Whew… that was intense! The Walking Dead’s final season rolled in like a dark storm with a two-part season opener. The episodes spend more time in unfamiliar places like a subway station in DC and the Commonwealth outpost, which is a good thing. We get some great tension, memorable moments, and a few wonderful revelations as well. As always, there’s a lot going on because there are so many characters. But, here are the biggest things that went down in the “Acheron” episodes.
Maggie vs. Negan
Maggie and Negan had their own apocalypse face-off that ended with a moment of… terse acceptance? Marginal respect? Last week, Negan left Maggie for dead after their verbal sparring. It was a cold-blooded move but, honestly, did anyone really expect Negan to save Maggie? Sure, he’s a “changed man” but he’s about self-preservation, especially when it comes to someone he 1) doesn’t care about and 2) might kill him at any time. There’s only a hint of the old Maggie left and that keeps her from putting a bullet in his brain.
Maggie stitches him good (as she should) and the group debates whether they should kill him for leaving her. But, a situation arises where Maggie coldly decides to let Gage die due to his own stupidity. Oh well. Until Part II, we’d only heard vague snippets of why Maggie became hardened during her time way. Now we know one of the presumably many chilling stories.
Maggie and Hershel were on their own and starving for a while. Their desperation led Maggie into a grim situation where she found bodies of mutilated pregnant women, yet she could only think about food. She recounts the story in a cold, serious manner as Negan, Father Gabriel, Alden, and others listen.
For her, this cold world is a driving force that makes her believe in preserving Alexandria. Maggie and Negan find common ground at that moment, fearing that no one will ever figure this new world out. They believe that perhaps there will only be cycles of violence, pain, and chaos. (Of course, they don’t know the Commonwealth exists and is thriving.)
In the end, Maggie gives Negan a weapon to help defend everyone, which he does, and she trusts him to lead the way in DC towards their destination. The Maggie/Negan conundrum certainly won’t end here. There’s still a lot of things to deal with, including the Reapers, and they will likely butt heads in the future.
Hopefully, the show won’t go for a “they are the same, actually” angle cause… nah. They are not the same. But it will be interesting to see how Negan interacts with Hershel, if he ever apologizes to Maggie, and if they can perhaps work together for the greater good. There’s a lot that’s not okay with Negan but he continues to be an asset. And in a world with limited resources, you want to keep useful folks around.
Yumiko vs. Commonwealth
I’ll admit it. I’ve been rather lukewarm about Yumiko since their group’s arrival. But after Part II, I am a Yumiko fan. She’s taking on a portion of Michonne’s comic storyline with her finding her brother Tomi on the Wall of the Lost.
This week, she gave the Commonwealth interviewers THE BUSINESS after hours of questioning in circles. She uses her sharp observational skills from her legal background to suss out who they used to be before the world ended. “You think you’ve been assessing me?” Yumiko questions with her arms folded. “No dear. I’ve been assessing you… Your community’s large and organized. There’s a bureaucracy and you’re a part of it. You probably had a job like this before the world fell. If I had to guess I’d say, forensic psychologist.”
She then turns around to the man and accurately pegs him as a former researcher before guessing that the Commonwealth has a system that places you into the job you had before the apocalypse. She even breaks down their economic system with them using US dollars as currency, another tactic to try to capture to essence of the old world. Then, she essentially secures expedited processing because Tomi is in the community. We love to see it! Yumiko’s Commonwealth arc just became infinitely more interesting.
She wasn’t really a big player in the comics but now she’s going to be quite useful to their class system. We will get to see the dynamic between her and Tomi and perhaps get the comic relationship she shares with Magna.
Ezekiel vs. Mercer
The banter between Ezekiel and Mercer brought some unintentional levity to this episode. Ezekiel calling Mercer out for being a beat cop is the only thing that seems to get under the Commonwealth militia leader’s skin. (Side note: Can we give Michael James Shaw a round of applause for killing it as Mercer? Perfect casting.)
Mercer is not here for Ezekiel’s smugness, later returning to say, “I went to Westpoint, asshole.” A classic, lovely moment indeed. There’s lots of tension between them with a smidgen of mutual respect. Hopefully, we see more sparring between them soon.
Eugene’s (Very Personal) Revelation
Poor Eugene. All of his friends broke the Commonwealth’s mental barrier tests more quickly. But Mercer knew Eugene was holding something back. And he was. He admits that he came to the Commonwealth because he fell in love with Stephanie and hopes to have a relationship with her, which wasn’t news to fans.
What did come out of left field was his revelation that he was a virgin. Sure, Eugene is a “different” guy but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything in regards to sex. It made everyone a bit uncomfy in the room and viewers too, honestly. He may have overshared a tad much but they did ask for the truth. Eugene hasn’t always been our favorite guy but he’s perhaps one of the most realistic characters on the show. And his reunion with Ezekiel, Yumiko, and Princess was incredibly adorable. Here’s to hoping you make all your dreams come true, Mr. Porter.
Princess’ Genius Mind
Princess keeps giving fans more reasons to love her. She’s a quirky breath of fresh air with a cool look to boot. (I, too, am impressed that Tomi kept up with a wallet in the apocalypse for so many years.) But Princess is rather skilled in the art of observing and analyzing people.
While in their holding cells, Princess reveals that she knows about a secret affair between two Commonwealth soldiers and their daily schedule. Of course, their plan to escape goes kaput but her ability to pick up on so many minute details is awesome.
Here We Go Again
Lord, here we go again. Our friends are still trying to rebuild and recoup from the Whisperer war and now there’s a new threat lurking. The Reapers got a soft introduction last season but they are here and quite the rogue group. It’s not clear how large their numbers are… if I could guess I’d definitely say smaller than the Whisperers.
But what they may lack in size they certainly make up for with skill. This group comes through like a thief in the night, picking off people with laser accuracy. This episode shows them at the end and, oddly enough, they are dressed a lot like Elijah (and wild man Morgan). Lots of clothing and a whole MASK… a lot, even though it may be a Virginia fall.
Where did they come from? I don’t know. What the hell do they want? I also don’t know. This group is likely what’s going to take everyone to their final breaking point. They are either leaving Alexandria for good or, like Carol and Daryl will do, go off into the world. That is, if they don’t die first.
It’s the beginning of a very long run to the finish line. There are still so many people to see and things that can happen between now and the final chapter. The Walking Dead is back and looks like it’s going for a strong finish.