This episode circles back around to focus on Eugene, Connie, and the others making their new life in the creepiness of The Commonwealth. While this episode was jam-packed with info and a whole new rabbit trail to explore, it was a big one.
Follow along below for my complete review and recap of The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 11 entitled Rogue Element. Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Eugene and Stephanie are enjoying their new life together when this episode opens. Stephanie sneaks a peek at Eugene’s novel-in-progress, which they discuss as if there wasn’t a zombie apocalypse just outside their town’s walls.
why are the best walking dead episodes also the saddest ones
— kat | twd spoilers (@greeenesrhee) February 26, 2022
But when Eugene confesses his love for Stephanie, things get a little weird. The object of Eugene’s affection packs her bags, changes her work assignment, and moves out before he even finds out. Needless to say, the man is devastated, and suspects an abduction.
This one turned into an episode of Criminal Minds really quickly. Not only was Eugene’s full-fledged conspiracy mapping on his wall true to form, but even the music seemed to be straight from Law and Order or one of the CSI shows.
Eugene and Princess join forces to follow every lead, including a man named Roman Calhoun who they suspect was involved with Stephanie’s kidnapping. While Calhoun claims to be a plumber, the two super-sleuths break into his apartment and find a suitcase full of weapons.
Meanwhile, Connie is doing a bit of deep investigative journalism herself. Suspicious about the circumstances surrounding Trooper Davis’ freak-out in Episode 10, she and Kelly set out to find out what caused his outburst and what he meant when he said that there are “thousands” more like him.
Connie talks a great deal to Mercer, who seems to be uncooperative, but still sympathetic to her cause in a way. He puts up road blocks for her, but toward the end of the episode, I feel like he’s really opening up to her. When Connie and Kelly receive a mysterious note that lists dozens of names (with Trooper Davis’ name at the bottom), I can’t help but think that it was Mercer who slipped that note under her door.
On Carol’s side of town, she’s really working her magic with Lance who believes that she is trustworthy enough to see his side operation. Lance makes sure to tell her that this poppy/opium business has nothing to do with The Commonwealth, and he even suggests that she join his ranks.
The thing with Lance is, I feel like he’s really getting burnt out on The Commonwealth. He has his side thing, and we’ve seen him pout a bit when Mercer got all the attention, so what’s he up to? Why is trying to get Carol to his side?
— Skymiibo (@SkymiiboTWD) February 28, 2022
Well, I have a theory. Remember the Civic Republic Military that took Rick away on a helicopter? I feel like there’s a strong connection between Lance and the CRM, and this may be our ticket to seeing Rick Grimes again. Maybe not on the show itself (although wouldn’t that be a helluva Season 11 finale?), but maybe the connection will be made in the rumored Rick Grimes movies.
Another thing that supports my theory is Lance’s chat with Eugene later in the episode. At first, Lance tries to convince Eugene that Stephanie’s disappearance was innocent, but soon enough, Eugene figures it all out and Lance finally admits everything. Stephanie is a plant and she was set up in Eugene’s life to get him into The Commonwealth. When their relationship went too far, she was instructed to back off and bail.
So now we’re finally seeing the real Lance, but is he actually a good guy setting up a rebellion against Governor Milton? It’s no secret that the guy has been a weasel from the start, but now his true intentions are starting to show. He twists the dagger in Eugene’s heart by telling him that Stephanie’s real name is Shira and she hates Iron Maiden. I mean, come on! Even Number of the Beast?
But here’s the real kicker of the episode: There was apparently another Stephanie the whole time.
Remember how we first met her? She and Eugene met over the airwaves and she enticed him to come to The Commonwealth in the first place. Then when Eugene and his friends were captured in the train car, this first Stephanie (Shira) showed up to save the day.
But now we see another woman reveal herself to Eugene as the real Stephanie. Did you catch who she is? She’s Pamela Milton’s assistant, Max, the one who was taken at knife point by Trooper Davis in Episode 10. We also find out in this episode that she is Mercer’s sister. So does this mean that Mercer, his sister Max, Trooper Davis, and others are part of a “rogue element” against Governor Milton? Is Lance in on that revolution, too? And can Eugene rekindle his original feelings for this new (original) Stephanie? Does this one like Iron Maiden?!
As a side note, I’d like to say that this episode was a standout performance by Josh McDermitt as Eugene, especially in those ending scenes. I hope we see more of this in future episodes.