The Walking Dead mid-season finale recap: New world order
The problem with The Walking Dead season 11's mid-season finale (second mid-season finale? Part B finale? Whatever we're calling it) — and it's a lingering problem in general that, at this point, can't be fixed — is that there are no stakes. This used to be a drama where anything could happen. Main characters could be killed off any time, any place. Cataclysmic events or formidable foes would emerge. Each shift would fundamentally alter the survivors in some way.
It's unclear how the Commonwealth is doing that, if at all. They are kind of like Woodbury, but are more militarized and more privileged in their view of the world. It's as if the Alexandrians are changing the Commonwealth instead of the other way around. But so far it's all playing out rather predictably.
There was a moment in "Acts of God" when it looked like Leah, who was hired by Lance to kill Maggie, might actually do the deed. But then you remember Lauren Cohan is getting her own Walking Dead series with Jeffrey Dean Morgan and the tension instantly dissolves.
Even if Cohan didn't have that spin-off, however, she wasn't going to be killed. There was a sense that this tussle was just for show. Something happened earlier in The Walking Dead's tenure when suddenly those main characters stopped being killed. Maybe some of the actors got too popular. Maybe after Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, and Cohan (briefly) left, the powers that be decided they couldn't afford to lose anyone else. Who knows what the real reason was? But it affected the storytelling where these moments meant to be filled with tension are just deflated — because, again, there are no stakes. It always ends how you expect it.
Then, sure enough, Leah is shot and killed before she does Maggie in. By whom? By Daryl of all people. Now, here was a moment that felt rather pivotal. Daryl comes across this scene where the woman he loved — and perhaps still does — whose life he helped ruin is now wrestling with someone he considers to be his family. Does he choose his love or does he choose his family?
He chose his family, clearly, but was any of that conflict explored? Nope. He just plants a bullet in Leah's skull and then he hustles out of there with Maggie. In his defense, Commonwealth soldiers were swarming their location, but there was no attempt to address Leah's death and what it meant for Daryl to be the one to take her life.
Which brings me to another quandary. Does any of this really matter? What is the end game here? How does all of this change the characters for the next stage of their stories? (I.e. the spin-offs.)
The only real character shift we get this episode is that Maggie is now warming up to Negan. She says he protected Herschel back at the apartment complex, and she'll never forget that. So, Maggie leaves her son again in his care while she goes off to settle things with Lance, paving the way for the relationship between Maggie and Negan in the spin-off.
Lance ends up taking matters into his own hands when he finds Leah slain on a cabin floor. He commands his forces to take over Alexandria, Hilltop, and Oceanside. As he stands before the residents of Oceanside, who are all chained and being carted away by soldiers, he starts to mirror Two-Face from DC Comics for some reason. His left cheek is scarred from a bullet Daryl shot his way, and he's flipping a coin in the air. Maybe it's some commentary on the image of a two-faced politician, but it felt like something thrown in. We barely saw him flip a coin as part of his schtick to begin with.
And even with these new moves, we can probably predict where this is all going. First of all, the show needs something that prompts Daryl and Carol to split off from the group (to embark on their own spin-off), and the same goes for Maggie and Negan. Maybe the three communities will never be what they once were after this, but Connie is already working to expose the shady dealings of the Miltons at the Commonwealth with the help of Max, Eugene, Rosita, and Kelly. My guess is that Lance and the Miltons will be unseated, Mercer will take the reins, and some folks will choose to live in peace at the Commonwealth while others need to move on.
There are eight more episodes to go in the final season, and supposedly anything could happen. I just don't necessarily believe it.
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AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.