UK TV review: The Walking Dead: Season 11, Episode 9 (No Other Way)
The word of God7
Hell hath no fury9
Neil Brazier | On 22, Feb 2022
Read our other Season 11 reviews here.
Returning for part two of three, The Walking Dead continues its final season and explodes right from the get-go, literally. Picking up immediately where part one ended, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and his original family try to survive the attack from his one-time-potential-new-family and former love interest Leah (Lynn Collins) and her Reapers. While at Alexandria, the residents are trying to patch the walls in torrential downpour of rain and walkers as Judith (Cailey Fleming) and Gracie (Anabelle Holloway) face an uncertain future, trapped in a cellar that is quickly filling with water.
No Other Way is fast-paced and not afraid to shove its intensity in your face. The survivors are put in the utmost danger, be the enemy water, the Hwacha (the Reapers’ explosive fireworks machine) the dead or the living. In the past, when put in perilous situations, there was always the safety net of an actor’s billing or character’s star quality; it never seemed like the show would want to kill off Maggie (Lauren Cohan) or Daryl. But this episode feels like it has torn up the rulebook and every moment, regardless of who is in the crosshairs, feels important and dangerous – a welcome addition.
The Walking Dead has always had a needle fluctuating on the dial between ruthlessness and humanity and here, it finally has broken. The confrontation between Maggie and Leah dispenses a level of brutality and horror, all for the need of food and shelter, that usually would have taken a long diplomatic and thought-out discussion to reach such a conclusion. (It could be argued that part one was the road to this choice, but here it feels spur of the moment.) Maggie show an air of cruelty and almost laissez-faire attitude that would once have been found in Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) playbook – all that’s missing is some swagger and a witty put-down. His effect on her is evident but where he has evolved into a better person, Maggie is spiralling, but is she losing her grip on humanity or has she evolved into someone perfect to survive in this new world? Whatever it is, Negan can sense what she is becoming and makes an important decision on his future within the group.
As we watch the events of No Other Way unfold, drowning in dark hues and rainwater, the prospect of the Commonwealth (glimpsed here only briefly) seems a veritable haven by comparison. In fact, the Commonwealth, bathed in colour and character, feels a different show. Alexandria with its weary heroes draped in grey and the Commonwealth where it’s all suits and stormtroopers, who haven’t appeared to struggle to survive a day in the last decade – how will these two groups ever get along? The show may take a tonal jump in the upcoming episodes.
For all the action in No Other Way, there are some interesting editing choices. Much of the “how” is removed and we just see the dangerous situation and then the resolution but not any detail. Aaron (Ross Marquand)’s time spent in the cellar for example seems a particular leap as soon as Lydia (Cassady McClincy) shows up that could have had some more answers given. Although an oversight in places, it does keep the episode moving forward quickly and any scene punctuated by Bear McCreary’s soundtrack can cover most sins. Hopefully, overlooking some scenes is not a problem for the series now it has a limited time to conclude.
In short, The Walking Dead’s final season makes a positive return with an entertaining and action-packed episode. When looked upon as a whole, the writers appears to be blocking this final season into smaller story chunks. Whereas in seasons prior, a conflict with the Reapers might have lasted a season or longer, No Other Way appears to conclude our time with them and set up a larger introduction to the Commonwealth that will expand our world. The final scene of the episode takes that story a little further with a sneak-peak time-jump, giving us another goalpost to aim for as the series winds its way towards its conclusion. If every episode continues at this standard, then we are in for one very enjoyable season.
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.