This review contains spoilers.
After last week’s high society affair, this week was pretty much all about the everyday people of the Commonwealth!
Eugene wakes up, in a rather comfy-looking bed, to find (Not) Stephanie reading the manuscript of Eugene’s book. He even offers her a key to his place and confesses his love for her, which she reciprocates back. If this wasn’t set in the zombie apocalypse, you’d almost take this for just normal everyday life set in our world! After some solid relationship advice from Princess, he goes to get some ice cream for himself and Stephanie, however, she never shows. The music starts to change, as does the bright, happy lighting to reveal the dark grey tone we’ve grown accustomed to! Eugene is alone, and it’s not long before he is knocking on her door, unbeknown to him that she is inside frantically packing! WOW! I really loved this introduction to the episode, especially how it turned super dark as the scene played out. A strong start!
Connie is pushing her boss at the Tribune to keep digging regarding Tyler and is not buying the PTSD claim by the military doctors but is told to drop the story. Which, let’s face it, we know she isn’t going to do! They head to Tyler’s hospital room, only to find Mercer blocking any chance of speaking with Tyler. Later, Mercer is out in the woods sleighing Walkers when Connie arrives to do a puff-piece for the paper. Naturally, Connie has no intention of asking about frontline operations and instead asks about Tyler. We learn that it’s been a month since the events of the last episode, a story technique I expect them to use frequently going forwards, as well as learning that Max (Stephanie) is in fact Mercer’s sister. Huh. It’s obvious that Mercer is not keen on the idea of the haves and have-nots, I just see him as a cog in the machine who is just trying to keep things stable for everyone. If push came to shove, I could see Mercer breaking ranks though. Back at the hospital, Mercer learns that Tyler was moved against his orders and Connie receives a letter through her door with a long list of names, including Tyler’s – the plot thickens!
Lance and Carol continue their new business relationship with a ‘drive’ through the countryside and we get some more background on Lance, whether it’s true or not is a different story, and we also learn a bit more about the politics of the Commonwealth. This was a handy scene to give the audience some backstory to multiple elements. They reach a poppy farm, where Moto and his people process the opiates, which is what the Commonwealth needs for the hospitals – and probably the upper class to get their drug fix! Carol does some digging and it turns out Moto has been beating the workers and pocketing the cash. Lance removes Moto from power, much to the appreciation of the workers. Hmm, getting the working class on the side, eh Lance? Interesting.
Meanwhile back inside the Commonwealth, Eugene has gone to the troopers for help, and after Rosita checks her place, there is still no sign of (Not) Stephanie. Princess comes to check on Eugene and brings him some lasagne to try and lift his mood! I’m telling you now if Princess knocked on my door with a lasagne, I’d ask her to marry me on the spot! Turns out it was empty (DIVORCE!), I’m so sad right now. Inside, Eugene has been busy, creating a thread board of (Not) Stephanie as he tries to track her down. He recounts the story that led him to this point, in the form of flashbacks for us, the audience. Turns out there is a small group, lurking in the shadows, which Eugene concludes are the reason for (Not) Stephanie’s disappearance. He’s done some good detective work! They break into Roman’s apartment to find a weapons case. As the pair attempt an escape they are ratted out to the troopers and are thrown in jail. Lance arrives to inform them that everything checks out and he has a license for the weapons. Princess tells Eugene to stop chasing her and that he’s seeing a conspiracy when there isn’t one. I’m with Eugene on this, there is more here than meets the eye! Eugene heads to the building where he spotted the group meeting. Once inside, Eugene is jumped and kicked to the floor by… dun dun dun… (Not) Stephanie! Lance arrives too and explains that no, her name isn’t Stephanie, it’s Shira and that he can tell anyone everything, but no one will believe him! This entire scene was captivating! Josh McDermitt’s performance was stellar! He’s so good at these types of scenes and likewise for Josh Hamilton, who manages to smile with his mouth while his eyes remain focused and menacing. Seriously, go back and watch his eyes throughout this entire exchange, it was incredible! Outside, Eugene begins to burn the missing posters along with his manuscript for his book. A woman approaches him, but her face is obscured by the darkness. Eugene ignores her, that is until she follows her communication attempts up with “This is Blue Weevil to Tater Bug”, Eugene and the REAL Stephanie’s callsigns! He asks who the mystery woman is, and it is revealed to be ‘Max’ (to nobody’s surprise) and she tells him that she was the person he was talking to on the radio.
I’m glad we’ve finally reached this part of the reveal as I think we needed it. If you’ve read my reviews episode to episode, I’m sure you are just as tired of reading, as I am having to write out, ‘(Not) Stephanie’. So, I’m happy that’s over. Now we just have to wait and see how Max/Stephanie is involved and what led to the switch, probably masterminded by Lance? Do I think Lance is connected to the worker’s revolt? Yes, and I think this group is part of it! So, it will be interesting to see how this all comes together. With Lance Hornsby, he’s a character I like from the comics, so I’m excited to see what differences they do here if any, and how they handle him because he is such a compelling character – and Josh Hamilton is doing a great job!
As an episode, I really enjoyed it! I think for traditionalists of the show, some might have struggled, given the lack of Walker action, but for those who followed the comics, you will have felt right at home with this type of story within The Walking Dead! I think, on the whole, this will be the new normal now and if people stick with it, I’m sure the writers have plenty in store for an exciting final season!
What did you make of the latest episode of The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments or on social media!