TV Review: The Walking Dead, 11×21, “Outpost 22”

So, unfortunately, this isn’t the special Halloween episode of The Walking Dead, with Daryl and Carol dressing up as each other and Judith discovering the true meaning of All Hallow’s Eve. Instead, it’s a straightforward episode that, once again, needs to reestablish a certain status quo as the characters push into the final three episodes of the series. “Outpost 22” isn’t doing much groundbreaking work, which feels like a shame at this point in the series. Really, it’s more like an extension of “What’s Been Lost,” as the players are reassembled and building toward more significant upcoming episodes. With that said, this episode did highlight one key aspect of the series – where the hell is everyone?

I guess I was just not aware that Alexandria had not only been re-branded as Commonwealth but that none of our heroes were present to know it had been turned into an internment camp? Now I understand why we needed to spend so much time watching Aaron, Jerry and the others out in the wilderness as opposed to seeing them return home. They’ll surely be in for a surprise. Regardless, the reveal of where Outpost 22 is got me in a way that was less about being surprised and more caught off guard by how much the Commonwealth has actually taken away from our heroes.

Of course, there’s a bunch of episode preceding this reveal to get into. It’s actually pretty easy to track. There are two main storylines. One follows the bus of our heroes, including a particularly upset Ezekiel, to a work camp. Their work most likely applies to rebuilding the train tracks and clearing the path for more consistent transportation. That said – the conditions suck. The weather is much more dreary. Michael Weaver’s portrayal of a hardass warden is just bothersome enough to know he’ll get a satisfying death sometime from now. I’m a bit annoyed that with only so much time left in the series that our characters have to focus on this for now. At the same time, it is one way to unite everyone, that’s for sure.

A key reunion is between Ezekiel and Negan. I haven’t thought about it much, but for all the niceness Ezekiel brings to this series, he has nothing but contempt for Negan and reminds him and the viewers of just how awful he used to be. I like this, as it provides some perspective and allows Jeffrey Dean Morgan to show just how dramatic a change his character has gone through. And it’s not even that he believes he’s better; he just knows Ezekiel and the others don’t deserve the punishments he’s now receiving. With an alliance between these two, we’ll see how far it gets them in a place where people are casually beaten and shot onsite for attempting desertion.

The other storyline follows those who managed to avoid captivity. Carol and Daryl were already on the move. This week, Maggie, Gabriel, and Rosita all managed to break free and hit the trails, hoping to catch up with the convoy containing their families. To save time, everybody manages to catch up to each other and form a squad full of capable people. That’s good, and before you reference Game of Thrones, would you really want more time spent in the woods, waiting for these people to catch up to each other, or are we good with skipping past all the wandering?

For the sake of delivering some action and making the efforts seem challenging enough, it turns out Connie has been captured too, after avoiding initial captivity. She’s on a train to somewhere, and Daryl won’t have it. The solution is to ambush the train, kill the soldiers, rescue Connie, and maybe get some information from a survivor. It mostly works, but it also leads to a cool motorcycle chase with Daryl, who ends up killing the trooper involved. Meanwhile, the other remaining soldier chooses to kill himself rather than share any information. This would make things difficult were it not for a bunch of exposition given over the radio, making it clear that Alexandria is the key to all of this.

There are some good scenes nestled in here. Gabriel actually does good work as a pastor to get some needed information from another soldier, as well as comfort him before his death. Maggie is still stunned from having her son taken from her, leading her to a difficult moment when dealing with a very young walker boy. A follow-up scene allows her and Carol to bond, with a good monologue coming from the silver-haired warrior.

From where things stand, The Walking Dead will likely up the action quotient considerably, with our heroes intent on freeing their families and friends, as well as going after Pamela. Hornsby really made a mess of things, and there’s going to be a lot of fallout that will likely affect the Commonwealth. This episode is fine in further establishing the stakes, but I won’t blame anyone for getting antsy. With some clear goals in mind, it seems like Milton is about to learn who she’s been screwing with the hard way.

Dead Bits:

  • Zombie Kill of the Week: The Commonwealth troopers made good use of their bayonets this week, but one put in a clean machete hit to the skull.
  • That was a pretty bloody escape from the truck that Maggie went through.
  • “People remember the last thing you do.” – Gabriel offers some good words here.
  • “Stop to eat. Stop to sleep.” – Negan gets a hard lesson.
  • Daryl does a sweet motorcycle slide because of course he does.
  • Noted Walking Dead superfan Yvette Nicole Brown played the voice on the radio, informing our crew about Outpost 22.
  • 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.

The Walking Dead airs on AMC and is streaming on AMC+.

Written by
Aaron Neuwirth is a movie fanatic and Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic from Orange County, California. He’s a member of the African American Film Critics Association, the Hollywood Critics Association, the Online Film Critics Society, and the Black Film Critics Circle. As an outgoing person who is always thrilled to discuss movies, he’s also a podcaster who has put far too many hours into published audio content associated with film and television. His work has been published at Variety, We Live Entertainment, Why So Blu, The Young Folks, Firstshowing.net, Screen Rant, and Hi-Def Ninja.

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