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.
- Lauren Boebert talks monkeypox and "zombie Reagan" on BlazeTV - Salon - August 6th, 2022
- The Zombie of Recession Died Today - TheStranger.com - August 6th, 2022
- Nonstop Action Drives Korean Zombie Thriller Carter to Badass Heights - Paste Magazine - August 6th, 2022
- LifeAfter: Sea of Zombie launches next week, taking players on a new adventure in search of the Pureland - Pocket Gamer - August 6th, 2022
- As We Know It: Everything We Know So Far About The Nuclear Zombie Apocalypse Movie - /Film - August 6th, 2022
- Steve Vai reveals the pedals he couldn't live without, zombie apocalypse or no zombie apocalypse - MusicRadar - August 6th, 2022
- REVIEW: Rob Zombie Invades Camden with The Freaks On Parade Tour - wmmr.com - August 6th, 2022
- Mobile laser tag (and zombies) is coming to Hattiesburg - HubcitySPOKES.com - August 6th, 2022
- Pam Grier, 30 Rocks Chris Parnell and Project X Star Oliver Cooper to Lead Zombie Apocalypse Movie As We Know It (EXCLUSIVE) - Variety - August 6th, 2022
- Tales of the Walking Dead Jumps 35 Years Into the Future - Post Apocalyptic Media - August 6th, 2022
- This gay-hating GOP nominee once worked for Rosie O'Donnell and starred in a zombie golden shower film - Queerty - August 6th, 2022
- Walking Dead Isle of the Dead Filming Holmdel East Rutherford NJ - 943thepoint.com - August 6th, 2022
- Crowd of teens and man 'arrested with knife' moments boy, 15, stabbed to death - My London - August 6th, 2022
- Hear 2 Tracks From Rob Zombie's 'Munsters' Soundtrack Right Now - Loudwire - July 28th, 2022
- Tales of the Walking Dead Revisits Zombie Outbreak in Atlanta 2010 - ComicBook.com - July 28th, 2022
- Warzone zombies rise again in season four update - PCGamesN - July 28th, 2022
- This Horrifying Zombie Fungus Forces Males to Mate With The Dead. Now We Know How - ScienceAlert - July 28th, 2022
- When is Rob Zombies The Munsters coming to Netflix? - 1428 Elm - July 28th, 2022
- The Walking Dead Bosses Explain the Return of the "Smart Zombie" Twist in Final Season Trailer - FanFest News - July 28th, 2022
- My Turn: How to be angry at zombie politicians - The Recorder - July 28th, 2022
- Where to Watch and Stream Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse Free Online - EpicStream - July 28th, 2022
- Call of Duty: Vanguard's zombie mode is free this week - For The Win - July 20th, 2022
- Rob Zombie's Munsters Movie Hits Netflix This September - GameSpot - July 20th, 2022
- Zombie Army 4 Update 1.48 Out This July 19 (Update) - MP1st - July 20th, 2022
- Zombie fungus draws in flies to mate with the dead - ZME Science - July 20th, 2022
- Syracuses Run of the Dead canceled after 10 years; zombie walk still staggering on - syracuse.com - July 20th, 2022
- Cells become zombies when the ends of their chromosomes are damaged a tactic both helpful and harmful for health - The Conversation Indonesia - July 20th, 2022
- This Scottish stadium hamburger is a zombie on a bun - SB Nation - July 20th, 2022
- Who is the voice of the alien Mothership in Zombies 3? - HITC - Football, Gaming, Movies, TV, Music - July 20th, 2022
- 'ZOMBIES: The Re-Animated Series': How to Watch, Cast, More - J-14 - July 20th, 2022
- Rob Zombie's Reboot of The Munsters to Debut on Netflix This Fall - Ghost Cult Magazine - July 20th, 2022
- Build Back Better Gets the Zombie Treatment - The Dispatch - July 12th, 2022
- 'Valley Of The Dead' Ending, Explained: Does Jan Lozano Save The World From A Zombie Takeover? | DMT - DMT - July 12th, 2022
- Disney World, Disneyland Welcome a Zombie Invasion - TheStreet - July 12th, 2022
- Of RINOs, DINOs and the zombie ant apocalypse - The Hill - July 12th, 2022
- Zombie practice: The mistake youre making thats hurting your game - Golf.com - July 12th, 2022
- Killing Floor 2 is still one of the most satisfying zombie shooters, and it's free on the Epic Games Store - VG247 - July 12th, 2022
- WARGASM Take on the Elite in Zombie-Themed "Fukstar" Music Video - Bloody Disgusting - July 12th, 2022
- Uber Pool Is a Zombie - The Atlantic - July 12th, 2022
- History of Zombies - Origins, Pop Culture & Film - HISTORY - July 4th, 2022
- Zombie (Plants vs. Zombies) | Plants vs. Zombies Wiki | Fandom - July 4th, 2022
- Zombie Army 4: the making of an 'impossible' Switch conversion - Eurogamer.net - July 4th, 2022
- The Movies And Shows That Kickstarted Rob Zombie's Love Of The Horror Genre - /Film - July 4th, 2022
- Meet the 'zombie star' that survived a supernova blast - Reuters.com - July 4th, 2022
- Zombies of the Slaughterhouse - JSTOR Daily - July 4th, 2022
- Zelda Williams is directing a "bonkers" zombie comedy and Diablo Cody is writing it - The A.V. Club - July 4th, 2022
- Where to Watch and Stream ZOMBIES Free Online - EpicStream - July 4th, 2022
- The Last Fortress: Underground Is A Life Simulator Home Management Sim Set In The Zombie Apocalypse - GameSpot - July 4th, 2022
- Review: Drunken Fist 2: Zombie Hangover - Movies Games and Tech - June 23rd, 2022
- Zombie property to be demolished in Rotterdam Junction - NEWS10 ABC - June 23rd, 2022
- How refactoring code in Safari's WebKit resurrected 'zombie' security bug - The Register - June 23rd, 2022
- East Idaho Eats: New zombie-themed food truck brings authentic Cubano, other sandwiches to Pocatello - East Idaho News - June 23rd, 2022
- Why Rob Zombie Won't Watch House Of 1,000 Corpses Anymore - /Film - June 23rd, 2022
- Will We Have an IE Zombie Movie? - CDOTrends - June 23rd, 2022
- Where to Watch and Stream Zombie Massacre Free Online - EpicStream - June 23rd, 2022
- Weekend Whipper: Near Ground Fall on the Famous "Zombie Roof" 5.12d Trad - Climbing Magazine - June 23rd, 2022
- Zombies return to Warzone with Season 4s Rebirth of the Dead mode - CharlieINTEL.com - June 23rd, 2022
- City near Wiltshire in 'unluckiest places' to live in a zombie apocalypse - Wiltshire Times - June 23rd, 2022
- In the Event of a Zombie Apocalypse': What's in the Fine Print You're Signing? - NBC San Diego - June 23rd, 2022
- County Durham beach named one of the UK's weirdest due to 'zombies' - Chronicle Live - June 23rd, 2022
- Review: LAND OF THE DEAD - FANGORIA - June 23rd, 2022
- Moon Knight and an Avenger Are in a Race Against an Army of Zombie Moon Knights (Exclusive) - ComicBook.com - June 23rd, 2022
- Here Are The Lyrics To 'First Kill's Theme, "The Zombie Song" - Elite Daily - June 14th, 2022
- BTS in a Zombie Apocalpyse How Fans Think These Idols Would React - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - June 14th, 2022
- 'Unhuman' review: A vibrant zombie feature that tries to offer more than just clichs - People's World - June 14th, 2022
- This Is the Best Zombie Movie of All Time, According to Data - 24/7 Wall St. - June 14th, 2022
- Two arrested as drugs and 'zombie' knife seized during raid - Liverpool Echo - June 14th, 2022
- A Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Thriller Gets a Taste for Streaming Flesh - We Got This Covered - June 5th, 2022
- Debunking the zombie claim that 'dead people always vote Democrat' - PolitiFact - June 5th, 2022
- The zombie nuke plant that just won't die - The Manila Times - June 5th, 2022
- Why Carnival Fell Today, and What It Has to Do With Zombies - The Motley Fool - June 5th, 2022
- The Midwich Cuckoos, review: steel yourself for Creepy Keeley and the zombie kids - The Telegraph - June 5th, 2022
- Hornets set to get $173m in public cash thanks to zombie lease clause, another $102m just because - Field of Schemes - June 5th, 2022
- Zombie catfish comes back from the dead with just a splash of water in footage - The Mirror - June 5th, 2022
- Unhuman Official Trailer: Zombies Bring The Breakfast Club Formula Back From The Dead On June 3 - The Illuminerdi - May 17th, 2022
- Erie County Clerk says he is addressing tax zombie properties - WGRZ.com - May 17th, 2022
- The zombie economics of inflation and unemployment - The Hill - May 17th, 2022
- Tax & Spend: The zombie companies are finally expiring - The Globe and Mail - May 17th, 2022
- Sense of dj vu with Stormont as 'zombie' Executive continues - The Irish Times - May 17th, 2022
- Best Guns for Zombies Cold War: Best Weapons 2022 - Turkish Weekly - Journal of Turkish Weekly - May 17th, 2022
Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero