There is no greater commodity in the undead apocalypse than trust.  You may think the answer is food, but the premiere episode of the new season makes a decent argument for both.  With the supply of food at a wrecked Alexandria dwindling, the group must find new sources of meals.  That means dangerous missions, and even more perilous relationships.


A long running theme of The Walking Dead is the trust built between the main characters.  The core group is presented as the protagonists, because we see the world through their eyes.  As we are protective, we are a part of that debate about whether to trust new people and places.  Over ten years, the show has proved that trust is hard to give, hard to earn, and that it is more deadly and costly than stumbling in front of a walker.  Trust the wrong person, and you may not survive.  Trust the right person, and you not only live to fight another day, but you make your long term survival more likely.  

So for ten years, we have watched Rick’s crew learn to trust one another, learn to trust new communities, and learn to trust their instincts.  The trouble is that when you are double-crossed or disappointed too many times, your instincts do not always continue to serve your best interests.  The only hope for survival may mean ally-ship. But if you have seen and been through too much, ally-ship may be an impossibility.  If you can’t trust the people you need to, it can make your situation that much worse.  

At this point the main group is a mix of the hopeful that continue to open their minds to new people, and the people that have been hurt too much to fully trust any instinct but fear or primal rage.  The mix is a good thing provided that any mission is made up from people in both groups.


Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Cassady McClincy as Lydia -The Walking Dead_Season 11 -Photo Credit:Josh Stringer/AMC

At the start of the season, the Alexandria group is still in a fractured place.  Carol and Daryl are still keeping one another at arm’s length.  After the events of Carol and Daryl’s journey to find food at the end of season 10, there is no longer an open hostility toward Carol on Daryl’s part.  But the tension between them is still evident.  Daryl’s faith in Carol’s judgment may still be shaken, but their shared history is still enough for them to work well together when out on missions.  These two are bonded and they are good friends.  Their trust will recover.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan – The Walking Dead _ Season 11 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

At the other end of the spectrum is Maggie and Negan.  There is no trust between Maggie and Negan to break.  Negan’s previous actions with Glenn are unforgivable.  It is obvious to everyone that it is only a matter of time before Maggie and Negan come to blows. How that happens, when that will happen, is the best addition to the show for the season.  It adds a bit of dread that has been missing from the story.  Sure the threat of a rotting face taking a chunk of you is ever present, but the best thing about the show has not been the undead monsters.  It is the human ones.  

The character tensions that continue through the start of the season is a good reminder of the strengths of this show.  The audience continues to return because of the characters.  A good story is important, but change and growth of the characters is what keeps the show interesting.  Going by the first couple episodes, the new season promises to be an interesting send off for the show.

The Walking Dead season 11
In a search for food, Maggie leads a group into the subway tunnels. (Photo: The Walking Dead / AMC)


In one half of the show, it is a tale of two missions.  The episode explores the difference between a mission with trust among the party and another where trust is as amorphous as the promise of a sibling to give you back the toy they took.  There is trust there, but you never know when you can rely on them to give you what you want.  Or that they won’t just take that toy and blow it up in the backyard with firecrackers. 

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead _ Season 11 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

The suspense that arises from this unknown is what drives this first episode of the season.  In a sequence that plays out like a horror movie, a group heads into the D.C area metro subway tunnels.  No journey that starts that way is an easy stroll.  As you may expect, dark tunnels in an apocalypse harbor many unspeakable things.

Over at the Commonwealth, we explore the flip side of trust: whether to offer it to new people.  Two Commonwealth bureaucrats interrogate Eugene, Yumiko, Ezekial, and Princess for hours like it is Law and Order: Special Apocalypse Unit.  The women are the first to get the sense that they do not want to join up.  Ezekial is close behind.  Good old Eugene still clings to both his faith in Stephanie, and his reliance on the old world.  Eugene thinks that cooperation is the way to go.  

Laila Robins as Pamela Milton – The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

After the events of the last couple years, both the show and the world understands that women and people of color are more attuned to the world.  They have developed an intuition for danger because they have had to develop it to survive.  The inclusion of this real world issue into the show is an interesting choice.  It does not come off as preachy as the flyer in the subway storyline, but it is a great shorthand to represent a real world dynamic.  Even better, it adds a bit of welcomed layering to the Commonwealth story, which is essentially the tale of an intense bureaucracy at this point. 


Cailey Fleming as Judith Grimes, Anabelle Holloway as Gracie – The Walking Dead _ Season 11 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

Yes.  The first two episodes are exciting and interesting.  The tension between Maggie and Negan makes the season opener especially riveting.  The first two episodes are full of action and they move quickly.  While  the end of season 10 may have been a series of character studies, the first two episodes of season 11 are straight up horror movie action.  If the rest of the season moves as well as these two, this last season could be a great send off for the show.