And now The Walking Dead is a murder mystery, because of course, why not

When someone gets murdered The Walking Dead – which often happens – you almost always know who did the deed and why, since the murder is shown on screen, because the reason is usually “they needed to kill”. But this second third of season 11 was willing to go against the show’s norms to go to strange and unexpected places – places like the pre-post-apocalyptic Commonwealth, the episode’s weird political intrigues from last week and honesty from tonight. murder mystery, which was a delight.

Honestly I Doubt “Warlords” Makes Top 10 Best Walking Dead List of episodes when all is said and done but it’s a very enjoyable hour of TV I’m in always pleasantly surprised to receive TWD. It gives a deeper, but still wonderfully intriguing look at the sinister machinations of Deputy Governor Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton), who was revealed last week as plotting to become ruler of Alexandria, Hilltop and Oceanside. , if not of the Commonwealth itself. . I’ll do the recap as the episode moves back and forth in time because it was so effective in unraveling the mystery.

Several months after last week’s episode: Despite the best efforts of Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Hilltop 2.0 is in deep trouble. Lydia (Cassady McClincy) has given up and is about to make her way to the Commonwealth herself when a lone, badly injured rider runs from his horse, falls from the saddle and mutters “They’re slaughtering them” to Maggie, Elijah ( Okea Eme-Akwari), and Lydia with her last breath. Who is this young? Who killed him ? What is he talking about ?

The child was carrying a map showing a route between Hilltop and an unknown location (called Riverbend). Lydia and Elijah decide to seek out and help these people in need, and Maggie eventually and reluctantly decides to join them. Along the way, they find three Commonwealth soldiers on the road – or rather ex-Commonwealth soldiers, since they had their throats cut and are now zombies. What the hell happened to their? Suddenly, out of nowhere, Aaron (Ross Marquand) runs down the road towards the group. Where d he comes from?

A week ago: Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) did a full 180 during the time skip. He is preaching again, he feels he hears the voice of God, and he speaks to the people of the Commonwealth of how they were “forced to see humanity in each other” in nature, but are at strangers again now that they’re safe. I’m glad he found God and morality, but it’s crazy because he was Absolutely the person on the show who saw the least humanity in people, at least once Rick made his grand exit.

Aaron, who works with the Commonwealth Immigration Initiative, asks Gabriel to join him on a mission to make first contact with a supposedly friendly settlement (called Riverbend), at the request of the boss of Aaron, Carlson (Jason Butler Harner). It’s a religious group, and Carlson thinks a businessman could help. Logic!

Photo: Josh Stringer/AMCPhoto: Josh Stringer/AMC

Just over 12 hours before the kid arrives at Hilltop: When they arrive, the place is eerily run down, and Gabriel and Aaron want to leave it alone. Still, Carlson forces Aaron, Gabriel, and a kid named Jesse (Connor Hammond) – the one who died in the intro! – to accompany him in Riverbend, alone and unarmed, and most bizarrely, without the platoon of Commontroopers they brought. What will happen for Jesse to be killed?

It’s exactly as stupid a decision as Aaron and Gabriel knew it would be. Riverbend is awful, full of sinister people wielding scythes, locked behind triple-locked steel doors and run by (another) paranoid cult leader named Ian (Michael Biehn), who has a library of skulls from people who’ve played with Riverbend. Ian threatens to kill Carlson, who crawls and whimpers for his life until Aaron and Gabriel convince Ian that his people have absolutely nothing the Commonwealth would want, and besides, if they were secretly cannibals, they probably wouldn’t have given that much to Riverbend. Free MREs. Rather than risk a battle with the Commontroopers, Ian decides to let them go…that’s when Carlson turns into a cold-blooded killer, grabs Ian’s gun and shoots him and the other masters of the river, with brutal efficiency. the hell? What? Why?

A week and an hour ago: Hornsby calls Carlson on a mission to retrieve a convoy of supplies that appear to have been stolen by Riverbend – supplies that Hornsby has secretly allocated to some mysterious “something else”. While it turns out Carlson really likes bringing new people to the Commonwealth, he was also a CIA assassin, and Hornsby wants him to use his old skills to get the supplies back at all costs. Hornsby tells him to bring Aaron, who has resumed his old Alexandrian job of finding and sorting good people wandering the zombie apocalypse for rescue, and Gabriel, as the Riverbenders are religious and possibly a priest. will be an asset. Either way, they should all look innocent and harmless enough to be brought into the compound, when Carlson can do his thing.

Just under 12 hours before the child arrives at Hilltop: Aaron and Gabriel are shocked that Carlson killed these people in cold blood, and completely bewildered when he asks the injured Ian where some unmentioned supplies are. When Ian claims his people found the convoy empty, Carlson hits him with his gun, Gabriel hits Carlson to save Ian (which is still absolutely mind-blowing to me) and is immediately arrested by a Commontrooper. Carlson shoots Ian and begins kicking the corpse in rage, but bursts outside when he hears Jesse riding away. He orders – guys, I’m sorry, it’s so many things, but this episode cooks – a Commontrooper to shoot the child in the back, but Aaron bludgeons the soldier to prevent a second shot. Carlson tries to shoot Aaron in the head but runs out of ammo and Aaron flees. And then when Carlson goes back inside, he finds one of his soldiers dead and Gabriel missing. Phew!

A little before the present: Aaron tells Maggie, Elijah and Lydia about the massacre, the arsenal of weapons the Commonwealth lost and they took Gabriel. The group heads for Riverbend.

Photo: Josh Stringer/AMCPhoto: Josh Stringer/AMC

Exactly 12 hours ago, during the Riverbend attack: Jesse runs from the bloodshed to a horse, where he is stopped by a Riverbender named Annie (Medina Senghore) and – drum roll – Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who is now part of the group. Negan gives the kid a map that leads to Hilltop and tells him to let Maggie know that Aaron and Gabriel are in trouble. Then Negan and Annie return to Riverbend, kill the soldier Carlson found earlier, and free Gabriel. But now the three are trapped in the building with about twenty Riverbenders.

The present: The riverbenders have had their guns taken and are forced to listen as Carlson continues to push people off the roof until somebody tells him where the guns are, just as Maggie, Aaron, Elijah, and Lydia walk inside.

There’s plenty of — and surprisingly simple — storytelling fun in “Warlords.” The best part is I have no idea if The Walking Dead has an explanation for these remaining mysteries, or no idea and hopes people won’t notice. Of course, the episode has major inconsistencies, even beyond Gabriel’s babyface turn. My favorite is that when Aaron, Gabriel, and Carlson first arrive in Riverbend, its inhabitants all look like hardened killers led by a madman. But when Carlson has his heel turned and we’re supposed to hate him and the Commonwealth for their infamous deception, the Riverbenders are all suddenly portrayed as normal, non-threatening people because now the show wants us to root them as as Maggie, Negan, etc. lead them to freedom. Yet their deranged boss was bragging about his skull rack less than two hours ago! So ridiculous, but also fun.

Still, it was very embarrassing to realize that I had underestimated The Walking Dead yesterday evening. I really thought we would get no explanation for anything, especially why Aaron and Gabriel were drafted into the mission. I was trying to justify the seemingly nonsensical reasoning for this other than the show needing a protagonist to finally watch the Commonwealth be real bad guys, and then Hornsby came along and explained it all himself. Again, I feel weird about this, but I’m also thrilled to realize that the show is currently smarter than I think.

With “Warlords”, The Walking Dead has officially passed halfway through its 11th and final season, but now the mysteries still abound. What happened to the weapons? Were these Commontrooper zombies the soldiers supposed to protect the weapons in transit? Who killed them if not the Riverbenders? What “other project” is Hornsby referring to? And go TWD continue this series of entertaining episodes until the end of the series?

Photo: Josh Stringer/AMCPhoto: Josh Stringer/AMC

Assorted Daydreams:

  • Honestly, I don’t remember any murder mystery other than the two plague victims from season three. Eventually, Rick learned that Carol had taken them for the group’s safety, and Rick was appalled at her cruelty and banished her from prison. How times change!
  • Did anyone else feel weird when Aaron and Gabriel took a look at the building the Riverbenders lived in and refused to go because it looked like a place where armed maniacs lived shotguns waiting for some idiot to come to their door? As for the world of TWD okay, they’re absolutely right, but maybe they shouldn’t judge these things by their covers. In the zombie apocalypse, defense beats aesthetics. And come on, where was Ian going to get glass to fix all the windows anyway?
  • Hornsby thinks Aaron and Gabriel will line up on the mass murder of the Riverbenders. He’s wrong, but frankly, that’s a very educated guess on his part. If Hornsby had tasked them with this anytime between season nine and the final episode, they probably would have been okay with it. Especially Gabriel.
  • Maggie wonders what the Commonwealth would need with so many weapons. Uh, buddy? They have a standing army that must remain well armed to protect the colony from zombies and the countless maniacs running around. Anybody would love to find a free arsenal, including you, Maggie.
  • MVP Seth Gilliam with one of the show’s best lines and line-readings: “Yeah, I don’t do that.”

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