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The Walking Dead Season 11: Sad in Unexpected Ways

December 7, 2022

After 11 seasons, 177 episodes, and 12 years, The Walking Dead has finally gone to its grave. So was the conclusion as satisfying as fans had anticipated?

Combining genres of horror, apocalypse, and drama, The Walking Dead started out as a comic series written by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. In 2010, it was turned into a TV series produced by AMC Studios. It quickly became known for its gripping plots and characterization.

I’ve been a fan of the show since near the beginning of the series with Season 2, Episode 6’s “Secrets,” the first episode I saw live on air. Since then, I have been hooked on the show, and through many tears, groans of frustration and laughter, I stuck it out until the end.

Season 11 premiered on Aug. 22, 2021, and was the longest season yet with 24 episodes. It was broken up into three sections which made for a very choppy and rushed season, despite its length. The season began with Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), a lone drifter turned community staple, leading a group of people from their safety community of Alexandria to scavenge a military base for food.

After they realize the food they find won’t last long, Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan), a widow who recently came back to Alexandria after being gone for years, suggests they seek supplies in the the place where she used to live. To do this, however, they need the assistance of community-hated Negan Smith (Jeffery Dean Morgan) to lead the way. When things go awry and new threats arrive, what will become of the survivors?

Note: From this point forward there will be spoilers for Season 11.

So now that it’s over, what did I think about the way they ended such a ground-breaking show? Cue my extreme disappointment. One of the biggest things I did not like about the show was the first eight episodes. The Reapers, a random group of people that took Maggie’s settlement where she used to live, was introduced at the end of Season 10 and was carried over into the first eight episodes of Season 11. Let’s just say the Reapers were a total waste of time. The group was fairly easy for our protagonists (led by Darryl and Maggie) to take down, and they held no real threat. It seemed like much more of a “their bark is worse than their bite” situation and was thoroughly useless and underwhelming. (Yawn.)

Meanwhile, the remaining 16 episodes of Season 11 ended up focusing on the Commonwealth, a city of 50,000 people, and its government. Now that was interesting and really held my attention. Between the corrupt government officials and secrecy of the Commonwealth I was constantly wondering what the next episode would be about. I felt that those first eight episodes with the Reapers could’ve been spent a lot better by introducing the Commonwealth instead of rushing it. The Commonwealth had so much potential and I really wished they would’ve taken the whole of season 11 to dig deeper into it.

Another major issue I had with the season was with the reintegration of Luke (Dan Fogler), a former music teacher. The last time fans saw Luke was Season 10, Episode 16’s “A Certain Doom,” when he left to join a different community called Ocean Side. Since then, fans have been left in the dark about his whereabouts until he re-emerged in this season’s Episode 23, only to be killed in Episode 24. Like, really? You bring him back ONLY TO KILL HIM OFF THE NEXT EPISODE? How am I supposed to connect with a character you just reintroduced? I felt his death was unnecessary and it annoyed me more than anything.

One of my biggest critiques of this season was that they announced three spin-off series before the season was even over. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond stoked that I will get to see some of my favorite characters, like Negan, again. Yet by announcing the new shows they killed any speculation about the safety of those characters in Season 11. Knowing that Daryl, Maggie, Negan, Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) are getting their own shows only ruined the suspense of whether they would survive the finale. With Daryl and Maggie being fan-favorites, there was no concern for them to live since we already knew they would. The entire time I was watching season 11 all I could think was, “Well, it’s not like they’re gonna die.”

My favorite thing about the season was the character development of Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt), a former high school science teacher and genius, and Negan Smith. Eugene was introduced to the show as this know-it-all character who constantly needed protection. But by the end of the series he had turned into a true hero who was able to defend himself, along with the ones he loved. Although I loved Eugene’s development, nothing could compare to the character development we received for Negan. Negan started off as this widely-hated character who only thought of himself and nobody else. By the end of the show, Negan not only apologized for his past mistakes, but was able to own up to his wrongdoings. I did not like Negan or Eugene at the start, but as the show came to a close I realized just how much I had come to love the characters.

Overall, the final season of The Walking Dead was choppy. I’ve been a fan for such a long time that I honestly feel cheated out of the finale. The best part of the season was the last five minutes which reintroduced Rick Grimes, the iconic main character up until he disappeared in Season 9. (Surprise! Or not really, since Rick’s resurrection had been all over the internet). But even that didn’t feel like enough to save the finale.

Like all good zombies, though, The Walking Dead universe isn’t over. As previously mentioned, AMC has three spinoff series coming out with the first being The Walking Dead: Dead City premiering in April 2023. This particular show will focus on enemies Maggie and Negan as they take on New York City. We’ll have to wait and see what is in store for our beloved characters, and hope that the writers for Season 11 move on to greener pastures…like writing for the comics section of their local newspaper.

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About the Contributor
Photo of Erika Schmack
Erika Schmack, Senior Editor

Erika is in 12th grade, this is her 3rd year in Journalism. She is the president of the FFA and enjoys reading. After college she hopes to be a marine...

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