Calling this episode “anticlimactic” is perhaps a little too strong, but I can’t help but feel that I expected more from the conclusion of this second part. The last three episodes have been good, if not great, and expectations are high as we approach the final twist on the show’s finish line. From the mysterious opening with Lance on a ruined hill to the ominous closing montage, the stakes can’t get much higher now – it’s the Coalition (or what’s left of it) against the Commonwealth to determine the future of about 50,000 souls, including the handful we still care about (mostly). But even with two deaths and Hornsby’s complete transformation from slimy bureaucrat to psychopathic warlord, nothing that happened here will keep me in deliciously painful suspense until part three arrives later this year. .

The opening sequence is promising, maybe a little too much: with Hilltop in flames, Lance walks into something gooey, which appears to be what’s left of a fresh, unidentified corpse. The arrows are on the ground, though it surely can’t be Daryl’s body. Lance looks displeased as he gazes upwards, where noisy insects are buzzing. Lest we wonder about the bugs for a long time, the timeline jumps to “7 p.m. and an act of God ago.” Of course, there are many biblical references to locusts, most notably in Exodus, when God sends a swarm to cover all of Egypt. But they also appear in Revelations, rising from the abyss to punish and torture non-believers – this grim reference seems more appropriate for current affairs, as Lance decides this is now his way or the highway to hell. Whatever the interpretation, these swirling clouds of black insects are an ominous symbol of the judgment that will soon come.

But for whom? Lance decides to spare Leah by coming up with a classic win-win scenario that will end with Maggie’s death: “You get the scalp of the woman who killed your family, and I can finally do my job without interference,” says- he. ” Everybody wins. Well no everyone.” After Maggie’s previous Hilltop confrontation with Hornsby and his henchmen, she knows she’s in trouble. His solution: drop Hershel off with the man who slaughtered his son’s father, then set a trap for Lance. In another moment that establishes both Negan’s redemption and AMC’s upcoming Negan-Maggie spinoff, Neegs fears (rightly) that Hershel doesn’t trust him. “I am starts at,” Mags replies, to her astonishment. “You have big balls, Maggie Rhee,” Negan said, sounding a little hazy as he spoke. “I got you. And I got your boy. Dropping his married name isn’t an accident; Negan finally puts his gift for gossip to good use by granting him – and in Glenn’s memory – much appreciated respect.

Elsewhere, Daryl’s team is stuck with Lance’s minions on a fake mission that’s really designed to separate them from Maggie and, Lance hopes, eliminate them. Of course, Daryl’s trio feels it; his crew and the Commonwealth soldiers exchange suspicious looks as the tense music mounts, Daryl nods to his boys and a gunfight ensues. Spoiler alert: the heroes overcome considerable obstacles to emerge victorious! They also learn that Hornsby’s plan is to “clear the ground”, which Gabe translates as “leaving only allies behind”. This is very bad news for Maggie, among others. However, as Lance’s soldiers move to eliminate him, they learn the hard way that Mags is ready to blow up his entire damn colony. (And if you noticed what Hilltop wreckage was inside, really, that was a no-brainer.)

Then there’s the bigger puzzle to solve, as Eugene’s Secret Society plots to unravel the mysteries of the Commonwealth and that list of names. Max grows increasingly nervous about betraying Pam, especially when the guv’s coke-drunk man-child son nearly ruins Max’s attempt to steal a top-secret file conveniently labeled “Relocations.” (Municipal government minutiae, not espionage, is Max’s comfort zone: She really lights up when she discusses the $50,000 Founders’ Day budget surplus she hopes she can. use for scholarships. TWD/ The C-SPAN spinoff is far behind?) To give Connie more time to keep digging, they hatch a bold plan to distribute a story about Sebastian’s heist with the subtle title, “Pamela Milton is lying to you.” It will serve as a major distraction, but now they’ll face the wrath of two Miltons while trying to decipher this list. Maybe Pamela is more like her former co-worker – highly respected former town leader A Deanna Monroe – than we think, and in the end, she’ll help end Lance’s hostile takeover. .

The people’s leader, Maggie, finds her victory at Hilltop short-lived, as Leah displays guns blazing to send everyone running for their lives (just what we need – no more nighttime hide-and-seek in Woods). Well, everyone flees except for Marco, who turns out to be the corpse from the opening scene. No wonder Lance is pissed off when he arrives: his men are dead, Hilltop is on fire, Leah didn’t take out Maggie like she promised, and the bottom line is they killed Mark? Don’t come back until you kill a character with a fucking last name! Leah assures Hornsby that she completes the job like Sinatra – doing it “my way,” which means making a classic villainous mistake. When you tie the hero to a chair and engage in a long, satisfying conversation that reinforces the lost hero, you actually buy time for a Criss Angel-esque escape that leads to the death of said villain. Maggie and Leah deliver one of the massive overturned drag-outs, and Maggie almost ends up with a knife in her chest. But it could only end one way: with Daryl putting a fatal bullet through his ex. (A crossbow shot would also have worked, but you know what I mean. D was meant to do the deed.)

As the soldiers close in and Daryl and Maggie somehow escape, Lance finds himself with an ugly scar and a new plan: “Now we’re taking it all,” he declares, looked slightly out of his mind. Cue the slow motion edit! Mags, Daryl and company plod through the tall grass after another fierce battle, as the River Benders emerge from their underground hideout. Negan’s new team is expected to play a pivotal role in the upcoming third act, especially since they now appear to be the only community not under Commonwealth control. At Hilltop and A-town, the Commonwealth banner is unfurled as Stormtroopers stand guard on the walls; the Coalition has now been officially “resettled”. Worse still, Lance has assembled the Oceansiders at gunpoint, and his “with us or against us” philosophy reaches its peak. He tosses his “lucky” coin in the air and hits it on his hand as the screen fades to black. Could it be to determine whether the Oceansiders live or die – a decision left to chance, or more accurately, the act of a god-complex megalomaniac?

It’s a tense ending, but with only eight episodes before the curtain drops on the series, I wanted a jaw-dropping cliffhanger that lingers in the mind. In a sense, we may all be Lance Hornsby – Marco and Leah bite it, that’s all you got? Hopefully the crickets aren’t also a sign of disappointment to come at the end of the show.

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