Given the way Covid-19 affected the production and release schedules for The Walking Dead, we’re now in a brief limbo period that has upset the usual rollout of things. With that in mind, AMC and the powers that be decided to cushion the wait period for season 11 by delivering 6 bonus season 10 episodes. I need to see more to get an idea of the full intention, but as of now, it seems more or less like an epilogue for the end of The Whisperer War, with some work to help set up the upcoming season, which is sure to introduce some new groups for everyone to deal with.
Keeping that in mind, the return of Lauren Cohan means we need to catch up with Maggie, which is the intention of “Home Sweet Home.” However, while there are worthwhile moments, I can’t help but think there were different ways this could have been handled.
Having left the show following Rick’s “death” in season 9, Maggie did not return until the season 10 finale, “A Certain Doom.” I don’t like to say what an episode should be about, but it stands to reason that a bonus episode like this could have easily been a flashback to what Maggie had gone through. The other logical approach could have been to deliver on what this episode sets up right from the start – her relation to Negan, the man who killed her husband, Glenn, and the father of her child, Hershel. Instead, we brush past this and take a trip into the woods with Daryl (Norman Reedus), Kelly (Angel Theory), and two of her people, Cole (James Devoti) and Elijah, the masked warrior (Okea Eme-Akwari).
Does this still allow for some satisfying storytelling? For the most part, it’s fine. There’s a big action sequence in a container park, which allows for some fun walker kills. A couple of conversations with Maggie do enough to let Cohan act and allow the viewer time to catch up with the character. Plus, the show ensures we are invested in Kelly finding her sister Connie, who we know is still alive. The impact of her return may lose some of the punch as a result, but at least the character isn’t being forgotten.
The other major portion of this episode is when the attacker (Mike Whinnet) begins hunting our crew. There’s genuine tension thanks to his use of a high-powered rifle, which takes down a few red shirts before Maggie and Daryl find a way to get the jump on him. And really, anyone that tosses Daryl around like a sack of potatoes deserves at least some attention. The results aren’t dragged out too much, but before this crazy mountain man blows himself up, he does have time to say “Pope marked you” to Maggie, which opens up plenty of speculation about what The Reapers are and why Maggie is a target.
It is worth noting the work from Cohan. She gets to interact with all the cast members around this week, which is good enough to serve as a way of bringing her back into the mix after missing out for so long. While I think there’s more than could have been explored as far as where she’s been and what she’ll have to deal with as far as Negan goes (and yes, I’m sure we’ll get that soon), there are at least some good conversations she has. In particular, her interactions with Kelly work because it gives her a chance to talk about past members of the group Beth and Hershel and let Theory have a chance to develop her role.
Given the odd limbo these episodes occupy, I can’t say I expected “Home Sweet Home” to offer some major developments. At the same time, there are ways this episode could have done better to reintroduce Maggie back into the series. The major moment involving the attacker did work well enough, but it’s hard not to think the rest of this episode was more or less treading water. Still, if getting more Walking Dead in this interim period is enough to satisfy, this episode does just enough.
- Zombie Kill of the Week: The team-up at the container to close the door led to a very satisfying walker head squash, complete with brains coming out. Welcome back to this show!
- After asking, “Who is that masked man,” this episode actually gives us all of the answers. His name is Elijah, and he seems to be balancing his grief with a strong level of badassery while both hiding behind/intimidating others with his mask. I dig it.
- Cole’s double blades are pretty cool too.
- As opposed to Judith, little Hershel already seems like a welcome addition to the cast.
- Ugh, so let’s get ready to meet more of the Reapers…
- During that attacker scene, I couldn’t help but hear a lot of Predator influence on the score. I’m a huge fan of Alan Silvestri’s Predator score and very much welcome this.
- He just blew himself up. What a choice!
- Next week we’re back in Alexandria, so let’s hope it truly is a sweet home.
- Thanks for reading and feel free to hear what me and a few other fans of the show have to say about the series on The Walking Dead TV Podcast.