NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Walking Dead”, including a major character death, are present in this review

 

 

The Walking Dead is back for the second portion of its eleventh and final season, and pretty much every major personality in Alexandria, and on the quest against the Reapers, were left in a pretty tight spot following the previous cliffhanger. “No Other Way” sees the show’s protagonists battling threats both at home and away, with Maggie’s group being set upon by the Reapers’ hwacha, while the Alexandrians continue to try and endure the vicious storm that’s battering the community’s walls, and letting hordes of walkers in to threaten the population.

Things continue to go from bad to worse in Alexandria most of all, between Judith and Gracie being trapped in a flooding basement, while several of the most capable survivors are struggling to plug breaches all around the walls. The excitement is certainly kept high throughout this subplot as much as the main plot too, pretty much delivering an ‘all killer, no filler’ return for The Walking Dead, which is a great way to amp up viewers for the start of the show’s 2022 run.

That said however, the Alexandrian subplot didn’t ultimately feel as harrowing as it was initially presented. It marks yet another instance wherein there are inexplicably no casualties throughout the town, despite supposedly catastrophic breaches and an out-of-control windmill fire, something that’s pretty damn unlikely, at best. There’s a great rescue scene with Judith and Gracie at least, as Aaron pulls them out of the flooding basement, only to get trapped himself, before Lydia subsequently rescues Aaron from a growing horde of walkers. From there however, everything is just… fine in the end. There’s an awkward cut forward eventually, and the Alexandria storm is just over, with nothing of value lost. This is disappointing, as it makes an otherwise major weather threat feel pretty disposable, again, especially when Alexandria has faced similar natural threats before, only to never see any significant damage from them.

Fortunately, the core plot with Maggie’s group and the Reapers nicely picked up the slack. The Reapers themselves may still be unimpressive antagonists, who only become more unimpressive after the death of their leader, Pope, but at least the continued battle against them leads to a nicely dark turn for Maggie, something that in turn shakes up the show’s core survivor ensemble in a big way. On a related note, the action throughout this core plot is also pretty great, as Maggie’s group struggles to evade the hwacha, only to eventually get cornered by Carver. Thanks to some clever teamwork though, Carver is eventually captured and used as a bargaining chip, even if it comes at the cost of Elijah suffering a broken leg.

This leads to arguably the strongest dramatic flourish of this episode, and one that carries major consequences for the survivors. After a tense trade-off that sees failed betrayal attempts on both sides, eventually culminating with Gabriel stealing a sniper rifle and holding the remaining Reapers at gunpoint, Leah decides to take her remaining soldiers away, only for Maggie to kill the other Reapers, and leave Leah wounded. Leah manages to flee, and is later ensured escape by Daryl, but even though this more or less marks the end for the Reapers, it’s only the beginning of Maggie’s problems.

Said problems begin when Maggie decides to finally run back to that church that she stashed Alden in, only to be greeted by a walker. A moment later, Maggie then turns to see that Alden has also died and reanimated, forcing her to put this compassionate ally out of his misery in a tearful display. That’s heartbreaking enough, but things only get worse after Negan confronts Maggie during Alden’s burial, before taunting her that he was right about Maggie making the violent call she was always bound to make. At this point, Negan then walks away, declaring that he has no interest in waiting for Maggie to make that violent call on him. This major story turn with Negan feels inevitable, especially when it mirrors a similar departure by Negan from The Walking Dead’s source comics, but even if this handily resolves the Maggie/Negan tension for the foreseeable future, it also leaves Alexandria down yet another capable survivor, right when they can least afford to lose two of the community’s best men.

We do however get a vaguely hopeful conclusion for this episode to balance out the loss of Alden and Negan, as Maggie, Daryl and co. are able to bring food to the struggling Alexandrians, right as Eugene arrives with further aid from the Commonwealth. I’m surprised that the Commonwealth made it to Alexandria this quickly, but even so, Hornsby presenting the townsfolk with the choice of remaining where they are, or joining the Commonwealth, presents a superb conclusion for this episode, after it immediately leads into a chilling flash-forward. Apparently, six months pass since the arrival of the Commonwealth to Alexandria, at which point Maggie has restarted Hilltop under her leadership, only to be confronted by a hostile band of Commonwealth soldiers at her gates. The worst part? The Commonwealth soldiers are headed up by Daryl, suggesting either that Daryl’s and Maggie’s own hostilities escalate out of control after Maggie nearly killed Leah, and/or that Daryl has drunk so much of the Commonwealth kool-aid that he’s abandoned any pre-existing loyalty to his longstanding allies. Either way, this is a great tease for what’s to come on The Walking Dead in 2022!

It’s refreshing to see The Walking Dead’s flagship series kick off its final year on such a bold, confident note. The Reapers most notably got one of their strongest storylines to date in, “No Other Way”, ironically after they’re left without leadership and eventually decimated. The real MVP of this episode however was Maggie, who went from noble victim to violent tyrant in seemingly no time at all, to the point of permanently alienating Negan, and leaving Alexandria down multiple survivors, between Negan’s departure, Alden’s death and Elijah’s injury. This renders Alexandria only briefly renewed before the fateful arrival of the Commonwealth, who will no doubt turn Alexandria’s fortunes to pure chaos, as well as Hilltop’s, now that Maggie appears to be reviving that fallen community. Overall, one couldn’t ask for a better setup for the remainder of The Walking Dead’s run, giving this long-running series another fresh spark of excitement for its final bow in 2022.

The Walking Dead 11.9: "No Other Way" Review
The Walking Dead returns with an action-packed, exceptionally dramatic Season 11B premiere in, "No Other Way", as Maggie decisively ends her fight against the Reapers, while Alexandria meets the Commonwealth.
THE GOOD STUFF
  • Lots of exciting action throughout
  • Maggie's brutal decimation of the Reapers, and its consequences
  • Chilling flash forward that promises big consequences from the Commonwealth
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
  • Alexandria STILL suffering no major casualties from a disastrous weather event
87%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
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About The Author

Senior Editor

Brent Botsford has reviewed video games, movies and television for over a decade. He is also a Twitch Affiliate at twitch.tv/venuszen , presenting new, retro and independent games as the, "Sixth-Handsomest Gamer on the Internet', VenusZen.

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