This week’s episode of The Walking Dead is all about advantages.  The advantage of alliances, the advantage of circumstances, and the advantage of wrong turns.  At the Commonwealth, processing goes better for some than others, and Eugene nearly buckles under the pressure.  In the train tunnels, Negan deals with the aftermath of his choice not to help Maggie.  Daryl chases down Dog and discovers relics of the past.

The Walking Dead season 11 photo of Ezekiel, Yumiko, Princess, and Eugene sitting at a table in a fenced holding pen.
Ezekiel, Yumiko, Princess, and Eugen agree not to give any information about Alexandria to the Commonwealth interrogators.
(PHOTO: AMC / The Walking Dead)


The pressure of the situation at the Commonwealth holding pen is taking hold on our survivors in different ways.  Eugene seems to be sweating and shaking his way through his interrogations.  Yumiko is fed up and basically demands to speak to the manager.  Once Yumiko secures an audience with Mercer, she explains that she likes rules and will do what it takes to expedite her entry into the Commonwealth to reunite with her brother.  With her cards on the table, Mercer takes Yumiko away.

After a while, Eugene realizes that none of his friends have returned to holding.  Panicked, Eugene sweats and trembles as he lies as best as he can.  Eugene manages to hold fast to the group’s agreement not to tell the Commonwealth about Alexandria.  Eugene focuses on the truth he can confess to: his loneliness.  In a heartfelt and teary-eyed speech, Eugene tells the bureaucrats and Mercer that he had been desperate for a connection.  Eugene confesses that he is still a virgin, and that when he had talked to Stephanie on the radio, he had believed he had finally found the person he had waited for his entire life.

Whether it is pity or a realization that there is nothing more to wring out of Eugene after that revelation, Mercer escorts him out of processing.  The advantage of brutal honesty about your personal life is it distracts from the thing you need to lie about.  Eugene is reunited with Princess, Yumiko, and Ezekiel.  The group has passed processing and been offered citizenship.  


The episode starts with Maggie’s fall from the train.  In a shot reminiscent of one of the most infamous scenes in the show’s history, walkers pile on top of Maggie as she struggles to crawl away.  Much like Glenn’s escape under the alleyway dumpster, Maggie manages to crawl under the train.  Inside the train, a shifty-eyed Negan takes advantage of Maggie’s absence, and he claims he does not know what happened to her.  No one is ignorant of Negan’s past, so no one is buying what he is selling.  It is only when Maggie knocks on the trapdoor of the train below that the truth is discovered.

Negan argues, accurately, that Maggie had just admitted that she wanted to kill him.  On top of that, Negan points out that he did not attack Maggie.  Negan opted not to help her.  Negan is splitting the finest of hairs here, but in the grand scheme of this world, it does matter.  Though Negan took advantage of a situation, he did not cause it.  While the group debates what to do with Negan, their attention is called to the other end of the train.


Wayward defector Gage has returned to the group, and he has somehow gotten into the next train car.  When a couple start to work on the door, Maggie asks if Gage had closed the door to the train behind him.  Gage isn’t sure.  The moaning and shuffling that cues up confirms that Gage has indeed forgotten to practice the most basic of walker proofing during his flight.  Maggie makes the call not to open the door for Gage.  Gage pleads for help, but Maggie refuses to place the group at risk.  With few options, Gage stabs himself rather than let the walkers eat him alive.


While the group gives their best effort not to notice that the walker buffet formerly known as Gage is bloodying up the window of the train, Maggie tells a story.  Maggie’s tale is basically an explanation of how she learned to stop feeling empathy for those outside her circle.  Once upon a time Maggie stumbled upon a house of horrors.  Despite the fact that there were survivors in the house, Maggie took their food and left.  In Maggie’s eyes, the needs of her and Hershel outweighed any guilt she might feel from the theft.  Or from the guilt that she had left people to die, just like Negan had done with her.

The story is also a way for Maggie to explain that the bulk of the world is not a giving place like Alexandria or Hilltop.  Most of the world is a house of horrors.  A place that will torture you and take every last bit of your humanity.  Maggie thinks the loss of her empathy in this instance was a good thing, because it helped her and Hershel stay alive.  We have seen that Maggie has hardened.  It is a good thing that the changes stem from more than Glenn’s death.  Maggie went out into the world away from Alexandria and Hilltop, and what she found was more monstrous than she had imagined.  Old Maggie left to explore the ideals of Georgie’s group.  New Maggie returned with a view of humanity that is closer to Negan than she would ever admit.


After Daryl tunnels through the hole in the metro wall, he finds Dog in an open area.  The advantage of having a dog as a partner is that they have better hearing than you do.  Dog has safely lead Daryl out of the train horde and into an abandoned camp.  Daryl reviews a mural, and it helpfully points out where the “demons” are in the tunnel system.  After a cursory scavenge, Daryl finds a note from a boy to his father who had not returned.  Daryl pockets the note.  While Daryl examines a long dead homeless resident in the corner, a panicked Dog takes off into a pipe.

Daryl’s pursuit of Dog through the pipe ends with an injured Roy in another tunnel.  After Roy admits he dropped the ammunition bag that he had absconded with earlier, Daryl quickly dispatches the walkers that were after Roy.  Roy admits that he and Gage had gone topside, but that it had been swarming with the undead.


As Maggie wraps up her story, the now mobile undead Gage breaks through the glass of the door.  With a mass of undead stumbling through the door, the group prepares for the battle they thought they could avoid by leaving Gage to die.  Instead, Gage has joined Team Dead and is leading the charge for REVENGE.  Or more likely, just looking to snack on his former buds.

The only advantage of a horde situation like this is that it forces you to forge an alliance.  With little choice, Maggie gives Negan a gun.  The group work together to dispatch the threat, and they make quick, bloody work of it.  However, it soon becomes clear that the undead have wave after wave to send into the fight.  Just as the group is about to be overwhelmed, Daryl ex machina joins the fight from the back of the undead.  One well placed grenade later, the threat is eliminated. 

This sequence was very confusing.  It seems like Gage was coming from the front of the train, which means it was in the group’s interest to save him.  The only way out was forward, so it isn’t like the group could avoid fighting the horde that had followed Gage.  I understand that the writers wanted the mirror of what Negan did when Maggie threw Gage to the wolves.  Logistically though, it doesn’t make sense if that was the way out.  Also, Maggie’s story serves as a mirror to Negan’s actions.  Gage’s death feels pointless here.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan is worried about what he sees up ahead on the street.
(Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC)


Once the tunnel fight is over, Negan returns his gun to Maggie.  I don’t think there will ever be trust or respect between these two, but Maggie and Negan do see one another clearly.  I think they can respect that if nothing else.  Once topside, the rain has stopped.  Maggie decides they should head for a nearby supply depot.  Negan leads the group through a familiar neighborhood, but his survivor instincts are screaming at him.  When the group sees the street is lined with the crucified bodies of people, they start to agree with Negan.

As is often the case in this world, by the time you spot the trap, it is too late.  Injured Roy is the first one taken out.  As the group takes cover, a line of Reapers walk up the street like the most Halloween of chorus lines.  Something tells me the next episode will not start with a dance fight.  But for the next week, we can all dream it will, right?


The fight sequences in the train are super confusing.  You can’t quite tell which direction that the group came from or where they are going.  A train only has two ends, so it isn’t like there was a third option.  Both ends had undead hordes, so I’m not sure why the group did not head topside of the train sooner.  I guess the way forward was blocked on the roof, but even so, there was no discussion of options.  If I’m stuck on a train and surrounded by the dead, I am not going to take time to discuss grievances with people.  I’m going to make a game plan for when one or both of the doors are overwhelmed by the dead.  The sequence was exciting but too confusing.

The Commonwealth section was short but more powerful.  We have seen Eugene buckle under pressure before.  We have also seen Eugene lie when he needs to take advantage of his situation.  This is a whole new Eugene here.  Raw and emotional, Eugene completely breaks down.  I will say that the sequence felt a bit like the serious version of the Chunk interrogation scene from “Goonies.”  A whole lot of information that no one really asked for.  That said, Josh McDermitt did a great job here.

Is it worth watching?  Yes.  As the second part of the season opener, it is a must watch.  And with a great ending, it is worth a viewing.  That said, the middle sequence is a bit muddled and confusing.  Maggie’s story is creepy, but I’m not sure if it fits in this episode.  Does it tell us a little more about who Maggie is now?  Yes.  Did the situation call for storytime?  Absolutely not.


  • Lots of parallels to Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” – especially Maggie’s tale of horror.
  • Mercer revealed he is a West Point graduate.