Connect with us
The Walking Dead (AMC)
The Walking Dead (AMC)

Television

‘The Walking Dead’ season 11 episode 15 ‘Trust’ recap/review

Despite some good moments and one heck of a great ending, tonight’s episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ wraps up all its intriguing storylines far too easily.

Last week’s episode of The Walking Dead concluded with even more main characters realizing just how dangerous and rotten the Commonwealth‘s government is. The audience also discovered that Leah is definitely going to be causing some trouble in the near future.

This week, we finally get to see the events immediately preceding the moment when Daryl and a bunch of Commonwealth soldiers marched on Hilltop (from the flash forward in the season’s ninth episode). Rosita also joins forces with Connie, Kelly, and Eugene to undertake her own investigation of the Commonwealth governor‘s family.

Listen to the latest episode of the AIPT Television podcast!

As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers. The sequence of events has also been streamlined for the sake of clarity.

From a Certain Point of View

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The episode opens with Daryl and a battalion of Commonwealth soldiers discovering the gruesome aftermath of the Riverbend incident — including Carlson‘s partially eaten corpse.

As the investigation gets underway, he’s called up to the roof of the apartment complex. When Daryl arrives, he finds Hornsby interrogating Aaron and Gabriel about what happened. Despite the pair’s earnest demeanor, the lieutenant governor has a hard time buying their story:

  • They entered the apartment complex and things got tense (TRUE).
  • A firefight broke out (MOSTLY TRUE).
  • The Riverbend people killed all of the Commonwealth’s highly trained and well-armed soldiers, but left Aaron and Gabriel alive (FALSE).
  • Despite securing their home, the Riverbend people fled from the apartment complex without taking Aaron and Gabriel hostage (PANTS ON FIRE).

Daryl backs up his friends’ integrity, but Hornsby remains skeptical — going so far as to accuse the pair of having known people in the Riverbend community beforehand. When they remain firm on their story, however, the lieutenant governor seemingly relents. He then tells everyone that they’ll be heading to Hilltop to “warn” the community of a potential nearby threat on the loose.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

On the way to Maggie’s neighborhood, Hornsby charges Aaron and Gabriel with taking out a small pack of socially distant walkers. He claims its so his troops can save ammunition, but the real reason is so we can watch some slow motion zombie kills. Daryl also joins his friends, managing to kill two walkers by shoving his gun inside one’s head and firing a muffled shot into the other.

Once the pack is cleared, Daryl defiantly kicks the head of the last zombie he shot over to Hornsby. Instead of acting offended, he compliments the trio on their efficient work before telling Daryl to put his helmet back on and leading the group forward. A few moments later, we see them marching on Hilltop, leading us to the scene from episode nine’s flash forward. This time, however, we get to see the moments immediately before and after.

Hornsby tells Maggie and Elijah that they’re looking for the people who raided their convoy and killed all the Commonwealth soldiers back at Riverbend. He asks if it would be possible to take his troops inside Hilltop’s walls to do a search and gets firmly rejected. The lieutenant governor is about to order a full frontal assault when Daryl warns him that doing so will result in massive amounts of bloodshed. When he asks to speak with Maggie first, Hornsby agrees.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

It takes a bit of convincing, but Daryl eventually gets her to open the gate. While the troops look around, Hornsby manages to locate the truck that Team Hilltop drove to Riverbend. Maggie tries to claim that the vehicle doesn’t run, but the lieutenant governor isn’t buying it — especially when he notices fresh dirt on the tires.

Things get even more tense when Hornsby looks under the hood and notices a very clean looking engine that should work just fine. In fact, the only problem he can find is a disconnected starter relay. When he hooks it back up and tries to start the car, however, nothing happens.

Maggie uses this small victory to inform her unwanted visitor that he has until sundown to finish his search and leave.

Love and Understanding

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Over in the Commonwealth, Mercer‘s alarm begins going off at 5:45 AM. This might be way too early for most folks (myself included), but he doesn’t seem to mind a bit…especially when Princess reaches over him to hit the snooze button. Initially, we’re treated to the banter of a couple that are clearly head over heels for each other. Mercer even shows a rare glimpse of his gentle/humorous side while Princess appears more joyful and content than we’ve ever seen her.

*Side Note: I absolutely love these two together, but we better get a flashback episode at some point that shows us how it happened.

Unfortunately, the good vibes take a downturn when Princess begins asking why Mercer has trouble sleeping. Despite her good intentions, her line of questioning (and concern) causes him to go jarringly cold. As he gets up and heads to work, Princess remains in bed, worried and unable to go back to sleep, either.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Meanwhile, Eugene and Rosita meet with Connie and Kelly to tell them about the unsavory details regarding last episode’s cash heist. In response, Connie produces the list someone left under their door after Tyler Davis (the ex-trooper who held Max at knifepoint) disappeared. Sure enough, the woman Rosita and Daryl found at Cooper’s house (April Martens) is on the list, as well.

While this is definitely a big potential connection, Connie explains that it doesn’t provide them with any actionable evidence. They need someone with inside access to the Milton’s if they’re going to expose the rot within the Commonwealth government.

Fortunately, Eugene happens to know someone who might be able to help with that.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Sometime later, Eugene goes to Union Station to have a clandestine meeting with Max. She’s already anxious about them being seen together, but becomes infinitely more nervous when he asks her to find and steal files on the Miltons. As if that weren’t enough for her to process, Eugene also reveals that her brother (Mercer) can confirm Rosita’s story about Sebastian’s heist…and that Mercer ended up having to get involved.

Before she can give Eugene an answer, they’re interrupted by a member of the custodial staff. Max pretends Eugene was delivering something and departs to confront her brother. She finds him working out at the gym and demands to know why he didn’t tell her about what Sebastian was doing.

Predictably, Mercer replies that it wasn’t any of her business. He cynically adds that there’s nothing they can do about Sebastian, anyway.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Before you mistake Mercer’s attitude for being flippant, he also reveals a deep sense of guilt over not learning about what the governor’s son was up to sooner. As far as he’s concerned, those deaths are are on his shoulders. It’s a burden he’s willing to carry, but not one he wants his sister to have, as well.

Max continues to press, pointing out that Mercer is a person who everyone in the community looks up to. That gives him the necessary cache to call out Sebastian’s behavior and survive whatever ire it would stoke with Governor Milton.

When Mercer responds that he’s “just a soldier,” Max replies that he could be so much more. When this refuses to move him, she agrees that maybe her brother truly is nothing but a walking propaganda poster for the Commonwealth.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Mercer goes home and waits outside his apartment for Princess to arrive. When she does, he apologizes for how he treated her that morning. As he begins to stumble over his words, Princess reassures him that her carefree personality doesn’t mean she can’t handle the heavy stuff.

Finally realizing that he has someone to confide in, Mercer tells her about the soldiers he (justifiably) killed along with the guilt he feels about covering it up. It wasn’t the way he was raised or something he ever thought he’d do, but living in the Commonwealth has changed him.

Mercer also admits that if he had to do it over, he’d kill them again. The ability to inflict harm helped him protect people when the Commonwealth was getting off the ground, but now he wonders if it’s something the community would be better off without.

Princess responds by suggesting that they go inside and figure things out together.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Elsewhere, Max visits Eugene to tell him that she’s ready to join his crusade to expose the Miltons. It’s not something she feels at all built/prepared for, but it would be impossible not to do anything after learning what she knows. Eugene promises that no matter what happens, he’ll be by her side.

This leads to the pair finally having their first kiss.

*Side Note: Yes, this moment was incredibly contrived, but damn if it still wasn’t all sorts of cute, anyway.

Excising Darkness

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Carol is dropping R.J. and Judith off at school when they’re greeted by Ezekiel. After the children head inside, he reveals to his ex-lover that the surgery she arranged for him was successful and has him feeling infinitely better. He also thanks Carol for what she did (finally) before inviting her to hang out. She rejects him on account of her new job, which she can’t explain, but is clearly causing her a lot of stress.

Despite his clear concern for her, Carol asks Ezekiel to trust her, which he does without reservation. She also accepts a rain check for them to hang out again.

Before they depart, the pair lament how moving into a place that was supposed to make life better has resulted in more shades of grey that they’re required to navigate.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Later, Ezekiel interrupts Tomi‘s afternoon of depressive binge drinking to see if he can help a friend who needs an appendectomy — outside the Commonwealth system, of course. Tomi doesn’t want to for a lot of reasons, including the fact that he just lost a patient that morning despite all the medical resources at his disposal. Doing a rogue operation would be exponentially riskier. Ezekiel understands where he’s coming from, but insists it’s the only way to help his friend.

Tomi agrees and helps Ezekiel load up on supplies. After managing to avoid some patrols, the pair run right into a soldier before they can even leave the hospital. This results in them getting arrested, but not for long once Ezekiel mentions that he knows Carol. Turns out that her job working for Hornsby comes with some perks, including the ability to free people from custody who steal medical supplies — which they still get to keep when they leave!

As if that weren’t crazy enough, Carol then accompanies them to a veterinary clinic that Ezekiel’s set up to help folks who can’t afford the Commonwealth’s medical care.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

That evening, as Tomi performs surgery, Ezekiel and Carol reflect on the current position of their lives after all the hell they’ve been through. Ezekiel hopes she sees that he’s using the second chance she got him to do something truly worthwhile. Carol is appreciative, but also sad that her own life appears to be mired in darkness. Ezekiel points out that her courage and determination is the spark that creates the light–including the burning inside of him.

This leads the pair to joke about getting back together. Carol says it’s never happening, but Ezekiel’s hope springs eternal. Their conversation is interrupted when Tomi calls for them to help with his patient, whose appendix has just burst. After a harrowing few minutes, Tomi’s incredibly surgical skills shine through, saving the patient and making him look truly happy for the first time since he worked at the bakery.

Headhunters

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Back at Hilltop, Hershel is finishing up a visit to his father’s grave when Lance sees the boy and begins talking to him. His questions start out friendly, but quickly turn pointed and threatening — all without him ever dropping his signature creepy grin. He even has the gall to say to say that he doesn’t want anything bad to happen his mom.

Hershel tries to walk away, but Hornsby stops him to give a gift, which turns out to be the hat he left back at Riverbend. Hornsby puts it on the the boy’s head and remarks on how perfectly it fits. Seconds later, he’s slammed up against a nearby wall by Elijah. Soldiers immediately surround them, but Daryl and Maggie are right there, as well. When Hershel tells his mother that Hornsby claimed “something bad would happen,” her gun is drawn and pointed at the lieutenant governor immediately.

Daryl quickly follows suit, turning from the soldiers to Hornsby while pointing out that the troops haven’t found anything that implicates Hilltop in the Riverbend incident. He then tells him to make the troops to lower their weapons. Hornsby complies and orders the troops to pack up.

After Elijah lets him go, the lieutenant governor offers Maggie a smarmy apology and departs. He also laments that he and the Hilltop leader weren’t able to become friends.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

That evening, Aaron, Gabriel, and Daryl covertly discuss their predicament. After what took place at Hilltop (and the secret they’re keeping about Riverbend), there’s no way any of them can return to Commonwealth. Unfortunately, Hornsby appears dead set on keeping them out in the woods until the killers are caught.

Meanwhile, a soldier alerts Hornsby that they found the stolen weapons. He follows a small squad to to a tent which (unbeknownst to them) is occupied by Leah, who totally heard them coming. Before they can locate her, she finds cover and ambushes them, instead.

After two of his soldiers go down (with non-fatal injuries), Hornsby orders the rest to hold their fire. He assures the hidden shooter that he means her no harm before imploring her to hear him out. Leah steps forward and commands Hornsby to talk fast. Without breaking a sweat or his smile, the lieutenant governor introduces himself and offers her a job.

The Verdict

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Well, that’s bound to make things awkward around the Commonwealth Army water cooler.

All joking aside, I absolutely love where this storyline might be heading. Instead of the predictable revenge/redemption arc it appeared to be taking, the tension gets ratcheted up far beyond anything we (or Daryl) were expecting. The narrative may still end up in the same place, but the path there looks a whole lot more interesting now. It’s also nice as a comic reader to see an original storyline that’s both organic to the series and genuinely enjoyable.

All that being said, the last few minutes of Trust is easily the strongest part of the episode. The multitude of other plotlines are fine (even good at some points), but it feels like they all got resolved far too easily.

  • We finally see why Daryl was with a bunch of Commonwealth troops marching to Hilltop. Instead of a battle ensuing, however, they’re let inside to look for Riverbend people. Maggie looks like she’s going to throw up the entire time, but Hornsby & Co. don’t find anything.
  • The Hilltop storyline’s strongest moment — the fallout from Hornsby confronting Hershel — ends with virtually no repercussions for anyone. Maggie still hates Hornsby, Hornsby is still pissed, and Daryl is still part of the Commonwealth Army despite aiming an automatic weapon at the lieutenant governor’s head.
  • Aaron and Gabriel get totally bailed out on lying about Riverbend when the Commonwealth troops find Leah along with the weapons she stole.
The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Meanwhile, the episode’s trio of subplots resolved in a similar manner.

  • Ezekiel and Tomi get caught stealing medical supplies, but are completely bailed out by Carol. They even get to keep the supplies. Later, the patient Tom is operating on nearly dies, which would have forced them to rush her back to the Commonwealth. Instead, Tomi successfully completes the surgery, escaping major consequences for the second time that day.
  • Max is terrified of going after the Miltons and what will happen if she and Eugene are seen together. Instead of this creating more conflict, it leads to their first kiss. The moment was incredibly sweet, but still a bit fast/unexpected considering where we were with these two just a few episodes ago.
  • Mercer’s guilt and wariness over his role in the Commonwealth’s unsavory aspects initially drives a wedge between him and Princess, who appears to be part of an otherwise very happy/healthy relationship. By episode’s end, she’s taken the news about him (justifiably) murdering his own soldiers completely in stride and the pair appear stronger than ever.

I’m not saying that I want a perpetual state of conflict where nothing gets resolved. In the case of this episode, however, every narrative it explored (aside from the final moments with Leah) got tied up with bow.

Yes, we still have all of season eleven’s major storylines still going strong — especially Mercer’s internal struggle with his role in the Commonwealth’s many sins. But when you look at “Trust” as an individual piece of storytelling, it didn’t work anywhere near as well as the rest of this season’s episodes typically have.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Thankfully, “Trust” also benefits from exceptional individual performances, which has been a staple of Season 11.

I originally felt like Josh Hamilton’s portrayal of Hornsby strayed into parody/caricature territory. After the last few episodes, however, he’s turned the lieutenant governor into a deliciously terrifying and hateable villain. Definitely not as hateable as Sebastian, but far more driven and deadly than most of us likely gave him credit for.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out how great it was to see things come to a head between Mercer and Max. Despite James Michael Shaw looking all types of buff during their confrontation, Margot Bingham was the one who comes out of it looking the stronger.

Hopefully, next week’s 2/3 season finale (?) takes season eleven’s narratives and continues putting them through the ringer again — especially Connie and Kelly’s investigation into the Miltons. Depending on how The Walking Dead can stir them all up, the addition to Daryl and Leah’s unexpected reunion could make for a fantastic lead-in to The Walking Dead’s final eight episode stretch.

 

Next Episode: ‘Acts of God’

The Walking Dead (AMC)
'The Walking Dead' season 11, episode 15 'Trust' recap/review
Despite some good moments and one heck of a great ending, 'Trust' wraps up all its intriguing storylines far too easily.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
As has been the case throughout season eleven, 'Trust' benefits from some exceptional individual performances.
The final moments with Leah leads to a plotline that is both unexpected (even for comic readers) and filled with potential.
Hornsby's talk with Hershel leads to a confrontation that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Unfortunately, the big Hornsby vs. Hershel moment resolves like much of the episode's other plotlines -- without any significant fallout.
The episode is plagued with easy outs, the most egregious of which might be Ezekiel and Tomi being allowed to keep the medical supplies they stole.
Despite Maggie looking like she was going to throw up the entire time (and plenty of evidence that something was afoot), Hornsby & Co. leave Hilltop without finding anything or anyone--a truly anticlimactic resolution to Episode 9's shocking flash forward..
5
Average

Become a patron today to get exclusive perks, like access to our exclusive Discord community and our monthly comic book club, ad-free browsing on aiptcomics.com, a physical trade paperback sent to your house every month, and more!

Comments

In Case You Missed It

Dan Slott and Mark Bagley team up on 'Spider-Man' ongoing series Dan Slott and Mark Bagley team up on 'Spider-Man' ongoing series

Dan Slott and Mark Bagley team up on ‘Spider-Man’ ongoing series

Comic Books

surviving the cartel surviving the cartel

‘Surviving the Cartel’ follows in the tradition ‘The Wire’

Television

Sonic the Hedgehog #50 Sonic the Hedgehog #50

‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ #50 is a way-past-cool milestone

Comic Books

'X-Men: Red' #4 will make you think about life and death 'X-Men: Red' #4 will make you think about life and death

‘X-Men: Red’ #4 will make you think about life and death

Comic Books

Connect
Newsletter Signup