This review contains spoilers.
I think it is fitting that The Walking Dead should return with a ‘storm-themed’ episode when the entirety of the UK is currently being battered left and right by storms! Anyway, The Walking Dead is back and it’s time to break down Season 11, Episode 9 – ‘No Other Way’.
We pick up amidst the Hwacha attack from the mid-season finale, with Maggie, Negan, and Elijah making their escape into a side building – but Carver is on their trail! Elijah is injured, so it’s lucky that the building they escaped into had an infirmary stocked full of medical supplies! Carver finally catches up with the trio, and despite the odds being three on one, Carver more than holds his own, and quickly takes down his three attackers of Maggie, Negan, and Elijah. While Carver is distracted with Maggie, Negan arrives for the save with… pocket sand and a bell! “Ding ding”. Negan, never change! Luckily, Daryl now joins the group as well and tells them to use Carver as leverage over Leah and the remaining Reapers. The negotiation doesn’t go as planned however as Leah has Jensen providing sniper support and Daryl is forced to release Carver. This is not going well!
We are, of course, still a member of the group missing! Gabriel is trying to make his escape and, of course, he runs into the Reaper priest! The two have a great back and forth, and as the scene reaches boiling point, he kills the priest. What a tense scene! This was an incredible and emotional performance by Seth Gilliam, who has consistently been one of the strongest actors on the show.
Elijah cannot take Carver standing proudly anymore and approaches him with intent. Luckily for him, he collapses under his injury, inadvertently saving his life. As Carver goes to kick him while he is down, Carver is shot in the leg and Leah screams down the radio at Jensen – “No Jensen here”, its Gabriel! Now the momentum has swung back towards Alexandria!
Leah asks Daryl if the deal stands, which both Maggie and I, think is a bit rich considering Leah was going to kill them when she thought she had the advantage! Daryl allows Leah and the two remaining Reapers to leave, but Elijah reminds Maggie about his sister and all the others, and Maggie is more than happy to oblige. Let’s face it, this is the path she wanted to go down, she didn’t need much convincing. Maggie guns down the two Repears and clips Leah in the shoulder, before returning to Carver and killing him with Elijah’s blade. Brutal, but smart!
Daryl heads off after Leah and tracks her down, but he allows her to leave. With the wagon hitched up with supplies, Maggie heads off to recover Alden alone, leaving the rest behind to return the goods to Alexandria. As Maggie arrives at the church, she finds Alden who has, sadly, been turned – this sucks! Maggie, carefully, kills him and cries over his dead body. The music here was incredibly powerful, as was Lauren Cohan’s performance. She buries Alden and Negan arrives to announce that he is leaving on his own, as he just does not trust Maggie, as she is heading down a path that neither of them can walk down together. The funny thing is when Maggie tells Gabriel and Daryl that Negan has left, neither seems to believe her. So, I think everyone has a little seed of doubt in Maggie – it was a subtle look, but I think that is where this second half of the season is heading with her.
Back in Alexandria, Judith and Gracie are still trapped in the flooding basement, and despite their best efforts, their barricade doesn’t hold, and the Walkers pour in. Luckily, Gracie has her emergency whistle which gets Aaron’s attention, so while the rest of the group attempt to save the Windmill and find the remaining breaches, Aaron sets off to find Gracie. Luckily, he gets there just in time, and with an epic, and bloody, opening attack, he destroys a Walker’s skull in one giant swing. As more Walkers pour into the basement, he lifts the girls to safety, leaving himself trapped in the rising water. In a tense and terrifying scene, Aaron attempts to shimmy to safety on a pipe, with the Walkers reaching up towards him. Luckily, Lydia arrives to help Aaron escape. With Judith and Gracie safe and Rosita and the others taking out the rest of the Walkers, all focus now turns back onto the Windmill.
With Daryl and the group finally returning to Alexandria, they return to a hero’s welcome and begin to distribute the food and the news of those who did not make it. Daryl and Connie are also reunited, in a very touching moment. Aaron is sad to learn of Alden’s passing and Lydia looks upset that Negan has left, which is understandable! The use of the music throughout this entire scene, and this episode in general, really landed in terms of the emotional drama moments. This touching reunion is not to last, as Jerry shouts a warning to the rest of the group that “something is coming”. As Daryl reaches the wall, the Commonwealth arrives, with Eugene and Lance Hornsby in tow, who offers the Alexandrians a choice, have supplies to patch up the town or come and live inside the walls of the Commonwealth. We then, unexpectedly, get a six-month time jump! Maggie, Elijah, and a few others are now at Hilltop. A group of Commonwealth stormtroopers approach but Maggie tries to send them away. The leader of the group removes their mask to reveal Daryl, the last person I thought would join the Commonwealth! Looks like Maggie and the Commonwealth are having issues, with my guess being that Alexandria was beyond saving and this is Daryl now, coming to save them and take them from Hilltop to the safety of the Commonwealth, despite all of Maggie’s protests.
Wow, there was a lot to pack into this episode and as I expected, with have dealt with the Reaper threat and truly established the Commonwealth as the series endgame in terms of the main narrative! The episode flew by, and the pacing throughout was first class! The emotional music, scenes, and performances all resulted in a fantastic, and strong, return for The Walking Dead and I fully expect next week, and beyond, for the episodes to be split between the present and the period of time during that missing six months so we can understand each character’s motivations and reasoning.
A brilliant return from its mid-season break, and I am looking forward to the next installment of The Walking Dead!
Before ending this review, I think it was a nice touch to put a title card at the end, which dedicated the episode in the loving memory of Stephen Campbell, who was the cinematographer on the show for 7 seasons, who sadly passed away last year. RIP.
What did you make of the return of The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments or on social media!