The Walking Dead – Season 11, Episode 16: Acts of God

By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno | www.xgeeks.co.uk)

This review contains spoilers.

We have reached the last ever mid-season finale of The Walking Dead

The show is not hanging around this week! In what must be the shortest intro in The Walking Dead’s history, we start with a surrounded and decimated Hilltop. Lance walks out looking crazed, and next to him we see a charred body and a quiver full of arrows. After stepping into a pool of blood and gore, we go straight to the opening credits!

When we return, we get the title card of “19 hours and one act of God ago” – so, does this imply that a natural disaster is about to see the fall of Hilltop? Regardless, looks like we’ll be getting more wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff, and if it’s as good as before, I’m down for that! Maggie appears to be shipping little Hershel off to safety while Lance, via a coin flip, is dividing his forces. Now, I have said previously that Hamilton would make a great Harvey Dent/Two-Face, given his incredible ability to swap between two personalities… and now we have him in a shirt and white tie, flipping a coin… AMAZING! We later find out the coin toss was to allow Leah control of a batch of his men who would be going in as a ‘wet team’ to take out Maggie and Hilltop.

Meanwhile, back at the Commonwealth, looks like Eugene and Max have become VERY intimate – good for them! Now it is time for the next phase of their plan and all success of the mission is now in Max’s hands! As Pamela rehearses a speech, you can tell the weight of what Max has to do is weighing on her shoulders, and Pamela notices too! Despite the Commonwealth’s accountants finding a $50,000 surplus in funding, Pamela shoots down Max’s idea of a fund for underprivileged families, as she wants the money going straight into the Founders Day event instead! This kind of thing bugs the hell out of me! Look at the state of the real world right now… families are choosing between eating and heating while our elected officials are talking about spending millions on a Brexit Festival and Royal boats… Pamela’s logic here is just going to fan the flames of the uprising even faster when all this comes out in the wash – especially if events outside of the wall with Lance fail too! With Pamela out of the way, Max starts to gather the information she needs. But just as she’s about to leave, an intoxicated Sebastian interrupts her. Be it under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you felt like Max was in danger from Sebastian throughout this entire scene, but thankfully Sebastian leaves and Max is free to return to Eugene.

Eugene, Max, Connie, and Kelly start working through all the paperwork that Max found, and Tyler and April’s names appear on the related documents, so there are links appearing but as to why so many people are missing and have been ‘relocated’, that will take more investigation! In the meantime, Connie says she will write up about Sebastian’s heist and hang it around Pamela’s neck, creating that initial distrust amongst the public. A knock on the door causes panic in the room, but Magna tells them it’s fine and that she asked for someone else to join the cause. Ezekiel has entered the party! He says that he has a network of people ready to help out and so, the uprising begins!

On the road, Daryl, Aaron, and Gabriel are leading Hornsby’s men on a wild goose chase to buy time and move them away from their friends. After some Walkers crash the party, we see both the benefits and the downsides to the Commonwealth Stormtrooper armour! Romano attacks a Walker, forcing his hand to go through it and through the wall as well! The fin-blades on the gauntlets trap him to the wall and the Walker. BUT, because he has the faceguard, the Walker’s teeth cannot reach his face and Romano manages to break free. This was just a little interesting scene to see the uniform in action and how some of this may factor into events in the future!

Back with Maggie’s group, and the way Maggie is talking to Hershel you get the initial impression that she is talking to Hershel about going to the Commonwealth, maybe to be with Daryl or Rosita, etc, but once Lydia appears, it becomes VERY clear that he will, in fact, be staying with the ex-Riverbend residents, including Negan. I cannot think of any safer place for him to be! In Negan we trust! Now, throughout this scene and back with Hornsby, we hear the ever-increasing sound of insects, just like at the start of the episode. As this is titled ‘acts of God’, implying multiple, it’s safe to say that this could be a perfect storm of events that causes the downfall of Hilltop! Annie, Negan, and Maggie discuss their next step and we get a scene that has been YEARS in the making! Maggie tells Negan that she is starting to trust him and knows that he will protect her son, no matter what! This exchange was incredible and moving, with the music just adding to the emotion and power of the scene. I teared up! I have been waiting for this pay-off for such a long time and it felt totally earned. Incredible writing, outstanding acting. chefs kiss

Daryl and Romano’s group reach the next search location and from the off, something did not feel right, and Daryl thought so too! In a not-so-subtle fashion, Romano organises his troops on both flanks, surrounding Daryl, Aaron, and Gabriel. The trio picks up on this and as you’d expect, a gunfight ensues! Clearly, Hornsby wants these three dead for their, suspected, actions at Riverbend! In a very intense standoff, Daryl’s group manages to come out on top and are able to obtain Hornsby’s plan, to ‘clear the field’ of the dissenters, before killing Romano, sparing him a fate worse than death! Hornsby radios in for an update and as you can imagine, gearing Daryl’s voice was the last thing he expected!

Night has fallen and Leah’s squad has entered Hilltop! But as Admiral Ackbar would say… IT’S A TRAP! One tripwire later and the lower floors of the Hilltop mansion explode. With Maggie, Lydia, Elijah, and Marco outside, they start planning to track them back to their camp and take out the remaining soldiers, including Hornsby. This is great! Everything is going well and there is no need to panic! Wait, Marco’s got a quiver that looks like the one on the floor by the dead body that we saw at the beginning of the episode…wait! Oh… Marco is shot and killed and falls to the floor. Leah appears out of the shadows with her gun raised! Shortly after, Lance arrives with the rest of his men, but Leah has already left and is hot on Maggie’s trail! Maggie tells Lydia and Elijah to leave and allow Leah to focus all of her intentions on Maggie.

Daryl’s group encounters Leah’s camp and once Daryl realises that Leah is involved, you see the urgency change on his face! Leah catches up with Maggie and the pair fire off multiple shots at each other. Maggie manages to hit Leah in the leg, but before she can capitalise on her temporary victory, it is snatched away from her, as Leah attacks her from the side, knocking Maggie out cold! Morning has arrived and Maggie awakens to find herself tied up in Leah’s old cabin and at gunpoint. Maggie talks through the situation and what Leah is feeling, having first-hand knowledge of what it feels like. Leah tells Maggie that it’s not just her she wants dead, but everyone she knows and loves! Family for a family. Maggie gets Leah to a boiling point, while all the time loosening her bonds. She attacks Leah and the pair face off in a brutal and tense knife fight! Leah manages to get the upper hand and starts to beat Maggie’s face into a pulp. A gunshot sounds and Leah is shot in the head. Daryl is at the door with his gun raised. Hmm. I think I would have preferred Maggie to have resolved this conflict, as the pair had such a great fight, it didn’t need ‘a man to save the day’. But given Daryl’s own history with Leah, I can let that one slide. There is no time to dwell, however, as Lance and his men arrive! Daryl shoots toward them and manages to cut open Lance’s face, much to his anger. But if anything, this just gives him more focus and speeds up the next stage of his plan…

The final sequence of the finale sees Hilltop, Alexandria, and Oceanside taken by force – the illusion of choice now completely gone. Seeing the banners of the Commonwealth unfold down the sides of the walls felt like such an afront, it worked really well! The music used over this montage was also fantastic! It was dark, sobering, and really hammered home the tone of the visuals. With one final toss of the coin, presumably, to decide which Oceansiders live or die, Lance ends the episode and I think this was a great way to end this latest batch of episodes!

This felt like an Empire Strikes Back ending and I am loving that Lance Hornsby has fully embraced Two-Face persona! I have no issue at all with his villainy becoming cartoonish! Lance has the majority of what he wants, his mini-kingdom to rule, and with Leah dead, the only remaining loose ends are Maggie and Daryl’s group! As for the events inside the Commonwealth, Pamela is feeling the heat now that she is front-page news and I think the final batch of episodes are really going to focus on the uprising in the Commonwealth – a storyline I am really looking forward to! So, overall, I really enjoyed this episode, and it just adds to a long list long of great episodes in this final season! We now have a break until the show returns later in the year and we have plenty of time to reflect on the current state of play and prepare for what will happen next.

The end of The Walking Dead is coming…

What did you make of the Season 11 mid-season finale of The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments or on social media!

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