‘the Walking Dead’ Delivers 2 of Season 11’s Best Episodes With Its Return

  • Warning: There are minor spoilers ahead for “The Walking Dead.”
  • The next two episodes of “TWD” are action-packed with new faces, a few twists, and new threats.
  • With 16 episodes left, they’re two of the final season’s best episodes yet.

After a winter hiatus, the final season of “The Walking Dead” continues later this month on AMC and if you’re over Leah (Daryl’s ex who has viciously been hunting down Maggie’s people) and her group, the Reapers, then you’ll be pretty pleased.

During the series’ final season, the show wastes little time putting much of the Reaper story to bed so the show can move onward and upward to the long-awaited Commonwealth storyline by its second episode.

Apart from season 11 episode 6, which delivered an excellent mini horror movie to “TWD,” the series’ next two episodes — “No Other Way” and “New Haunts” — are far superior to the episodes that debuted late last summer.

The first new episode is stronger than the two-episode season 11 premiere last August

TWD11b Lauren Cohan

Lauren Cohan is front and center on “TWD” premiere.

Josh Stringer/AMC


“No Other Way,” airing February 20 on AMC and


streaming

a week early Feb 13 on AMC+, is more action-packed than the August 2021 season 11 debut. At the start of the season, the group’s biggest threat was starvation and scavenging for food. The show’s return feels more like the type of episode we’ve come to expect from a big premiere where our survivors are facing off against a massive threat.

Picking up right where October’s finale left off, all hell breaks loose between Daryl (Norman Reedus), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), and Leah’s (Lynn Collins) slim group of former soldiers. Even if you haven’t been a fan of the Reapers, you’ll more than likely enjoy watching as the majority of scenes are action-heavy across a few fight sequences. 

Gabriel Aaron TWD 11b

Daryl, Maggie, Judith, Gabriel, and Aaron are among the characters who get their fair share of action and fighting in the premiere.

AMC


Meanwhile, the remaining cast is back at Alexandria, handling the fallout from the undead breaking into their community during a terrible storm. It leads to some rain-soaked and weathered walkers and a few anxiety-heavy moments.

With a limited amount of episodes remaining in the flagship series, it feels like some potential scenes may have been skipped over in order to keep the story moving.

Specifically, fans who were hoping for a good Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Carol (Melissa McBride) heart-to-heart will just have to wait because you’re not getting one here. Many will probably wonder if that’s something that was left on the cutting room floor since October’s finale set the stage for an endearing conversation to be had between the two leading ladies.

Connie and Carol TWD 1108

If you were hoping for an exchange between Connie and Carol, it’s not coming. There isn’t payoff for this sweet moment from the 11A finale.

AMC


Otherwise, “No Other Way” has everything you want from a “TWD” episode — long-awaited reunions, screen time with some characters we haven’t seen in a while, and a focus on the large ensemble as a whole, interacting with one another. 

Additionally, fans will be happy that a lingering question from the first eight episodes is answered by the premiere’s end. I’m also expecting fans to have a big reaction to the final moments of the premiere. 

The second new episode takes ‘TWD’ in an entirely new direction.

TWD 11b Pamela Milton

If you’ve read Robert Kirkman’s source material, you’ll know the show is coming up on the last arc from the comics, featuring Pamela Milton (Laila Robins) as a leader of a large community.

Josh Stringer/AMC


The second episode made available to the press, “New Haunts,” takes “TWD” in a completely new direction.

Teased in trailers, we’ll see some of the group join Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Princess (Paola Lázaro), Ezekiel (Khary Payton), and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) at the Commonwealth community where thousands have attempted to bring back some semblance of civilization and government while attempting to go about their lives blissfully unaware of the dead.

Will that sit well with everyone who has been roughing it for over a decade? Let’s just say that some acclimate easier to this new lifestyle than others. 

Again, some fans may be upset the show skips ahead. For instance, if you were hoping to watch Carol, Daryl, and others interrogated by the Commonwealth, it’s not happening (or at least not in the episodes I saw). Such moments likely would have resulted in some hearty laughs or memes. However, with only 15 episodes left to go, it probably felt too similar to the interrogations when the group entered Alexandria in season five. 

Moving forward, how will ‘TWD’ incorporate the comics?

TWD 11b Carol

You’ll get to see Carol, Daryl, and more inside the Commonwealth and what they think of it when the show returns.

Josh Stringer/AMC


I imagine every episode from here on out is going to cover a lot of ground in order to make it to the finish line without feeling rushed. Unfortunately, it feels like time is the only thing working against “TWD” right now. There may just not have been enough to showcase everything.

One of the big questions moving forward is how closely “TWD” will adapt Robert Kirkman’s source material now that so many different characters are alive at this point in the show versus in the comics.

As a reminder, Judith and Carol never survive past the prison (seasons three and four) in the comics. Meanwhile, fan-favorite Daryl is a show-only character. Yumiko has largely taken over Michonne’s comic role and Aaron feels like a bit of a remix of Rick’s comic character.

TWD 11b Yumiko and Carol

The show’s trailer teased stark differences between how Yumiko and Carol are living at the Commonwealth.

AMC


That’s worth noting because a few controversial moments occur late in the comic, including a large protagonist’s death that caught fans by surprise.

It’ll be interesting to see if the show tackles those head-on or pivots completely to connect itself to its spinoff shows, Rick’s whereabouts, or tie-in to one of the future films. The decision to forgo or adapt some of the comic’s controversial moments could help decide whether or not the show is able to stick its landing later this year.

Currently, it feels like the show is staying pretty true to the comic with a few detours and add-ins to make the story feel fresh. It seems like showrunner Angela Kang is trying to use the storyline to make a bigger statement about class hierarchies. (Hint: You may want to revisit that subway mural Daryl saw in last year’s season 11 premiere.)

Heading into these next episodes, I only have slight quibbles about plot armor, the Reapers, and spoiler-y trailers.

TWD 11b Rosita and Daryl

These are two very solid episodes of “TWD.”

AMC


My biggest problem heading into these next episodes is that the trailers spoiled some of the show’s winter cliffhangers before the show could air them. (This was something I noted when the first trailer announcing February’s return dropped in October 2021 — before the finale aired — which was even wilder.)

October’s episode ended with Maggie, Negan, Father Gabe, and Daryl at war with the Reapers. Judith (Cailey Fleming) and Gracie, separately, were trapped in a flooded basement with the undead ready to enter.

The October trailer teased Daryl and Judith being reunited. (So much for whether or not Daryl and/or Judith will make it out safely.)

What’s the point of watching if you already know all of your favorites are going to be OK? (Then again, does anyone really think the show would kill off Daryl, who’s getting a spinoff in 2023, or Judith Grimes before she’s likely reunited with her dad in one of those “TWD” movies?)

Jerry, Daryl, and Maggie TWD 11b

This shot, from a trailer, reveals that Daryl and Maggie made it back from their encounter with the Reapers safely before it played out on the show.

AMC


That rolls into one of my other current frustrations with the series: Like me, some viewers may be annoyed at how convenient things have become for some of our survivors.

One of the constant thoughts I have while watching the final season is how much plot armor some characters have over others. It makes it so that the stakes don’t feel high enough even when one of your favorites is placed in a perilous situation.

On the premiere, convenient secret cubby holes and walls appear to save our heroes at just the right moments.

I keep wanting “TWD” to take a big swing and kill off a major character. We’ve seen some cool deaths, but it’s largely been through the introduction of new characters or villains, who are merely killed off in the same episode or a few episodes later. The lack of attachment to these newer characters makes the deaths a bit hollow. 

TWD 11b Daryl

Daryl is the glue that’s holding the show together.

Josh Stringer/AMC


To that point, the premiere does have a really great moment where I thought “TWD” was going to shake things up a bit, but it relents. I’m glad the show backs off, but if they chose to move forward with the alternative, “TWD” could’ve delivered a big statement to catch fans off guard and let them know: “We’re in the final episodes of the series now. No one’s safe!”

Others may find themselves frustrated with the handling of the Reaper villain storyline. What was the point of it? Why were they introduced at all?

I have some thoughts about this, but since that starts to get into some heavy spoiler territory, I’m going to shelve that conversation for after the premiere.

Those complaints aside, the next two episodes of “TWD” are very much worth watching if you weren’t feeling the last batch of episodes. If the remaining six episodes of this current stretch are as good as the first two then we’re in for a very good two months of “The Walking Dead.”

“TWD” returns to AMC on February 20th at 9 p.m. ET. Episodes will stream a week early starting February 13 on AMC+. You can follow along with our content all season long here.

Grade: B

Latest News

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here