NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Walking Dead” are present in this review
The Walking Dead hasn’t really contributed much in the way of meaningful character development during its six Season Ten bonus episodes so far, but that finally changed this week. “One More” delivers a surprisingly well-executed core plot centering around Aaron and Gabriel, as they undertake a supply run, using a map of supply zones from Maggie. Considering that it’s now about a decade into the walker apocalypse however, most of the world has been well and truly picked clean at this point, leaving Aaron and Gabriel to stumble around without much in the way of success, only to eventually find a last-minute payday after lucking into a seemingly abandoned garage. Naturally, it’s not actually abandoned.
“One More” is easily the best bonus episode that Season Ten of The Walking Dead has delivered so far. It’s very unpredictable and very rewarding, primarily because it does such a great job of highlighting how Aaron and Gabriel have inadvertently become interesting reflections of one another. They’re both men who have lost a body part, inadvertently wound up caring for a young daughter that lost her true father, and they both originated as recruiters and community builders that have been forced to reckon with some really dark turns in their lives. Maybe it’s tropey writing, but it’s still a clever idea to put these characters together on a classic-style Walking Dead supply run episode, putting both of their flagging beliefs to the test all the while.
Of course, before we can get to the really good payoffs of this episode, we also have to trudge through a pretty slow opening half. Sadly, Season Ten of The Walking Dead being so long-in-the-tooth and scattered at this point, in turn being plagued with a chaotic episode mandate thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, means that the show has started to slow down quite a lot by this point. Not only that, but the fundamental fact that The Walking Dead is now on its tenth season in general means that supply run episodes now feel innately dull, and no longer engaging. Their formula is done to death by this point, and they thus range from being boring to being pointless, even when the writers try to contrive new ways for walkers to come at the survivors. Tree walkers? Why not? Mud walkers? I guess we haven’t technically seen that? Walker arms poking out of boarded-up stores? A little more hackneyed, but not altogether common for The Walking Dead, I suppose.
Because of these issues, you have to slog through a lot of tired, overdone Walking Dead tropes at the start of this week’s offering, not to mention zombie apocalypse tropes in general, before you get to the real meat of this episode, specifically when Aaron and Gabriel find the fateful garage. At this point, the two indulge in food and drink, including opening up some richly-aged whiskey. This has the two engaging in some well-earned frivolity, once again giving The Walking Dead a chance to show its more light-hearted side for a change. Not only that, but Aaron and Gabriel talking about faith, family and everything they’ve fought for in the years since coming to Alexandria makes for legitimately heartfelt, engaging character development. The conclusion of the Whisperer War has left them without a major foe to battle against at this point, after all, so it’s natural that these two men are once again left to focus inward, and face their own respective struggles to maintain hope in a world that only seems to get deader and emptier with each passing year.
Nonetheless, an enemy eventually finds Aaron and Gabriel, after Gabriel wakes up the next morning, and sees that Aaron has disappeared. Instead, he encounters a mysterious survivor played by beloved character actor, Robert Patrick, who claims that Gabriel has taken his things, and awakened in his dwelling. After the mysterious man then reveals that he’s held Aaron captive, thanks to the mystery survivor maintaining some of the few remaining guns in the world, he forces both Aaron and Gabriel into a game of Russian Roulette, coercing them into turning a revolver on themselves, or aiming it at each other. This is meant to prove that no truly good people are left in the walker apocalypse, mirroring a drunken declaration made by Gabriel to Aaron during the previous night, namely that evil people are the rule, not the exception in the world.
This makes for a surprisingly intense, gut-wrenching climax, as the principles of Alexandria, and everything that Aaron and Gabriel have built there, are put to a deadly test. Patrick’s mystery character eggs the two survivors on all the while, recounting a story about how his brother eventually betrayed him, and he was then forced to put him down. Eventually, Aaron appears as if he’s ready to sacrifice his life as well, only for the mystery survivor to intervene, shortly before Aaron and Gabriel finally get through to him. Patrick’s mystery character then frees the both of them, identifying himself as Mays. It initially appears that Aaron and Gabriel have won another recruit for Alexandria here, but alas, it’s not meant to be. Shortly after finally revealing his name, Gabriel strikes Mays dead, before telling Aaron that Mays’ betrayal and mental condition rendered him unfit to join Alexandria.
This would have made for quite the powerful, provocative ending to this episode on its own, and I wish that it had just ended there. Instead though, the ultimate ending that this episode decides on ends up being a little bit clumsy, somewhat taking away from the shocking and dramatic impact of Gabriel choosing not to take any chances with Mays, even if it seemingly violates his desire to build a better, more trusting world. After Mays is killed, Aaron and Gabriel then discover that Mays actually held his unnamed brother, a twin also played by Patrick, captive in a nearby attic. After Aaron and Gabriel free the man, seeing that he was forced to watch his dead family decompose beside him all the while, Mays’ twin opts to simply kill himself, leaving Aaron and Gabriel to decide that they should ultimately take on, “One more” supply run. Yeah, it’s a hat on a hat, to say the least. This extra scene with Mays’ twin probably could have been cut, honestly, especially when it amounts to little more than a frustrating troll for fans of Robert Patrick in the end.
Still, despite the occasionally sluggish pace and the rather head-scratching ending, “One More” excels as the first Season Ten bonus episode for The Walking Dead that truly justifies its existence. This side story with Aaron and Gabriel is interesting, rewarding and even surprisingly amusing at times, in turn also leading to a very intense confrontation with Robert Patrick’s mentally-shattered Mays, a broken man that’s tragically and controversially killed by Gabriel immediately after he’s offered redemption. Could this hint at a darker turn for Gabriel during The Walking Dead’s upcoming eleventh and final season? Maybe. Either way, I’m glad that these extra episodes are finally going to a place of real dramatic depth and intrigue, something that the first two didn’t quite achieve all that well in the end. This provides some hope that the second half of The Walking Dead’s bonus episodes may land more consistently than the first half, hopefully giving us a promising tease for the Commonwealth when we pick up with Eugene’s group next week.
- Great interactions between Aaron and Gabriel
- Mays' intense game of Russian Roulette
- Gabriel's controversial decision to put down Mays
- The opening scenes can be very sluggish
- Weird, unnecessary ending with Mays' twin