The Walking Dead – Season 11, Episode 10 (New Haunts)
Neil Brazier | On 02, Mar 2022
Read our other Season 11 reviews here.
As anticipated in our previous review, New Haunts takes the series of The Walking Dead in a whole new direction. Like a horde of zombies being led towards a community, the herd are swiftly turned and dropped off a cliff, removing all semblance of danger and threat. It presents an adjustment for us as viewers tonally, and for our heroes, who have met new communities before, albeit nothing on this scale since before the world fell. We have watched as they fought for scraps – if they’re not eating squirrel or their own horses, they aren’t eating – and yet, they now find themselves shopping at supermarkets again.
Starting a month in, the characters have already been assigned jobs and are contributing their worth to their new community. It does not go unnoticed (or unappreciated) that Carol’s (Melissa McBride) Cookies are once again on offer. Her new role is one that she has perfected back at Alexandria: the baker with a nose for sniffing out secrets and the truth, something that Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) also finds an attractive quality in her and one he may look to exploit. We still don’t know enough about Lance and whose side he is on (if he is on anyone’s side), but his own but we do get to see more of his peers, including his boss – an untouchable elitist, Pamela Milton (Laila Robins), who is already raising eyebrows when she is introduced as the “Governor” of the Commonwealth.
It’s Halloween and an opportunity for the residents to celebrate – justified that celebrating holidays restores some sort of normality within these safe walls. So safe that the Commonwealth isn’t afraid to put on a haunted house with people pretending to be zombies! It is unbelievably surreal and you might just want to check that you’re watching the same show you were last week.
New Haunts packs in plenty of real zombies too, but they feel more like they have been inserted to remind us that this is still a world infected with the undead, as the survival horror premise appears to have been replaced with drama. Of that there is plenty. With everyone assigned roles to contribute, the only person with any elevated status is Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) and that sits uneasy with the rest of the survivors, especially those she was closest with, such as Magna (Nadia Hilker).
The tension bubbles over at an evening party for the social elite, a ticketed event with a red carpet and photographers and reporters, one of whom is Connie (Lauren Ridloff) – we hope she didn’t just get assigned the role because she had her own notepad. This is where the second part of the season looks to be heading, exploring the deeper mysteries of the Commonwealth and how it treats its citizens. Will the new arrivals fit in with the structure here or will they find themselves outcasts?
Upon arriving at Alexandria our heroes had a similar experience and it wasn’t long before the rule book was cast aside and the residents were taken over. The Commonwealth is a much larger scale so it will be far trickier to overthrow this government, if that is the plan. If it is just to fit in and start a new life, they may find adjusting to this environment much more difficult than they could possibly imagine.
Our heroes have evolved to a system where everybody contributes and every body counts. The Commonwealth relies on people in their place and those at the top enjoying things more comfortably than those at the bottom. This may also be why some of the regular faces are not present at the Commonwealth, choosing instead to stay behind.
While New Haunts is still a worthy piece of TV and features some of the same horror tropes we love, this new feeling the show has will take a bit of getting used to. After fighting so hard for so long – having faced scavengers such as the Saviours or even the Reapers, being on that breadline between life and death – having all that suddenly no longer matter is an adjustment for both our heroes and us as viewers. There are now new mysteries to solve and a lot of questions remaining about just who the Commonwealth are. Why are they so interested in our survivors?
The Walking Dead: Season 1 to 11 is available on Disney+ UK, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription or a £79.99 yearly subscription.