Sometimes, not often The walking dead get it Totally correct. Tonight’s episode—the finale of the first eight-episode track of season 11—finally stung Maggie (Lauren Cohen) and her flock against the Harvesters in Meridian, with an incognito Daryl (Norman Reedus) caught in the middle. There were rants. Action. Foolishness. Death. Murder. Treason. A little more silliness. A twist that I had not seen coming. And not a but of them cliffhangers, although one of these cliffs is significantly shorter than the other.
I didn’t expect “For Blood” to be this satisfying, mainly because I’m trying not to have too much hope with AMC. The walking dead these days. But apart from the big breakaways of the first two episodes, this first third of this final season was solid. Tonight’s battle for Meridian has come at exactly the right time, not so fast that there is no stake other than a trophy in supply form, but not slowly enough to feel padded. Plus, Maggie, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) and their large herd of zombies against the overwhelmed but well-armed Reapers looks like a fair fight each side could win.
It’s so well structured that the first part of the episode’s silliness doesn’t take anything away from it. It turns out that for some reason the Reapers got their hands on what appear to be several million mines, and they’re all located directly in front of the herd of zombies. Daryl’s extreme worry that his friends might explode at any time keeps things tense, though the episode gets too much fun showing zombie after zombie after zombie exploding. The second silliness is Pope (Ritchie Coster), who’s lost his mind to such an extent that you really wonder why anyone would have followed the maniac for an afternoon, let alone years. Remember, this is the guy who panics every time one of his soldiers is killed, even if he’s the one putting them in danger, whether by sending them into battle for no reason or by setting them on fire himself. This time, Pope sends a guy to try and get the herd away… but mostly as bait to check and see if his great opponent Maggie is there.
Horrible (Lynn Collins) is rightly appalled that Pope is throwing away their mate’s life just to confirm a hunch. Her day will only get worse, but first, more nonsense: Someone on the Reapers managed to build a multiple rocket launcher, chock full of… well, they look a lot more like rockets than they do. to missiles. This is all very ridiculous, but it can be assumed that the device will take out a large part of the zombie horde, including Negan and Elijah, who still lurk there. Meanwhile, Daryl spies on Maggie and Gabriel sneaking around the walls of Meridian. He kills a Reaper, lets him in and returns to Leah, where he confesses everything – the people attacking are his people, they are good people, he lied to her because she was working with a certified madman, and he asks her to join him, and leave the certified madman behind.
Maggie tells Gabe where to find a hidden rifle, then she lights a truck and uses it to take down the Meridian front door, allowing all unexploded zombies to gain access to the colony. Pope arrives at the rocket launcher and orders him to shoot in the middle of the yard at his hated nemesis, Maggie. The problem, as Leah points out, is that there are many, many Reapers fighting in the yard who will also be killed. As the Pope begins to scream about the way his God speaks through him and his will is the will of God and yadda, yadda Leah stabs him in the throat. Sorry, my God! Now’s the perfect time for Pope to die – he’s finally gotten too ridiculous to even The walking dead and out just before he exhausts his homicidal and idiotic welcome. But her death also sets up that twist I mentioned before, as Leah looks Daryl straight in the eye, grabs her walkie-talkie and tells the Reapers that Daryl killed Pope. Daryl wanted to protect his people, but so did Leah. She had to protect them from Pope, and now she has to protect them from the people who attack them.
Daryl runs off to help Maggie in the all-out brawl in the backyard, only to hear Leah order the Reapers to fall back. But Maggie and the others didn’t win. Leah just wanted to make sure her comrades were gone when she fired 80 rockets in the yard, right at Maggie and Daryl’s heads. (They look like bottled rockets, for the record.) Leah’s heel circumference is a good thing, and if she decides that Maggie et al. need to die to protect his people (another weird decision, go away) I like the idea of the Reapers being led by someone who is not banana pants, who really cares about his soldiers and has a immense amount of emotions baggage with Daryl. They’ll basically be a whole new enemy, and hopefully they’ll stop wearing those silly masks as well.
While the episode may have ended on a high (or several of them), it still feels like a low-stakes story, which is an odd choice for the show’s final season. But it works, and I’m grateful for it. I’ll take a good little bet Walking Dead story about a bloated and dismissive story any day of the week. But I’m also fine if we come hang out with the pack for the last 16 episodes and try to figure out where their pants went.
- Oh, yeah, Alexandria. Giant storm wreaks havoc, having sort of started a fire despite the rain and ripped off pieces of the hastily reassembled wall, allowing the zombies to enter town. Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Lydia (Cassady McClincy) are responsible for maintaining the house where Judith, Gracie and the other children are. Rosita gets a particularly badass moment where she goes out and just beats the hell out of a ton of zombies.
- The second cliffhanger is that when the zombies finally burst into the house, Judith and Gracie are trapped in the basement, with only a thin cylinder lock holding the door in place. I am not particularly worried.
- In case you missed it, The walking dead season 11 continues February 20, 2022. We’ll see each other there.
- “Don’t worry. I won’t lick you.
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