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Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead was significantly better than the majority of episodes in this eight-episode Part 2 block, but still left me feeling cold by the end. If the setup was better, the payoff might count more. Unfortunately, nothing that happened in this mid-season finale of sorts was really earned, and things that should have had some real impact fell flat as a result.
For instance, Leah. Leah has been inexplicably positioned as this fearsome huntress out for revenge against Maggie—but also as Daryl’s long-lost love interest. The problem with all of this is that so little of that was established in a believable way. Daryl and Leah’s relationship barely got off the ground before she was off becoming a Reaper. When they meet up (years?) later there’s no spark there, because an actual romance was never cooked up in the first place.
And sure, Maggie killed a couple of Leah’s friends—um, sorry, “family”—but it’s not like it wasn’t at the tail end of the Reapers killing off pretty much Maggie’s entire group. I get the whole revenge angle, but at a certain point it’s just yawn-inducing. Leah’s people killed off all of Maggie’s people and Maggie’s people killed off all of Leah’s people and now we have this big showdown between two Very Strong Women with a bunch of truly unbearable dialogue.
In the end, Daryl kills Leah, and that should be a big moment but it just isn’t. You never really got the feeling that Daryl even liked her that much, so him putting her down to save Maggie was just . . . the sensible thing to do.
I also hate how someone like Leah is propped up, mostly out of the blue, as this Total Badass that Hornsby actively seeks out, who is so ferocious—and so intent on “doing it my way”—that she booby-traps the Hilltop manor and kills a bunch of Commonwealth soldiers to “draw out” Maggie. What? What is the plan here exactly?
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Oh right, no plan. This is just how television writers think Very Strong Women should act. Yawn.
Two other stories take place simultaneously in ‘Acts of God.’ The episode gets its title from a plague of locusts that descends upon the region, adding some interesting new doom flavors but not really impacting the story very much. Locusts are ominous, sure, but unlike a similar episode in Outlander, there’s no threat posed by the insect swarm, no crops to save I guess.
In any case, Daryl, Aaron and Gabriel are out with some of Hornsby’s troopers in the second subplot, clearing buildings and whatnot, and looking for a way to get free. Fortunately, the whole thing is a setup and Hornsby is trying to take them out. The Stormtroopers turn on our heroes and we get a fairly descent shoot-out, though of course the Stormtroopers can’t hit to save their lives.
Remember all those awful shoot-outs and gunfights in Season 7 and 8? To the show’s credit, this one was much better. Better filmed, more realistic, you get the sense of urgency and chaos you’d imagine a shoot-out would entail. But in the end, the good guys win pretty easily and Daryl gets some intel on Hornsby from the last surviving Commonwealth soldier.
None of this was bad and I enjoyed the exciting action sequences, but I find myself scratching my head at the entire Hornsby storyline. I like the character. He’s a good bad guy. But I’m confused by his motivations. One minute he was trying every trick in the book to get these new communities to join the Commonwealth. The next, he’s sending Aaron and Gabriel on a spec ops mission that he ought to know might rub them wrong. Why does he trust them to begin with? Why didn’t he consider the outcome of this decision?
Then he just goes increasingly out-and-out villain, taking on Maggie and using Sebastian to send Daryl and Rosita on that cash-finding mission. It’s like every one of his little schemes and plots suddenly revolves around our group of characters, either using them or taking them on. I don’t really understand why. It’s like all his motivations have just suddenly shifted and the guy who was previously operating with a bit of cloak and dagger cleverness is now just losing it completely. Very odd.
The final, and easily the worst, of these three subplots centers around Eugene and Max, whose budding romance is getting far, far too much screen time. Honestly, what does Max see in Eugene exactly? And why is she so quick to throw her boss, Pamela Milton, under the bus?
She digs up some dirt on the whole missing persons mystery and then Connie prints it in the Commonwealth paper. And I . . . just can’t respect a TV show that’s this badly written, folks. I’m sorry, Milton controls the paper right? This is a fascistic, authoritarian society. There is no “freedom of the press” in the Commonwealth.
There’s simply no way in a million years that story gets printed. There’s no way they hire Connie to be a journalist, either, or at least one with any independence. Maybe if they’d spent some time establishing an illegal printing press storyline where Connie prints pamphlets in secret that would have worked, but just printing it on the front page of the state run paper? Yeah, no. That’s not how this works.
So yeah, our heroes are slowly but surely taking down the Commonwealth. No ice cream for those poor saps anymore. By the end of Season 11, the 50,000 strong community—mildly oppressed, but safe from the zombie hordes—will be in tatters. King Daryl and Queen Maggie will survey the wreckage and think, “Job well done.” The survivors will be free to die in misery and unspeakable horror, but at least Milton’s lavish parties will be a thing of the past.
What did you think of ‘Acts Of God’ and Season 11, Part 2 in general?
- Where is Dog? What happened to the show’s best living character and why has he been written out? This is like when Game Of Thrones ghosted Ghost. Not cool, AMC.
- I guess we’re finally at the “I’m starting to trust Negan” phase with Maggie, at long last. On the one hand, I’m relieved because the “I hate Negan” phase went on so long with no movement or resolution. On the other hand, they spoiled the Maggie/Negan spinoff so it’s all just a little anticlimactic.
- Eugene and Max are you friggin serious? Maybe if this was some cheap sitcom I could buy it, but nope. All sorts of nope.
- Speaking of Max, that scene with Sebastian. They’re really playing the Sebastian is a bastard card every chance they get, aren’t they? At least Joffrey had subtlety at times. At least Joffrey pretended to be kind occasionally, however poorly. Sebastian is just another one-note villain.
- I really wish they hadn’t killed off Carlson so soon. See, he was a fun bad guy. He was someone you could buy as a maniacal badass. He had some interesting character ticks. But no, they kill him off in two episodes and make Leah the big antagonist of the finale despite her character being so dreadfully boring.
- Did they really have to model the Commonwealth soldiers off Star Wars Stormtroopers this perfectly? They wear goofy armor, can’t shoot if their lives depend on it, the armor doesn’t appear to protect them from anything. It’s just . . . laughable.
If I think of more stuff I forgot while writing I’ll add it to the list.
You can read my past The Walking Dead Season 11, Part 2 reviews below: