If you’re an AMC+ subscriber, you had the chance to watch the first episode of The Walking Dead’s final season yesterday, a full week before everyone will see it on August 22. Since this is the last time we’ll ever see a season premier episode for The Walking Dead, it’s a special occasion that makes me a tad bit sad.
WARNING: This post contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 1.
When we left the survivors at the end of Season 10 back in April, it was all about Negan and his backstory. We got to see Negan and his wife, Lucille, in several flashbacks, as well as a (seemingly) kinder, gentler Negan. But even through that facade, we saw that deep-down dirtbag that would later lead the Saviors to decimate Rick, kill several of our favorite characters, and abandon his wife in a character trait that comes full circle in this latest episode.
This first episode of Season 11 starts off with Maggie, Carol, and a few other of the women in their small group rappelling down ropes into a military base to steal MREs. The strange thing here is the fact that the floor of the room they drop down into is covered with sleeping zombies.
“The Walking Dead”: A Drop of Blood Wakes Up Sleeping Zombies in First Clip from Final Season Premiere :-]… https://t.co/6LgAuIcca8
— Slobbering (@sl0bbering) August 16, 2021
Sleeping zombies?! Have we seen those before? At the end of the episode, showrunner Angela Kang explains that these undead are called Lurkers while the ever-moving zombies we’ve seen most often on the show are called Roamers. Both types are a big part of the zombie lore in the comic books.
After waking up the Lurkers and shooting the place up with never-ending archery headshots that would make Legolas proud, Daryl and the others pull everyone up to safety but the fact of the matter remains: Alexandria is running out of supplies that are proving more difficult to replenish, so Maggie suggests heading back to Meridian to restock.
This episode switches back and forth between Maggie’s group (with Daryl, Carol, Negan, Jerry, Aaron, Connie, etc.) and Eugene’s group (with Ezekiel, Miko, and Princess) who are currently being held captive by the stormtrooper-like Commonwealth.
As was made quite clear during a 36-second teaser back in April, we do get to see a few scenes with Mercer, the red-armored badass who is a fan favorite from the comics.
Mercer doesn’t say much in this episode, and we don’t even get properly introduced, really, but we get to see him oversee the interrogation of Eugene’s group during a brief interaction with Ezekiel.
“Mercer is a really great character from the books who is the head of the Commonwealth army,” Angela Kang told Looper.
And speaking of comics, the Commonwealth storyline is the last main story branch in the comic series, so it only makes sense that this is also how we’ll end the TV show. But there’s one glaring omission on the show side: no Rick, Carl, or Michonne.
Sometimes I see a promoted video for The Walking Dead and it’s like fine, I’ll glimpse just to see which characters are still alive, and without fail it’s only the worst ones
— Evan Rytlewski (@Evanryt) August 16, 2021
Of course, the best part about the show straying so far from the comics is the fact that we don’t really know what’s going to happen next. And that brings us to the final minutes of this episode.
Maggie’s group decides to cut through the DC subway on their way to Meridian because the downpour of rain outside is just too much to take. But in a very Fallout 3 moment, the group soon realizes that the subway tunnels are completely filled with undead.
Strangely enough, most of the undead, while still animated, are wrapped up in clear body bags. The group clears a path by stabbing hundreds of these creatures in the head, but that soon attracts the attention of unheeded zombies who make their way toward our heroes.
In the chaos, Dog runs off and Daryl runs after him, leading us to believe that this will be another season with a lone Daryl story arch that will inevitably introduce the Daryl/Carol spin-off series. At least we hope!
— We Got This Covered (@wgtc_site) August 16, 2021
The rest of the group scatters and runs for higher ground. Negan climbs on top of a structure just in front of Maggie, who decides to swallow her pride and disgust for Negan by following up after him to escape along the same path. But she finds that she can’t quite summon the strength to get up there as quickly as he did and her hands begin to slip as the zombies tug at her legs.
Negan peeks back over the edge as she pleads for his help getting up. For a split second, I thought that he might actually grab her arm and pull her to safety, because that’s what happens on every other show during these situations… but every other show doesn’t have Negan.
Of course he slithers away, leaving her to panic for that extra split second before she falls down to the zombie horde below.
So is this the end of Maggie? Definitely not, but we do see Negan try to explain why she got left behind to the rest of the group during the preview for next episode. It should be interesting to see if they’ll believe the little weasel as he talks his way out of another suspicious situation.
What’s Coming in Season 11?
Now for the fun part: speculation and rumors about what’s to come with the rest of this season.
We do know that Season 11, being the final season, will act as a spring board for the multiple spin-offs planned to continue The Walking Dead’s universe. These spin-offs include the Daryl and Carol spin-off, the Rick Grimes movie trilogy that is still in development, the Tales of the Walking Dead anthology series, as well as already established spins-offs like Fear the Walking Dead and possibly The Walking Dead: World Beyond (although that’s unlikely since it will be wrapping up soon).
In addition to the introduction of Mercer, we also get to see two more major new characters introduced: Lance Hornsby and Pamela Milton.
Lance Hornsby is also in the comics, but Kang says that his role in the show will be a bit different. “We’ve got our own take on him, and he’s this charismatic fixer for the Commonwealth.”
As for Pamela Milton, she’s the leader of the Commonwealth, so we imagine we’ll see much more of her throughout the season. “In the show we’ll see that she has this interesting backstory that we built for the family she came from and her level of comfort being in the public eye,” Kang added.
WOW! The Walking Dead season 11 is already out! This will be like medicine now. I didn’t realize that the doctor added it to the prescription today 😄
— Manlot (@manlot_) August 16, 2021
Quite honestly, I’m most worried that this entire season will use up its precious time setting the stage for those spin-offs and not going out with the bang we’ve been promised. Then again, the writers always seem to pull out the big guns right at the end of each season, so I do have hope, but I imagine these first few episodes will be used mainly to connect the dots.
The Walking Dead will hit AMC every Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. ET and a few days before that for AMC+ streaming subscribers.