AMC’s The Walking Dead
11×12: “The Lucky Ones”
Directed by Tawnia McKiernan
Written by Vivian Tse
* For a recap & review of 11×11, click here.
* For a recap & review of 11×13, click here.
The real Stephanie a.k.a Max tells the story of how she was able to setup the radio and, eventually, get into contact with Eugene. We see more of them getting to know one another over the radio waves, talking about waffle cones and ice cream, among many other things. Eventually her brother, Mercer, found out Max was using the radio, and that complicated things, especially because of a “massive communications breach” he recently had to hear about in the Commonwealth. Mercer put a stop to Max’s planned meet with Eugene, and Hornsby was keeping a strict eye out for anything suspicious. And, of course, we know where things went from there. Tragically poor Max had to pretend when she saw Eugene and the fake Stephanie together that she wasn’t the one who built that connection with him. Heartbreaking stuff. It’s all a bit troubling to Eugene when he hears the truth from Max. Not an easy pill to swallow.
Lance and Pamela are debating over “small communities” across state lines. She’s not what you’d call thrilled to be going to Alexandria to potentially help out, whereas he seems committed to expanding their “empire“—a very suspect word for them to be using. When they arrive at Alexandria, they’re given a tour by Aaron, who explains their self-sustaining ways and how they engineered everything via the plans Maggie was able to obtain. Interesting connection with Pamela knowing Deanna, the founder of post-apocalypse Alexandria. Apart from that, Pam’s not overly impressed with the place after she sees the threat of zombies very present, as opposed to the largely sterile state of Commonwealth.
Back at the Commonwealth, Ezekiel continues to deal with his illness, though he gets word from Dr. Tomi he’s going in for surgery so the doctors can take a look at his tumour. He’s surprised that the bill’s paid and he’s been bumped up the list for a near immediate surgical procedure. Jerry tries to help Ezekiel see the sunny side, but the former King’s not rushing to joy, curious as to why this happened now. Ezekiel later gets a visit from Carol and quickly figures out that she’s behind the latest development in his healthcare. He isn’t happy, either. “It‘s cheating,” he tells Carol. There’s a compelling storyline here about privatised medicine v. free healthcare, though The Walking Dead, via Carol, isn’t totally gunning for the latter apparently. Meanwhile, Pam and Lance are onto Oceanside, having a look at their community. Maggie hasn’t agreed to the big deal and those in Oceanside won’t agree to the partnership with the Commonwealth until Maggie does, too. Looks like there’s a wrench being thrown into things, and Maggie’s the obstacle for the Commonwealth’s leadership. Uh oh.
On the road, the Commonwealth convoy comes upon a group of walkers in the road and they find Maggie fighting them with some of her people. Perfect time for Mags to meet Pamela and the bunch. Aaron and Daryl talk to Maggie; she wonders why they trust the Commonwealth, and Daryl says he doesn’t fully trust them, or anybody. Lance tries ingratiating himself to Maggie, offering guns so they can all go hunting while things are being fixed for the road. Pam takes the chance to split herself and Maggie off alone, to get to know one another better. She starts questioning Maggie about “what went wrong.” Maggie makes a great point about privilege while Pam wants to talk about luck. What Ms. Milton believes is that there is “a natural order of things” that’s gone away in the post-zombie apocalypse. She wants to restore that order. Doesn’t sound right to me; sounds very nationalism-like. Pam’s concerned about states and governance, she’s worried about power, not about helping others. Maggie points out the disparity between what Pamela has and what others in the Commonwealth, not to mention elsewhere, have; Ms. Milton points out that “the average worker” doesn’t have as much responsibility as her, like a proper capitalist.
Back at Hilltop, the Commonwealth soldiers are helping out, and Maggie’s hunt with the convoy has brought back more food than they’ve seen in a while. Even if Maggie isn’t sold on the Commonwealth yet, her people are thrilled with help, no matter how long it lasts. Daryl helps hand out extra food the Commonwealth has with them. He seems more inclined to trust the Commonwealth, even if he always has a health degree of scepticism; plus, we’ve seen the future, that Daryl puts on the Commonwealth soldier’s uniform and approaches the walls of Hilltop some day down the road. Lots to see happen between where we are now and where things will go. On top of that, even Mercer seems to know, and warn Daryl of, the truth about the Commonwealth. Not a good sign. Lance is busy talking to Maggie about returning the world to normal, dropping kids off to college, taking a vacation by boat up the coast, and so on. Is it possible? Or delusion? All Lance thinks about is gathering workers together. He’s not talking about what life will be like for those workers while the privileged jet off to their second home at another colony up the river.
Discussions of politics are interrupted when walkers turn up. Maggie and her folks get to killing, as Mercer joins them, along with a bunch more Commonwealth soldiers. There’s obviously a difference in efficiency, and guns are better to mow down a horde. But is that bit of comfort worth giving up the freedom the Commonwealth demands of its citizens/workers? Not so sure. And Maggie certainly does not dig the militarisation of the Commonwealth, which she can already feel encroaching on Hilltop, as well as her friends—even the lone wolf Daryl. That’s ultimately what it’s all about, and why Maggie refuses the offer: “Everything costs something.” It’s unfortunate that others at Hilltop decide to leave for the Commonwealth, in spite of Maggie’s reservations.
Eugene goes to see Max at her apartment, bringing along ice cream as a goodwill gesture. There, he sees all the radio equipment, how it’s taken up such a big space in Max’s life. He apologises to her for not listening. It’s difficult for him, after letting fake Stephanie into his life and getting so deeply involved. Max is hurt because she feels Eugene should’ve known it wasn’t her. But part of it comes from Eugene’s own self doubt, and he simply wanted his love with Stephanie “to be real,” not a figment of his needy imagination. Maybe Max can find it in her heart to give Eugene a second chance. First, she wants to read his novel. He burned it, but he remembers most of it, and he’s willing to tell her all about it. A sweet relationship is budding between them once more.
Pam is done with Lance’s little expansion project. She knows that it’s largely because Lance wants to create more power for himself, to run his own communities outside of the Commonwealth itself, perhaps as a play to divide power of the overall Commonwealth. Either way, she’s suspicious of Lance and his ambition, though she doesn’t shut it down. So what does he do? He heads into the woods with a revolver, calling out zombies to shoot, as if to prove he can survive in a place like that, outside the Commonwealth’s creature comforts. He’s dying to “remake the world,” but in what image?