Time for A New Deal, not brought to you by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The episode begins in the sewers as the standoff continues. Mercer arrives with Pamela, Negan, and Carol as he orders the soldiers to stand down. Pamela also orders Daryl to stand down, saying that she needs Lance alive. Mercer points out that Daryl would be dead by now if he wanted to pick Lance, so Daryl tells Lance to do what he’s gotta fucking do.
Okay, that’s enough, The Walking Dead. You got your F-bomb card just in time for the final season, but now you’re just overdoing it. When Carol tells Daryl that she made a deal for them, Daryl ultimately relents. He gets one in on Lance by stabbing his left hand.
Following this, Carol explains that, per her deal, the slate is wiped clean on both sides. They get supplies, weapons, and everything needed to finish rebuilding. Then they can just go home. In exchange, Pamela tells the people what Lance did back at the apartment complex. He takes the fall. Daryl sees this as a way for Pamela to save Sebastian’s skin, though Carol contends that isn’t their problem anymore.
Still, Annie and Negan aren’t too keen on letting go of the guy who killed their people. For Maggie, the most important thing is that they’re together. She doesn’t trust the Commonwealth, but if this deal gets them back home with their own rules, then it’s worth the risk. Eventually, Daryl concedes.
Elsewhere, a bound Lance asks Mercer to shift him a few feet, but Mercer instead does him a mercy and puts down some approaching walkers. Pamela tells Lance that he’ll be transported to the Commonwealth and put on trial. This time, Pamela says, Lance has gone too far. He might survive this if he plays things right, but his life at the Commonwealth is over.
She berates Lance for doing things in service of himself, not the Commonwealth. He tried hard to prove the world wrong, but she calls him an angry, delusional boy, and he’s never been a player in this world. As Pamela walks off, Lance warns her that she needs him. If something happens, alliances in the Commonwealth will become a problem. Whatever game Pamela is playing, Lance maintains that he’s part of it.
At the Commonwealth, Pamela tells the citizens that Lance abused his position and caused many to suffer. But thanks to new allies and the armed forces, Lance was unable to escape. Strangely, the mob from last time is maybe a fifth of that size now. But moving on to happy news, Pamela reminds everyone that tomorrow is Founders’ Day, so the community will celebrate what makes the Commonwealth great: the people.
Hard to believe people are falling for this. Eugene believes there’s more that can be done. Max tells him that it’s not his problem anymore, but he reminds her that he’s still standing at her side. He asks whether she’d consider coming with him. After all, she showed her home, so why shouldn’t he show his? Max is open to the idea, but as she eyes Sebastian, she realizes her work is not yet done.
As the others pack up to hit the road, Jack, Aaron tells Maggie that he’ll check in on Oceanside. For what reason, I have no idea. Maggie will head to Alexandria first because it’s in bad shape. From there, she’ll head to Hilltop.
Apparently Elijah and Lydia are a thing, even though Lydia tells Carol that she hasn’t forgotten about Henry. Carol tells Lydia to take happiness wherever she can get it.
Daryl thanks Lydia for saving Carol, but Lydia in turn thanks Daryl for saving her. Meanwhile, and I’d be crazy to not mention this, but Daryl looks over Rick’s Colt Python. He gives it to Judith, saying it’s hers, but she doesn’t want it. I’m sure that won’t come back up again.
Judith thinks back to when her mother talked about hanging up her sword for good. Not that they’d be completely safe, but she’d feel like she wouldn’t need it anymore.
If Judith keeps the gun, things go back to how they were, but they should be better. Daryl promises her that they will be once they get home. Judith wonders how, since they’re leaving and there are still problems in the Commonwealth. After all, that’s what Daryl did with Judith’s parents at Alexandria and Hilltop. I guess Oceanside and the Kingdom don’t matter.
Daryl says that was different, but Judith says the only difference is that Daryl would rather run away than stay and fight. Daryl, like most grown folks, has enough of this kid asking questions and tells her to stop. Anyway, everyone watches as Aaron, Jerry, Elijah, and Lydia depart.
Founders’ Day arrives and festivities are underway. As Ezekiel helps out at the petting zoo, Carol joins him and realizes that he’s staying. It’s not because of a lack of medicine back home. His place is here at the Commonwealth. When he left with Eugene and Yumiko, they were desperate for help. Now he wants to make a difference, one last time, by helping another kingdom before it falls apart.
So Ezekiel believes this community will fall apart. Noted.
As Pamela listens to a recording of a former Milton giving a speech, she and Max have prepared a speech for Sebastian to give. If he’s to lead this community one day, there are things he’ll have to do. One sentence in and Sebastian crumples the speech. He believes he’ll lead because he’s a Milton, but Pamela snaps and rebukes her son for his stupidity.
The people need to see that he has nothing to hide and be reminded that he is the grandson of a Milton. Pamela reminds Sebastian that politics wasn’t her first choice, either. But Sebastian was born to lead the Commonwealth.
At a doctor’s office, Negan and Annie check the condition of their incoming baby. Annie’s amniotic fluid is a little high, according to the doctor, which means she’s in the right place. It might have been an issue if they hadn’t caught this earlier. Annie isn’t about to stay at the Commonwealth, as there are people looking to them for safety. Annie won’t risk them.
Negan keeps hearing his dad’s voice in his head. Your life isn’t your own once you have a kid. It’s never the same after that. Negan wanted to know what that meant, but now he does. Annie, meanwhile, hears the voices of the people killed by the Commonwealth. They don’t need this place.
As Daryl packs up, he goes out to the kids. All one of them. RJ, who is reading a copy of “Invincible,” isn’t supposed to say where Judith is. Rather than just snatching the comic out of RJ’s hand and demanding answers, Daryl leaves to find Judith.
But he ropes Carol into helping him. Daryl wonders what Rick would do, in what has to be the first mention of Rick Grimes in ages, but Carol reminds Daryl that Rick isn’t here. She says that she had no idea what to do when Sophia was born. She just looked for her mother to make decisions, but parents just hope they make the right decision at the time.
Okay, see, this is a natural way to talk about past characters without shoving it into your face.
Eugene and Max head down a corridor with a plan. Max is adamant about doing something. She’s been in Pamela’s office for years. Even if she didn’t know what was going on, she went along while knowing that Sebastian was bad news bears. Eugene knows all about guilt, like pretending to be a scientist. Max was proud of what they did and got used to feeling like things would be like the before times.
After all this, why shouldn’t they try for something better? Thinking like that made her believe they could change things. But it’s all being erased, so Max has to try, no matter what happens. Eugene just wants them to be safe. He doesn’t trust Lance, but if there’s an outside chance that he could help, Eugene is willing to go along with this.
Eugene heads to Lance’s cell with a peace offering of a candy apple. Lance tells Eugene that if he wants something, just ask for it. So Eugene asks for any damning information on Pamela or Sebastian. Ironically, Pamela is the reason that Lance is alive. Lance warns Eugene that the Miltons will crush him if he goes after them. Pamela is just better at it.
People wanted Sebastian dead, but now they’re dancing in the streets and celebrating the Milton legacy like nothing happened. Lance tells Eugene that he’s better off making nice with the Miltons. Also, Lance wants Eugene to deliver that message to Max, since she’s so good at hiding in plain sight next to Pamela. She should keep it up, as Lance doesn’t want them to end up in a cell.
They both have to live with it unless they’re willing to burn the whole thing down.
Gabriel, meanwhile, delivers what he believes is his final sermon at the Commonwealth. Rosita brings Coco with her as Gabriel tells her he never thought he’d get back to preaching. The people who sat in the pews gave that to him, while what he gave them will be here long after he’s gone. Gabriel does wish they brought cotton candy instead of the food they did bring for his departure.
The two hear some commotion from one of the rooms, and it turns out to be Judith.
As some Commonwealth workers finish with setting up the festivities that they’ll miss out on, they’re soon quickly executed by Shira and Calhoun, who exit while also leaving the fence open.
Daryl shows up at the church and joins Judith, who says she just wanted to be alone. Daryl understands. He used to have a spot like this when he wanted to hide and not go home. It was a river behind his house. He’d wait for his father to go to sleep. Judith doesn’t mind being alone. It gives you time to think. Daryl apologizes for earlier. He’s trying hard to figure out what he’s doing.
He wishes things were how Judith wants, as that’s how they should be, but they aren’t. Daryl has to keep her safe, and he’s going to hold onto the gun until she wants it. Or doesn’t. Either way, she’s stuck with him. So yeah, they’re good. Judith will at least get to say goodbye to her friends.
As Sebastian goes over his speech, Pamela arrives and gives Max some items for later- a tape recorder among them. Max joins Sebastian and, setting the tape recorder aside and hitting “Record,” engages him in conversation. She offers him a drink and tells him he still has a choice in whether he wants to deliver this speech.
Max tells Sebastian that he could be more. She also lets him know that she does more than work for his mother. He’s a citizen. Leading isn’t just telling people her words. People want to hear some honesty. Sebastian counters that people don’t want honesty. They want to be told everything is okay so they can ignore the mess the world really is. The Commonwealth is built on buying into bullshit.
The desperate need to believe that the old American dream is still real. To Sebastian, it’s a joke. The poor stay poor so the rich can do whatever the hell they want. The game is rigged. Pamela handpicks the lottery winners, and none of it matters. It won’t change. The people don’t want honesty. They’re just too stupid to see it. Max questions whether Sebastian just chooses to be a spoiled asshole.
If everyone else expects it, who is left to be disappointed?
As Max hands the tape recorder to Eugene, it’s time for the main event…professional wrestling. Well, it’s not a football game, but it’ll do.
Anyway, before the lottery drawing, Pamela tells the crowd that Sebastian has prepared a few words. You know where this is going. However, Sebastian doesn’t read his prepared remarks. He tells the crowd that he knows they don’t think well of him, and he deserves that. It will take awhile for him to earn their trust and live up to his legacy. He doesn’t have the words to describe the Commonwealth like his grandfather did.
So he asks the people to join him in listening to the words of President Milton. So Eugene hits Play and instead of President Milton, we hear Sebastian’s rant from earlier.
The crowd erupts into chaos. Mercer orders the soldiers to stand down, not wanting any more violence. Sebastian, meanwhile, pursues Max.
From his cell, Lance hears a noise and looks outside. After Shira and Calhoun give him a signal, he decides to take a bite of that candy apple.
So what about those workers from before? They’ve reanimated and approaching the square. Mercer tells some guards to protect the Governor. Pamela reminds Mercer that his job is to protect her, but as he takes out his weapons, Mercer tells the Governor that his job is to protect the Commonwealth.
The walkers cause a panic in the streets. Residents flee every which way while the walkers feast on any warm body they can get. Daryl briefly loses Judith in the chaos, and when Judith freezes as a walker approaches her- can’t explain that one- Daryl puts the walker down with Rick’s gun. Judith now asks for the gun, as the people need their help.
Sebastian catches up to Max, calling her nothing, and gets the bright idea to toss her into a walker. The walker takes so long that it gives Eugene enough time to tackle it into Sebastian.
In an instant, Sebastian’s bravado vanishes. No one lifts a finger to help him as the walker bites into his neck. Judith soon puts the walker down as Sebastian bleeds to death. Sebastian’s rant continues over the radio as the episode comes to a close.
So I assume the deal’s off?
It’s very hard to be idealistic and optimistic in a world that’s overrun with the dead. Every time the characters experience a glimmer of hope, it’s ripped from them and they’re reminded of the harsh reality they’re living through.
I think back to the episode “Four Walls and a Roof” where, after the Hunters were killed, Gabriel told these new people that they were in God’s house. But Maggie said it wasn’t God’s house- just four walls and a roof. It’s not all peaches and cream.
Judith is too young to see that. She may have grown up having to fight, but she’s still a child and has a rosy optimism that hasn’t been grinded out of her. She refuses Rick’s gun because she wants to see a day where she doesn’t have to use it. Like Glenn, she believes in helping strangers even if it doesn’t benefit her. She doesn’t see the value in only protecting what’s yours.
It’s an understandable position for a child to have, and Daryl isn’t going to just flat out tell her that the world is a cold, cruel place. She’s learned that herself already. No matter how optimistic she wants to be, she’ll have to soldier up and fight in a harsh world.
Even when she puts down the walker that bites Sebastian, there’s no sense of relief on her face. Only anguish that even the Commonwealth isn’t safe from danger.
Perhaps there’s some truth in what Sebastian said when he told Max that the Commonwealth on buying into bullshit. Underneath this happy-go-lucky community was a community of haves and have-nots divided into class warfare. Alexandria may have presented itself as a safe haven, but the residents at the time were sheltered away from the walker threat and rarely, if ever, had to deal with it.
So while Sebastian is a little shit who got what’s coming to him, you can’t say he’s completely wrong with his pessimism. But Max has been on the sidelines long enough where she has to act or she’d just be sick to her stomach. She’s already expressed her disappointment when talking to Mercer, but now she has an opportunity to expose the Milton corruption to a community already on edge.
Also, Eugene, you see the look Max is giving you right there? Make the most of your time together. That’s all I’m saying!
It says something when the Commonwealth citizens, already fearful of the dead, would rather watch Sebastian die than lift a finger to help him. More so after they heard what he thinks of them. But if there was any chance that Pamela would win the public’s good graces again, that ended when the people refused to help Sebastian. Again, not that he didn’t have it coming.
As an aside, Sebastian’s death is a bit of a surprise, given what his comic counterpart does and where the character ends up when the comic ended. It makes me wonder if the series will be steering away from that particular comic plot point . Or maybe the show will remix it, like Denise getting Abraham’s comic death. We’ll see.
Talking about Pamela, it must burn her that Lance not only did what he did, but did so long enough to sow alliances in the Commonwealth. He might be in a cell, but Lance has enough connections on the outside to keep his work going in his absence. Plus, his warning to Pamela proved right. Now that shit has hit the fan, the alliances will be a problem. Does Pamela have any obligation to honor the deal with Carol now?
Sure, no one from Carol’s group directly killed Sebastian, but chances are she’d suspect Eugene. She already correctly suspects Connie for writing the article that exposed her actions.
Speaking of the deal, it’s nice that there’s some hesitation from the others instead of just accepting it. Especially from Annie and Negan. They accept that whatever happens in the Commonwealth going forward isn’t their business. I get that. But I also like how Daryl only goes along with it in the end because Carol made it happen.
He might hate the circumstances, but he’s been her friend long enough to know that if she made it happen, he’ll trust her. Of course, that doesn’t mean he has to like it, as him stabbing Lance’s hand proved.
The rule of law is breaking down in the Commonwealth. Pamela may have calmed the mob before, but Sebastian’s words being out in the open just made things worse. With his death, Pamela is going to want to make an example out of somebody to reiterate that she makes the rules.
So, I must ask again, is the new deal off? We’ll find out next time.