TV review: The Walking Dead: Season 11, Episode 11 (Rogue Element)
3 / 5 ( 3 votes )
Written by Arthur
The Walking Dead goes all neo-noir in this conspiracy episode tinged with dark mystery.
If the shift in tone of New Haunts wasn’t enough of a deviation from the norm, Rogue Element takes things a step further providing us with a full-on neo-noir mystery as Eugene (Josh McDermitt) investigates when his sort-of-girlfriend “Stephanie” (Chelle Ramos) goes missing. The decaying world and the rise of the undead are mere background noises as more mysteries of the Commonwealth start to float to the surface – but as one door is opened, there are two more, locked, behind it. Does Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) hold the keys we need for answers? Having been instrumental in helping Eugene and his group into the Commonwealth, he, like the community at large, is still much of an enigma.
As we have continually mentioned throughout our reviews of The Walking Dead, aside from flesh hungry zombies, there is one thing for certain: no one is allowed to be happy. The very moment some semblance of happiness is even alluded to, tragedy quickly follows. This time, the heartbreak sheds some light on the confusion surrounding Stephanie’s identity, and it reveals something even darker, but what exactly we are still none the wiser.
Aside from Detective Porter, Connie (Lauren Ridloff) is in the middle of an investigation herself. Determined to explore the interruption to the party in New Haunts and the class divide that is causing frustrations for Trooper Davis (Cameron Roberts) and apparently “thousands” of others like him who are struggling at the bottom social ladder. Unlike Eugene, she doesn’t have a conspiracy board, but she does appear to have an ally on her side, as Mercer (Michael James Shaw) hints that all is not as it seems at the Commonwealth.
Mercer may have seen things he doesn’t take too kind an eye to after we learn, through Connie’s investigation, that he is entangled in what happened at the party more closely than first appeared. When Connie receives a clue mysteriously, we wonder if it is Mercer giving her these threads to tug on. On a more overt level, the Commonwealth soldiers may be providing another clue; while they look the part in their polished plastic armour, underneath they still struggle to defeat the undead who will happily scratch away at their layers, just like Connie.
This second part of the Walking Dead’s final season is still very surreal; a group who were fighting the undead, scavenging for food mere weeks ago is now living relatively comfortably where they no longer have to worry about being eaten and have time to have raise suspicions over a shady looking plumber or work on their novel. The different style doesn’t really provide us with anything groundbreaking for the episode but does allow us to enjoy a new type of musical style, sounding like something out of CSI and really complimenting the mystery. Josh McDermitt and Paola Lázaro also shine when the focus is solely on them, Princess’ optimistic outlook complementing Eugene’s dark spiral perfectly.
Where the Commonwealth will take us and what secrets it hides are still burning questions. In New Haunts, we saw Daryl (Norman Reedus) towing the company line in the capture of Trooper Davis and here Carol (Melissa McBride), using her unique skills, is getting closer to Lance’s inner circle. She learns the Commonwealth still feeds on other, outside resources – a potential link here to the wider Walking Dead Universe perhaps which might, just might, allow the return of a certain sheriff. But if he were to make an extraordinary comeback in this final season, that would mean people would be happy – and, as Rogue Element reminds us, that just can’t happen.