TV review: The Walking Dead: Season 11, Episode 5 (Out of the Ashes)
Written by Arthur
Having criticised Rendition for spending too much time with the Reapers, Out of the Ashes does the complete opposite and flitters between several storylines, spending little time in each and creating confusion. We get to investigate more at the Commonwealth as well as check in with our favourite odd couple, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), as they head to the safe house, while the main bulk of time is spent with some of the Alexandrian survivors travelling to the burnt down Hilltop in search of tools to help them rebuild, after a walker breach back home.
Getting the shortest amount of screen time are Maggie and Negan. The two end up disagreeing again on the next best plan of action – once again, Negan shows logic and reason while Maggie is leading from her heart. The struggle to trust one another may never resolve, but Maggie needs to at least accept that Negan has changed and has good ideas. The only way that is likely to happen is if he is proved right. It could be argued that the losses their group has suffered already has shown that Negan should have been listened to – and, although he did leave her to the walkers, he has saved Maggie’s life on several occasions on this trip alone. It was wise to only give this pair brief moments as their plot is already feeling repetitive, but Negan is just so watchable.
At the Commonwealth, we are shown a commercial. Electricity and home movies have already elevated this community into a strong, powerful position. The video introduces us to Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton). one of the senior officials at the Commonwealth, only answering to the communities’ founder, Pamela Milton. The survivors are handed work assignments, with Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) getting a mysterious role that (judging by the clerk’s reaction) is a powerful one. While she goes to find her brother, the others explore the Commonwealth, which has hotels, businesses and cupcakes.
A trip to the ice-cream vendor may have given away a vital clue about Eugene’s (Josh McDermitt) liaison “Stephanie” (Chelle Ramos). Eugene learned in his radio conversations a lot about her and so something as innocuous as an ice-cream order could raise suspicions. He seems to trust her for now but Eugene, usually one of the smartest in the group, may just be victim to a Commonwealth ploy. Or, does he know this and is Eugene playing the Commonwealth?
Trust issues continues when Yumiko reunites with her brother, Tomi (Ian Anthony Dale). She learns that her group should be welcome as long as they follow the rules. These rules are plastered all over the walls of the community looking like old war propaganda which is very intimidating. But if the Commonwealth has flourished into what it is by following these rules, then can our survivors really argue?
On a visit to the Hilltop, Aaron (Ross Marquand) comes very close to losing control after having nightmares about everything he has fought through. It is another look at the theme that has followed this series from day one: the blurred lines between who is good and who is bad. Aaron looks to be treading that line and it is Carol (Melissa McBride) who helps to back to the right path. Carol is hardly someone who is inherently good or evil, having been a resident in both camps for long periods of time, but she has good intentions here and they are rewarded when she gets the news she has been longing to hear.
With the communities our survivors have called home for so long failing them, the Commonwealth might have arrived at just the right moment. But with one home burnt down, the other falling, will the Commonwealth see them as worth saving? Having now passed the halfway point of the first act of this final season – and despite this episode throwing a lot of information at us – it still doesn’t feel like we’ve learned anything at all.