Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) guides Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Daryl's (Norman Reedus) mission for survival when The Walking Dead returns with "Acheron: Part 1." Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 1. Season 10 ended with Maggie and Hershel Rhee (Kien Michael Spiller) calling a war-torn Alexandria home sweet home in the wake of the Whisperer War, where Carol (Melissa McBride) sicced Negan on Alpha (Samantha Morton) to silence the Whisperers once and for all. The two enemies are among the survivors working to rebuild Alexandria — the last community standing after the shuttering of the Kingdom and the burning of the Hilltop — but if our group doesn't find food, and soon, Alexandria will fall.
Life and Death
Daryl and Maggie lead a mission infiltrating a military base: Fort Connors U.S. Military Base Virginia. An army of camo-clad walkers litters the ground. Maggie, Rosita (Christian Serratos), Lydia (Cassady McClincy), Kelly (Angel Theory), Magna (Nadia Hilker), and Carol rappel down inside a deathly quiet hangar.
They sneak across the graveyard of lurkers (walkers that "play dead" until they awake from a dormant state) on a critical mission: scavenge food and supplies and get out without biting the farm. Kelly and Magna stab their knives into the brains of a pair of walker "guards" before helping themselves to a crate of Meal, Ready-to-Eat rations.
Daryl provides cover from the high ground, but a spilled drop of blood wakes a lurking walker and causes a chain reaction. Maggie, Carol, Lydia, and Rosita are a four-soldier army against the undead troops: the mission is FUBAR.
Help comes from above when Daryl, Jerry (Cooper Andrews), and Alden (Callan McAuliffe) fire bolts below. Carol opens fire with a picked-up machine gun, mowing down the walker army. The heroes make a last-second escape with their salvaged supplies, but Carol hangs back to recover as many left-behind MREs as she can.
Daryl slings a blade, saving Carol from a walker that gets too close. She tugs a rope and is pulled free above the horde. The dialogue-free opening sequence ends.prevnext
Here We Remain
On the road to Alexandria, the weary group heads home and is greeted by Aaron (Ross Marquand) at the gates of their once walled-off community, now dusty, dirty, and destroyed. The aftermath of the Whisperer War. Daryl meets Dog, and RJ (Antony Azor) and Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) rush to embrace Uncle Daryl in a hug. Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) hands out rations.
Negan and Maggie meet again. Her stoic expression turns to a smile when Hershel welcomes her home with Cole (James Devoti) and the rest of the Wardens: Agatha (Laurie Fortier), Duncan (Marcus Lewis), and Frost (Glenn Stanton). 'Mags' thought they were dead. The surviving Wardens reached Meridian and figured if she were still alive, she'd be at Alexandria.
Residents get into a quarrel over food. "There's enough food for everyone," asserts Gabriel. Smash cut to a private meeting between the Alexandria council: there's one week of food left before the Alexandrians and their children go hungry.
Alexandria took in two new communities, and there's no crops or back stock. Aaron is confident they can make it work by scavenging houses for materials and refortifying the wall, but they're doing it with broken tools and empty stomachs.
Agatha and Frost volunteer to hunt. The ground is all spent — the last big horde scared all the animals away, Daryl says — and looking for new territory would take too much time. They need food. Lots of it. Now.
Or Alexandria starves.prevnext
The Best Defense
Maggie knows one more place, where she lived before coming back to Alexandria: Meridian. "It's got plenty of food, water, crops, and animals," she says, but Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) points out one problem: "And now it's gone."
Meridian was claimed and most of its survivors were slaughtered by attackers. The Reapers. All they know about them, Maggie says, "They come at night, and by the time you see them, you're already dead."
"They're at Meridian now. There's plenty of food to feed Alexandria until we get this place back up and running again," Maggie asserts amid the ruins of the community's burned-out church. "That's why they took it. We just need to take it back."
Aaron argues they should shore up Alexandria and make the walls stable. "Walkers will get inside," he warns. "That's not if, it's when. Alexandria needs us."
"This is for Alexandria," says Maggie. "My son is here. I have skin in the game, too." Rosita says the plan sounds like a suicide mission.
"If we don't have food," Daryl retorts, "it's not gonna matter, anyway. I'll go. Anybody else?"
Gabriel volunteers. Rosita shakes her head no. Carol stays back. Maggie's crew leaves for Meridian.prevnext
No Turning Back
A storm rages. The group — Maggie, Daryl, Negan, Gabriel, Agatha, Duncan, Frost, Gage (Jackson Pace), Roy (C. Thomas Howell), and Dog — press on in the face of violent weather. Negan presses Maggie to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass, but it's already a six-hour trip and there's no time to lose. Daryl begrudgingly agrees they need to find shelter.
The group spots a metro station and descends underground into a grimy subway tunnel beneath Washington, D.C. Daryl orders Negan to point the way. Negan wants to hunker down, but Maggie forces him to guide them: Yellow line north. Switch to blue at Reagan National. Then hop the red toward Bethesda.
Negan takes Daryl aside. Daryl blows him off. Frost and Cole shove him as they move into the tunnels, where grim graffiti catches the eye of Father Gabriel: "If there is a God, he will have to beg for my forgiveness." The ominous warning to turn back is ignored.
The storm bellows above. Dog barks up ahead. The storm is pushing air through the pipes, making them groan. The creaking pipes are "God telling us to turn around," says Negan, pointing out a water-line mark. "That means this tunnel floods on a regular basis, like when it rains."
Daryl tells him it's bad down here, it's worse up there. We keep moving. Negan mutters to himself: "You're in on it."prevnext
New World Order
A small army of white-armored soldiers escorts a wagon carrying a hooded Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), and Princess (Paola Lazaro). Now inside a detention camp outpost, the four are individually seated in front of two sharply-dressed auditors, Clark (Carrie Genzel) and Evans (Matthew Cornwell). Standing watch is a brawny badass, the red-armored General Mercer (Michael James Shaw).
The auditors ask interrogative and intrusive questions. "We are Auditors for the Commonwealth, and you are under Level One Assessment. If you pass inspection, you'll move to Level Two." If they don't pass inspection, they will go through re-processing.
They start the assessment. The foursome shares their histories. Ezekiel was a zookeeper. Princess worked at a music store. Yumiko was a lawyer. It's all just procedure.
Highest level of educational attainment? Zip code? The results of your last routine physical? Have you ever been vaccinated for measles? Any history of cancer? Have you ever been arrested? History of drug use? How many bowel movements do you have a day? What do you use to wipe? Why were you at the train station?
Eugene: "I was on the road with my traveling companions…"
Ezekiel: "We were holed up in a place that had a working radio."
Eugene: "Stephanie and I made a connection. We wanted to meet, but my friends were worried so I—"
Ezekiel: "—Pretended like there were more of us than there really are."
Yumiko and Princess: "That's how we ended up at the rail yard."
What's the location of your settlement? Have you run into any groups out there? Location of your settlement? Location of your settlement. Where is your settlement?
There's a mix of lies and truths.
The four talk in the privacy of their gated cell. Yumiko asks if they know about Ezekiel's cancer; he says they don't. They don't.
Princess flashes a smile and a peace sign at a scoffing Mercer. Yumiko suspects the Commonwealth might not be real. Eugene recognizes it's a test. Princess is against being honest with the soldier-cops. Eugene counters: "Our people need help, and I think these people can give it."
A pair of strangers can't remember if they've been held in detention for four or nine months. They've been through re-processing. And re-processing. And re-processing. When the Stormtrooper-looking soldier-cops drag away another stranger, kicking and screaming, Eugene agrees they have to go.prevnext
This Sorrowful Life
In the tunnels, Negan drags his feet on the suspected death march and is side-eyed by the group. The subway becomes a sewer, littered with plastic-bagged walkers — long rotting and decayed, leftovers killed during the fall, Maggie says. One had its throat slit so severely the slimy skin-eater is nearly decapitated.
"We're walking through a mass grave that could still be in use. So I am asking you," Negan says to Maggie, "are you sure all of them were killed during the fall?"
Some of the bodies start to move. Maggie orders the group to take each and every one out and clear the path. Alden asks her to hold up. "I'm not stopping," she says, and she doesn't, stepping over squirming bodies. They stab, plucking their knives into the bloated bodies.
A swollen tunnel walker attacks and nearly kills Gage. But Negan saves him, forcing a crowbar into its mushy, water-bloated body. It's the last straw.
Maggie "has been playing dictator since we left," Negan says, pointing out she's listening to no one — not Alden, not even Daryl. "We don't know if this tunnel even has a way out! Whoever or whatever killed these rot bags could still be down here. Has that thought crossed anyone's mind? Exactly. It has. So then this is a death march, and you are the goddamn pied piper."
Negan backs out of the mission. Gage and Roy take his side. Agatha urges Maggie to let him go: he's supposed to be helping, but he's only slowing them down.
But Maggie needs him, damn it, he knows the city. "I'm your D.C. tour guide?" Negan spits back with a swagger. "Nobody here know how to read a goddamn map? I'll tell you why I'm here... She brought me here to die. If we get through this, I'm not coming back. She'll find a way, she'll find a reason, she'll do it herself. Away from the prying eyes of Alexandria. Here in the jungle."
Negan tells Daryl he suspected he was in on the trap. But none of them had a clue. "You all want to put your lives in her hands? Her head isn't even in the game, because I'm in her head, living rent free."
He taunts some more. "So, Maggie, me dying on your terms? It ain't happening. So, what do you say? Let's just get her done. Right here and right now. Because I am not gonna let you drag me through the mud, filth, and slime to put me down like a dog. Like Glenn was."
Daryl SOCKS Negan, flooring him.
"We're down here because up top is death. We're moving fast because our kids are starving. I'm calling the shots because that's how everyone voted," a snarling Maggie says, gun cocked and ready. "As for me killing you… It's always on my mind. I'm not gonna tell you that you're wrong about me, because you aren't. The woman who left six years ago is not the one standing over you now. There's a little bit of her left in me, and that little bit is the only thing keeping you breathing. But I don't know how long that's gonna last. So keep pushing me, Negan. Please."prevnext
We Find Ourselves
Back at the Commonwealth outpost, the four formulate an escape plan, taking advantage of distracted guards who sneak away for some freaky deeky. Eugene and Yumiko, dressed in soldier armor, pull a Star Wars and escort a "prisoner" Princess and Ezekiel. They're just about free when Princess spots a bin overflowing with dollar bills — currency 'confiscated for incineration.'
They study the Wall of the Lost, mesmerized by the hundreds of photographs of pre-apocalypse faces. "FLAG FOR EXPEDITED ASSESSMENT AND ADMITTANCE TO THE COMMONWEALTH."
Princess points out an orange note and a weathered photo of Yumiko: "Isn't that you?" Attached is a note reading: "HAVE YOU SEEN MY SISTER MIKO CONTACT TOMI AT H."
They have to leave. Yumiko has to stay.prevnext
The Rotten Core
Down in the tunnels. Maggie's group stabs their way through the rest of the corpses. Negan spots a train car plugging up their way through, and it gets worse: Gage and Roy took off with their supplies of ammo clips and rations. The remaining survivors blame Negan for scaring them off.
Daryl hears moaning and growling zombies. A pack of subway dweller walkers emerges from the darkness. Daryl, Elijah, Frost, Duncan, and Agatha pick them off, and Alden can't budge the door of the train car blocked by rubble. There's too many walkers to fight, and they can't get around the choke point — the only way out is above and over the train car.
They climb up on top of the platform. Maggie and Daryl hang back, helping the group up when Dog runs off, scurrying his way underneath some blockage. Daryl goes after Dog, gets on his hands and knees, belly crawling beneath the train car and into the muck.
Walkers encroach Maggie and Negan. He goes up, she climbs up behind him, struggling to grip the top of the platform as death closes in. A walker clutches Maggie's leg. She kicks it off. She can't keep hold as she kicks off the walkers. Negan is up above. She screams. "Negan!"1comments
Negan looks down. He watches. He waits. He does nothing… and disappears in the darkness, leaving Maggie to her fate. Maggie loses her grasp and falls to the waiting walkers below. End of episode.prev