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Photo: ‘The Walking Dead’
After 12 years on air, AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ had its final day on set on March 30th of 2022. Though this doesn’t mean that this is the last that we will see of this horror icon. Set to premiere in 2022, the final installment of season 11 is lining up to be an action-packed and emotionally charged piece. So where has season 11B left us? What themes should viewers look out for in the last installment? And of course, what can we expect now that the primary show of this cult-favorite franchise has wrapped? All that and more ahead, though beware, spoilers incoming!
Norman Reedus Rise and Journey
The World Itself is Hostile
Episode 16 of season 11, titled ‘Acts of God’, opens with a whirlpool of locusts swarming in the night sky over the settlement of Hilltop. Creating an unsettling and hectic atmosphere – the bugs serve to tell our heroes that their battles are far from over, and that nature is not their friend. Over the course of the episode, the characters often take note of the noise that the locusts produce when discussing something important, which suggests that the bugs can be interpreted as an omen of sorts. Conversations in which characters develop or build on their point of view are also identified by the locusts. In a way, these creatures come to symbolize death and rebirth.
Heads or Tails?
The new character of Lance Hornsby (portrayed by Josh Hamilton) in season 11 is particularly interesting due to the fact that he has devised a peculiar reality for himself. Thanks to Hamilton’s outstanding performance, Hornsby has become just the right level of unhinged to keep the storyline entertaining, with the viewer on the edge of their seat while keeping the character from becoming stale.
During episode 16, Hornsby sets out on a mission to wipe out every threat that stands between him and a prosperous political career at the settlement of the Commonwealth. Right away, in season 11, government corruption is revealed to be the biggest running theme in the show as it comes to a close. This has been explored in the show before, prior to the composition of the mutual constitution by the character of Michonne (portrayed by Danai Gurira). However, this concept could not be explored to its full potential due to the fact that there was no overarching government – rather, there was a simple council that would rule on big decisions, like execution and imprisonment.
The settlement of the Commonwealth came into the show as a fully functioning society that utilized the governmental and economic structures of the United States prior to the fall. To an extent, this was refreshing for our heroes as they enter this new chapter of their lives. However, many quickly realized that the Commonwealth was hiding extraordinary amounts of secrets and backdoor operations.
The character of Connie (portrayed by Lauren Ridloff) entered ‘The Walking Dead’ in 2018, setting a milestone for the show as its first deaf character. Teaching our heroes how to communicate in American sign language and bringing deaf representation to a cult classic, and stepping up to expose the shady, and at times twisted actions of the Commonwealth – she quickly became a fan favorite. But why is that? Well, the devil appears to be in the analytical nature of this character. Coupled with Ridloff’s familiar performance, Connie became an essential gear to the show’s operations.
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In season 11, starting her life at the Commonwealth, Connie picks up a job as a reporter for the city newspaper. Seeing as this was her occupation before the fall, she quickly falls into the rhythm of asking bold questions and seeking truthful answers. Catching onto the fact that the Commonwealth must be too good to be true almost immediately, Connie takes it upon herself to learn what exactly screams “danger” about this settlement. Working with her sister, Kelly (portrayed by Angel Theory), as well as the characters of Magna (portrayed by Nadia Hilker), Ezekiel (portrayed by Khary Payton), Max (portrayed by Margot Bingham), and Eugene (portrayed by Josh McDermitt) she gathers information that could have the potential to expose the Milton family – Pamela Milton being the head of the Commonwealth’s government.
In episode 16, the audience gets a glimpse into a meeting between Connie and the rest of our heroes. During this meeting, they come to the conclusion that they have no choice but to expose the corrupt facets of the government, since they would not be able to live with themselves otherwise. Max states that the Commonwealth pushes people to keep things the same and that she is worried that if they keep pushing, someone will break. This rings true for an occurrence in the beginning of the season when an ex-trooper of the Commonwealth took Max hostage in an attempt to convince Pamela Milton to hear him.
Connie and her group settle on publishing their expose the following morning. This plotline is being set up to become one of the main conflicts within season 11C thus far.
‘The Walking Dead’ – People Over Places
Maggie Rhee (portrayed by Lauren Cohan) has established herself as arguably the most important leader of our surviving communities. This becomes an issue for Lance Hornsby when Maggie denies “help” offered by the Commonwealth, which would virtually absorb Hilltop into the community. Maggie’s reasoning behind denying this offer pays homage to her father, Hershel Greene (portrayed by Scott Wilson) – who denied a large company purchase of their family farm even when they were completely broke due to drought, all because he knew that the drought would end and the farm would become profitable again.
Though as the season progresses, Maggie shifts her focus from saving the settlement of Hilltop and instead brings it to save the people of Hilltop. One of the earliest scenes in episode 16 follows Maggie, her son, and her people as they go into hiding and leave Hilltop behind. Some return later in the day to ambush an assassination squad that was sent to Hilltop by Lance Hornsby for Maggie. The ambush is mostly successful, however, an unforeseen circumstance leads to a chase in the woods during which Maggie is knocked out and brought to an abandoned cabin. Showrunner Angela Kang points out that this sequence of events is crucial to the development of Maggie’s character. She goes from defending her home with her life, to the realization that her home lies with the people that make her life worth living. She also begins the process of healing old emotional wounds by seeking closure. Season 11 as a whole is monumental for Maggie’s character, carried beautifully by Lauren Cohan.
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Put It All Together
At its core, ‘The Walking Dead’ has always been a show about people and community. The blend of characters and circumstances that season 11 has been able to offer is truly astonishing. It comes with no surprise that it has been so successful, considering the attention to detail and the thorough dedication on behalf of both the crew and the cast that each and every episode receives. When combining the diverse characters and the ever-changing rules by which the world around them plays, ‘The Walking Dead’ manages to create an atmosphere of belonging for the viewer. This allows the show to make effective commentary on issues that it sees in the real world and translate it into simple concepts which are easily understood and digested. From government corruption and civilian resistance, to loss and forgiveness – ‘The Walking Dead’ is able to provide a niche for every viewer.
The Team Behind the Madness
It goes without saying that any piece of media would suffer without the broad creative and technical teams that stand behind it. The cast and crew of ‘The Walking Dead’ continue to make strides toward making this show the best it can possibly be. Paying attention to every detail thrown in by the crew and the cast is nearly impossible, yet makes an entertaining game for the viewer.
Of course, no show can be made without a cast, however the cast of ‘The Walking Dead’ has gone above and beyond, building a family for those watching at home and for those behind the camera alike. Notable performances within season 11B were given by Lauren Cohan, Norman Reedus, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Cassady McClincy, Christian Serratos, and Teo Rapp-Olsson.
In season 11, the cinematography department must be recognized for the overwhelmingly personal approach to filming each and every episode. The season thus far has been remarkably interesting to the eye. By playing with new camera angles and focusing on object shots, the film aspect of this season keeps the viewer engaged through and through.
Additional recognition must go out to the costume, makeup, and visual effects departments. The costuming within season 11 is very clever, to say the least. Whether it be the creation of elaborate, futuristic trooper suits, or something as elementary as strapping an arrow holster to a backpack – this season shows truly out-of-the-box thinking. That being said, we can’t forget to mention the gore! Bone, blood, and guts were very common in the comics, but the black and white print often took away from the shock value, making the graphic novels more approachable. However, season 11 chose to amp up the blood, and give the viewers some truly chilling scenes, such as the skull smashing in episode 16. Will this bloody development ride out the rest of the season in installment 11C?
As these beautifully horrific 12 years come to a close, we must wonder – what’s next for our heroes? Well, the wait won’t be long, seeing as a Maggie and Negan spin-off show titled ‘Isle of the Dead’ is set to premiere in 2023. Little is known about this production thus far, aside from the fact that it will be set in New York.
Aside from ‘Isle of the Dead’, an untitled Daryl and Carol spin-off was announced to continue the journeys of Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride). A release year has not yet been announced. But a recently released behind-the-scenes photo suggests that filming has already begun. In addition to these spin-off shows, three films have been announced which will reportedly detail the return of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).
There is no easy way to wrap up a decade-old project that has touched the lives of millions of fans and hundreds of filmmakers. However, the final installment of season 11 is shaping up to be promising. And until we know how this tale will depart, just survive somehow.
Cast and Crew
Cast: Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lauren Cohan, Seth Gilliam, Cailey Fleming. Melissa McBride, Christian Serratos, Josh McDermitt, Ross Marquand, Okea Eme-Akwari, Cassady McClincy, Paola Lázaro, Khary Payton, Lynn Collins
Executive producer: Robert Kirkman, David Alpert, Denise Huth, Greg Nicotero, Joseph Incaprera, Gale Anne Hurd, Scott M. Gimple, Angela Kang | Developed by: Frank Darabont | Cinematography: David Boyd, Stephen Campbell | Written by: Angela Kang, Tony Moore, Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard
By Micha Jones
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Micha Jones is a writer and aspiring television producer who is dedicated to education and equity. Writing review and feature articles for The Hollywood Insider, they focus on the ways in which media can tell marginalized stories. Through reflecting on the portrayal of social and environmental issues in TV and film, Micha aims to make positive changes in the entertainment industry. Micha’s work often carries The Hollywood Insider’s signature “mic-drop” perspectives and makes an effort to tell educational and socially progressive stories. They strongly believe in accurate representation in film and emphasize the power of the community.