Five Thoughts on The Walking Dead’s “Variant”

By | October 18th, 2022
Posted in Television | % Comments

Last time around, Sebastian worked himself into a shoot and got busted open hard way. The last little bit of security the gang had went with him as Pamela Milton is out for blood. Also in play is Lance Hornsby, with agents outside doing his dirty work. We’re in the home stretch as the Commonwealth prepares to crack down on the newcomers from Hilltop and Alexandria. The stakes are as grave as ever.

Spoiler Alert for a trip to the Ren Faire.

1. It’s Eugene’s Time Now

It’s Eugene’s turn to get a Judith voice over. They haven’t gotten too gimmicky yet. Plus it gives us a moment to celebrate Mr. Porter’s glorious hair choices. We catch up with him as he’s fleeing the Walker invasion immediately post Founders Day revelation. More importantly, he’s looking for Max. But he think he finds her, it’s an angry civilian who blames him for the death of Sebastian. She’s really upset about it too. I guess Sebastian’s speech was just that good. This sets Pamela Milton on the warpath as she rounds up all the “immigrants” from the Hilltop and Alexandria. Despite how well they’ve integrated into the town.

2. Pamela Milton Means Business

If there was ever any doubt that Pamela Milton would be the main antagonist of the series from here on out, let this episode correct that. Not only is she gathering up all the characters we like on the hunt for Eugene, but there’s a very, very slim chance Eugene will get a fair trial of any sort. And Mercer makes it clear that he will be tried for treason. But the highlight of the episode comes when Milton speaks with Hornsby, who immediately starts trying to strike a deal. The only real complication is that Milton knows he was responsible for the Walker attack… somehow… look, the plot needs her to know.

Her sudden information acquisition aside, Milton accepts Hornsby’s offer. She just makes him go through a little test first. She brings in the now turned Sebastian, and Hornsby’s now deceased bald assassin (who she says is sill warm). Oh, and a machete. Judging from the previews next week, he manages okay. It’s a great away to cement Pamela as the true villain for sure, even if the information she has isn’t presented to her in any logical sense.

Side note: Teo Rapp-Olsson makes a great zombie.

Lance, a bit tied up at the moment.

3. Huzzah and Cheers!

Aaron is moving supplies through the woods with a small crew, when they happen across an abandoned Renaissance festival, illustrated with a bit of dodgy CGI. And I spent way too long trying to figure out if it was, in fact, the Georgia Renaissance Festival. The same one that played itself in Disney+’s Loki. It certainly looked like it at least. But as something of an expert in Renaissance faires, it did upset me that the setting boiled down to little more than “place with fence and doorknobs.” We get a tiny bit of exposition about Aaron’s marriage when he’s trying to console Lydia about her relationship anxieties. And there is a cool scene where Jerry fights off zombies with a sword. But like… that last bit we’ve seen before. There was a character who’s whole deal was sword.

The big revelation here is that the walkers are evolving. They can climb fences and open doors now. And that’s it. The gang moves on. You’re missing a massive opportunity here, AMC. Trust me, I’ve been at KCRF when they’ve run out of turkey legs. It can get scary.

4. Mercer, Bad Cop

Speaking of moving back into the villain role, there goes Mercer all over again. Forcefully examining the gang, including Princess and Rosita (who gets kidnapped by the end of the episode). This is mostly so he can get Eugene to come into the office and confess he did everything, letting Max off the hook. He even tries to get his own sister to sign a bonkers confession claiming the recording was doctored by her in a weird manic episode. Most due to being of meds she may not even take. She bluntly says no, teller her brother how ashamed their father would be. It feels a little bit like a shift back for Mercer to put him in the villainous role again. But it’s also one that works so well for him. Although he probably shouldn’t be surprised Princess doesn’t want to date him anymore.

Continued below

5. Eugene Turns Himself In

A number of characters debate on whether or not to stay in The Commonwealth this episode. As they have for the last couple. Although this time, there’s a bit more urgency with it. Yet folks like Ezekiel still want to hang back. Eugene, of course, has fallen in love and can’t move on without Max. Especially knowing that she’ll probably either end up dead or in prison because of him. He laments to Daryl that is only talent is lying. Something that Judith’s opening narration doesn’t exactly disprove. Plus after one heartbreak this season, he’s a little fragile. So he turns himself in, stating that he planned everything alone. It works too, feeling like the end of a series long arc, with the opening retrospective from our pal Judith really hitting home how far he’s come through less than upfront means. Seeing Eugene set himself up for almost certain death to save his true love works as a logical conclusion to a character that has spent most of his time in full on self preservation at all cost mode. And it drives home how close to the end of the series we are.

Although, for real. More Walking Dead at the RenFest please.

//TAGS | The Walking Dead

Chris Cole

Chris Cole lives in a tiny village built around a haunted prison. He is a writer, letterer, and occasional charity Dungeon Master. Follow his ramblings about comics and his TTRPG adventures on Twitter @CcoleWritings.


  • -->