-time villain that was both introduced and eliminated in short order. I’m getting a little tired of these short-term threats that really don’t feel threatening at all. Joe of the Claimers, Ozzy of the Highwaymen, Owen of the Wolves, Pope of the Reapers, and even Gareth of the Termites, were all minor characters who were built up and then torn down in the blink of an eye. Now we can add Carlson of the Commonwealth to this list. The only good thing we can say about Carlson is that he wasn’t the head honcho. Lance is (so far) proving to be a more interesting character, and I hope that his takedown lasts far longer than these other minor bad guys.

Of course, not all villains are small time, and not all of them remain villains. Negan is the character whom I find most interesting in the entire (voluminous) cast, because he has the best story arc. He went from weak, devoted husband to small-time thug, to big-time gang leader, to a semi-religious icon (as leader of the Saviors). Then he lost everything and was relegated to the role of long-term prisoner, before finally beginning his slow climb up the redemption arc. This episode demonstrated that there is still some distance to go, although Negan acquitted himself admirably when faced with young Herschel at gunpoint.

Negan is a husband once again, and now a future father. Maggie was clearly horrified by Annie’s admission that Negan had fathered her child. Yet Maggie also appeared to listen when Annie told her that ‘none of us have clean hands… all we can do is try to be better’. Does Maggie actually see any of herself in that statement? I don’t know if she does yet, but eventually, she will. Still, it’s evident that the show is trying to build a reconciliation between Maggie and Negan (which makes sense, given that a future spinoff show starring the pair was recently announced). Kudos to the writers by having this happen organically, over time, rather than as a sudden revelation on Maggie’s part.

It’s pretty likely that Annie’s group will end up taking refuge at Hilltop, and Maggie will become their protector. This is yet another thread that will eventually lead up to the ‘future’ scene we saw at the end of Episode 1109, where Daryl led Commonwealth troops to Hilltop’s gates.

And in contrast to a former villain moving up his redemption arc, we also saw Leah once again. Her promise as a future villain is obviously about to be fulfilled. She is hellbent on revenge, and will be going after Maggie (and perhaps also Daryl) with her stolen cache of weapons and supplies. This brings up an interesting triangle, as while both Leah and the Commonwealth are angry with Maggie, the Commonwealth will also be after Leah once they realize that she was the one who took over their convoy. I hope that the writers will not squander this opportunity to enhance the overall plotline.

While for the most part this was a grim episode, I had to laugh when Rosita rolled her eyes at Daryl eating a donut. His response of, “I liked them before.” was perfect! Naturally, this exchange did not stop Rosita from grabbing a bite of donut herself!

For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, this week’s Walking Dead: No Man’s Land season mission has a reimagined scene. Daryl and Rosita are going through the house as they try to rescue April. They must deal with walkers as they turn on the power to open the door, and then recover ‘the bag’. They are even given the option to ‘gut up’ with walker parts.

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Transmute Jun

Transmute Jun has an addiction to pop culture conventions, and attends as many as she can each year. When she's not traveling, she likes to stay at home reading a good book, playing a video game, or binge-watching a TV show. She can be bribed with pizza, Coke Zero and Belgian milk chocolate.

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