The Walking Dead recap: Eugene uncovers the deep state
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The Walking Dead could use a good mystery. Can the show actually pull off a good one beyond Josh McDermitt going full Pepe Silvia meme? Eh. But at this point, it doesn't really matter. It's the final season, and I do usually appreciate a tortured individual pouring over a cork board maze of strings and post-it notes with drawn-on question marks.
The mystery has arguably already begun, but the "Rogue Element" episode gives Eugene his own Deep Throat-style quest for the truth. Meanwhile, Connie is chasing a lead of her own. Is it all connected? Probably. Will there be satisfying twists and riveting turns? Eh. Most of it seems rather expected.
We already know Lance Hornsby is tired of living under Pamela Milton's thumb. He mentions to Carol this episode that he's been playing the long game with the Miltons, having earned their trust somehow a long time ago. We also got the impression previously that he has plans of his own to reshape the Commonwealth. More of that gets revealed this week with the unveiling of what is basically the city's deep state.
Stephanie, it turns out, isn't really Stephanie. She's an agent of some kind named Shira, who was tasked by Lance to cozy up to Eugene as a means of extracting information about Alexandria and getting his people to join the Commonwealth. When Eugene professed his love for the woman he thought was Stephanie, Lance decided to end the mission and pulled her out. But her disappearance set a distraught Eugene on a path to find her, which led him to a plumber named Calhoun, who's also a member of Lance's secret society. Confronting the puppet master at his base of operations, Eugene promises to out him to the public, but Lance is confident it won't amount to anything. Eugene and Princess got caught snooping around Calhoun's apartment, and Eugene had to sign a statement attesting to paranoia and mental distress.
Adding intrigue is the reveal at the end that Max, who we know as Pamela's secretary, comes to Eugene and says she's the one he was speaking with all this time over the radio prior to entering the Commonwealth. What will she have to say about the goings on in the city and the political machinations of the various players? And why is she only now coming to Eugene?
Meanwhile, Lance is making moves outside the Commonwealth's walls. With Carol doing favors for him, he takes her to a gang of smugglers he's been working with to cultivate poppies. The Commonwealth needs them to make opium for the hospital, but it also means Lance has to deal with a man named Moto, who's the drug kingpin. The smugglers have gone on strike, demanding they receive raises for their work. Carol learns that Moto is pocketing the extra money and beating his lieutenants to keep quiet. She relays this to Lance and he promptly removes Moto from the equation. This leads to more questions. Why did Lance need to get rid of Moto? Will he appoint Carol to head the poppy smugglers? What's the play here?
The other big ongoing mystery, of course, centers around Tyler Davis, the former Commonwealth soldier who made a scene at the gala event. But Connie is working on her Diane Sawyer investigation and surely will uncover some truths.
The Commonwealth's newspaper is covering up what happened at the gala when Tyler took Max hostage and claimed there's an uprising a foot amongst the lower class. I wouldn't be surprised if Lance is fueling that uprising to unseat Pamela and claim mayorhood of the Commonwealth. Despite urgings from her editor, Connie can't drop the story. She spots Mercer going to see Tyler, under armed guard, in the hospital. Later, when she's assigned to cover a ride-along with the soldiers on patrol, she questions him about it, revealing that she knows Max is Mercer's sister. (Wonder what big brother will have to say about any romantic feelings between Max and Eugene.) But it seems Mercer is just as out of the loop on the Tyler situation as everyone. Connie's questioning clearly made an impression on him and he goes back to the hospital to see Tyler, who has mysteriously vanished from the premises, along with the guards — even though he wasn't supposed to be moved without Mercer's say so.
It's now clearer why Eugene's cork board overfloweth. There are a lot of moving parts to this.
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AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.