After last week’s Daryl-focused episode, this 5th episode of Season 11 is back to catching up with Carol’s group at Alexandria, Eugene’s group at The Commonwealth, and even some Negan and Maggie. This one had quite a bit packed in there, so let’s take a deeper look at what went down.
Warning: This article contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 5: Out of the Ashes.
Aaron starts off this episode and remains a major focus throughout. The opening dream sequence pits Aaron against all of his biggest foes, including the Whisperers, the Reapers, and of course, the never-ending undead. He’s trying to protect Gracie as the baddies surround him and eventually stab him to death before he jumps up out of his sleep.
But did you notice that last face that showed up for a split second as he was waking? That was Mays, the man who kept Aaron and Gabriel captive last season. Mays was played by the incredible Robert Patrick, who you may know best as T-1000 in the Terminator 2 movie.
So it’s no secret that Aaron is facing several demons and his psyche seems to be suffering for it. That’s a theme we’ll catch back up to later on.
At The Commonwealth, Eugene, Princess, Ezekiel, and Yumiko are given their work assignments for their new cushy life. Eugene is a high school teacher, Princess is working retail, Ezekiel is animal control, and Yumiko’s role is somewhat mysterious yet powerful. She’s simply told to “report to the Office of State Affairs” to discuss “opportunities within our great community.” The way the job assignment assistant reacted when he saw her letter tells us that it must be an important position.
She heads out to a local bakery (complete with cupcakes and cakes on display!) to meet up with her brother, Tomi, whom she hasn’t seen in a very long time. They discuss how Tomi survived and ended up at The Commonwealth, and how Miko can thrive there as well. “Anything is possible as long as you follow the rules,” Tomi advises.
Eugene meets up with Stephanie for some ice cream in another surreal experience that we probably never thought we’d see 11 years into the zombie apocalypse. The two sneak into the communication center in an attempt to reach Alexandria, which is successful, but things turn bad when Mercer and his men catch Eugene and place him under arrest for unauthorized use of government property.
Eugene faces exile from the community, but Lance (the guy from the cheesy commercials for The Commonwealth) has other plans for Eugene.
Alexandria and Hilltop
Meanwhile, the group at Alexandria still needs supplies, and they’re getting desperate now that Maggie’s supply run back on Episode 1 seems to be delayed. When a piece of the steel wall break down and the zombie horde breaks through, the group knows that time is getting shorter for them if they sit around and wait for help. So Carol, Jerry, Lydia, and Aaron set out to see what they can scavenge up in the ruins of Hilltop.
But that help isn’t coming any time soon. Maggie and Negan, separated from the others, find a stash at Meridian but Maggie wants to stay there to wait for the others to regroup. Negan thinks that’s a horrible idea and plans to set off back to Alexandria with the supplies when Gabriel and Elijah show up just in time to stop him. Maggie is now absolutely certain that waiting for the others to regroup is the best idea, so Negan reluctantly waits it out with them.
— T Sunshine Echo (@zap26) September 13, 2021
When Carol’s group arrives at the Hilltop ruins, they not only see that everything is burnt to the ground in much worse shape than they imagined, but most of the shambling zombies they have to take down are people they once knew from Hilltop. This further breaks Aaron’s brain.
But when he realizes that the remaining undead in Hilltop are being herded by a member of the Whisperers, he catches the shepherd and confronts him about his intentions and the whereabouts of the remaining Whisperers.
This is probably the most important part of this episode as it really shows a few aspects of how seemingly normal people are coping with the insanity of living in an apocalypse for so long, and how they might still have a few bits of sanity to lose.
Aaron really loses it on this captive Whisperer and lets a zombie chew his fingers off as torture to make him talk. Carol has to step in to let Aaron know that revenge isn’t always worth it. “This is a path you don’t want to go down,” she warns.
“Out Of The Ashes” (11×05) of TWD is so damn great! I loved it from the beginning to the end. We can see a bit of everybody, a bit of emotion, apocalyptic contrasts and more.. That’s why I love The Walking Dead! ❤️
— Ophélie (@Ophelie_Smn) September 12, 2021
In the aftershow, showrunner Angela Kang focuses on this part and how important it is to realize that Carol has changed after she may have gone a little too far into her revenge plot against Alpha. Not only that, but she wants to make sure that others know that there’s a slippery slope when it comes to paying back the “bad guys” so much that it might make you a bad guy yourself.
Aaron’s bit of compassion after Carol’s little talk ends up paying off as Keith (the captive Whisperer) finally reveals that he knows where one of their people are. Connie was thought to be dead after a big cave collapse, but Keith says she’s still alive.
What’s Coming Next?
In the teaser for next week’s episode, entitled On the Inside, we see more from Connie and Virgil as they’re being held captive by mysterious creatures with yellowed eyes. We also see a return to the Daryl and Leah story with the Reapers as they seem to meet up with more people from Daryl’s original group.
If you enjoyed this write-up, be sure to also watch the video version (or listen to the audio version) during our Spoiler Special podcast coming this Friday. You can find that on our podcast RSS or on our YouTube channel as a companion episode to our regular podcast.