Hornsby finds himself on the wrong end of Daryl’s knife, but when Carol works out a deal for the survivors, will Daryl be able to further stay his hand? Back in the Commonwealth city, Hornsby seems surprised that Pamela Milton is genuinely prepared to make an example of him, though the aide is already setting his own plans in motion for survival.
And Sebastian, reluctantly ready for his Founders Day speech, finds that he can’t hide his truer nature from the populace… especially when his words are caught on tape…
However, as the undead breach the city, it’s actual survival rather than political survival that is on the immediate menu…
The second episode in this last run of The Walking Dead picks up immediately where the last one left off with Daryl, Maggie and Co having got Hornsby cornered and then finding themselves in a stand-off as the Commonwealth forces surround them as well. Daryl is in no mood to let Hornsby get away but Carol’s timely maneuvers back in the city mean that Pamela Milton has said she agrees to Hornsby standing trial for his extra-curricular activities. Daryl reluctantly stands down, but though he’s agreeing not to kill Hornsby, it doesn’t stop him stabbing him through the hand.
Milton’s agreement also extends to anyone wanting to leave to go back to Alexandria/Hill-Top free passage and further assistance, which most of the group accept. But that, of course, raises some moral questions and the show once again uses the wise-beyond-her-years Judith to point out that while our heroes can make a swift exit stage left, that still leaves rampant corruption in the city. It’s a salient point – we’ve seen how the undead apocalypse has made some people hardened, taking their own survival where they can… and some helping others. Even our main cast have made dubious decisions on that scale. That fact drives a temporary wedge between Judith and her surrogate dad. That Judith effectively runs away to prevent them leaving tends to highlights Judith’s tender age though later, she makes a mercy killing that suggests she maintains more humanity than some.
In the comic there was an American Football game to mark Founders Day, but here – partly due to the logistics and COVID restrictions it’s reduced to a Wrestling tournament (which, ironically, has far less social distancing!). There’s something very weird about seeing the costumed antics in the middle of a post-apocalyptic drama, though it does somehow suggest the quirks of humanity endure. Max (Margot Bingham) and her decision to get Sebastian’s boasting and almost full-blown confession on tape is smart (though it relies on the age-old staple of people being stupidly verbose about their questionable activities) and you can see where the plan is going to go when the Miltons decide they’re going to play a celebrational tape at their ceremony…. yes, the old switcherooni for public humiliation. The problem is that in their rush to get the truth out there it doesn’t appear that Max and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) have any sort of plan for the aftermath. Things may go haywire for other reasons – as the Founders Day celebrations get unannounced visitors – but there are also about to be consequences for the couple who, in the eyes of the Commonwealth, have probably committed high treason.
Judith’s mercy-shooting of Sebastian, bitten when the undead penetrate the city due to the actions of Hornsby’s cohorts, is a key moment. There’s few that will feel any amount of pity for the young Milton who pretty much showed his true colours whenever he opened his mouth and he’s no great loss to proceedings. However there’s bigger implications given the role the character played in the end-days of the comic. In those issues, Sebastian was ultimately the little guy whose petulance led to him killing the beloved Rick Grimes. Obviously, Rick’s gone in this television continuity – for now at least – but there was speculation Sebastian might kill another prominent character instead – that’s no longer the case. However his death will likely affect Pamela Milton’s actions going forward which will mean some fundamental reshaping of the endgame (and, of course, the fact that we know of all the spin-offs planned keeping various characters in play).
The Walking Dead‘s final arc (in both the comics and the show) explores politics and social factors and there will be those who take different things from the story about power, loyalty, privilege, corruption and decency but as the screen fades to black and the recording of Sebastian’s words about the rich always living off the poor sound out, they’ll likely resonate…
- Production Design / VFX8