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Disney+ TV review: The Walking Dead: Season 11, Episode 2 (Acheron: Part II)

Written by Belinda

Review Overview

Truth / Lies

8/10

Fire in the hole

8/10

Trust

6.5/10

Rating 7.5/10

Rating The Walking Dead finds a new class of suspense in this claustrophic second episode.

If you only learn one thing from your decade of survival in the zombie apocalypse it should be this: confirm your kill. This one piece of advice slipped by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) at the end of Acheron Part I and now he must live with the consequences of his actions. At the Commonwealth, the survivors are debating what is going to happen to them as a direct result of their attempted escape. Were they spotted? Do the guards know their uniforms went missing for a brief period? Trust is the theme of this episode: after such a long time, is there any of it left?

At the Commonwealth, the survivors get split up. Ezekiel (Khary Payton) is the first to disappear and the others wonder if he has been taken to reprocessing due to his defiance at the interrogation. Princess (Paola Lázaro) and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) quickly follow, leaving a very nervous and sweaty Eugene (Josh McDermitt). The disappearance of the others doesn’t ring any alarm bells and these scenes serve merely as an opportunity to break from the desolate and dark action that is going on in the subway tunnels. Juxtaposed, the subway is shot as a deep blue-grey, almost black and white, while the Commonwealth scenes are incredibly bright, made more so by the continual optimism of Princess, overjoyed to learn the bathrooms are complete with toilet paper. By the end of the episode, the group is reunited, learning their fate as judgement is made.

Down in the subway tunnels, Shady Grove may have been where the group boarded but they are alighting in a place far bleaker. Daryl (Norman Reedus) gets into some tight spots, creating even more claustrophobia than Episode 1 as he wriggles his way through an atmospheric narrow passageway that echoes with the groans of walkers around him. He finds what remains of those who called these tunnels home and their story is depicted on the wall in a mural that shows the dissolution of class, as the rich are fighting the same battle as the poor. This is a new concept for the series: the survivors communities have never looked at class before. Alexandria, when it was first introduced, had a council leadership, but it has very much been the case in The Walking Dead that it doesn’t matter who you were, just who you are now and how you contribute. The Commonwealth may not share that idea.

One character who has proven this statement more than once is Negan, who evolved from deadbeat gym teacher to vicious leader – and then to weak prisoner and now moral co-worker. The last part may be tinted with shades of grey as his actions abandoning Maggie (Lauren Cohan) proved. The group already have a less than joyful opinion of the man and, despite accusations against him when Maggie doesn’t arrive, they venture forward, as behind them the herd of walkers continuously presses. Eventually the truth is revealed causing a very awkward moment for Negan. But instead of lying or trying to squirm out of the situation, Negan is brutally honest with the group. Negan is able to suck all the air out of the room, leaving only toxins to fuel his relationship with the others and Maggie. If there is one thing that Negan has always kept, even in his darkest hours imprisoned, it is his lack of shame and that is commendable.

There isn’t much time to dwell on Negan’s actions as the herd is making progress through the subway car a priority. As the walkers somehow surround the survivors, decisions must be made. There are some very tough choices and, just for a moment, Negan and Maggie put aside their squabbles to survive. With a common enemy, an ever so small semblance of trust forms between them, but will it be enough to ensure their survival or start to build bridges? On their quest towards Meridian, they are going to need each other more than they care to admit. Acheron Part II is a grand continuation of the final season, however, it does suffer from some moments of talking-too-much (or, in Daryl’s case, not at all). The Commonwealth scenes are meaningless until the last one arrives at which point trepidation levels rise. Alexandria has almost become a memory as the focus has been exclusive to those outside the walls, but the stages now appear to be set to move both groups on – if they can trust one another.

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