Acheron, Part 1, Bad Blood

A group of zombies lurch forward in The Walking Dead's season 11 premiere.

Photo: Josh Stringer/AMC

AMC has touted tonight’s premiere of The Walking Dead as “The Beginning of the End.” Technically, that’s true…however that’s about it. It’s not a foul episode of TWD, only a very middle-of-the-road one. After 10 seasons of wildly veering over that metaphorical, zombie-filled highway, that’s tremendous with me.

Nothing really begins in “Acheron, Part 1.” It’s actually the opposite aspect of the bridge that the earlier six episodes—filmed throughout quarantine—related to the pre-pandemic episodes of season 10. As such, the neighborhood at Alexandria continues to be reeling from the devastation wreaked by the Whisperers, whereas Eugene, Kumiko, Ezekiel, and Princess arrive on the Commonwealth, escorted by its fake Stormtroopers. They’re two wholly separate storylines, so let’s begin with the Alexandrians.

Carol and Daryl, who appear to have utterly reconciled after their kerfuffle through the bonus episodes, lead what can solely be known as a heist to a army base. The loot: An enormous pile of MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat in Army jargon), wanted as a result of the Alexandrians haven’t any meals and no crops after the Whisperer assault. The drawback: The base is completely flooded with soldier zombies. The nonsense: All the zombies are napping, so all of them need to tip-toe by means of the bottom to maintain them from waking up. This is made infinitely—and certainly pointless—extra bizarre by them dropping instantly into the room all of the zombies are sleeping in by rappelling by means of a skylight, Mission: Impossible-style. (What was the issue with the entrance door…?) Watching everybody tiptoe round zombies is ridiculous, but it surely’s a benign form of ridiculous, and type of enjoyable for it.

Image for article titled The Walking Dead Season 11 Premiere Lurches Unsteadily to the Show's Finale

Image: Josh Stringer/AMC

That’s additionally true when the zombies are inevitably woken up, not due to any of the noise they’ve been making, moderately a drop of blood falling on one of many zombie’s cheeks. I’m unsure how that works, precisely, however the group on the bottom totally takes care of half of the zombie horde with out breaking a sweat earlier than escaping, begging the query of why they didn’t simply maintain them from the roof within the first place. Again, it’s foolish, but it surely’s enjoyable, and that’s one thing TWD rarely manages to be. Unfortunately, issues take a flip after they return to Alexandria and uncover they’ve solely scored sufficient rations for a single week. When Maggie discovers a few of her outdated crew have discovered their approach to the colony, she proposes a brand new quest: head to her outdated settlement, Meridian, and take all of the meals that’s certainly nonetheless there after it was overrun by the zombies and that seemingly nihilistic group of killers known as the Reapers (which we met again in “Home Sweet Home”). Few individuals suppose it’s a good suggestion, however most agree it’s the one approach to hold everybody fed.

Maggie, Daryl, Gabriel, Negan, and various posse members set out, solely to be pressured right into a Washington, DC subway line that Maggie insists they journey by means of. Negan spots a excessive flood line within the tunnel, which suggests water may come pouring in any minute given the climate up prime, however because it’s Negan giving the warning, everybody tells him to close the hell up. Negan additionally raises the salient level that nobody is aware of if the subway tunnel is even open; they may very well be marching on to a useless finish. Negan will get the identical response.

Eventually, he’s had sufficient of strolling by means of a possible deathtrap and getting crapped on and the palpable pressure between him and Maggie, who’s by no means forgiven him for killing her husband Glenn within the season seven premiere again in 2016. It involves a head when he confronts the girl who loathes him, saying to everybody that the one cause Maggie introduced him alongside was in hopes that he’d get killed on the best way, or she’d have an opportunity to kill him herself out of the “prying eyes of Alexandria.” Maggie, pointing a gun at his head, says she’s simply barely sufficient of the girl who existed earlier than Glenn died to cease herself from pulling the set off, as a lot as she desires to.

Image for article titled The Walking Dead Season 11 Premiere Lurches Unsteadily to the Show's Finale

Image: Josh Stringer/AMC

It’s a tense scene, and it’s fairly good, but it surely doesn’t inform us something new about both character. Maggie nonetheless hates the hell out of Negan, which we’ve identified from the minute she rejoined the present. Really, the scene exists primarily to arrange the very finish of the episode, the place the group has to climb up a subway automotive to flee a zombie horde. Negan’s second-to-last, Maggie’s final, however she will get grabbed by a walker and might’t pull herself up. Negan friends over the sting at her as she struggles, then turns away and leaves. Seemingly. I assume that is only a low-cost cliffhanger, wanting us to suppose that Negan has deserted Maggie, just for subsequent week’s episode to start with him having gotten a rope or a weapon, one thing to avoid wasting her. It would definitely match his character arc over the previous few seasons to make the rescue regardless of her hate for him. But that is The Walking Dead, so we will by no means low cost the chance that characters who seem to have an ethical compass can nonetheless revert to misanthropic, sociopathic murderers at any second. (Lookin’ at you, Gabriel.) Whichever is the case, it’s going to be annoying.

Luckily, Team YEEP (that’s Yumiko, Eugene, Ezekiel, and Princess—sorry, continuously writing out all 4 names is a drag) has a extra enjoyably absurd journey as soon as they arrive on the Commonwealth. Remember how delighted I used to be when one of many Commonwealth’s troopers stated YEEP’s seize meant he must do paperwork? Man, that was simply the tip of the bureaucratic iceberg. Each of our heroes will get “audited” by two lawyer-esque, utterly monotone, and impassive individuals in enterprise fits who ask them a collection of exponentially weird questions, ostensibly for them to achieve passage to the Commonwealth itself. Those who fail are subjected to the generically dystopic “reprocessing.”

What’s nice about this scene is that the foursome is, rightfully, shocked after they’re requested which school they went to. As Yumiko asks, how may it probably matter? It’s the zombie apocalypse, school doesn’t even exist anymore. But the scene escalates splendidly with more and more bizarre, ineffective, but vaguely threatening questions, like: What zip codes did you reside in? How many bowel actions do you are taking per day? What do you employ to wipe? It appears they’re asking this nonsense to disorient them, Voight-Kampff-style, so that they’ll reply the query that truly issues: Where is your settlement?

Image for article titled The Walking Dead Season 11 Premiere Lurches Unsteadily to the Show's Finale

Image: Josh Stringer/AMC

No one solutions. When they’re returned to their cell, Yumiko, Ezekiel, and Princess are able to go, however Eugene asks them to remain, give the Commonwealth an opportunity, to belief his relationship with Stephanie (who advised Eug concerning the web site over the radio). That’s after they ask an imprisoned couple close by how lengthy they’ve been “assessed” and the reply is someplace between 4 and 9 months. Then YEEP sees somebody dragged out of his cell, screaming as a result of he’s about to be “reprocessed.” Even Eugene is aware of they gots to go at that time. Luckily, it seems Princess is Sherlock Holmes.

I’m not being flippant right here, it seems she has an extremely attentive and deductive thoughts. She figures out that two of the guards are sleeping collectively based mostly on their virtually non-existent physique language and how they time their breaks. Yumiko, Eugene, and Ezekiel are shocked and seize upon the chance to by some means seize the lovers’ two Commonwealth Trooper uniforms off-screen and use them as a disguise to escort the opposite two “prisoners” out of the holding space. This takes them proper previous a wall of images—individuals beloved by somebody within the Commonwealth, hoping that the household or associates they misplaced through the zombie apocalypse would possibly by some means, towards all odds, make their approach to them. That’s when Yumiko all of the sudden sees {a photograph} of herself, together with a observe from her sister Tomi. And Yumiko realizes she will be able to’t go away.

That’s by far probably the most attention-grabbing growth in “Acheron, Part I” and on the finish of the day, tonight’s episode was a bit underwhelming for a season premiere, particularly for the present’s finale season. However, “Part II” is coming subsequent week, so it appears solely truthful to order my judgment till then. Assuming we get to lastly see the actual Commonwealth, and/or the stays of Maggie’s outdated settlement Meridian, there may very well be main developments coming that can kick off season 11 in earnest. However, if it’s simply these fits asking individuals about their bodily capabilities over and over, I’d be down for that, too.

“Bowel movements? Seriously?”

“Bowel movements? Seriously?”
Image: Josh Stringer/AMC

Assorted Musings:

  • Do zombies nap? Historically on the present, we’ve seen zombies on the bottom lie inert till one thing grabs their consideration. But most individuals, after they die and remodel, get to their ft to shamble round searching for one thing to eat, which continues till they’re taken out or crumble. So shouldn’t the troopers have been doing the identical? It really looks as if they received all tuckered out and had a lie-down.
  • Some good graffiti within the subway tunnel, my favourite being: “If there is a god he will have to beg my forgiveness.” A cursory search on-line says individuals are satisfied {that a} Jewish prisoner carved this into the wall of his focus camp in World War II, however I can’t discover any dependable proof. I hope it’s not true as a result of knowingly evaluating a pretend zombie apocalypse to a really actual atrocity makes me really feel uneasy.
  • There’s a scene the place we slowly watch Ezekiel drink a whole glass of water after a coughing match. It’s a bit lengthy.
  • Yeah, Commonwealth Trooper goes to be “Commontrooper” any more. And I’ll by no means apologize for my clumsy portmanteaus.

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