The Walking Dead season 11, episode 8 recap – “For Blood” fireworks

October 11, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 5
AMC, Weekly TV
3

Summary

A decent (if tame) midseason finale, “For Blood” keeps the Reapers front and center, perhaps to its detriment.

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3

Summary

A decent (if tame) midseason finale, “For Blood” keeps the Reapers front and center, perhaps to its detriment.

This recap of The Walking Dead season 11, episode 8, “For Blood”, contains spoilers.


It feels a bit like this entire season of The Walking Dead has ambled towards some drama with all the pace of a walker, or at least someone dressed like one. There have been plenty of good — and even some great — episodes along the way, of course, but between the Reapers, the Commonwealth, Alexandria’s failing infrastructure, and Maggie and Negan’s testy relationship, the various plot and character strands have felt pretty separate. This is less true as of “For Blood” — even if only slightly. It takes one of the Reapers’ unfortunate redshirts, Wells, smugly venturing away from Meridian on Pope’s orders to try and redirect Maggie and Negan’s homemade horde. While he’s out there, he’s pincered by the undead, shanked by Maggie and Negan, and left to be noisily eaten next to his radio. The point is clear. Some drama has arrived.

The Walking Dead season 11, episode 8 recap

This is what happens, I suppose, when you have a bumper-sized season to work with, and “For Blood” is the first of two midseason finales rather than a logical halfway point. The real endgame content feels like everything involving the Commonwealth, but that has been consistently shelved to focus on these bland, cultish militiamen. All roads inevitably lead to the Commonwealth, so the remains of Alexandria being swept up in a biblical storm is hardly surprising, even if that feels like a slightly cheap way to undo all the time that has been spent trying to repair the place. It does also feel, admittedly, appropriate for a big, climactic episode, at least in its structure. Part of the wall blows down, and a fire starts in the windmill, so the remaining Alexandrians have to split into three groups — one to repair the wall, one to put out the fire, and a third to protect the children. That’s a lot of characters imperiled at once.

You can say the same about Meridian. There’s a caveat, obviously, since Pope seems to have had a peek at the script, but his realization that Maggie is responsible for the assault means that Daryl has to break character and start aiding their infiltration while the horde stumbles dramatically into the perimeter mines. The episode moves between these two big setups rapidly; Daryl shanking a goon one minute, Rosita running out into the rain for a big — if rather cheesy — heroic moment the next. The back-and-forth structure helps to ratchet up the tension, even if some of the developments, such as the Reapers wheeling out a homemade fifteenth-century Korean rocket launcher called a hwacha, conspire to undermine the good work.

Within all this, more distinct threads begin to emerge. Judith’s arc of growing into the leadership role of her parents is developed by Virgil’s presence — he was with Michonne, you’ll recall, more recently than anyone else was — and by the responsibility heaped upon her by the storm; she’s to make sure the other children remain calm and safe, but as she stares wistfully through the rain-dappled windows at Rosita clearing the front porch, you can tell she wants to be out there herself. Daryl confesses to Leah who he really is, and what’s really going on, seconds before Pope arrives on the rooftop ready to rain hellfire on the horde. The script cheats here a little, though. Leah’s is in an interesting predicament, torn between her adopted family and her love for Daryl. She has to make a decision about whether to rat him out or help him take down Pope. But once Maggie sends a Jeep careering through the perimeter fence, granting the horde access, Pope goes bonkers and starts ordering the hwacha fired on his own men, claiming that God will save them, that God speaks through him, and that to question him is to question the Lord. Leah’s decision is essentially made for her. She unceremoniously shanks Pope in the throat. What else could she do?

The more interesting development occurs after, though. Leah radios Carver and the others and says that Daryl killed Pope. Even though Pope lost sight of what mattered, she hasn’t — it remains people, her people, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to protect them, much like how Daryl is willing to do the same for his own family. This apparently extends to letting Daryl hop off the rooftop, though. She says to Carver afterward that, once he has closed the gate, they’re going to kill everybody inside the walls. In that case, why let Daryl go? If Leah has assumed leadership of the Reapers and thus some Big Bad responsibilities, she should have killed him — or at least kept him there — on the spot. None of this makes much sense.

Perhaps it’s for dramatic effect. “For Blood” ends with two major moments. In the first, Judith discovers Gracie looking for a weapon in the house’s rapidly flooding basement, which leads to the two of them being trapped down there as the water rises. And in the other, Leah orders the Reapers to retreat, and then smugly opens fire on the courtyard with the hwacha, just as Pope would have wanted.

You can stream The Walking Dead season 11, episode 8, “For Blood”, on AMC. 

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5 thoughts on “The Walking Dead season 11, episode 8 recap – “For Blood”

  • October 11, 2021 at 4:23 pm
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    lol, one HUGE problem. The weather in Alexandria looks like a Hurricane. So why is Meridian a few miles on the other side of DC totally hot and humid? lol. Anyone that has experienced a hurricane knows they affect a 300-500 mile area from one edge to another. That was not a Thunder storm at Alexandria. That was a hurricane. Remember, Weather Alert forecasts don’t exist and your Samsung note or Apple don’t have weather on them either. lol. I thought that was a huge plot hole.

    • October 11, 2021 at 4:24 pm
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      To be honest I was so focused on the Reaper stupidity I didn’t even think about this, but you’re right.

  • October 11, 2021 at 9:29 pm
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    Interesting review. I’ve been reading most of your reviews the past few weeks, and I disagree with a lot of things you said, but it’s great to see other points of view of the same story. I’ve got a few questions about this one tho. Why did you think the hwacha wasn’t a good addition to the story? I feel it makes sense, given their background and the fact that I’m sure most survivors won’t be looking for fireworks in this situation, so there’s probably plenty of those stored somewhere (now, pardon my ignorance if those aren’t fireworks or something close to that, combined to some wood sticks. If they are some highly specific thing than yeah, your point probably still stands).
    About the Leah situation, I feel she considers Daryl as her family aswell, at least in some way. I don’t see why she would kill him on the spot or capture him, and she knows what he’s capable of doing, so by letting him go he’s likely going to leave the place alive.
    About the Hurricane coment by Ron Harris, I believe its a bit too much to call it “a huge plot hole”. Implying that its a hurricane is not necessarily correct, as both in the show and in the episode synopsis, its described as a storm (I also believe that hurricanes don’t really have all that much lightning and thunders right? So it’s probably just a thunderstorm). We also don’t know the distance between the 2 communities, and we also don’t know where they would both stand in the storm/hurricane cyclone. For all we know, it could be leading to the Meridian next.
    Overall I felt it was a really solid start to the final season, but the next 2 parts gotta be better. It has been interesting to read your reviews, even with the disagreements I seem to have with a lot of it haha. I hope they present an even better show on the second and third part of the season, so we’re both able to enjoy it to a greater extent than these first 8 episodes. Excited for what the future holds.

    • October 11, 2021 at 9:43 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks for reading! I’ll try and go through everything in turn.

      I think you’re right that those are fireworks on the hwacha, although I’m not sure what use fireworks will necessarily be in that environment (I know they’re dangerous, obviously, but they don’t blow people up). But it wasn’t so much about the fireworks but that they just wheeled out this giant, oddly specific thing. You make a good point about their background, but wouldn’t they target some ordnance from before the fifteenth century? Dunno. It was more of a nitpick, to be honest, just something that took me out of the moment.

      As regards Leah, I’d agree with you if it wasn’t for her immediately opening fire on him after letting him go. I could totally buy that she gave him chance to escape, but then she made a big song and dance about killing everyone within the walls and fired the hwacha straight at his face. So, it’s hard to get a bead on what she’s actually hoping to get out of this either way. Full disclosure, though: I haven’t really bought into this relationship since the beginning. I don’t think anything even resembling a traditional romance even works for Daryl, but that’s another matter entirely.

      I know what you mean, and I’d agree it doesn’t constitute a “huge plot hole”, but I reckon it warranted a mention. I haven’t been sure about TWD geography basically ever (I remember laughing whenever someone would walk five minutes down the road to Oceanside and suddenly be in the tropics) but these communities have to be close enough that Maggie and Negan were planning to walk back, so they must be kinda close, and the storm did seem pretty bad. Ultimately I don’t think this matters all that much, but it was something I didn’t think about at the time.

      I still think there’s a lot of potential here. I’m not sold on anything to do with the Reapers, but once everyone begins to navigate towards the Commonwealth we’re in for some drama. I’ve enjoyed the last few seasons and I more or less trust the current showrunners to see us through, but part of me does wonder if we’d have been better with the usual season length.

      Thanks again for reading! And for civil disagreement. As you say, it’s fun to have different takes.

  • October 11, 2021 at 9:42 pm
    Permalink

    well, it is true that lightning isn’t that bad in a hurricane but the wind is far more severe than a thunderstorm. Meridian and Alexandra was in a short walking distance as evidenced by the fact that Alexandra was starving. Hurrincanes have a diameter of 300-500 miles and thunderstorms don’t do the damage that a hurricane but a long shot and it was sending branching into windows, that’s more indicative of a hurricane/tornado but i realize that TWD is never all that sharp on their logic so i guess i need to think that it was a small localized Storm cell. lol But thank you for the reply, Christian. 🙂 WDE

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