The more things change, the more they stay the same. Since 2010, The Walking Dead has had a rotating cast of characters, settings, and survivors. The Whisperers came and went as, too, did the Saviors. All the while, internal conflicts and a desperate need to survive kept the show humming along. As its final season begins, theres little sign of its impending endgame getting in the way of those tried-and-tested patterns. If the premiere is any indication, season 11 will have its moments but will invariably stumble towards its conclusion by refusing to mix things up.
Theres a long way to go until then. The two-part premiere (which airs on consecutive Sundays) is part of a batch of 24 episodes and begins in familiar territory. A slow set-piece devoid of tension sucks the energy out of the first 10 minutes as members of Alexandria head out to gather more things for the makeshift town or whats left of it, anyway.
It highlights the shows two main sticking points: that the zombies havent been a threat in some time and there are not many genuinely big names left for viewers to care about. Zombie fatigue is very real and The Walking Dead hasnt found the cure just yet.
Then, more of the same. Stop me if youve heard this one before: tensions are running high and supplies are running low. In response, community leaders gather to hash things out before a plan is hatched: Maggie leads a crew (containing Negan, of all people) through a storm and towards Washington D.C, all backed by the threat of something lurking just out of sight. It doesnt help the mood that much of these sequences are incredibly poorly lit. Theres an undeniable atmosphere, but that comes at the cost of being unable to see very much. Its not quite on the level of Game of Thrones infamous Battle of Winterfell though you may want to adjust your sets.
On the way to D.C., Negan and Maggies history is granted a significant chunk of screen time inevitable, considering how the pairs reunion has been largely untouched since Lauren Cohan returned at the backend of season 10. The tense relationship between the two threatens to bubble over in several instances as Negan pokes and prods at Maggies group. His attempts to divide and conquer, and the white-hot intensity coursing through the dialogue during some of these scenes, is in stark contrast to the dimly-lit backdrop surrounding the characters. Its evidence that Negan and Maggies dynamic desperately needs to become the focal point moving forward.
Another of the episodes infrequent high points is seeing the other members of Maggies group deal with some incredibly complex emotions. Unfortunately, though, seeing them traipse through some flooded tunnels feels like a plot point that could have been plucked from the show at any point in the past five years. Even the actors sound tired and waiting for something more interesting to happen as the inevitable appearance of the undead only adds mild peril.
Happily, things are markedly improved and entertaining elsewhere: Eugene, Princess, Ezekiel, and Yumiko crossing paths with some fresh faces adds some much-needed zip to proceedings. Seeing the quartet come up against an unknown force makes for some incredibly compelling viewing, and each of the survivors comes out the other side as a more fully-rounded and engaging character. By the episodes end, we know more about their histories, desires, and motivations thanks to their revealing adventure.
Its a smart evolution for the show. The bonus episodes tacked onto the end of season 10 were divisive, too experimental in places, but The Walking Dead team learned the right lessons and are pushing more introspective storytelling to build up the remaining cast. In a show thats still desperately aching to fill a Rick Grimes-shaped hole, its a step in the right direction.
There are also some seriously visceral highlights dotted throughout the two episodes. The first part ends on a genuinely great cliffhanger which calls back to The Walking Deads golden era, while the second episode features one of the most darkly bewitching and uncomfortable moments in the series to date. The episodes end up feeling like chalk and cheese to one another, but when the premiere hits its mark, a flicker of what kept The Walking Dead burning so bright for so long remains these moments are just too few and far between.
Is there still life in the series as we enter the home stretch? Just about. While the episodes play things safe the majority of the time, some narrative sparks remain. A whole batch of characters have been improved as we mark the beginning of the end. Maggie, meanwhile, acts as the shining light for what could have been a lifeless low point in the shows history.
It may be too late for the show to break new ground but these two episodes prove The Walking Dead shouldnt be content with endlessly retreading past steps especially as many of the ingredients for what once made the show so brilliant soured long ago.
The Walking Dead season 11 starts on AMC from August 22 and Disney Plus Star on August 23. In the meantime, check out some of the best Walking Dead episodes.
- Zombie skydivers, zombie drag queens, food and more planned for Halloween Zombie Bike Ride - The Aggie - The Aggie - October 9th, 2021
- Rob Jabbaz Brings THE SADNESS To The Zombie Apocalypse - FANGORIA - October 9th, 2021
- Unusual weather is causing zombie canola to flower in the fall - CBC.ca - October 9th, 2021
- Killing Zombies Is Against The Law In Louisiana - News Radio 710 KEEL - October 9th, 2021
- The Best Zombie Movies On Hulu [October 2021] - Looper - October 9th, 2021
- Rob Zombie Pays Tribute to 'Hot Rod Herman' in The Munsters Movie Reboot - MovieWeb - October 9th, 2021
- Cops called 175 times on Beaverton zombie condo squatters - KOIN.com - October 9th, 2021
- Stubbs the Zombie and Paladins are next weeks Epic Games Store freebies - Destructoid - October 9th, 2021
- John Ratcliffe's Zombie Campaign Keeps Paying His Wife $3000 A Month To Manage Its Books - Forbes - October 9th, 2021
- 13th annual Asbury Park Zombie Walk returns to the boardwalk following COVID break - Asbury Park Press - October 9th, 2021
- 2-Nights of Halloween Events: Zombie Night and Goblins and Goodies in LaVergne - Wgnsradio - October 9th, 2021
- How Rob Zombie's 'Halloween II' Paved the Way for a New Kind of Horror - Bloody Disgusting - October 9th, 2021
- Email is a zombie that keeps rising from the dead: the endless pursuit of Inbox Zero - The Guardian - October 9th, 2021
- The 2021 Asbury Park Zombie Walk In Asbury Park, New Jersey - 943thepoint.com - October 9th, 2021
- RUN! This Zombie Apocolypse 5K in Terre Haute will have you avoiding the undead, while raising money for a good cause - WTHITV.com - October 9th, 2021
- Podcast #318: Battling the Zombie of the Fairness Doctrine - Radio Survivor - October 9th, 2021
- 'TWD': Seth Gilliam doesn't think he'd want to live in post-apocalyptic world - Insider - October 9th, 2021
- Hands-on with Back 4 Blood's retail version: Our three-hour stream is now on VOD - Ars Technica - October 9th, 2021
- 'Back 4 Blood' here's when the zombie shooter unlocks in each region - For The Win - October 9th, 2021
- It's Time to Put the Right-Wing Zombie Death Cult on Trial - Daily Beast - September 5th, 2021
- The Best Zombie Games Of All Time - GameSpot - September 5th, 2021
- Poll: What's the Best Rob Zombie Song? - Vote Now - Loudwire - September 5th, 2021
- Best Zombie Movies Streaming on Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime - Yahoo Entertainment - September 5th, 2021
- Fantasy Fest Parade, Street Fair, Even Zombie Bike Ride Canceled At Key Wests Biggest Party Of The Year - CBS Miami - September 5th, 2021
- Korean zombie film 'Train To Busan' rumoured to get American remake; fans are not happy - Times of India - September 5th, 2021
- 'Train to Busan': Fans Are Not Happy About the US Remake 'Train to Busan:' Fans Are Not Happy About the US Remake - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - September 5th, 2021
- The Zombie Attack is returning to Louisville's streets. Here's what to know - Courier Journal - August 24th, 2021
- 8 Surprisingly Realistic Zombie Movies (& 7 That Are Way Over The Top) - News Nation USA - August 24th, 2021
- Fast and Furious: Zombies - The New Indian Express - August 24th, 2021
- Years Before COVID, Zombies Helped Prepare One Hospital System for the Real Pandemic - Scientific American - August 24th, 2021
- Rebellion VFX Releases A New Zombie Army Animated Short - Bleeding Cool News - August 24th, 2021
- Authorities could be getting close to solving Zombie Mike rape cases after unidentified remains found in Niskayuna - NEWS10 ABC - August 24th, 2021
- Call of Duty: Vanguard will have a Zombies mode, made by Treyarch - Polygon - August 24th, 2021
- Fishtown Local: Attack of the zombies | Opinion | gloucestertimes.com - Gloucester Daily Times - August 24th, 2021
- Fear TWD Season 7 Teaser Prepares for the Fallout of the Nuclear Zombie Apocalypse - ComicBook.com - August 24th, 2021
- Call of Duty: Mobiles new zombie mode will extend into next season - Digit - August 24th, 2021
- Mental Health And The Zombie Run With YKHC - KYUK - August 24th, 2021
- Dilapidated 'Zombie House' Demolished On Long Island After Years Of Complaints - Daily Voice - August 24th, 2021
- Netflix Based K-Zombie Horror Title 'Kingdom: The Blood' Unveils First Teaser - GLYFE Nation - August 24th, 2021
- From Rick's boots to zombie weapon design, 'The Art of AMC's The Walking Dead Universe' gives us a deep dive - SYFY WIRE - August 24th, 2021
- Watch: The Walking Dead wakes the zombie horde in opening scene to series' 11th and final season - SYFY WIRE - August 24th, 2021
- The Best Zombie Safe Room Notes In The Back 4 Blood Beta - Kotaku - August 10th, 2021
- Anti-Vaxxer Fears Immunization Will Make Her a Zombie, Like in 'I Am Legend' - Vanity Fair - August 10th, 2021
- OPINION | READ TO ME: 'Dino-Zombies' crave candy in picture book - Arkansas Online - August 10th, 2021
- ['Dead Rising' at 15] Why Capcom Needs to Give its Goofy Zombie Series Another Shot - Bloody Disgusting - August 10th, 2021
- Andy Puzder: Biden's 'Zombie Tax' will kill family businesses and haunt the living all across America - Fox Business - August 10th, 2021
- ZOMBIES & SCONES: KEYS WRITER HAS A NEVER-ENDING SOURCE OF IDEAS FOR HER BOOKS - Florida Keys Weekly - August 10th, 2021
- Zombies of The Corn announces new attraction: 'The Fun House' - The Times - August 10th, 2021
- [Fantasia Review] 'Brain Freeze' Thaws Out Zombie Formula with Smart Commentary and Humor - Bloody Disgusting - August 10th, 2021
- Back 4 Blood Zombies Aren't Saying Racial Slurs - But They're Close - COGconnected - August 10th, 2021
- I Played Those Zombie Games Following You Around The Internet So You Don't Have To - Kotaku - July 26th, 2021
- Syfy's Day of the Dead Gives SDCC 2021 a First Look at TV's Newest Zombie Tale - Gizmodo - July 26th, 2021
- The Munsters: Rob Zombie Reveals First Look at Spooky Costumes and Herman Munsters Makeup - Variety - July 26th, 2021
- Kingdom writer, director on creating the zombie thriller series: Hunger was the starting point - The Indian Express - July 26th, 2021
- They find a 'zombie frog' that only comes to the surface when it rains CVBJ - Central Valley Business Journal - July 26th, 2021
- This metal-loving grandma singing Rob Zombie at karaoke is the best thing you'll see today - Louder - July 26th, 2021
- Tim Wiederaenders: Don't be a 'zombie' behind the wheel - Today's News-Herald - July 26th, 2021
- BBQ to the Moon and More Zombie De-SPACs? - TheStreet - July 26th, 2021
- Tearful pal of Brit hiker says boyfriend has been 'like a zombie' since she went missing - The Mirror - July 26th, 2021
- Meet the 'zombie frog,' a new species found in the Amazon - DW (English) - July 11th, 2021
- Can the Cleveland Indians repel another attack of Zombie baseball? - cleveland.com - July 11th, 2021
- Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness review: Netflixs show brings zombies to the White House - The Verge - July 11th, 2021
- Newly-discovered zombie frog in Amazon rainforest could already be at risk of extinction - iNews - July 11th, 2021
- Dont Stop Me Now! Why Queens Greatest Hits is the ultimate zombie album - The Guardian - July 11th, 2021
- With All The Problems In The World Today, I Think It's Time We Asked, Can Zombies Swim? - Quad Cities - July 11th, 2021
- What the Tech? Why you should delete 'zombie apps' you never use - WFMZ Allentown - July 11th, 2021
- Zombie Cells Hold Clues to Improved Healing of Spinal Cord Injuries - SciTechDaily - July 11th, 2021
- Sheri Moon Shares Update on Rob Zombie's The Munsters, Will We See a Trailer Soon? - MovieWeb - July 11th, 2021
- After Years of Ridicule, Kenny Schachter Has Kissed and Made Up With Zombie Formalist Lucien Smith. Here, They Talk Art, Drugs, & the Market -... - July 11th, 2021
- Awesome! Get PAID to be a Zombie at Six Flags in Jackson Township - wobm.com - wobm.com - July 11th, 2021
- Zombies coming to Sanford as producers prepare to shoot film in the flood-damaged community - MLive.com - July 1st, 2021
- "Zombie" homes could be on the rise, how Erie County is looking to prevent that - WKBW-TV - July 1st, 2021
- Night of the Animated Dead to Adapt Zombie Classic (Exclusive) - Hollywood Reporter - July 1st, 2021
- Too embarrassed to ask what is a zombie company? - MoneyWeek - July 1st, 2021
- Rare 'zombie fingers' parasitic fungus is hanging on (barely) in Australia - Livescience.com - July 1st, 2021
- What Windows 11 means: We'll be stuck with millions of Windows 10 zombies - ZDNet - July 1st, 2021
- Zombies World Championship Three Wraps Up Zombie Filled Weekend - The Game Haus - July 1st, 2021
- Zombie classic 'Night of the Living Dead' returns with animated adaptation starring Katee Sackhoff, Josh Duhamel - SYFY WIRE - July 1st, 2021
- Milo Manheim Shares Iconic Zed Look, Hints 'Zombies 3' Is Filming Inside the Magic - Inside the Magic - July 1st, 2021
- Zombie Fingers: This Extremely Rare Parasitic Fungus is Hanging on in Few Locations in Australia - Nature World News - July 1st, 2021
Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero