The Walking Dead season 11 Episode 1 “Acheron: Part 1” was aired on August 22 at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.
The Commonwealth and the Reapers were presented in the season opener as new threats.
Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) had a fantastic comeback last season, and her battle with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is still fresh in viewers’ minds.
The gang returns to Alexandria with supplies in the first episode, but they are quickly weary. Maggie has an ambitious plan in mind, but they’ll need food to get their town back on track. “Anxiety and mistrust rise, wreaking havoc.
Before returning to Alexandria, we had observed Maggie and her party’s dread. “People who have been raised by strange military have been moved.”
The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 1 Official Press Release
It’s incredible what Jeffrey Dean Morgan has accomplished in a few short episodes of The Walking Dead with Negan’s redemption narrative.
Of course, negan was still a villain not long ago. Still, a spectacular bottle episode and a trek inside enemy lines to save Alexandria has pushed him well down the road to redemption, even if Maggie seemed bound and determined not to fall for it.
Negan is never unreasonable in “Acheron Part 1,” in fact, he is the only reasonable member of the party, and when he speaks up, it’s evident that others are listening to him, much to Maggie’s chagrin and detriment.
It’s not so much that Maggie is unreasonable as Negan is reasonable, which causes some friction in the group.
Maggie has every right to be upset, and her friends are all willing to support her, but Daryl and the Alexandrians understand how much they owe to Negan, and while he’s a jerk, he’s also kind of right, which puts them in a pickle.
Negan continues to make excellent points throughout the episode. When the rain is too heavy, the subway is prone to flooding, and they travel through a mass grave that may or may not still be in use, Negan constantly emphasising the hazards the group confronts, which Maggie ignores because she is in command.
She can’t disagree with Negan, even when he points out that she’s not really leading because she’s only paying attention to him (and trying to kill him through misadventure), because it’s too late to listen to reason and try a different method.
One of The Walking Dead’s major running themes across its 11 seasons is that leadership comes with a hefty burden.
Either you’re a Ricktatorship making decisions on your own, or you’re part of an inefficient Ricktocracy where a council makes decisions.
Regardless of who was involved in the decision-making process, the pressure appears to fall on one person’s head quite regularly.
The group may make decisions, but the buck usually stops with the figurehead, whether it’s Rick, Gabriel, or Maggie.
Maggie is elected by a group of Alexandrians who are trampling through the sewers. Eugene is the default choice for the Alexandrians caught by the Commonwealth and imprisoned in an interrogation camp.
Whether or not these individuals are best suited to lead is a different topic, one that “Acheron: Part I” delves into near the close of each episode section.
In either case, one person’s personal purpose leads to everyone diving deeper than they bargained for, with no easy way out for either side.
Negan’s conduct has been toned down since the change in showrunner, and in Angela Kang and Jim Barnes’ script, the former Savior is downright calm and sensible, all thanks to Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He makes some good points, albeit in a Negan-like manner, and he leads Maggie into a really stunning battle between them.
Morgan does a good job with the words he’s given, and his explanation for why he’s being dragged along on this desperate errand resonates with everyone around him (including Daryl) and the audience at home.
Given Maggie’s dislike for him, it’s understandable why he’d be brought along; however, Lauren Cohan’s rebuttal doesn’t land as solidly as Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s half of the tete-a-tete, and it feels a little hollow to suggest that cutting a few hours off a suicide mission makes upping the danger significantly worth the trade-off.
Moreover, it exposes the rift between Alexa and Maggie (who only know Negan horror stories). Nevertheless, to her credit, Maggie does not deny Negan’s charges, and the episode’s emotional build-up pays off at the conclusion.
Kang, Barnes, and TV veteran director Kevin Dowling continue to work on the Commonwealth plot, which features some fairly creative montages.
While the action in the tunnel is straight ahead, with terrifying noises and shifting zombies in bags, Eugene, Ezekiel (a scene-stealing Khary Payton), Yumiko, and Princess are all grilled by The Commonwealth’s enigmatic intake committee and its multi-stage Scientology-like intake procedure.
While Ezekiel’s ability to smell a rat is impressive in and of itself, Princess’s solid memory and ability to read the world around her provide the group with the most surprising and useful insights.
In contrast, the rest of the group was busy trying not to go insane at the hands of their interrogation team.
There are many positives in “Acheron: Part I,” from the short, wordless frigid opening to the great, eerie synth score to the rising suspense in the tunnels beneath suburban Virginia, yet there is a minor letdown following the COVID episodes of the previous season.
It’s all about arranging the table, which can take some time. Maggie may be short on it, and Alexandria may be short on time, but patience is rewarded in the end.