When it was announced The Walking Dead’s eleventh season would also be its last, I assumed the show would get itself together to end the zombie series with a bang, something to rekindle the interest of the millions of viewers that used to watch the show. Instead, I have no idea what it’s doing, and I don’t think The Walking Dead does, either.
First, there was last week’s out-of-nowhere, wholly uncharacteristic moment of loathsomeness courtesy of Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) on-the-road anecdote. The third episode of season 11, “Hunted,” is an improvement in that it’s only wall-to-wall confusion with a rich vein of hypocrisy. It’s not bad, per se, but it is baffling. Let’s ignore the two tiny scenes of the Walking Dead Kids Klub, where they play games and get sad their parents are constantly leaving them. We can make the briefest mention of Carol (Melissa McBride), Magna (Nadia Hilker), Kelly (Angel Theory), and Rosita’s (Christian Serratos) attempt to catch some of the horses that escaped Alexandria during Beta’s attack, because a hilariously majestic scene of horses running across a gorgeous sunset is followed by a forlorn Carol slitting one of the horses’ throats. You know, just in case you’d somehow forgotten people on The Walking Dead aren’t allowed to have nice things (for long, anyway).
The only story that matters is the Reapers’ attack on Maggie’s group, which began in the final seconds of last week’s episode. The Reapers seem to fight via Looney Tunes rules, where they can pop up or drop down from anywhere, even if spatially, Maggie, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), should have seen them coming from a mile away. Gabriel and Alden (Callan McAuliffe) get wounded, Negan runs off, some of the Red Shirts die, all while Maggie is in a fight for her life that ends when everyone just...disappears. Even the dead people are gone. It’s so bizarre I thought it was a dream sequence. But that’s not the case! Maggie escapes to a department store/artists’ loft/garage/someplace which seems to have been abandoned long before the zombie apocalypse started.
Here’s where “Hunted” is best, as Maggie tries to creep through the dark building unnoticed while a Reaper stalks her, occasionally bursting out of the darkness for short but immensely satisfying fight scenes. At one point, Maggie pushes the Reaper over a banister, down a stairwell, and she just stares down into the dark. Then you hear faint footsteps that get increasingly louder, faster, and nearer, and Maggie just bolts. It’s one of the most effectively scary Walking Dead moments in recent memory. Eventually, the Reaper gets the better of her but Negan luckily pops out of nowhere to save her. Together, they find the very wounded Alden and a couple of Maggie’s Meridian buddies who quickly bite the dust. Since Alden can barely hobble and it’s getting dark, the trio takes refuge in a small church where they make the hard, painful decision that Alden has to stay behind so Maggie and Negan can procure the badly needed food supply at Maggie’s old colony Meridian for Alexandria. That’s all well and good, but when we examine the episode’s details, they don’t add up. At all.
Example #1: Negan—After Maggie and Negan find Alden, Negan says they should travel back to Alexandria because Alden’s extremely wounded and they’re being chased by murderous assholes. Maggie is unsurprisingly against this idea, as she is of all Negan’s ideas. Negan responds emotionally and wearily, “I am on your side, Maggie.” This to a woman he literally left for dead in the season premiere. But in “Hunted” he saves her, and then the episode ends with Negan smirking menacingly at her while holding a blood-covered crowbar.
Example #2: Gabriel—The wounded Father Gabriel repeats a prayer as he painfully pulls out the knife that pierced his hand and his leg. As he walks away, he comes across a wounded Reaper also saying a prayer. He asks if Gabriel, being a priest, would bless him before he dies. Gabriel’s response is, and I quote, “God isn’t here anymore,” right before he stabs the Reaper in the head. So, Gabe, who exactly were you praying to about 10 minutes ago?
Example #3: Maggie—While agonizing over the decision of whether to leave Alden behind or not, Maggie yells at Negan that he’s “not allowed to decide who lives or who dies anymore.” She says this like the idea of holding the power of life or death over people is a bad thing, as you would think…on any other show but The Walking Dead. Rick Grimes was constantly deciding who needed to be killed, and Carol issued Alpha her death sentence. Hell, Gabriel just decided the Reaper had to die by his hand, rather than of natural causes (most likely zombie mastication). That was arguably a practical decision on Gabriel’s part, but in just last week’s episode, Maggie herself decided to watch her teammate Gage die rather than attempt to save him.
And by the way, when her other Meridian pal Agatha gets chomped and swarmed by zombies in “Hunted,” Negan has to drag Maggie from uselessly running into a deathtrap to save an infected woman that would have, at maximum, a day to live if rescued. The only way this makes a little sense is if when Maggie says, “You’re not allowed to decide who lives or who dies anymore” she means it’s because she now gets to decide, but if that’s the case, she’s making some very hypocritical decisions. I don’t know, guys! It feels like the writers of the Walking Dead have either completely stopped caring about following a plot or have somehow lost their short-term memory. On the plus side, I’ll take a confusing, contradictory episode over one that disgusts me any day of the week. Tune in next week, when The Walking Dead turns into a romantic comedy or something, I guess.
- I have no idea about the extremely burnt zombie who was strung up on a cross that had a sign labeled “JUDAS” on it, but it was a fantastic zombie effect. I expected his jaw to fall off any second.
- Li’l Herschel introduces Judith, C.R., and Aaron’s daughter Gracie to the fun world of insect cuisine. The other kids aren’t enthused about it, but they’re clearly open to the idea, which makes me think they’ve gone hungry often enough that they know they shouldn’t turn down any potential source of food, which is extremely depressing.
- Kelly is a Horse Whisperer. Don’t worry about it.
- Rosita believes Abraham, who died back in season seven, is trying to send her a message through her dreams. We should probably worry about this.
- Carol is supposed to work on the wall, but instead sleeps in and decides to go catch horses instead—even when Aaron confronts her about it. Later, Magna asks Carol to please stop giving Kelly hope that her sister Connie is alive. The next day (maybe even the same day?) Carol grabs Kelly for another Connie hunt right in front of Magna. Carol, there’s a difference between being self-destructive and being a huge asshole, and you’re definitely on the obnoxious side.
- On that note, Carol cut that horse’s throat for a reason, right? That I just missed? …right?
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