Well let me tell you something, Deadamanics!! Last week Sebastian Milton got some heat for swerving some Commonwealth jabronis so he could grab the brass ring. Now Governor Pamela Milton can’t pop the crowd. But Carol cuts a promo on Lance Hornsby, who’s been working heel this whole season. He’s been going into business for himself and exposing the business. And he’s not about to put anyone over without color. Also, this episode may feature some mild pro wrestling content, brother.
SPOILER ALERT for mild wrestling content.
1. Today’s episode is about Daryl
We get another flashback and Judith voice over. This time centered around Daryl, from his troubled relationship with Merle, to the current moment. It’s easy to forget that Daryl started as a racist biker since the current character barely resembles the one we met way back in season one. Although we do get to see his iconic angel wing vest midway through the episode. If you’ve been to a con in the last decade, you know the one.
We then cut back to Hornsby surrounded by… well… everyone. Mercer is there. Daryl has a knife. And the only reason he leaves alive is Carol’s deal making with the mayor. Hornsby would be given to Pamela Milton despite how many people want him dead. And would be tried by his own people. So last episode legal battle is still an option very much on the table.
2. Playing politics
Hornsby is being set up to take the fall for everything. When he argues that his methods kept The Commonwealth safe, Laila Robins’s performance shows us how much of a pro Milton really is, as tears down her former right hand man. Watching her dress down the primary antagonist up until this point shifts the power dynamic back to her, moving her potentially back into the top baddie position. Of course, it depends how willing she is to stand by her “renegade” son. And boy is she.
With the Founders Day holiday upon us, she hands Sebastian a pre-written speech. When he throws a fit, because he’s a giant baby man, his mother informs him that sometimes he will need to do the ceremonial stuff. At least, if he wants to take over. And that he’s his grandfather’s grandson. So clearly lesson not learned by anyone.
3. A change of scenery
With the deal worked out by Carol, our heroes start discussing whether or not they want to leave. Eugene poses the question to Max, who wants to stick around long enough to deal with Sebastian. Ezekiel thinks he can make a difference in the community by staying. Not to mention his own health issues. Negan and Annie on the other hand are ready to bolt, despite pregnancy complications that warrant actual medical care.
Judith seems to be having the roughest time with it. She certainly doesn’t feel super enthused about leaving her friends for the significantly less Norman Rockwell-y outside world. One where she would have to carry a large revolver as a literal child. But when she sneaks into Gabriel’s church for some alone time, we do get a nice scene with her and Daryl. Further illustrating the point made by the opening flashback, Daryl is a character still recovering from a violent past that started well before the dead began walking. The bit about him hiding by the creek until his dad fell asleep hints at this. Him telling the story to Judith also shows him trying to be the father figure he wished he had.
There’s a very good possibility the opening narrations will wear out their welcome, since I’m pretty sure they’ll be in front of every episode from here on out. They may already be a little corny already if we’re being honest. But at least the last two episodes have made them feel significant. The last episode showed up how far the series had come, and this one reinforced Daryl’s arc through the series.
4. Hey, remember that scene in Batman Returns?
Max and Eugene know Sebastian (and Pamela for that matter) needs to be dealt with. But they know they will need help. So they go visit our friend Lance Hornsby, who’s been in jail for maybe like five minutes. I know it’s the last season, but maybe give it a couple episodes. Make it feel like he’s been festering just a bit. Either way, Eugene asks for advice on bringing down the Miltons, offering a candy apple as incentive. The best advice he has is for Max to keep hiding in plain sight.Continued below
So she approaches him with a very obvious tape recorder while he’s practicing his speech and gives him some booze. Then she waits for him to rattle off a supervillain monologue. But while Sebastian’s dialogue is more than a little heavy handed, something interesting happens. Max throws out a line about him being the spoiled asshole because that’s what people expect. It seems to resonate with him. This after a brief comment about how his brother was supposed to be the heir, but only one survived.
Meanwhile, Hornsby’s goons kill off a bunch of the Founders Day festival crew. Because this is a Walking Dead that hasn’t had any zombies yet.
5. Sebastian works himself into a shoot
The plan goes off at the “main event” of the Founders Day celebration. Sebastian gets up to do his speech, before throwing it down and giving a few words off the cuff about earning trust back. And for a brief moment, we see what could have been a potential redemption arc for Sebastian. Teo Rapp-Olsson isn’t a bad actor by any stretch of the imagination. If anything, his character work with the youngest Milton could be a bit too good. And if there were an extra season, it would have been interesting to see what he could have done with a Sebastian Milton face turn. But I may be getting ahead of myself with that last bit.
He ends his speech with a dramatic call to play his grandfather’s wise words. Eugene is in the booth. He does not play Grandpa Milton’s wise words. Upon hearing the recording of Sebastian, the crowds riot. Mercer stops his men from firing on civilians. Then the walkers find their way in. Sebastian is ripped apart after trying to feed Max to one.
Also, Judith uses the giant revolver to stop them. And Hornsby takes a big bite of his vibrant red candy apple. Because symbolism.
Oh yeah… this all happens after the “main event” of the night. And if that sounds like a pro wrestling match, that’s because it Is. The climax of the episode sees former NXT superstar Percy Watson (going by his shoot name Nick McNeil) in a handicap match against a couple of jobbers. And since he’s playing “Captain Commonwealth,” it’s clear he’s going over. There’s even not-Michael Buffer hyping the match up with some legally distinct verbiage.
Does this work tonally? Not really. The Commonwealth is goofy to begin with, but this may have put it over the top. Although just barely. Besides, even if Pamela Milton were a big wrestling fan, Sebastian is having too much fun. You know he’d either be the worst armchair booker smark or spend the whole match complaining about them not actually hitting each other.
There was a lot of good in this episode, but it got overshadowed by some of the more over the top and heavy handed elements. There was enough good at the core of the episode to keep me invested. But the stylistic tightrope the Commonwealth walks doesn’t allow too much forgiveness for missteps.