UK TV review: The Walking Dead: Season 11, Episode 15 (Trust)
Neil Brazier | On 05, Apr 2022
Read our other Season 11 reviews here.
As The Walking Dead’s final season gears up for its second mid-season finale, Trust lines up the pieces in an episode that continues to expose the darker side of the Commonwealth and the truly contemptible nature of Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) is. He has almost become the main villain by surprise. His actions originally seemed like they were helpful, looking to bolster the communities of Hilltop, Alexandria and Oceanside. But over the episodes, when he has met with resistance, he has shown someone exceptionally evil is behind those dead eyes.
The absence of the actual governor of the Commonwealth is questionable. Does she not see what is going on with Lance? Does she choose to turn a blind eye or is she enabling him to do the dirty work that she can’t be seen to do? Lance appears to want to keep her out of the picture but he is so two-faced he might even be playing those he keeps closest.
There may be a beacon of hope inside the Commonwealth in Mercer (Michael James Shaw) who we have already seen not tolerate anyone colouring outside the lines. Here, he deals with some internal struggles, blaming himself for allowing corruption to prevail in his precinct – all as he is watched by his own image splashed on some propaganda poster telling the citizens they must “do your part”. He might think he is alone, but after getting some honest advice from Princess (Paola Lázaro), he opens up, letting us see his pain, Shaw giving his character some rounded edges.
What the episode does brilliantly is create tension. We have caught up to the flashforward from the start of this chapter and Lance leads the Commonwealth soldiers inside Hilltop, convinced he will find some evidence there that Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and her team had something to do with the massacre at Riverbend. The dramatic tension could be cut with a knife when Lance uncovers a truck that could have been at the facility. From Maggie’s awkward sideways glances to the smarmy Lance finding the starter cable disconnected, you feel the thumping in your chest getting heavier with every second that passes, certain that Maggie is going to be found out. This anxiety we feel comes not from a herd of zombies, but a car, an inanimate object. (And some outstanding acting by Josh Hamilton and Lauren Cohan.)
Trust also features something that hasn’t been seen on The Walking Dead since possibly the first season: an F-bomb, and it feels a little out of place. The Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) character in the comic books was a potty mouth but he was watered down for the screen to someone who made a lot of phallus jokes. There is no problem in throwing out a few swears here and there, but they must make themselves feel worth it. If Carver had squealed out a naughty when his face was being eaten off, we could have understood it. But when Daryl (Norman Reedus) throws one our way just to show a little bit of frustration, considering he’s been frustrated for 11 seasons and held it together thus far, it does bring us out of the story for a moment.
Hornsby has shown us his villainous ways and continues that as the episode ends when he bolsters up his army by recruiting a mercenary with a previous agenda. It is sure to bring some exciting conflict to the final episode in this arc, which may contain more of this episode’s slow-motion action. It is a fun gimmick that gets to show off the mastery of the effects team that is often overlooked now the villains are more human.
We can’t mistake the Commonwealth for villains based on Hornsby’s actions, but, although our heroes are finding allies within its walls, Hornsby has put the trust in his community into question, making for an entirely intriguing season so far. Despite some niggling subplot issues that get wrapped up as quickly as they start, only alluding to the bigger picture, Trust is tense, fast-paced and full of conflict that drives the series towards it’s mini-conclusion.