The Walking Dead’s supersized last season begins part two of three with a literal bang. Episode nine, “No Other Way”, closes off the Meridian storyline with an explosive showdown between the murderous Reapers and Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) infiltrators. The Alexandrians also fight for survival as flooding water, zombies, and fire threaten the entire settlement. The mid-season premiere had several fantastic twists that reframed the series. A shocking final scene sets up an intriguing new conflict between dear friends.
“No Other Way” picks up with Leah (Lynn Collins) raining explosive arrows down on the Meridian courtyard. Maggie tosses a Reaper into an arrow. He gets blown to bits. She flees to the infirmary where she runs into Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and an injured Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari). They take refuge in a hidden room from Carver (Alex Meraz).
In Alexandria, Judith (Cailey Flemming) and Gracie (Anabelle Holloway) are trapped in the flooding basement as walkers break through. Upstairs in the house, Dianne (Kerry Cahill) tells Lydia (Cassady McClincy) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) that the girls are missing. Outside in the raging wind and rain, Jerry (Cooper Andrews) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) take refuge from fighting the windmill fire. They reunite with Carol’s (Melissa McBride) group. She’ll battle the fire while Magna (Nadia Hilker) and Connie (Lauren Ridloff) try to find another breach in the wall. They hear Gracie’s emergency whistle.
That morning in Meridian, Daryl kills a Reaper targeting Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) from the school’s window. He knifes him in the chest and narrowly avoids a searching Leah. In the basement, the girls stand on a table as the water fills with walkers. Aaron arrives and smashes through a window with his mace arm. He leaps into the water and pummels walker skulls. Aaron lifts Gracie and Judith to the window but can not get out. The stairwell breaks as more walkers pour in.
In Meridian’s chapel, Gabriel encounters Father Mancea (Dikran Tulaine). He curses the Reapers’ priest for condoning their killing. Mancea tells Gabriel that he does not hear God. Mancea puts away his weapon and asks for Gabriel’s hand. Gabriel stabs him in the chest. We then see Carver chasing Maggie. She leads him into a trap. Carver adeptly fights her, Negan, and Elijah; who wants him dead for murder his sister. Negan throws sand in his face. But Daryl arrives before they kill him. He calls Leah on the radio. Carver is their ticket out.
Rosita also heard Gracie’s whistle. She asks Lydia to go outside and get to the cellar. Aaron has escaped the walkers by climbing on a ceiling pipe. It breaks and his legs dangle, but Lydia sees him. She ties a rope to the pipe, and he climbs out. They race to help put out the windmill fire.
Daryl leads a tied-up Carver into the courtyard with the others behind him. He gives Maggie a gun. Leah meets them with the last two Reapers. Daryl wants them to drop their weapons and leave. Leah has a sniper on the roof. She orders him to shoot Maggie. A smug Carver taunts Elijah.
A sniper bullet hits Carver in the leg. Gabriel has killed the sniper and has targeted Leah’s group. Leah asks if their deal still stands. Maggie refuses to let Carver leave. When the Reapers turn to walk away, Maggie kills the last two men and shoots a fleeing Leah in the shoulder. Daryl watches stunned and chases after Leah. Maggie takes Elijah’s scythe. She plunges it into Carver’s chest. Daryl finds Leah hiding but lets her go.
Daryl brushes past Maggie as they load Meridian’s supplies on a wagon. She leaves to get the injured Alden (Callan McAuliffe) at the church. Negan watches her go. Maggie opens the church door to find a turned Alden crawling on the floor. She sobs as she dispatches her friend. Negan walks up to Maggie as she buries Alden. He will not let her kill him. Maggie grasps her knife. Negan “goes his own way.” He turns around and leaves in the opposite direction.
Maggie joins Daryl, Gabriel, and Elijah on the road. She tells them that Negan has left. The next morning they return to a battered Alexandria. Jerry wonder’s “where is everyone else?” There are tearful reunions with friends, children, and lovers. Daryl is overjoyed to see Connie alive. Lydia is disappointed that Negan did not come back. Their hearts ache for losing Alden. Suddenly Jerry sounds the alarm.
Commonwealth soldiers approach the Alexandria gate. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) runs to the front to diffuse any tension. The soldiers have brought food, fuel, and building materials. Eugene introduces Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) as the Commonwealth’s representative. He offers Alexandria help and an opportunity to join them.
Six Months Later
A card reads “SIX MONTHS LATER”, Maggie and Elijah are standing on the Hilltop’s wall. Commonwealth soldiers are gathered in front. The leader demands they “open up.” Maggie replies, “It does not have to be this way.” The soldier removes his mask and helmet. An angry Daryl tells her, “Yeah … it does.”
The Walking Dead uses another significant time jump to change the narrative. It’s not the six-year period after Rick disappeared, but certainly delivered a huge twist. Daryl working for the Commonwealth seems unfathomable. He’s probably still upset with Maggie at her actions in Meridian. Although I find it hard to believe he would ever seriously threaten her. That said, some Alexandrians embraced the Commonwealth. Setting up new conflicts between old allies and a colony that may not be what it seems.
“No Other Way” was tremendously entertaining. It wrapped up the Reaper storyline with crisp action and decisive leadership from Maggie. She will not fall in line with the Commonwealth’s orders. Eugene has yet to discover that his “Stephanie” is a fraud working for Lance Hornsby. Leah and Negan are still roaming around as rogue players. It’ll be interesting to see how they factor in. The Walking Dead’s last season will consist of twenty-four episodes. Part two is off to a helluva start. The Walking Dead premieres every Sunday night on AMC. The following week’s episode is available to stream immediately after on AMC +.
One of the best recent Shudder movies, the Adams family’s Hellbender is an enthusiastic and vibrant, if low-budget, good time.
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