First 2 episodes of ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 11: Part 2 bring new era for series

Noah Levine, Life & Arts Film Columnist

The Walking Dead” returns for Part 2 of its 11th and final season this upcoming Sunday, picking up directly where Part 1 wrapped last fall. Chugging away toward the eventual finale of AMC’s flagship series, Season 11 spent most of its time focusing on the return of the iconic character Maggie and her vengeful quest against the malicious survivor group, “the Reapers.” The first two episodes of Season 11: Part 2 seek to bury the Reaper storyline in the past and move forward to a brand new era for the apocalyptic series.

The ninth episode of Season 11, “No Other Way,” serves as a direct follow-up to the explosive Part 1 finale. Picking up amid the chaotic fight between Maggie’s group, Daryl, and the Reapers, this episode relies heavily on action. Daryl disposes of the Reapers gruesomely, showcasing the survivor mentality he has perfected over the years. Standout sequences include Maggie finally having to team up with the infamous Negan for the takedown of a particularly violent Reaper character. Meanwhile, back in Alexandria, the survivors deal with a terrifying flood complete with waterlogged walkers. Unfortunately, the events feel mellow when contrasted with the intensive combat occurring with the Reapers.

Bear McCreary’s score complements the episode’s visuals nicely, offering some chillingly beautiful tracks to accompany the most shocking moments. Narratively, the episode aptly ties up loose threads still hanging from Part 1. A particular revelation about a certain character’s fate will appease fans after an unnecessarily long wait. While the Alexandrian chaos feels like filler, it comes full circle by the episode’s end when a certain organization makes its presence known to the wider community.

The ninth episode takes viewers on a surprising ride with an unexpected time jump and jarring tonal change. Seeing the leading cast integrate into the terrifyingly normal community, the Commonwealth, will certainly take some getting used to. While the pace of the narrative increases by skipping the initial arrival of the survivors at the facility, it would’ve been intriguing to see the first reactions of our characters when stepping into this bold new world. While the highly guarded and polished state of this particular survivor community offers an overall safer environment for the characters, the episode still finds clever ways of incorporating the classic walker moments fans know and love.

The show’s shift to exploring the political drama between the upper and lower class will certainly result in some viewers questioning their interest in the upcoming storylines. The relevance and popularity of “The Walking Dead” relies on the thrill of watching iconic survivors fight against the world of the apocalypse. Removed of its unending threat and familiar themes, one must wonder whether viewers will still be along for the ride. However, with over 10 other seasons of the expected storytelling, the show truly needed to do something refreshing and unique for its final push to the finish line. 

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