The Walking Dead season 11, episode 9 recap – “No Other Way”

February 13, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 0
AMC, TV, Weekly TV
4

Summary

“No Other Way” delivers a dynamite midseason premiere, continuing the show’s great run of form prior to its latest break.

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4

Summary

“No Other Way” delivers a dynamite midseason premiere, continuing the show’s great run of form prior to its latest break.

This recap of The Walking Dead season 11, episode 9, “No Other Way”, contains spoilers.


Ironically, The Walking Dead has survived longer than almost any other show in history that isn’t a network sitcom, and it has managed to do so despite some extraordinary drops in quality along the way. But part of why it has endured, beyond sheer stubbornness, is a willingness to reinvent itself, to replace key creative personnel, kill off long-running fan-favorite characters while promoting new ones, and take big storytelling leaps, including a time skip of several years. The show has been pretty good since then, at least in part because of a change in showrunner, and the final moments of “No Other Way” imply that there might be a similar temporal leap in The Walking Dead’s immediate future.

The Walking Dead season 11, episode 9 recap

But the bulk of this midseason premiere is about tying off all the loose ends left dangling by the midseason finale, which found several characters in open war with the Reapers in an attempt to recover food and supplies for the community of Alexandria, which at the same time had been almost decimated by a storm. We pick up both of those subplots where we left them, and both of them are brought to reasonably satisfying conclusions (at least for now).

So, the Reapers. You’ll recall that after Daryl had been exposed as a double agent, chaos had erupted in Meridian, with Leah and her remaining allies trying to finish off Maggie, Negan, Daryl, and Gabriel. There’s a lot of pretty suspenseful action in these sequences, but the meat of it, really, is the ongoing theme of Maggie’s headspace and how devoted she is to revenge for the few fallen rather than making compromises for the good of the many.

This manifests in a few ways. One is how adamant she is about killing the martial artist Reaper who almost beats everyone singlehandedly until they’re literally saved by the bell. Of course, Daryl wants to use him as a negotiating tool to de-escalate the situation and get everyone out alive, and one supposes at least in part to avoid having to kill Leah. Maggie eventually reluctantly accepts, but she’s once again proved kind of right by Leah betraying the deal immediately and threatening everyone with a hidden sniper. If there’s an issue with “No Other Way”, and admittedly this will only be an issue for petty nitpickers like me, it’s that we still can’t quite tell where the show itself is coming down on Maggie’s viewpoint, and it keeps skirting the issue.

It does the same thing with Daryl, who gets away with not really having to make a tough decision regarding Leah because Maggie makes the decision for him. After Father Gabriel – who now wants to just be known as Gabriel, increasingly losing touch with his Lord and Saviour as he commits more heinous but undeniably badass acts – takes out the Reaper sniper, Leah agrees to leave without further bloodshed, but as she’s doing so Maggie shoots her compatriots dead and her in the back as she runs away. Daryl later follows her trail of blood to where she’s hiding, but talks to her through a wall and lets her live. It’s not the most satisfying resolution to the dynamic, but then again it was a dynamic that felt a little crowbarred in anyway.

But it has an interesting knock-on effect for Maggie. After giving in to her baser impulses, she’s visibly a bit queasy with herself, but perhaps not enough to truly regret what she did or to not do it again in the future if needs must. And that compels Negan to leave the group. Despite all the time they’ve spent together recently, and what looked like bonding, Negan knows how Maggie feels about him deep down, and he has seen first-hand that she eventually caves in. He isn’t going to wait around for her to kill him in his sleep. There’s a nice moment when he tells her this, and it looks for a second like they might try and kill one another on the spot, but his leaving feels like a nice subversion of that. It also keeps him in play as a wildcard for later developments, which we’ll get to shortly.

In the meantime, though, Alexandria. This was mostly just the resolution of Judith and Grace being trapped in that flooded basement, but it gave Aaron a nice hero moment. It also got across the sheer extent of the devastation in Alexandria now, so it’s a bit more meaningful when the other group returns with all the supplies and food they’ve retrieved from Meridian. Their mission was a success, and in the nick of time too.

But “No Other Way” doesn’t end there. Just as everyone reunites, Eugene arrives at the gates with a bunch of Commonwealth soldiers and a proposition. These two disparate narrative strands have finally been woven together, and what we see at the very end is a six-month time skip showing the group very much at odds. It’s a promising cliff-hanger, suggesting all kinds of possibilities for the second half of the final season. Hopefully, this level of quality continues.

You can catch The Walking Dead season 11, episode 9, “No Other Way”, on AMC

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