Per Matt
The final season of The Walking Dead may be overdrawn, spanning large portions of two separate calendar years. It may be a little long in the tooth. It may have gotten a little too gory at times. It may be filled with way too many characters to actually care about. And its audience may have eroded away after too much human-on-human violence. But after watching the two-part season premiere (“Acheron: Parts 1 and 2”), they cannot be labeled as time-fillers.

Food is scarce. With no more Whisperers lurking around, a new menace makes its presence felt and finally, Daryl’s Group has a sense of urgency that is losing its grip on whether life or death will become an eventuality.

I’m not gonna lie: I wasn’t too motivated the last few weeks to return to the mothership. After recently wrapping Fear‘s season finale, I didn’t quickly watch the Season 11 Preview Special. And the following week, I didn’t watch “Acheron: Part 1,” either. I finally broke down and binge watched them this week, along with “Part 2” (and their connected episodes of Talking Dead, of course), so I guess I’m finally ready to head back into The Walking Dead Universe. But before I jumped in head first, I needed a little Season 10 recap.

The war with the Whisperers has taken its toll on these survivors. Morale is low and materials are scarce to rebuild Alexandria, so the usual suspects are rounded up to provide for this growing group via a rather large hunting party. Meridian might be the answer (where Maggie previously lived), but that would involve a head-on collision with The Reapers. So, an overnight stay deep within a subway gets them outta the rain, but the storm’s swiftly approaching.

Laid out like a classic horror movie, Maggie’s feud with Negan, which has largely remained unspoken, briefly gets touched upon before action is taken. No one is willing to accept Negan’s advice, which might just save their lives (with the exception of Maggie). Meanwhile, at The Commonwealth, Eugene and company must tolerate being processed, as well as the orientation into this last, great society, which has plenty of rules.

The Wall of the Lost might lead Yumiko to her long-lost brother, but is more noteworthy because it features an Easter Egg regarding Heath, who is rumored to return before the show’s conclusion. I’ve long wondered how this character could possibly return after actor Corey Hawkins left TWD to star in 24: Legacy.

As “Part 2” concludes, Eugene finally meets Stephanie and the underground horror movie concludes with only the second time a grenade has exploded on the show (I think?). Had the subway storyline been limited to only one episode, it was so good, an Emmy nomination was practically guaranteed. Instead, it was stretched out to include The Commonwealth, which diluted its greatness.

What did we learn from it all?

The Commonwealth is made up of roughly 50,000 people, but it’s unclear if the community is somehow related to the CRM (Civic Republic Military).

The Maggie-Negan feud may never end. A glimpse of it leveled up within a life-or-death scenario that mirrors camera tricks that previously involved Glenn and a garbage dumpster bin.

The most ridiculous plot device involved lurkers. The cold open of Part 1 is solely based on the notion that the undead can only hear, so the gang makes sure to wear their sneakers (for sneaking around a large number of the monsters!). More importantly, walkers smell the living, which would have never allowed this situation to begin with (You’ve gotta follow your own universe rules, not constantly change them!). Showrunner Angela Chang mentioned lurkers somehow go into hibernation, but I see the storyline as breaking pre-set rules. Regardless, all of that involved a food mission, which was ultimately successful.

Does the world STILL need Rick Grimes? The preview special strongly hinted that he might return before the mothership closes up shop, forever. That would be nice, but I cannot stand knowing a character’s fate before his or her story is told via flashbacks, as they are usually anticlimactic. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see as the season unfolds.

The Walking Dead is back… for eight episodes, at least, until its next hiatus.