Back in April, The Walking Dead‘s second midseason finale set up some intriguing storylines for the show’s final eight episodes:
- The Commonwealth now occupies/controls Alexandria, Hilltop, and Oceanside. This made Lieutenant Governor Hornsby sadistically gleeful despite his recent failure to kill Maggie.
- Speaking of Maggie, she appears to be warming up to Negan after he saved Hershel‘s life. Hershel’s still not a fan, but he does appear to like Negan’s wife Annie, who’s part of the newly allied Riverbend group.
- Max helps Connie & Co. print an anonymous newspaper article exposing how corrupt The Commonwealth is and all the bad stuff Sebastian Milton (aka Discount Joffrey) has been allowed to get away with. Governor Milton is all types of angry, but still has no idea Max (her assistant) is working against her.
This week, Daryl has to help Negan get back to the Commonwealth so he can protect the coalition families from retaliation. Thankfully, Governor Milton has her hands full with an angry populace who wants her douchey son to face justice. Meanwhile, Mercer needs Rosita’s help with an incoming herd of walkers.
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.
The episode opens with a voice-over of Judith talking about how the fall of society led people to be both good and evil. We then cut to Daryl and Maggie taking out a group of walkers. That turns out to be the least of their problems when Hornsby shows up with a bunch of stormtroopers and begins hunting them.
The pair are soon joined by Aaron, Gabriel, Negan, and Annie, who assures Maggie that Hershel is safe somewhere with Elijah. After some debate, Daryl decides Negan will head back to the Commonwealth while he and the others take out Hornsby and his crew.
Negan kicks things off by wearing a walker skin and ambushing a Commonwealth soldier, allowing him to take one of their cars. He then slides some weaponry over to Daryl in a concealed position. After Negan drives off, Hornsby shows up, sees the dead soldier, and somehow deduces exactly what happened. He tries to get a radio message back to the Commonwealth, but can’t get a signal. Seconds later, Daryl starts taking everyone out like he’s a ranked Call of Duty player. He also manages to wing Hornsby, but the lieutenant governor is protected from further harm by some exceptionally strong plot armor.
Daryl eventually finds a car of his own and drives off, nearly running over Hornsby. He’s able to escape when the remaining Commonwealth soldiers shower the back of the car with bullets instead of aiming for the tires. Meanwhile, Negan is pursued by another vehicle carrying a Commonwealth soldier (who also doesn’t realize that a car can’t ride on deleted treads). Just as the bad guys are about to close in, Daryl somehow guesses what intersection he’s crossing and slams into the car, allowing Negan to escape.
Back in the Commonwealth, angry citizens are demanding that Sebastian be punished for his crimes. Governor Milton attempts to diffuse the situation via a public address, which she uses to claim that the reports about her son are fake news. As you might imagine, this does little to dissuade anyone.
Outside, Connie & Co. discuss what will happen next while Ezekiel joins the crowds’ chants demanding Sebastian be delivered to them. When Mercer walks by with a brigade of troops, he sees Rosita out of uniform and tells her to suit up. She refuses, but he insists that her assistance is needed.
The pair’s conversation is interrupted when Mercer gets a call on the radio about an urgent matter. He arrives at the processing center to find Negan, who claims he’s there because of a friend named April (the woman Sebastian sent on a suicide mission to grab money from an abandoned house back in Season 11, Episode 14). He also claims that she told him to find Mercer when he arrived at the Commonwealth.
When Mercer asks if he knows what happened to her, Negan tries to dodge the question. This raises Mercer’s suspicion, which results in him asking the newcomer why he’s really there. Negan settles in and reveals that Daryl sent him. He also explains that Hornsby is on a rampage, thus resulting in his mission to the Commonwealth to protect people’s families.
Mercer counters that it’s his job to protect people. He also says that there are rules preventing him from simply letting Negan into the city. Negan responds by asking Mercer why he’s still playing by the rules when none of the people above him feel the need to.
While babysitting Judith, RJ, and Gracie, Carol spots Shira (aks Faux Stephanie) and Roman (another of Hornsby’s spies) heading toward her house. She has the children hide and takes up a defensive position with a knife near an exterior window. After entering the house and looking around a bit, Shira and Roman decide to give up and decide to check the school. Before they leave, Roman finds a picture of Daryl, Judith, and RJ and takes it with him.
Meanwhile, a bemused Negan (who Mercer apparently let in) is observing the protest when he’s approached by Jerry, who is understandably surprised to see him. After explaining that he’s there to “save your asses,” Jerry reluctantly leads Negan to Carol. When they arrive, Negan tells her about Hornsby’s willingness to get to Maggie via interrogating Hershel. That likely means he’ll go after the other children — a point that was just proven by Shira and Roman’s recent visit.
Carol instructs Jerry to take the children to a secure location and “get word to the others” about some sort of contingency plan. When Negan inquires what she plans to do, Carol responds that they’re going to obtain some insurance/leverage that will allow them to leave the Commonwealth.
Elsewhere, a soldier nearly succeeds in making radio contact with the Commonwealth before he’s ambushed by Maggie and Annie. Once he’s subdued, Maggie destroys the equipment.
Governor Milton and her entourage (including Yumiko) walk into Union Station and are confronted by angry protestors, including April’s parents. Milton assures them that they’re taking the matter seriously, but no one’s buying it — especially the grieving mother and father. Just as things are about to boil over, Yumiko manages to diffuse the situation via some genuine empathy and impressive double speak.
As the crowd leaves, Milton asks Yumiko if she thinks Connie might’ve written the hit piece about Sebastian. Yumiko lies and expresses doubt that she did, but the look on Milton’s face indicates she doesn’t agree.
*Side Note: Seriously? I love Connie and want her to survive, but is it even a question for Milton that she was the one behind the story?
Milton is then escorted outside to an armored vehicle. After seeing the infuriated protestors everywhere, she radios someone and instructs them to “do it right away.”
Meanwhile, Yumiko meets with Magna and expresses her concern that Milton knows it was Connie who wrote the story. She also states that if things go south, they must have a strong exit plan for their group. When Magna notices that she didn’t include herself in that statement, Yumiko explains that she can’t leave the Commonwealth without Tomi. Magna responds that they aren’t leaving without her — even if it means having to grab Tomi and dragging them both out together.
The nice moment between the former couple is interrupted by a citywide alert that the Commonwealth is going into lockdown. Yumiko assumes that it has something to do with the civil unrest. Turns out that a giant swarm of walkers has been detected five miles outside the city.
The news is enough to make the citizenry disperse and head back to their homes — at least temporarily. As Jerry leads the children through the crowd, he spots Roman and Shira following close behind. Luckily, he’s able to enlist some random citizens to block the operatives’ path, allowing them to escape. After another close call with Roman, Jerry manages to get the kids to a secure hiding place.
Conflict and Combustion
While accompanying Carol to find files on Sebastian, Negan reveals that he recently got married and that his wife is carrying their child. At first, it appears he’s telling Carol this so she knows he has a stake in the fight, too. After taking a moment to process things, however, it becomes clear that he’s just genuinely worried about his family. Carol assures Negan that they will be alright.
*Side Note: This wasn’t a very big moment, but it was a really nice one.
The pair find a set of blueprints for Union Station, which Carol uses to locate a hidden door. She picks the lock and discovers a hidden room where Sebastian is sleeping/hiding. After Negan wakes the Little Prince up and menaces him a bit, Carol declares that they’re taking him to his mother. Sebastian responds that he isn’t going anywhere until everything blows over. He also expresses his belief that Governor Milton cares more about the Commonwealth than him.
Carol is moderately sympathetic, assuring Sebastian that his mother does care about his well-being. Negan, on the other hand, scoffs at Diet Joffrey’s predicament. He also tells him that Carol is likely the best chance he has at making out of this mess alive.
Elsewhere, Daryl and Maggie are hiding from Commonwealth soldiers when Maggie decides to see how Daryl is after killing Leah. He’s still shaken up, but also says that Glenn would’ve wanted him to do whatever was necessary to keep her safe.
The pair are then joined by Gabriel, Aaron, and Annie, who suggest they use the sewers to flank Hornsby’s squadron and take them out. Once they’re down there, however, the group discovers a manageable amount of walkers lurking about. Daryl decides this might actually work in their favor if they can get Hornsby’s crew to come to them.
Gabriel silently agrees and fires off a few rounds.
Back at the Commonwealth, a suited-up Rosita joins Mercer in an armored jeep and drives out with a squadron to meet the walker herd. As they begin razing the zombies, Mercer thanks Rosita for having his back during the Sebastian debacle. When he asks if he can continue to trust her, Rosita assures him he can as long as they’re killing walkers. Back in town, though, her family and her people come first. Mercer respects Rosita’s principles and pledges to provide assistance if she ever needs to escape from the Commonwealth.
The pair’s heart-to-heart is interrupted by soldiers radioing in for help after their vehicle flipped over. Rosita and Mercer ride over to them and begin laying down cover fire. They’re able to save two of the troops, but the last one is torn in half while Mercer desperately tries to pull him into his jeep.
Despite how disgusted he is with everything, Mercer is still devastated to lose one of his soldiers.
Lest you start to feel too bad for the Commonwealth Army, a squad of soldiers shows up in town that evening to break up a candlelight vigil for Sebastian’s victims. The head security officer (Henderson) claims that the curfew is for everyone’s safety, but no one’s buying it.
When April’s parents and a group of citizens refuse to leave, Henderson has the soldiers get in formation and radios for permission to take aggressive enforcement measures. The situation becomes exponentially worse when someone spots Carol and Negan leading Sebastian out of his hiding place. Negan sends the other two off and confronts the man so they can escape. This leads to a fistfight that’s quickly ended when a Commonwealth soldier hits him over the head with his gun.
Henderson finally gets the angry crowd to quiet down long enough so they can hear the walkers nearby. Despite this seeming to have an effect on everyone, he still orders his troops to deploy tear gas into the crowd. This successfully disperses them, but escalates the Commonwealth’s anti-government feelings even more.
The next day, Yumiko confronts Milton at her residence about tear-gassing her friends. The governor justifies it as a necessary action while continuing to proclaim her son’s innocence. Yumiko presses Milton to admit she knew what happened, explaining that she may have to defend her in court one day. Milton responds by asking how she can trust a lawyer who’s also friends with the Commonwealth’s most prominent journalist.
The pair’s conversation is interrupted when Carol arrives with Sebastian. The governor embraces her son before smacking him across the face and demanding that he tell her the truth. After Sebastian (falsely) declares his innocence, Carol pipes up to introduce herself as one of the lieutenant governor’s operatives — a fact that Milton either wasn’t aware of or does an excellent job of pretending she didn’t know. Carol then explains how Hornsby is currently using the Commonwealth Army to hunt her friends.
When Milton expresses confusion over why she’s telling her this, Carol provides a chilling response:
“If your son didn’t do the things that he’s accused of, someone did.”
Elsewhere, Daryl & Co. set a trap and ambush Hornsby’s squadron in the sewers. Despite being heavily outnumbered, Daryl manages to grab Hornsby and put a knife to his throat, resulting in a standoff.
Although it wasn’t a great episode, “Lockdown” does a good job setting up The Walking Dead for its final run.
The most intriguing storyline by far is what Carol is going to offer up to Milton in exchange for her friend’s safety and safe passage. My guess is that it will be Hornsby, who’s already going to be all kinds of mad if/when the governor tells him to stand down.
I also loved seeing Negan and Carol work together. Although their team-up was disappointingly short, it hopefully means we’ll get to see the pair in action again soon. Both characters have made awful decisions for what they believed to be the greater good. Since then, they’ve developed bonds that have forced them to become better people. Combine that with the pair both being stone-cold badasses, and it’s a combo that’s way too good to just be a one time thing.
As intriguing as the political plot is, it’s undermined by the fact that Connie is still able to walk around the Commonwealth without a squad of soldiers arresting her. I realize she didn’t sign her name to the story, but there’s no way Milton would suddenly decide she needs to respect due process over her extremely valid (and 100% accurate) suspicions.
From an action standpoint, “Lockdown” was a bit of a mixed bag. Even if you take out my frustration over how often people in TV/movies don’t shoot at a fleeing car’s tires, there were other eye roll-worthy moments. The worst was when Daryl somehow knew exactly where Negan would be and timed things just right to ram into his pursuer. Also, I’d really like to know how Hornsby manages to avoid so much gunfire when he’s standing in front of armored soldiers who are getting mowed down left and right.
That said, there were some pretty cool moments, as well. The opening fight was great, but Rosita and Mercer’s rescue was jarringly impactful. It needed a little help from an inept soldier, but that’s forgivable — especially when we’ve seen how subpar some of the Commonwealth’s troops can be.
From a technical standpoint, the episode looked great, but had some continuity issues near the end. We went from nighttime in the Commonwealth to back to daytime with Mercer and Rosita. Since we already know the walkers were only five miles out, we know these events were shown out of order.
Meanwhile, Gabriel shot his gun to attract Hornsby’s crew, which you figure would happen immediately. Instead, almost an entire day passed before the ambush occurred. I guess they could’ve been hiding and setting traps that whole time without being detected, but it’s much more likely that the editors slipped up a while cutting the episode together.
Thankfully, none of that was enough to derail this from being a solid start to The Walking Dead‘s final eight episodes. It’s still unclear if we’ll get a satisfying conclusion, but more Negan/Carol is definitely worth getting excited about.
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