UK TV review: The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 7 (Promises Broken)
Neil Brazier | On 05, Oct 2021
Season 11 of The Walking Dead premieres weekly on Mondays. This is a spoiler-free review. Read on below for spoilery notes – and read our other Season 11 reviews here.
The Walking Dead’s final season powers towards the end of part one with its penultimate episode. Promises Broken exposes more about the Commonwealth; Leah (Lynn Collins) shows some instability within the Reapers and that line between good and evil continues to blur as Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffery Dean Morgan) have an honesty session by the fire. Promises Broken is a typical set-up episode creating hype for what may promise to be a bonkers first-act-last-season finale (unless that promise gets broken).
At the Commonwealth, Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Princess (Paola Lázaro), “Stephanie” (Chelle Ramos) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) are paying their debts by clearing walkers for a new development while Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) is dressed in a power suit awaiting a conference with the mysterious Pamela Milton. Cleaning out houses is the “light punishment” put upon our survivors by Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton), which raise the question: what trouble they would have been in had he not been so lenient? While labouring away, we are introduced to what will be a dangerous young couple, who walk by and look down on the workers with distain. Eugene, being inherently a good and moral man, inadvertently gets himself in trouble once again when he forcibly learns who this young snob really is and suddenly the realisation clicks into place that the Commonwealth is not a place where anyone is equal.
This may have been what Tomi (Ian Anthony Dale) was trying to tell his sister before and, when she continues to press him about the setup and why he isn’t a doctor, Tomi is swiftly pounced upon and taken away by guards. There is a clear class divide within these walls and, if you are not on the right side of it, the outlook might not be as favourable. Yumiko, desperate for answers only has more questions as she tries to understand more about her proposed role within this community. This form of government will not sit well with any of the more free and equal survivors; the Commonwealth suddenly looks like it may not be the saving grace Eugene longed for.
Within the Reapers, Pope (Ritchie Coster) is his usual angry self and in the middle of verbally assaulting his own family for their inability to find Maggie’s group. Leah and Daryl (Norman Reedus) are sent out to continue the search but find something else along the way. The Reapers only seem to have one emotion, aggression, so it is still unclear if we can trust Leah despite her standing up to Pope and the torture behind her eyes seeing her brothers berated. Daryl believes he sees some compassion and humility within her when she struggles to follow orders but before he can know for sure, they are interrupted by an urgent call to return to camp.
It is revealed that the cause of the Reapers’ anger stems from insecurity. They took Maggie’s home for themselves and are now killing everyone they encounter for fear of losing it. This camp must be special if it is worth all this violence. From what we have seen of the Reapers, they are ruthless and evil killers, clearly a bad box of eggs, even if Leah is keeping them as close to that line between evil and humane as she can.
It is with Negan and Maggie where this subject is tackled more overtly. Maggie’s sole focus is on attacking the Reapers and believes Daryl was telling them to act quickly when they were back in the safe house. Negan disagrees. They are too small in number to fight, but if she is refusing to listen to reason, there might be one way they can raise themselves a small army.
Negan tries to make sure this is what Maggie really wants to do, massacre a bunch of people they don’t even know, and their conversation recalls incidents in their past, but now with the ability to be able to see both sides of the story. Is one group really better than the other? Every group is only ever thinking about themselves and their survival. It is an excellent back and forth between the pair and engrossing to watch and think about with the ability of hindsight.
It is a theme that will undoubtedly never be solved; we have seen people suffer and cause suffering upon others. The zombie apocalypse has done horrible things to everyone but right now, Maggie is reacting to her people being killed with a tit-for-tat philosophy and in doing so has become something that destroyed her Hilltop home. After the dust has settled, perhaps she and everyone else will be able to see their true selves and what they have had to become.
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.
Innards and entrails (spoilers)
While clearing walkers, Ezekiel has another choking episode and comes close to putting himself and Princess in danger. He is taken away to the hospital and given medication. Will this medication help to save him? Has he told the doctors the true nature of his affliction? If the Commonwealth can keep Ezekiel healthy, he may decide he wants to stay, even if the others are apprehensive. The healthcare provided is another debt that will need to be paid off but, as a bonus, they all get a lollipop.
Yumiko’s new job role is to be legal security to Pamela Milton. Why there would be a need for legal security, we don’t know. There is clearly a class system at the Commonwealth and there is law if not order. Lance clearly has some ulterior motives and keeping secrets as he continues to ooze shadiness. Whatever the reason for her new job, Yumiko is getting a much better chance of life and wardrobe at the Commonwealth than she has anywhere else. Her advancement to high rank is probably not because of her brother.
Tomi used to be a doctor, now he is a baker. When pressed on this again, he pleads with Yumiko to drop it, getting ever so serious. Shortly after he is seized by guards and taken away and we don’t see him again. Was this an order or are bakers not allowed near legal aides? Yumiko is going to find out and books an appointment to see Pamela Milton.
It is here we meet the secretary handling Pamela’s appointments, this role is played by Margot Bingham, who we know is playing Stephanie, the Stephanie we were originally led to believe was the one conversing with Eugene over the radio. This Stephanie certainly seems interested to learn more about Yumiko’s group and seems rather awkward and shy. Is she the Eugene’s equivalent and love interest or has the series just been trying to confuse us all along?
We might not get to meet Pamela Milton in this episode but we do get to meet another member of her family, her son Sebastian (Teo Rapp-Olsson). This is the character who had a major impact on Rick Grimes in the comics – it will be interesting if a similar arc is followed. Sebastian is the snooty kid who looks down on our heroes as they clear walkers. Later, when Eugene saves Sebastian from the dead, instead of receiving thanks, he is berated and chided for ruining his day. Sebastian seems oblivious to the fact the walkers would have ruined his day had it not been for Eugene and “Stephanie”.
Sebastian has his own security team, but they were not present during the incident. Mercer (James Michael Shaw) then becomes the next victim to Sebastian’s cruel mouth. But it is when Sebastian starts haranguing “Stephanie” that Eugene steps in and punches Sebastian. He deserved it, but throughout “Stephanie” was trying to warn Eugene to stop. The attack lands Eugene in jail – until he is once again visited by Lance Hornsby.
Lance, who earlier wanted to make friends with Yumiko because it pays to have friends in high places, says he can help Eugene. All he needs is the precise location and details about his settlement. Eugene is hesitant but eventually concedes defeat. We don’t see him give the details so he may not be honest in his answers. Giving the location of the Hilltop would be a good move, then the Commonwealth could arrive and see it burnt down. Eugene told the truth, but couldn’t have known of its demise.
It is impossible to understand what game Lance is playing, he already appears to be quite a powerful man in charge, what more could he want? Maybe he wants allies of his own to stage a coup – but, as of now, he continues to appear creepy and sinister.
Not much appears to have been made of Frost’s torture from last week. If Pope did get the information he wanted out of him, he doesn’t share it or act any differently. He is still angry that they have found no leads or trace of Maggie or her group. Leah bravely stands up to him, but his anger may have helped to sway her to the other side. Daryl sees this as an opportunity to try and be honest with her, but it seems too soon to trust Leah at all. Even when she can’t follow her orders.
In the woods, Maggie and her team collect an army of walkers that they are going to herd and march on the Reapers, using tricks Negan learnt from his time in the Whisperers. He imparts his knowledge like the former teacher he was, praising and giving encouragement. But his teachings come with a price: he wants Maggie to give him a free pass, no more looking over his shoulder to which she agrees – for now, at least.
Luckily, Negan just so happens to carry his Whisperers mask around with him and the look on his face when he sees Maggie donning a face of the dead is priceless. Once again, the series comes dangerously close to making a friendship (or more) out of these two and that direction must be avoided at all costs. While they shouldn’t remain enemies forever, and the dynamic between Morgan and Cohan is fantastic, they should never become friends either. Just two people allowed to co-exist.
While Maggie is learning how to herd, Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) is scouting ahead. He encounters a Reaper who holds a Bible and speaks to God. Gabriel, who earlier was told to take out anyone he encounters if he can, does nothing and watches the man pray. Gabriel hasn’t heard God in a long time and may be questioning himself and his faith once again. He needs to keep his head clear ready for the fight to come because, from the looks of the final scene in this episode, it is going to be huge.
Rounding up the dead, Maggie conveniently finds a whole horde of them behind a door of a building and together they march slowly onward towards the Reapers, setting up some big action to come. The Reapers are violent and dangerous killers, but how will they handle a horde? And how will they handle the living disguised as the dead? It is a clever tactic to employ and any good fighter learns to understand and embrace skills from their enemies, but it again clouds that line between good and evil. Not too long ago these survivors were fighting Whisperers – now they have become them.