A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 11, Episode 14: “The Rotten Core”

Have a rotten day.

The Rotten Core- Carlson radios to Lance- AMC, The Walking Dead

The episode begins with Carlson sending a transmission to Lance. The location is secure, but Carlson is having trouble getting the residents to cooperate with the missing shipment. Lance isn’t surprised, given that these people have regressed into God knows what. Carlson promises that some good old law and order will help them cooperate. Sounds fine, until Carlson is informed that two soldiers are down.

The Rotten Core- Maggie, Aaron, Lydia, and Elijah in the apartment complex- AMC, The Walking Dead

As gunfire rings throughout the building, Maggie, Aaron, Lydia, and Elijah continue their way through the complex and decide to split up.

The Rotten Core- Daryl and Rosita chat- AMC, The Walking Dead

Over at the Commonwealth, Carol and Daryl’s brief chat is interrupted when Daryl is called into duty. So they decide to rain check for a lunch date. Even Daryl’s brief talk with Rosita is interrupted. Daryl just can’t catch a break. The commander for the day divides the troops to cover different sectors, with Daryl and Rosita being paired together for Sector D.

The Rotten Core- Sebastian is such a badass- AMC, The Walking Dead

But then shithead Sebastian and his girlfriend arrive, with Sebastian talking about how much of a badass he is when handling rotters. Daryl even approves of Sebastian’s abilities by giving him a thumbs-up and a slow clap.

Two other guards inform Daryl and Rosita that a swarm has been spotted near the north perimeter. Though the two are only meant for patrol, now it’s time to see how they operate outside the walls. Should be nothing to them.

The Rotten Core- Negan diffuses the situation- AMC, The Walking Dead

Aaron and Maggie explore one room of the complex, but they’re soon ambushed by Annie who, in turn, is ambushed by Elijah and Lydia who, in turn, are all ambushed by Negan. The Savior leader diffuses the situation and informs the others that he’s living in the complex.

The Rotten Core- Gabriel reunites with the others- AMC, The Walking Dead

Negan takes them to a hidden room where they reunite with Gabriel. There’s still the matter of the missing weapons, but Annie maintains that her people had nothing to do with that. Aaron calls bullshit on that, but there’s no time to quibble. The focus should be on evacuating, but Annie won’t leave while her people are still hiding. She proposes splitting into teams, sweep each floor for survivors, and find a way out together.

But Annie suggests that Negan stay behind since the people need someone they can trust. Again, she asked Negan to stay. Maggie, meanwhile, will go with Annie.

The Rotten Core- Sebastian gives Daryl and Rosita their assignment- AMC, The Walking Dead

So Daryl, Rosita, and the two other soldier explore the perimeter that looks suspiciously like the same field where the final battle with the Saviors took place in Season 8’s “Wrath.” There is indeed a growing walker swarm, and apparently four people are all that’s needed to handle it. Sebastian arrives and explains that they won’t be taking out the swarm, but going through it.

He talks about his friend, Cooper, and his father who turned his office into a panic room, where he kept good shit like weed and coke. But he also kept tons of cash, and this is what Sebastian needs. Sounds like a fucking joke, but it’s not. Since Pamela cut off Sebastian’s line of credit, he’s strapped for cash, so he needs to come up with creative ways to support his lifestyle- whatever that is.

Why not have the two nameless guards do it? Because they can’t shoot down there. Fired rounds attract, so it’ll raise questions. If they can’t shoot guns, they’ll probably be torn apart. But Sebastian believes in Daryl and Rosita. He provides them with a code to the office’s electric lock and- after a soldier puts down a walker- tells them to lather up in guts to work their way through the swarm.

The Rotten Core- Daryl holds Sebastian at knifepoint- AMC, The Walking Dead

Daryl and Rosita refuse, but when Sebastian threatens the kids, Daryl pulls out a blade and holds Sebastian at knifepoint. Sebastian defends himself, saying he isn’t threatening them, but wants to make their lives easier. Daryl and Rosita eventually relent, saying that they’ll do this for Sebastian, but that’s it. Honestly, they should’ve pulled a Eugene and just slugged Sebastian.

The Rotten Core- Daryl and Rosita explore the house- AMC, The Walking Dead

They make it through the swarm and enter the house. Inside, they find fresh blood and a few walkers who had to have turned only a few days ago. They then hear knocking from the other side of the safe.

The Rotten Core- April, played by Wynn Everett, tells Daryl and Rosita about her troubles- AMC, The Walking Dead

A woman, April, played by Wynn Everett- oh hey, it’s Whitney Frost from Agent Carter– tells the two that the money’s in the safe and that she’s the only one left. Turns out that this has happened before.

April, who has two kids, was in debt when, one day, a man showed up at her door and said he could help get her out of debt. Twelve people were sent to the house, but only three made it inside. They got the generator on, but the other two turned on each other, so she locked them out. Daryl goes off to find the generator.

The Rotten Core- Negan tells Lydia why he left without saying goodbye- AMC, The Walking Dead

Back at the complex, Negan explains to Lydia because he gave a shit and it’s what everyone needed. Not to mention he got married to Annie. Where they found wedding rings, I have no idea, but it’s nice.

Aaron asks if Negan had a hand placing those skulls on the shelves, but Negan counters that Aaron is the one who rolled up with an army. Gabriel tells Negan that he and Aaron had no idea about that, but the Commonwealth is different from other communities.

Lydia disagrees. She hoped that it would be, but the Commonwealth just wants to swallow up other communities. She equates them to the Whisperers, but wearing a different mask. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that Maggie was rubbing off on Lydia. Annie radios to Negan, informing him that she’s on the fifth floor and the soldiers are spread out, but the escape window is closing. It’s time to move.

The Rotten Core- Negan saves Hershel- AMC, The Walking Dead

Problem, though. There’s one more arrival to the complex in the form of Hershel, who was hiding in a truck on the perimeter. A Commonwealth guard hauls the young boy in and radios to Carlson, but Negan puts the guard down with a crowbar.

Well, this won’t be awkward.

The Rotten Core- Annie tells Maggie that she's pregnant- AMC, The Walking Dead

As Maggie and Annie hide, Annie uses the break to snack on some ginger- she’s 12 weeks pregnant. Yes, Negan is the father, not that this would bring Maggie any joy.

Negan radios to the two and informs them of Hershel’s presence. He assures Maggie that Hershel is safe and tells her to stay with Annie. Maggie has every reason to still be concerned, but Negan told Annie all about what he did to Hershel’s father. Annie’s still with him because none of them have clean hands. She’s seen what people will do to each other to survive. Sometimes Annie did it, and other times, it was done to her.

She’s not proud of it, but it happened. All she can do is try to be better. Just like Negan’s trying right now. What matters to Annie is who Negan is right now, which is someone who will do what’s necessary to protect Hershel. But according to Maggie, Negan doesn’t get to forget, but he hasn’t.

Apparently, neither does the audience. I mean, Christ. Can we move on from Glenn already? Or at least acknowledge that hey, Negan did also kill Abraham that night.

The Rotten Core- Hershel points a gun at Negan- AMC, The Walking Dead

Anyway, Hershel was warned by Maggie to stay away from Negan, who explains that Maggie is angry at him for something that happened awhile ago. She’s still angry at him for something that happened awhile ago. When Hershel asks if Negan is a bad man, Negan explains that he was, so Hershel pulls out a gun. Maggie told him that a bad man killed his father. He puts two and two together and deduces that it was Negan.

Negan gets down and tells Hershel that there’s nothing he can say or do that will fix what he took. He knows that Hershel wants to kill Negan, but if he does, the bad people will know where they’re hiding. Perhaps Negan deserves to die, but everyone else doesn’t deserve that. Hershel lowers the gun long enough for Lydia to take it before he runs off.

With the way the show keeps bringing up Glenn’s death, you’d think he used to be main protagonist and not Rick Grimes.

The Rotten Core- Daryl turns on the generator- AMC, The Walking Dead

Back at the house, Daryl gets the generator up and running, but struggles to turn on the lights. As the electricity flickers on and off, Daryl takes care of a few walkers before finally getting the light on for good.

The Rotten Core- April watches Daryl break open the safe- AMC, The Walking Dead

At the same time, Rosita enters the code and gets access to April just as Daryl returns. Daryl’s attempts to break open the safe trigger an alarm that only blares louder when Rosita tries to deactivate it. Rosita uses her helmet to beat the keypad into silence just as Daryl gets the safe open. They pocket as much of the cash as they can.

Having followed the noise, walkers are right outside the room. Daryl and Rosita prepare to go out the same way they entered. No sudden moves, and they’ll go right out the door. They lather up April in enough blood that should hopefully mask her scent.

The Rotten Core- Mercer and Carol arrive to aid Daryl, Rosita, and April- AMC, The Walking Dead

But then gunfire breaks out from the other side of the door. When the noise dies down, they open the door, revealing Mercer and Carol. When Daryl didn’t show up for lunch, Carol got Mercer. Daryl and Rosita explain that they didn’t come to steal money of their own volition, but because Sebastian threatened their children. April explains her similar predicament to Mercer.

The Rotten Core- Clearing out walkers- AMC, The Walking Dead

There’s more walkers than bullets, so it’s time to lather up and get out. Slowly, but surely, the five work their way through the house, but one walker gets caught in April’s armor. She’s forced to take it out, but this attracts attention. The lack of bullets doesn’t prevent them from taking out the walkers. Save for April, who apparently got massacred in seconds. Rosita sticks a blade in April’s skull as the four exit the house.

The Rotten Core- Carlson searches for the survivors- AMC, The Walking Dead

Carlson and his squadron continue making their way through the apartment. If they don’t find their guns in the next hour, they burn the place to the ground. When the guards leave, Maggie radios to the others with a plan.

The guards enter the room where Negan and the others are hiding behind the wall. They find nothing, but when Carlson picks up a bottle of alcohol, he notices footprints on the floor. Before he can discover the others, gunfire gets his attention.

The Rotten Core- Carlson about to shoot Aaron- AMC, The Walking Dead

They head to the roof in time to stop Aaron and Gabriel. Carlson holds the two at gunpoint and makes the dumb mistake of monologuing, which gives Elijah enough time to sneak up and kill two of the soldiers. Carlson radios for help, but the others are in the middle of their own firefight and appear to be losing.

Exhausted, Carlson rises and advises everyone to take a breath. As Maggie and Annie arrive, Aaron fires several shots at Carlson, who falls off the roof and lands next to the bodies of people he sent to their deaths.

The Rotten Core- Walkers crawl towards Carlson- AMC, The Walking Dead

The bodies only now begin to reanimate and crawl over to feast upon Carlson.

Hey, remember how quickly Spencer reanimated compared to how long it took these people? Or Merle? Or Shane?

The Rotten Core- Mercer kills two Commonwealth soldiers- AMC, The Walking Dead

Whatever. Mercer and the others bring the bags of money to the two guards who aren’t important enough to identify. They’re more focused on the money than the fact that they didn’t bother to help, but their defense is that they don’t answer to Mercer. After the two reveal that they sent maybe 30 or 40 people down to that building, Mercer swiftly shoots both in the head.

He then tells Rosita and Daryl that they’ll have to pay Sebastian, because if they don’t, he’ll come after them, and that’s a fight they can’t win. He offers to carry the bags of money through the gate, confident that the people won’t search him.

The Rotten Core- Sebastian arrives to pick up the money- AMC, The Walking Dead

Later on, Sebastian arrives to pick up his money. He doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that the other guards didn’t make it. He is, however, generous enough to leave a small stack for the others as their cut. He even congratulates them on a job well done and is happy that they’re friends again. I’m certain that Daryl, Rosita, and Mercer would all like to take turns snapping Sebastian’s neck right now.

The Rotten Core- Carol tells Lance what Sebastian has been doing- AMC, The Walking Dead

In his quarters, Lance radios to Carlson, but receives no response. He gives up the attempts and goes back to work when Carol enters, saying she was helping some friends on a mission from the governor’s son.

She explains that Sebastian has been finding desperate people and sending them through swarms to get money, with most not making it out alive. Lance is glad they’re alive, but is more focused on whether they got the money.

They did. Finally. Carol asks why Lance sent the others, and Lance’s response is that those people put themselves in bad situations, either through stupid choices or an unwillingness to play by the rules. The Commonwealth works because everyone plays their part. If you can’t or won’t, then it huts everyone else and that’s when the system breaks down.

The Rotten Core- Lance enjoys his conversations with Carol- AMC, The Walking Dead

They can’t let that happen. That much Carol understands. People are either part of the problem or solution. Before Carol leaves, Lance thanks her for her time. To him, it’s nice to talk to someone who sees the bigger picture.

The Rotten Core- Negan tells Hershel that they have unfinished business- AMC, The Walking Dead

Over at the complex, Hershel has mastered Maggie’s death glare. Negan slides over and tells the child that they have unfinished business. Negan tells Hershel to go back with his mother and help her rebuild. In a few years, when Hershel’s grown up, Negan wants Hershel to find him so they can settle this.

The Rotten Core- Maggie, Aaron, and Gabriel ponder what to do next- AMC, The Walking Dead

This is how Kill Bill: Vol. 6 started. Maggie arrives and asks Hershel what Negan said to him. Hershel, though, doesn’t respond. She then asks what Aaron and Gabriel are going to do, figuring that they can’t go back to Commonwealth. However, they’ll have to since Lance will want to know what happened. Plus, it’s only a matter of time before Lance comes for the people in the complex.

It still begs the question of who stole the guns, if Ian didn’t?

The Rotten Core- Commonwealth soldier crawls away from Leah- AMC, The Walking Dead

We jump back to two weeks ago and find the overturned Commonwealth convoy. One injured soldier is crawling away from her attacker, who easily catches up to the soldier and cuts her throat. This, it turns out, is the actual person who attacked the convoy, and it turns out to be none other than Leah.

I was wondering why Lynn Collins’ name still appeared in the credits.

May as well start there. I found it strange that Lynn Collins was still credited even after “No Other Way,” despite the fact that the Reapers’ arc was seemingly done. It made me wonder in the back of my mind ‘What if Leah just up and returns one day?’ It’s not impossible, but she’s without an army or family. So what’s her goal with stealing the weapons?

The Rotten Core- Leah returns- AMC, The Walking Dead

Is she looking to get revenge on Maggie and Daryl, or possibly help them? Considering Daryl spared her life, maybe she wants to repay that by doing him a service. I don’t know what that is, and again, Leah being on her own puts her at a huge disadvantage. I get that she’s a soldier, so her taking out this entire convoy on her own isn’t entirely unbelievable, but I do find it baffling. But hey, maybe she’s got new followers?

Either way, Leah’s return is sure to be a thorn in everyone’s side.

The Rotten Core- Negan tells Hershel to come find him when he's older- AMC, The Walking Dead

Now, back to talking about Glenn Rhee- apparently the show’s biggest death and loss that we just can’t move past. Hershel has every reason to hate Negan, just as Maggie does. I get it. But this is just treading familiar territory. The show paints Glenn’s death as the one loss that it can’t move on from and must constantly remind viewers of what Negan did. That should stop.

Them- Glenn offers Maggie some water- AMC, The Walking Dead

Look, we all miss Glenn. He was a great character and went out in a brutal way, but these characters and this world has moved on from his death at this point.

Honor- Carl with Rick and Michonne in the church- AMC, The Walking Dead

There have been other big character deaths since the Season 7 premiere.

the-day-will-come-when-you-wont-be-negan-about-to-kill-abraham- AMC, The Walking Dead

There was another big death that happened in that same episode, but you’d think Glenn was the only one who got the bat, and not Abraham.

The Calm Before- Finding the border wall- AMC, The Walking Dead

A whopping 10 characters were killed in a single episode. Sure, only three of those deaths really mattered, but it was still a major shakeup for the series.

What Comes After- Rick collapses near the bridge- AMC, The Walking Dead

Hell, Rick Grimes, arguably the show’s main character, is presumed dead by many, and none of these characters receive near the same amount of attention that Glenn has.

The Rotten Core- Maggie asks Hershel what Negan said to him- AMC, The Walking Dead

We get it. Maggie will never forgive Negan for what he did and doesn’t want him to forget. But as has been said many times over, Negan has changed. Maggie may not want to accept that, but Negan has proven many times over that he’s not the same man who bashed in Glenn and Abraham’s skulls. He’s even starting his own family now.

The Rotten Core- Lydia takes the gun from Hershel- AMC, The Walking Dead

Sure, that leaves a bitter taste in Maggie’s mouth, but holding Glenn’s death over Negan’s death until the end of time has gotten old. Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea of Hershel discovering that Negan is the man who killed his dad, and I’m curious about the conversation where Negan told Hershel that they have unfinished business. But beyond that, it’s time to put Glenn in the past.

We know that Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are gonna get a Walking Dead spin-off, so is Maggie just gonna remind Negan every five minutes that he killed her husband? There’s no need to keep revisiting Glenn’s death.

The Rotten Core- Aaron about to shoot Carlson- AMC, The Walking Dead

Beyond that, I quite liked this episode. Carlson’s rampage showed he’s a force to be reckoned with, though his villain monologuing ended up being his undoing. I don’t mind him dying one episode after his appearance, even though I find it convenient that the people he killed reanimated only after he fell. Carlson is just Lance’s pawn, so I’m fine with removing Carlson from the equation to focus on the bigger threat.

The Rotten Core- Daryl and Rosita hear Sebastian's proposal- AMC, The Walking Dead

Speaking of, Carlson talks about the bigger picture and maintaining the system, but that system is only maintained on the backs of the pawns. Desperate people like April, or people who have things that can be exploited, like Daryl and Rosita. They aren’t desperate, but someone like Sebastian is in a position where he can make their lives a living hell.

The Rotten Core- April is already dead- AMC, The Walking Dead

The mission at the house went a bit too quickly for me. Daryl and Rosita make for quite the duo, so I’m glad to see them working together more and more. Same for when Carol and Mercer joined them. But they’ve dealt with bigger swarms and I never felt they were in any real danger. April’s death happened a bit too fast, I feel. One second, two walkers swarm her. The second, Rosita is staring at her corpse. Did we miss a scene?

The Rotten Core- Mercer tells Daryl and Rosita that they must pay Sebastian- AMC, The Walking Dead

At the very least, the characters should see by now that Mercer is on their side. He’s talked before about playing the part, he cautions them from going against Sebastian since they’d probably lose that fight, and he kills two Commonwealth soldiers in plain view of witnesses. Part of that could be retribution for the people Sebastian sent to their deaths, but we further see that Mercer doesn’t believe in the Commonwealth’s vision.

“The Rotten Core” was another pretty good episode. While it’s dragged down by a few plot conveniences and the constant reminder of Glenn, the rebellion against the Commonwealth is only going to get louder from here. Plus, the reintroduction of Leah should hopefully be an interesting X-factor for the survivors. We shall see.

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