Warning: this story contains spoilers for Sunday's "The Lucky Ones" episode of The Walking Dead. "We are going to remake the world," declares Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) in Season 11 Episode 12, "The Lucky Ones." When Commonwealth Governor Pamela Milton (Laila Robins) tours the outside communities to offer them partnership agreements, she meets with Aaron (Ross Marquand) of Alexandria, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) of Hilltop, and Rachel (Avianna Mynhier) of Oceanside. At the Commonwealth, the fate of Ezekiel (Khary Payton) is revealed, and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) learns the truth about the real "Stephanie": Max (Margot Bingham).
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"It was just dumb luck, honestly." In flashback, Max repairs a broken radio and connects with Eugene. Her brother, General Mercer (Michael James Shaw), reveals he investigated a massive communications breach — someone on an unauthorized radio station talking to a rogue community outside the Commonwealth walls. They're in danger if Lance Hornsby realizes that was Max's voice on the radio.
In the present, Max breaks the truth to Eugene: "I'm Max. There is no Stephanie." It was her mother's name. Eugene runs away.prevnext
A delegation of armored troopers escort a convoy of Governor Milton and Deputy Governor Lance Hornsby, who says these outside communities are "perfect for what we're envisioning."
"What you're envisioning," the Governor says. "I'm not convinced we need to stretch our resources like this. Grow your empire further than your power can extend, and lose your empire." If this outreach mission doesn't go well, Commonwealth pulls out. "There's enough to do at home without having to worry about a couple of small communities in another state."
The Commonwealth envoy arrives at Alexandria with Trooper Daryl and General Mercer. Aaron escorts Governor Milton on the grand tour of the Alexandria Safe-Zone. The self-sustaining ecological community has fallen on hard times. Mercer is surprised to learn Daryl was part of the Alexandria leadership.
Governor Milton admires a framed photo of Alexandria's original leadership: Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh) and her architecture professor husband, Reg (Steve Coulter). "She looks just how I remember her." They crossed paths "quite a bit" in philanthropy circles before the Fall. "I had no interest in politics at the time," Milton reveals. "She, however, was born to run things." Deanna was an Ohio congresswoman who ran for re-election and won. "What was she like as a leader?"
"She brought us in," Daryl said. "We'd never met anybody like that before." Daryl admired her. "She built all this for us. Something worth fighting for."
"But it fell."
"Yeah," Daryl says, "but we always brought it right back."
"It fell more than once?"
Mercer and Daryl step outside to handle a walker breach. Milton asks about Deanna's death: she was bitten and put down.prevnext
At the Commonwealth, thoracic surgeon Tomi (Ian Anthony Dale) readies Ezekiel for surgery. Ezekiel and Jerry (Cooper Andrews) are surprised to learn Ezekiel somehow skipped the list. "Maybe it's a coincidence. Maybe it's a clerical error. Maybe it's divine intervention," Jerry says. "Either way, don't you think you deserve a little luck?"
At Oceanside, Milton sits with her feet in the ocean. They're there to welcome the Oceansiders as partners of the Commonwealth. Hornsby reveals they offered Hilltop leader Maggie Rhee the same agreement as Alexandria and Oceanside, but Maggie declined.
To honor the mutual protection pact with Maggie's Hilltop, Rachel says Oceanside's partnership with Commonwealth is conditional on Maggie agreeing to the deal.
Hornsby chastises Aaron for the detour. "Stop acting like Alexandria means more to you than it does to me," Aaron tells him. Hornsby reminds him: "Right now, you and I want the same thing, which means you and I are in the same sinking boat. Is Maggie going to make this difficult for us?"
Aaron doesn't answer.
"This is all or nothing for Pamela. If Maggie says no and Oceanside walks," Hornsby warns, "Alexandria is cut off."prevnext
Up ahead, the Commonwealth envoy finds their path blocked by a small group of survivors struggling to fight off walkers. It's Maggie, Lydia, Elijah, and Dianne. The Governor steps forward: "You must be Maggie."
Later, Maggie reunites with Aaron and Daryl in private. "Why do you trust these people?"
"Who says we do? When do I ever?" Daryl reminds her. Daryl gives them credit for sticking to their word and cleaning up Alexandria after it was devastated by The Whisperer War.
"There's like 50,000 people living there," Aaron says of Commonwealth. "At least 49.9 seem like decent enough folks. And it's not forever."
Aaron reminds Maggie she doesn't have to lead alone. When a small swarm holds up the trip, Hornsby suggests the group go hunting. Maggie and Milton break off together to talk over the agreement.
"I've met so many communities, and I still can't figure out what makes some lucky and able to fight off the world while others can't."
"I don't believe in luck," says Milton.
"Luck is about opportunity. I don't know anybody who's had more opportunity than you."
Milton admits she didn't want to come on the tour. She has thousands of people to care for — a responsibility that keeps her awake at night. "That's the price of leadership," Governor Milton says. "Everything costs something."prevnext
Milton is unsure the risk of going back and forth between the smaller satellite communities would be worth it. But, she explains, "The right allies make us stronger. This world belongs to us, not the dead." She continues: "There is a natural order to things that has vanished, and that order needs to be restored. It provides a future for our kids. 15 million little city-states fighting each other for power and resources is never going to be able to provide that kind of stability. I'm offering you the same thing your mutual protection pact with Oceanside did: someone who has your back."
At the Commonwealth, Ezekiel reacts with anger when he learns Carol pulled favor with Hornsby to arrange his surgery. He's upset Carol "cheated" by skipping the line. She wants him to live. "You're supposed to just die because the system is broken? Lesser men have been given more and done nothing with it. You are not a lesser man."
Back in the woods, Maggie challenges Milton over the Commonwealth autocracy. Milton counters: "Liberties haven't gone anywhere. You're the leader at Hilltop. You make the decisions. You consider yourself an autocrat?"
Maggie says she leads the way she was taught — by Deanna and Georgie. "The communities that we built are fair."
"The Commonwealth is fair," Milton says, downplaying the privilege and luxuries she has that her workers do not.prevnext
At the Commonwealth, Eugene lies to Rosita: "Stephanie" broke up with him. He doesn't admit "Stephanie" — a.k.a. Shira — wasn't real.
The Commonwealth unloads supplies for the on-hard-times Hilltop. "How do you know when?" Lydia asks Daryl. "When it's time to walk away?"
"I guess not all places are as lucky as Alexandria," Mercer tells Daryl of Hilltop.
"Not all places are as lucky as Commonwealth."
"You coming around?"
Daryl scoffs. "I wouldn't go that far. But you guys have done good stuff for us, so I'll give you that."
Mercer admits the Commonwealth isn't perfect. He reminds Daryl he's only out of his armor because someone thought it would be good for appearances. "You got your role to play. I got mine."prevnext
Ezekiel is admitted to surgery. Back at Hilltop, Hornsby approaches Maggie about her decision. He urges her to consider more of a future for her son, Hershel.
"I know you're smart enough to know a good offer when you hear it."
She wants to know what Hornsby gets out of this.
"The first time I went to Alexandria, I could see it. The potential. Maggie, do you really believe that Hilltop, as it currently stands, is the best you'll ever have? Or Alexandria? Or even Oceanside? Look around. We can have so much more."
Hornsby pitches a future of connected communities: Commonwealth. Alexandria. Oceanside.
"Tried to build it," Maggie says.
"Of course you did. Because you and I see things the same way. Imagine the world you want to build. Now picture the power of 50,000 Commonwealth workers helping you make that vision a reality. Think what you could accomplish then."
Before she can answer, a small horde of walkers attack outside Hilltop's perimeter. Maggie, Lydia, Elijah, and Dianne draw their weapons and take out stragglers, but the coming horde is overwhelming. Mercer orders his army to gun down the dead. It's over in seconds.prevnext
Dianne and Lydia consider the move to Commonwealth. Maggie thinks it over — until she sees Mercer call his troops to get in formation. She looks over to Governor Milton and Hornsby. Then back to Daryl, falling in line. "Remember, they're always watching," Mercer reminds Daryl. Maggie makes up her mind.
Maggie approaches Milton and declines the Commonwealth's offer. "Like you said, everything costs something." Aaron is disappointed — but not more than Hornsby.
At the Commonwealth, Eugene knocks on Max's door. He apologizes for not knowing Shira wasn't "Stephanie." She wasn't the woman on his radio. Eugene asks to make it up to Max.
Back at Hilltop, Maggie and Daryl hug goodbye. Dianne is leaving with a small group of others. "You need to be careful who you trust," Maggie reminds her. Says Dianne, "You also have to know when to ask for help. It's harder than it's ever been, and it doesn't have to be. I respect the hell outta you, but I can't do this anymore. I'm sorry." She leaves.prevnext
Inside a tent, Hornsby slinks back to Milton. It was a worthy effort, but time to return home.
"We still have Alexandria. I just need time to get the other two."
"It was a bold move, trying to bring three new communities into the fold. I get why something like that would be appealing to you. Someone needs to run them, right?"
Milton tells him: "I'm going to pretend you were doing this for the good of the Commonwealth, rather than for yourself."
"I was doing this for you."
She's onto him. "You've been ambitious our whole lives, Lance. Ambition is notoriously hard to reel in. So if you want to try to make it work, fine. But if your job at home starts to suffer, there will be consequences. The Commonwealth always comes first."
In the forest, Hornsby fires a gun into the air. Walkers lurch out of the woods. Machine-like, Hornsby shoots them down. Aaron asks about Alexandria.
"Everything's fine. Pamela's on board. In fact, we're gonna bring even more people in. Get ready, Aaron. We are going to remake the world."
END OF EPISODE.prev