UK TV review: The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 8 (For Blood)
Neil Brazier | On 13, 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 caps off the first act of its final season with an episode that shows our survivors fighting and what they are fighting for, as it intersects between one group storming the Reapers compound and another fighting a literal storm back at Alexandria – one that has brought with it a lot of the undead. Despite the promise and revelations that have led to this, For Blood doesn’t deliver much for us to chew on until the series returns next year, instead putting it back a few seasons as it once again falls back on bad habits.
At Alexandria, the group is divided to try and repair damage caused by the storm and stop the torrents of walkers being washed in. Aside from Rosita (Christian Serratos) reminding us just how much of a zombie-slayer she is, the scenes inside the camp are really to showcase the dire situation and those starving individuals who are relying on Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and her party to bring them back vital supplies. It is unfortunate that Rosita’s scene is mostly off camera, but it ends with a beautiful visual of her silhouetted and framed by the door, rain pouring down behind her, like something out of Halloween. The Walking Dead knows how to make things look good.
There is a touching moment between Judith (Cailey Fleming) and Virgil (Kevin Carroll) who admires the way Judith takes control; she reminds him of Michonne. This is another nod to what these survivors are fighting for: family, even if they aren’t there. Unfortunately for Judith, her and Gracie end up separated from the others and have a difficult decision to make if they’re going to survive this barrage against their home.
Judith, an ever-shining light in this series, needs to take this opportunity to become the hero she truly is and show the rest of the group she is not an innocent lamb in constant need of protection. Earlier in the episode, Carol (Melissa McBride) talks down to Judith like she hasn’t seen danger before. It’s out of character for Carol and Judith just accepts it, hopefully stoking her fire to prove everybody wrong. She wasn’t named “Lil’ Asskicker” for nothing.
The bulk of the episode takes place at the Reapers compound, as Maggie and her group employ Whisperer tactics and lead the dead towards the gate. Pope (Ritchie Coster) continues his bizarre leadership – a mix of verbal assaults and biblical self-righteousness, believing God to be speaking and acting through him. Leah (Lynn Collins) finally sees that Pope is no longer the father figure she admired and Daryl (Norman Reedus) sees his opportunity to escape with her.
With literal explosions going off around them, the tension created with the heroes in danger is just as explosive. Daryl continues to do his best to aid his friends from the inside that leaves your heart pounding with expectations. When his moment comes to confess to Leah, he gets a response he was not expecting, which leaves everybody he cares about in even more danger. The two of them share the same belief that it is family they fight for, yet the two groups continue the conflict with one another instead of trying to work together.
As the episode ends, there is a slight cause for concern for our heroes, but they have faced worse. It may be a cliffhanger but there isn’t a very large drop to worry about. There is now only one direction that the series can take with the Reapers and it is the same path that we have seen time and time again. The dynamic and relationship between Leah and Daryl could have led to something different, but they aren’t given time to process things, which leads their circumstances to feel no different from any other encounter. The Reapers have no trust, are full of paranoia and now they’re lacking anything that makes them stand out. What could have been must wait for another day; all hope of something grander now relies on the Commonwealth when The Walking Dead returns.
The Walking Dead: Season 1 to 11 is available on Disney+, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription or a £79.99 yearly subscription.
Innards and entrails (spoilers)
As Maggie and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) lead the walkers to the Reapers compound, Pope notices something suspicious. The walkers are just roaming, waiting for something. Daryl is questioned whether he’s seen anything like this before to which he answers that he has. He suggests that he leads them away and Pope agrees, but sends one of his men, Wells (Robert Hayes), in to do it.
The all-black attire for Wells may as well have been a red shirt from Star Trek, as he is sent in for the slaughter. Just when he seems confident that he has the herd well in hand, the walker in front of him swerves his attack and hits back with one of its own. It is always fun and surprising to see a walker act out of character. Wells is then fed to the pack, who, once they’ve had their feast, are again sent back towards Meridian.
Pope knows now that this is the work of Maggie, who he refers to as “my enemy”, but that knowledge came with the sacrifice of one of his own and Leah is not happy about that. Pope believes that the Reapers are soldiers and soldiers “sometimes fall”. Leah is the only one of the soldiers who seems unhappy about this; she doesn’t want to see her family sent to their death and Daryl believes that he can now confess and he and Leah will live happily ever after.
With the dead coming, the Reapers are anxious and prepare themselves to defend their stolen home, but again, Pope is relaxed and tells them to just watch. Outside the walls, there is a huge explosion as walkers step on landmines surrounding the perimeter of the compound. Our heroes now face a dilemma: turn and run, and give themselves away, or try to navigate the treacherous terrain.
The storm at Alexandria appears to have ruined all that they worked so hard to build. Walkers are within the walls and a fire has broken out at the windmill that is signaling more undead in their direction. (That should also be the case at Meridian with the loud explosions.) With the panic spreading, it is up to Judith to keep everyone calm and safe. Where are the bullies who tormented Judith so? She is a born leader, not surprising given who her parents were, but her youth makes others somehow incapable of giving her any serious responsibility.
After Rosita has done her best to clear walkers from outside the house, the inhabitants inside scramble upstairs for further safety, but one of them is missing. Gracie (Anabelle Holloway), inspired by Judith and fed up with being unable to defend herself has run off to the basement to try and find a weapon, but the basement is flooding. Judith goes to find her and, as she does, walkers break in through the front door, trapping her and Gracie in the basement. With water pouring in there appears to be only one way out and it’s going to take an awful lot of courage from these two children.
Back at Meridian, Negan and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) have drawn the short straw and are leading the dead across the mines, while Maggie and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) sneak around the side. Daryl spots this and runs off around the perimeter to help. He kills a Reaper and tosses him over the side, pointing out an entry point to his friends breaking the padlock on the food store. His disappearance from the group only raises more suspicions and Pope looks like he has made up his mind on what to do with him.
Having broken into the compound, Maggie gives Gabriel directions to something while she tries to hotwire a car that she then sends flying into the gates, allowing the dead inside the walls to cause more chaos. Gabriel finds what he was sent for, a sniper rifle, and he uses it at just the right time – but a man with one eye using a sighted-weapon might not have been the wisest decision.
Pope, as always, has a plan. He reveals a huge device full of arrows attached to fireworks and he plans on firing it at the courtyard below. Leah is incensed at this as it will kill their own people too, but Pope does not care. Daryl takes this opportunity to tell Leah the truth but it does not go down as he planned. She feels betrayed by him – he has lied to her and now her family, who have taken care of her, are at risk from his people. Daryl readies himself for a fight, pulling out his dual-knives, ready to take down Pope alone, but it is Leah who makes the kill.
With Pope dead, Leah takes the radio and announces that Daryl is a traitor and killed Pope. She lets him run, giving him a fighting chance probably to curtail her guilt a little bit. It looks as though Leah is now taking charge of things and she orders her people back inside. Negan wonders why they are retreating and then we all find out why: the arrows have been fired!
This is the end of the series until part two of Season 11 returns in February next year. While it is unlikely that Negan, Maggie or Gabriel will be killed, the chances of Elijah surviving are slimmer. Gabriel is still inside with the sniper rifle; he could just pick off Leah and the rest and be a hero.
It isn’t really a cliffhanger and there is still so much story that needs to be told. This opening act has spent a lot of time with the Reapers and for what? Food for Alexandria. If Daryl or Leah aren’t going to join one another on a more permanent basis or create a love triangle with Connie (Lauren Ridloff), what was the point? The characters are all in the same place they were at the start of the season, meaning this time could have been spent with the Commonwealth and learning their mysteries.