FoCC Review: TWD Episode 1123 – Family

by Transmute Jun

Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 23.

The fall of the Commonwealth sped up dramatically this week with a double invasion: the Alexandrians and a walker horde. And both invasions went all the worse for the Commonwealth citizens, thanks to Governor Milton’s poor decisions.

For weeks, I have been seeing parallels between the Commonwealth storyline and the current social divides in our world, but it has never been more obvious than it was in this week’s episode. From a lockdown due to a crisis of Milton’s own making to the Governor’s order to sacrifice the lower districts to protect her own skin, Pamela Milton has become the stereotypical embodiment of a political elite that thinks it is better than everyone else. In contrast, Judith came to the Commonwealth with Michonne’s Charter in her bag, to bring an example of rules made for the people, with everyone’s best interests at its core. That Judith’s life is in jeopardy by the end of the episode is no ‘accident’; clearly Judith’s situation is supposed to represent that of the Commonwealth, whose future is hanging on the brink.

Mercer certainly showed his true self this week, both in terms of his true loyalties and his lack of subtlety at hiding them. While I very much appreciated his dig at Milton ‘reports of people going missing in the Commonwealth for a while’, it was as good as giving himself away. Ultimately, that one comment may have been what aroused Milton’s suspicions, and caused the ambush at Union Station. Things that feel good in the moment may have long-term implications.

Speaking of the ambush at Union Station, it seemed as if there should have been more people up in the balconies. Is Milton down to so few supporters, or was the show’s extras budget tapped out? And then having Milton walk out right in the middle of the fight was completely ridiculous. She is clearly concerned for her own skin, and should never have even considered exposing herself to danger. Milton could easily have been taken out right then and there, as demonstrated by the shooters falling next to her. In fact, I am not sure why Carol didn’t take her out, except perhaps that the plotline demands that Milton make it to the final episode.

However, despite the awkward setup, we did get to see that Governor Milton actually has a line. She was clearly horrified when she realized that she had shot a child. Of course, she deflected accountability and tried to blame it on the Alexandrians, but it was obvious that she was distressed by the incident. So there is a tiny bit of humanity left in Milton after all. Does this mean that she will survive the final episode? Negan was eager to take Milton out, yet no one reminded him that Negan was given a second chance, when he should have died at the end of the Savior War.

What I liked most about this episode was how so many characters had a moment where they were able to showcase what they have become over these many seasons. Rosita and Gabriel, both starting out self-centered and only using others to help themselves, are now leaning on each other and fighting for their child. Negan, who began as the smarmiest bastard there ever was, admitted that everyone else is better than he, and because of that, his life is worth sacrificing for everyone else’s. Ezekiel admitting that he should have been taken out so many times, and that he does not want to live out the rest of his life in bitterness. Aaron showing the caring and nurturing side he has developed as a parent when Lydia needs his support. Lydia, who started out scared and selfish, being more concerned for others than she is for herself. Jerry running away from safety to go after those who are in trouble (and making a cobbler reference as he did). Eugene fighting back and running out into the midst of things, rather than hiding in fear. Daryl turning his back on everyone else to save the one person who means the most to him, and Carol letting him go to do that. I have to acknowledge the tremendous job that the showrunners have done in this episode, allowing this vast array of characters a moment to shine, and reminding us of their journeys.

The appearance of Aaron’s group in the walker horde outside the Commonwealth was ridiculous. They spent ages traveling back to Alexandria (never actually making it there) only to turn around and shuffle back to the Commonwealth with the walkers in a couple of days? It feels as if the writers just wanted to put that group aside until they were needed for plot reasons, and did not care about the traveling logistics involved.

Once again, there was a brief moment with ‘smart walkers’, which had Negan doing a double-take. Given this, I am guessing that the ‘smart walkers’ are the basis for the Negan/Maggie Dead City spinoff show.

While Ezekiel’s ‘and yet, I smile’ reference was nice, the biggest pull this episode for prior storylines was Judith bringing up Rick and Michonne, and passing Rick’s hat down to RJ. Honestly, I am amazed that this hat looks so good … practically like new, even given everything that it has gone through over the years. However, it does represent a passing of the mantle, and an indication that Judith might not make it. Yet I suspect that she will. The comic book series long had an ‘Old Man Carl’ fan theory for the ending (which wasn’t too far off from what actually happened) and I am rooting for an ‘Old Lady Judith’ ending to the series. If it gets that far. There was enough of a cliffhanger this episode that unfortunately, I don’t think that there will be much time for such a fanciful conclusion.

With only one more episode to go, we know that this will all wrap up next week. The big question is, will any of our main characters (who have not already been marked for the announced spinoff series) fall before the end?

For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, this week’s Walking Dead: No Man’s Land season mission shows Daryl, Carol and Maggie attempting to clear a path through a horde of walkers to get Judith to the hospital.

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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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