Don’t Fear the Reaper.
The episode begins right where we left off, as Maggie falls from the train. She shoots one walker’s brains, but as she climbs the train again, a walker underneath the train grabs her ankle. She fires on as many walkers as possible until she’s out of ammo. The walkers soon swarm her.
Inside the train car, now surrounded by walkers, everyone sans Daryl and Dog drop in from above. However, the doors are rusted shut. When Alden asks where Maggie is, all Negan can say is that she was right behind him. Alden insists on going back for her, but everyone else is focused on going forward. The plan is to move forward from car to car until they reach the front. From there, just keep on going.
Daryl and Dog continue elsewhere in the tunnels. They happen upon an abandoned camp site littered with bodies, including one man with his handcuffed arm cut off, still holding onto a briefcase of money. On the walls, Daryl finds a mural of what appears to be the downtrodden eventually rising up and overtaking the wealthy.
Remember this class struggle theme. It’ll no doubt be handy later.
Over at the Commonwealth, Yumiko surmises from a photo alone that this place has laws and structures. Her plan is to talk to someone in charge, be cold as ice, and demand results. Luckily, being a lawyer, it’s natural for Yumiko to be cold as ice. She loves her brother and she hasn’t seen him in a long time before the world went to hell. All she needs to do is act normal.
A Commonwealth guard passes by and Princess believes, based on how the guard stared at them, that they’re aware something is up. At the same time, Eugene arrives to let the two know that Ezekiel is missing. Probably because he told off the big guy. Again, we’ll get to him. So Yumiko goes over to the nearest guard and demands to speak to her supervisor.
…nah, that’s too easy of a joke.
Daryl continues exploring the camp site and finds a bag filled with treats and a $100 bill with a note written to a father who told his family to move on if he didn’t return in a week. Apparently Mom didn’t listen and went looking. Three weeks passed and the others decided to finally leave next. But they remembered to keep turning on the radio at 10. Daryl then finds a photo of the very young kids- Tom and Jesse.
After putting down an awakening walker, Daryl finds a map drawn on the wall. He can’t look at it for long, as something draws Dog’s attention into a sewer drain.
So Yumiko got her sit-down with the managers. Well, she gets Evans and Clark, who wonders why Yumiko is back, as she’s already been assessed. I’m surprised that Clark didn’t start off with a question. Rather, Yumiko attempts to turn the tables by assessing that the two assess people in the community. Why? Because someone above the two decided it’s a good baseline to judge who people are.
But people like Evans and Clark need to justify their existence, too. It’s more valuable to have someone who can haul the trash and keep the streets free from disease than someone who can write endless lists of questions. At the end of the day, you have to rely on your gut instinct. Clark and Evans follow the rules. Yumiko, as a lawyer, likes rules because they bring order to the chaos. So she’s needed.
At last, Yumiko admits that she has reason to believe her brother works at the Commonwealth. As such, she’d like an expedited processing for her and her companions. Why Yumiko didn’t just start with this is anyone’s guess, but in enters the big guy with a cup of coffee for Yumiko.
Eugene and a fidgety Princess wait outside. Princess makes a run for the bathroom, figuring that if the guy in orange armor brought Yumiko a cup of coffee, then things must be going well. She gets instructions from a guard on where to go, but is more overjoyed upon learning that there’s toilet paper.
Again, this can’t be an accident.
Underground, the others manage to get one of the doors open and move onto the next car, but hear banging from below in morse code: S.O.S. Naturally, it’s Maggie. Well, it’s not from under a dumpster, but it’ll suffice.
Maggie clocks Negan for leaving her, but he stands his ground and doesn’t deny leaving her to die. After all, she’s wants him dead sooner, rather than later. So can you really blame him for not wanting to help the person who wants to kill him? For all the bad Negan’s done, he points out that he also killed Alpha. Had he not done that, there’d probably be more heads on spikes. He did what needed to be done.
Instead of a phone ringing, this tense confrontation is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Gage from the next train car. He tells them from behind the train door that he got lost in the tunnels. But how did Gage get in? Through a door on the far end…which he didn’t close. Maggie warns everyone that if they open the door, then all of the walkers will come in. But as Alden points out, Gage is literally right there.
But Maggie doesn’t care. Alden tries to help, but he’s held back by Duncan and Frost. Despite Gage’s pleas for help, Maggie insists that she can’t help. Gage calls her a liar and, in an act I didn’t see coming, pulls out a blade and repeatedly stabs himself. The others, shocked, look on as Gage is soon devoured and pulled apart by walkers.
Rather than immediately deal with the aftermath of this- because that would make too much sense- we return to the Commonwealth as Eugene tries to calm his nerves. He finally asks a nearby guard when Yumiko will return, but the guard insists that no one is in that room. As for Eugene’s friend? What friend? The guard tells Eugene to leave.
Well, that was pointless, because we’re back in the tunnels anyway as Duncan and Frost try to pry open the other train door. As Elijah’s flashlight goes out, Maggie lights up a flare. Gage reanimates and Alden is the only one who can look at him. While Gabriel calls Gage a coward for the way he went out, Alden counters that Gage was just scared. No one deserves to die like that.
Story time. Maggie knows of worse ways. Before she met Elijah, she and Hershel were alone and came across a frail old man with some scavenged clothes. He asked the two to help him haul his shopping cart back home in exchange for help and food. Maggie knew he was a liar, but she and Hershel were hungry, so they followed him to his house.
Maggie pulled a knife on the man and pulled out the chloroform ram he planned to use on her. Instead, Maggie stuffed it in his mouth and locked Hershel in a room. She searched the house and found three deformed beings that came after her. She handled them and the house was soon quiet except for a thudding sound in the attic. Maggie thought they had people tied up there, trying to get free.
So Maggie went to a door at the end of a hallway, opened it, and found a set of stairs. At the top was a writhing, rocking shadow. She thought it was an animal, but the form then fell down the stairs and came at Maggie’s feet. It was a walker that used to be a woman. Her arms and legs had been cut off and stitched up, and her eyes gouged up. No tongue either. Also, she was wheezing through a hole in her throat.
Yeah, so she suffered. Whatever was in her full belly tried to get out. There were three more women just like her, but their hearts were beating. Maggie’s first thought? If they’re alive, there must be food. So she took care of them, found lots of food, and left with a full cart. Maggie tells Alden that she doesn’t feel anything because that’s what’s out there.
This had made things clearer to her: what they have in Alexandria and had at Hilltop, and even Meridian, is rare. Compared to everything that’s out there. Because it isn’t, it means they were lucky and that no one has it figured out. According to Negan, at least. No one ever did or will.
So to sum up the last six minutes of that scene: life sucks, it’s rare that you make it work, and there’s always danger around the corner. Are we all clear?
I changed my mind. Can we go back to Commonwealth? No? More of Daryl? Alright, fine. A walker approaches him from behind in the sewer. If you can believe it, walkers ahead manage to seal the hole shut that Daryl approached. Or maybe they just pushed against it. I have no idea. He kills the walker behind him, bashes open the gate, and takes care of the remaining walkers with his flail. Did he always have that?
A bloodied Roy stumbles forward and collapses as he begs for Daryl’s help. Walkers stream in, but Dog rushes in and takes care of one. Daryl goes to Ron, who tells him that he lost Gage and the ammo. He hands Daryl a gun and grenade, telling him not to waste time on trying to help him. He wants Daryl to tell Maggie that he didn’t die a coward.
Doing a bit of parallelism, are we Walking Dead?
Duncan and Frost finally get the train car open, but the one in the car opposite them is blocked by a seat. If that wasn’t enough, the walkers from the other end are working on the door. I guess this is how Gage gets his revenge.
The walkers finally break into the train car. The survivors take out as many as they can, but Duncan then spots walkers approaching from the other end of the train car he’s trying to break into. With a gun given to him by Maggie, Negan goes off to help Duncan.
At the same time, Daryl, having followed the noise, enters the train from another car and starts shooting down walkers like he’s Leon S. Kennedy. He arrives at the door, removes the seat, and clears a path for everyone to rush through. As Daryl yells for everyone to take cover, he sticks the grenade into a walker’s mouth, kicks it back, and hits the dirt as the grenade soon explodes.
As night falls at the Commonwealth, a quivering Eugene is brought in for questioning from Evans and the guard in the orange armor, who explains that Eugene’s friends are being processed. The guard asks if Eugene likes feeling nervous, and then says that one thing gets his heart pumping: battling the dead. The magenta swarm gets him every time, and not in a bad way. The guard warns Eugene to not lie, since he can’t lie for shit.
Luckily, Eugene wasn’t going to, and this makes the guard like Eugene. If he keeps doing that, it will help him. The guard will give Eugene two questions, and he wants truthful answers. He does that and he can see his friends again. Where is Eugene’s settlement, and why was he at the train station?
Eugene confesses that he’s been holding back. He wanted to speak up earlier, but he was afraid of what the others would say. He hasn’t always been emotional, but death, loss, and fear have opened him up. He explains finding the radio and speaking into the void in the hopes that someone would hear him. Then, one night, he heard a voice. The two got to talking, and she wasn’t repulsed by Eugene.
He tells the two how he and Stephanie bonded and decided to meet. So he asked his friends to go to the train station under the guise of asking for help. They wouldn’t go otherwise. But all Eugene could think of was Stephanie. He’s been lying this entire time because he didn’t want to lose his friends.
More than that, he lied to Stephanie about being from a large settlement because he feared she wasn’t who she said she was and laid a trap for him.
Eugene then admits that he’s a virgin, even though he has observed more times than he’d care to admit. That much we do know. He hoped that after a serious period of courtship, Stephanie would be the one for him. Now Eugene is humiliated that he’s been forced to admit this. He’s afraid that if Stephanie found out that he wasn’t honest with her, she might want to have nothing to do with him anymore.
At the very least, Eugene is glad to get this off of his chest, given how everything else he’s said has been the truth.
Well done, Josh McDermitt.
The next day, Eugene is brought to a train car where he’s reunited with Princess, Yumiko, and Ezekiel. Turns out Ezekiel was taken to an infirmary, where he got plenty of help and rest. Soon enough, he joined Yumiko and Princess and they all soon ended up in this train car.
The main guard enters and reads some a constitution that congratulates the four on completing initial processing. They are now up for citizenship and asylum in this United Township. Next up is orientation by a beat cop. In short, welcome to the Commonwealth. The guard then tells smartass Ezekiel that he went to West Point.
No point in questioning things now that they’re in. The guard bangs on the door and in enters a young woman. She asks for Eugene and, upon seeing him, introduces herself as Stephanie.
Oh, is that right?
Anyway, back in the train tunnels, Negan returns Maggie’s gun while Daryl explains the note he found on the $100 bill. When asked if he found anything else, he tells Maggie that he found the same stuff she saw.
Maggie decides that everyone will take a detour to a hidden supply depot in Arbor Hill. Georgie set them up all over in case they ran into trouble when looking for survivors. Has ammo, food, weapons, and everyone can rest before heading to Meridian. The radio tower marks that neighborhood, and Negan knows just where that is.
Up above, everyone- Roy included- is greeted by a grisly sight: rows of bodies strung upside down. Just as Negan suggests doubling back, the survivors receive another greeting in the form of flying weapons. Roy gets an arrow to the eye and Frost gets a blade in the thigh. Everyone retreats behind a nearby car as danger approaches.
The Reapers have arrived.
So just when it seems like both groups are in the clear, their final encounters prove that they are not out of the woods yet.
Talking about the Commonwealth, we get a taste of what’s to come in regards to the class divide and overall structure. As in your face as The Walking Dead is with its messaging, they didn’t throw this in your face just yet. Yumiko only hints at it when she mentions people in the Commonwealth needing to justify their existence, in addition to having people haul trash and do the dirty work.
As if there are people clearly at the top, and others stuck at the bottom because that’s just the way it is. There are haves and have nots. People who make the hard decisions, and people stuck doing the dirty work. If you’re not careful, those people getting their hands dirty could rise up and overthrow their masters.
This is made all the clearer by the mural that Daryl sees in the train stations. Wealth and affluence don’t mean a thing in the apocalypse. The guy dragging along the suitcase of money probably thought it’d mean something when the world went to shit. But now? Who cares about currency? I mean, some communities probably do, but generally speaking, wealth is worthless.
The comic arc didn’t really touch on this until we got to the Commonwealth, so I like the show giving us some nice foreshadowing. It sets up the class struggle that we’ll see in this new community. Plus, I like that Daryl alone was the one to find it. He just takes it all in without making some big scene or pausing to be emotional, even when reading the note.
So Maggie finds herself in the uncomfortable position of having to make…well, the uncomfortable decisions. You could say leaving Gage to die is justice for his part in attacking Lydia, but he’s clearly bounced back since then. Admittedly, Maggie did have a reason. If they get Gage, they’re leaving themselves open to the other walkers and would probably waste more ammunition than they had.
It’s a cold position for Maggie to take, but not an unrealistic one. I mean, did anyone think Gage was long for this world? At the very least, he defied Maggie leaving him to die by forcing everyone to watch him kill himself. A ballsy move that I wouldn’t have expected. Gabriel may see Gage as a coward, but in my mind, Gage chose to make everyone live with the consequence of leaving him to die.
I don’t care about Maggie’s story, but I did like how Negan chimed in about the moral of the tale, even if it’s a familiar one. No one has it figured out. Alexandria, Woodbury, the prison, Terminus, and countless other communities may have built something, but it can’t last forever. Having some form of civility is rare in this world, so you have to fight to make it last.
Despite Negan leaving Maggie to die, I appreciate him pointing out that he’s also made tough decisions. Sure, not helping her was a dick move, but Maggie has been planning to kill him, so you can blame him? But more than that, good on him to bring up that he killed Alpha. Had he not done that, there probably would be more heads on spikes. Surely Alden of all people wouldn’t want that, given Enid’s fate.
Again, it’s likely- damn near expected- that Negan and Maggie will come to some sort of mutual understanding. Her giving him a gun proved that, in the moment, everyone had a part to play in dealing with the walkers on the train. She could’ve given that gun to anyone, but she picked Negan, despite their history.
He could’ve pocketed or discarded the gun, but him returning it to Maggie shows her, I feel, that maybe he’s turned a corner. She’ll never forget what happened to Glenn, but she sees that he is indeed trying. Baby steps, mind you. He did still refuse to help her. But in a time of action, he came through. Plus, he and Alden, both Saviors, were the only ones who wanted to help Gage, while everyone chose to let him die. At least they cared about his life.
But now the Reapers have arrived with a pretty strong introduction with those rows of bodies. They not only have the numbers, but the body count to back up their potential.
“Acheron Part II” was pretty good. Some good action scenes, themes, and ending both with the Reaper reveal and the others completing initial processing in the Commonwealth leaves them in interesting places. We’ll see where this all goes next time.