UK TV review: The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 6 (On the Inside)
Outside Looking In8
Inside Looking Out9
Inside Looking In9
Neil Brazier | On 29, Sep 2021
Read on below for spoilery notes – and read our other Season 11 reviews here.
When Norman Reedus said in a recent interview that this season of The Walking Dead would be “very surreal”, he may very well have been talking about this episode. On the Inside spends the majority of its runtime with returning survivor Connie (Lauren Ridloff) but rather than focus on how she escaped the cave, we jump right into a house of horrors that her, and her new companion Virgil (Kevin Carroll) l, must survive. The series’ entire premise is survival horror, yet this storyline hits differently. It is creepy and exceptionally frightening in a way that feels unique and incredibly immersive.
Elsewhere, we continue to follow Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) indoctrination into the Reapers amid further trust issues. Having been given a possible location to Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) whereabouts after the captured Frost (Glenn Stanton) is brutally tortured, Daryl must decide whose side he is going to take. There is no love lost between Daryl and Carver (Alex Meraz), who spends the episode firing doubt at his counterpart.
Leah (Lynn Collins) tries her best to keep the peace but Daryl’s presence seems to make her question if she can trust her own family anymore. The Reapers are an unpredictable group and Carver epitomises this more than anyone. His hot temper in the hunt for Maggie stacks the odds firmly in his favour and – having already witnessed what the Reapers can and will do – there is genuine fear that maybe Maggie won’t be escaping this time, especially when the Reapers are right on top of her. It feels ridiculous saying that despite these scenes’ friction and brutality, they are merely respite from what is happening with Connie and Virgil.
Unsure where to turn and with walkers surrounding them, Virgil convinces Connie to seek refuge in a large house. After an initial search, the house appears empty but Connie, devoid of sleep for several days, decides to check again; and it is a good job she did. The house is not empty, but neither is it full of the undead. The inhabitants are very much alive and they are even more terrifying than zombies. In their attempt to escape, Virgil and Connie are split up and it is here the episode gets ultimately more petrifying.
With Connie being deaf, there is already a communication issue between her and Virgil, but, once they are split, this is made even more profound. How do you call out for someone who cannot hear you? During the scenes with Connie alone in the house, the audio is cut completely from the episode. This trick was used before when Connie was on the run from Whisperers, it was good then, but it is great now. The confines of the house and the claustrophobia from hiding helplessly behind walls combined with the loss of sound creates an immersive fear zone. The panic as Connie desperately tries to warn Virgil, the bloody knife coming inches away from a fatal wound is pure horror executed to perfection.
It feels peculiar to talk about The Walking Dead as if it were a horror movie – the whole series is pitched as one. Daryl is repeating storylines and nothing feels different about it; he has to blend in with the bad guys (see Merle and the Governor or Negan and the Saviours). Connie and Virgil are just doing what the entire series has seen people do – surviving horrors – yet On the Inside manages to create new ways to scare us, taking the bar a step further. The point-of-view camerawork, use of silence and surrealism work wonderfully together to create an unforgettable episode.
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)
Daryl’s acceptance into the Reapers is solidified when he takes over the torturing duties of Frost. After some tame attempts to extract the information Pope wants, Daryl resorts to chopping off one of Frost’s fingers, which leads him to give some vague locations of the whereabouts of the safehouse. This is the second episode in a row we’ve had to see someone lose a finger for information – it must be the new currency – but with the repetition of the Daryl-must-join-a-new-group format, it stands to reason torture methods are the same too. With the tone of the rest of this episode, someone having their finger chopped off isn’t the most squeamish thing you’ll see.
When the Reaper team make it to the town, Daryl does his best to send clues to Maggie and pals and his warnings appear to work as when the house is stormed, Maggie has vanished. That is until Daryl spots her hiding under the floorboards. With some quick-thinking Daryl does his best to get the Reapers out of the house, even tugging at Leah’s heartstrings to get her on his side, but it is ultimately no good. Just as they are about to leave, Carver notices the trapdoor and opens it, but the safe room is empty, Maggie and the others have escaped out of the house and Daryl has given them some vital information.
How useful that information is remains to be seen. His warnings told Maggie that the Reapers were only around 20 strong and could see people coming to their hideout a mile off. But our survivor team are rather low in numbers themselves these days, and, with the famine back at Alexandria, none are in fighting spirits. A tactical unit like the Reapers should have no problem picking off weary Alexandrians.
When Daryl, Carver and Leah return back to camp, Pope is there waiting for them. He tells them that he performed a little interrogation of his own once they left and he learned everything he wanted to. He glares at Daryl before heading inside, laughing with Carver. Outside, Frost is tied to a post, as he chomps desperately for brains. Just what could Frost have revealed? Does Pope know the truth about Daryl and Maggie or even the location of Alexandria? Daryl may need to watch his back very carefully.
After learning from the Whisperer that Connie is alive, the ladies of Alexandria set out to find her, but Kelly (Angel Theory) decides to go run off on her own. She manages to track down a campfire and finds Connie’s notebook, which gives us a quick insight why Connie has teamed up with Virgil – they have a common friend in Michonne.
This haunted house is one of the scariest things this show has done. It is full blown horror movie and it thrives. We’ve been surrounded by zombies and villains for so long. Being confronted by humans that have de-evolved into these creepy feral beasts almost sounds far-fetched, but it actually fits in perfectly. We’re years into a zombie apocalypse; civilisation has collapsed leaving many without food or water. We’ve seen many people return to their savage, brutal roots where those with the biggest stick (or baseball bat) survived, but this group have remained cut off from everything and over those years become something far worse.
The way they crawl and creep out of the shadows, the bones that lay scattered throughout the basement, hiding behind the walls all create such an unsettling vibe. This is only amplified through the use of silence and having to watch helplessly as the monsters appear from the walls. Trapped herself, Connie tries to warn Virgil that a monster is behind him but he thinks it is one of them making the noise so plunges his knife into the wall, inches from Connie’s face. The way Lauren Ridloff reacts and is able to emote without saying anything is perfection.
After the pair reunite and try to escape, a swathe of these monsters appear and chase them down. It is Connie’s quick thinking that enables her and Virgil to escape in likely the same manner that Connie survived the horde in the cave in the first place. Once outside, Connie is finally reunited with Kelly and it’s tears all round. Connie is home.