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The Walking Dead - Acheron: Part II - Review

  The Walking Dead “Acheron: Part II” was written by the team of Angela Kang and Jim Barnes and was directed by Kevin Dowling – all of whom worked on Part I. Not surprisingly, the action picks up right where we left off – except for ignoring the difficult parts of the Commonwealth storyline. The episode features terrific performances from Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan), Josh McDermitt (Eugene), and Lauren Cohen (Maggie).

I loved the shot from under the train – nice tip off to how Maggie is going to get away – and then Maggie drops to the ground and unloads her gun. She runs out of bullets and is overwhelmed. Of course, we’ve seen people die in less dire situation, but they’d be unlikely to bring Cohan back just to kill her off.

Inside the subway cars, the others drop in from above – again, a nice mirror of the previous opening shot. The others naturally ask Negan where Maggie is, and he coolly tells them she was right behind him. Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) takes charge. They’ll break through to the next car and just keep going.

Daryl and Dog emerge into what was clearly a refuge for people during the fall. He finds a guy with his arm chopped off. The arm is still there – handcuffed to a briefcase full of money. It’s the second time we’ve seen money this season after not seeing it – at all in the series?? I wonder if this will be significant when paired with Yumiko’s (Eleanor Matsuura) comment about the Commonwealth controlling access to currency? Daryl also finds a beautiful mural that seems to tell a story about the fall. A family of three wearing crowns all eventually succumbing to the walkers and the apocalypse. Does this remind Daryl of Rick, Laurie, and Carl?

Back at the Commonwealth, we’ve skipped over how they got back in and returned the guards’ uniforms without them noticing – and Princess (Paola L├ízaro) assures Yumiko they did know! Princess thinks Yumiko’s brother sounds awesome – clearly the photo was in his wallet and he’s survived 10 years of the Apocalypse. It’s clear that there is some strained history between Yumiko and her brother – no doubt this will unfold once we meet him. She tells Princess her plan is to demand to see whoever’s in charge and use her “cold as ice” lawyer prowess to get to see her brother. 

Eugene is a mess and rushes back to them to tell them that Ezekiel (Khary Payton) is gone. Eugene is all for telling them everything. Yumiko plays lawyer again and tells him not to talk to the cops and if he does to stick to the story. Yumiko goes to their guard and demands to see who’s in charge. Princess is at first not sure this is a good idea, but I love it that she jumps right on board, demanding to see the “manager” when it looks like Yumiko is getting somewhere.

Back with Daryl, he finds a bag containing some really old chocolate and a note from a kid (Tom) to his father, written on a dollar, saying that he and his mom would move on if dad wasn’t back in a week. It’s been three weeks, and the kid promises to watch Jesse and turn the radio on every day at 10. Again, this echoes Rick’s story – and his agreement to listen for Morgan. There’s also a polaroid of the two kids, and Daryl takes the bag with him. Daryl kills a lurker – and sees a map of the tunnels. Once again, Dog here’s something and takes off – completely ignoring Daryl. 

Back at the Commonwealth, Yumiko is back with the assessors – but this time, she’s taking charge – and finally looking like a lawyer! Clark (Carrie Genzel) is confused as to why Yumiko’s there, and Yumiko keeps her off balance by telling her that she’s been assessing them – no the other way around! She pegs Clark as a forensic psychologist before the fall, and Evans (Matthew Cornwell) as an academic – as he keeps his head down and keeps writing. She knows exactly what their questions are doing. Toilet habits test boundaries. The two dollar bill was all about controlling currency to use it as a powerful psychological tool. The long and short of it is to determine whether people will enhance the community or be a drain on resources. It’s a new world, and Clark and Evans’ skill set just isn’t that valuable – except in so far as they can judge the people sitting across from them – they have to justify their own existence. 

Yumiko points out that she’s a lawyer. She likes rules because they bring order to the chaos. They need her. She tells them that she believes her brother – who is a thoracic surgeon is living in the north end of their community. And… um… thoracic surgeon? That goiter on Ezekiel anyone??? She tells them she wants expedited processing for her group. She tells them her credentials again, and Mercer (Michael James Shaw) enters with coffee for her. Yumiko smiles. She knows she’s won.

Eugene and Princess are waiting outside for Yumiko, but Princess has to pee. Eugene freaks out when she gets up to leave. Princess reassures him that Mercer just went in with coffee so things must be good with Yumiko. She then proceeds to have a conversation in Spanish with one of the guards. She’s adorably excited when she finds out that they have toilet paper! The two guards look at Eugene – who looks back nervously – after Princess goes in. Then, one of the guards follows her in. Clearly, there’s a plan to divide and conquer.

Daryl is still making his way through the tunnel. The group in the car have moved along when suddenly someone – Maggie – starts banging SOS in morse code on the bottom of the car. Negan knows immediately he’s in trouble. Luckily, there is a trap door, and opening it, they let Maggie in. She marches right up to Negan, pistol whips him, and tells the others that he saw her fall and left her to die. Negan’s response is “so what!” Gabriel is shocked he left her to die, but Alden (Callan McAuliffe) insists he tried to kill her. Negan clarifies – there’s a big difference in not helping someone in trouble and outright murdering them. He’s not wrong… 

Duncan (Marcus Lewis) slams Negan against the wall. Negan points out that she was just talking about murdering him – how does his not risking ‘his nuts’ for her make him the asshole? He points out that he’s been an asset. Alden is clearly still bitter about Hilltop – but Negan counters with the fact that he killed Alpha. If he hadn’t, everyone they knew would have their head on a spike. Agatha (Laurie Fortier) insists that they can get through the city without him. Maggie is considering – but not jumping on it, and then they are interrupted by Gage (Jackson Pace), who has come up the cars. 

Gage – never the brightest bulb in the package – didn’t shut the door behind him when he got in and away from the walkers – so they start streaming in the other end. Negan is the first one to the door, trying to open it and asking Duncan for help. Maggie tells them to stop – if they let Gage in, they don’t have enough ammunition to stop the walkers. Alden jumps in to help, telling Maggie to go to Hell. Duncan jumps in to keep the others off the door. Pace has a great scene here. He begs Maggie apologizing for his behaviour. Alden tries again to convince Maggie they have time. She looks stricken but refuses. 

Even Gabriel steps in to tell Alden to let it go. Maggie tells Gage she’s sorry, but she can’t. Gage calls her a liar and pulls out his two knives. Rather than go out fighting, he looks Maggie straight in the eye as he stabs himself. The others watch as he’s overwhelmed and eaten.

Eugene is sweating and shaking – and alone. He asks the guard where Yumiko and Princess are. The guard denies that Yumiko is in the room – even though Eugene hasn’t seen them leave – and denies knowing anything about another friend. He tells Eugene to leave, so he does.

Back in the subway car, the group it now completely surrounded. Negan is actually a bit freaked out, and Gabriel asks him what the problem is. Negan tells him bad memories but won’t elaborate. Cole reanimates, and Alden berates the others for not being able to look at him. Gabriel points out that it’s just the shell of a man. Alden tells them he didn’t deserve to die that way – the worst way to die. Maggie says there are much worse ways to die.

Cohen is terrific in this scene as she tells them a story about when she and Hershel were alone and starving. Which begs the question of why they didn’t try to go back to Hilltop at that point? Regardless, she tries to help an old man, who it turns out was going to use her and Hershel as food for his sick community. In the man’s house, she found three deformed ‘men’ who went after her – but she handled them. She follows a thudding sound in the attic. A figure falls out of the attic and lands at her feet. It was a walker who used to be a woman. Her arms and legs had been cut off and stitched up. Eyes gouged out and tongue cut out. She was wheezing through an open cauterized hole in her throat where her vocal chords had been ripped out. Her belly was round and full – and whatever was in her wanted out. There were three more in the attic – who were alive. 

Maggie’s first thought was that if they were alive, there must be food. She took care of them and found the food. She and Hershel – who she’d locked in a room – filled the old man’s cart with food and left. She tells Alden that she doesn’t feel anything when she tells Alden this story. That’s what’s out there, and in seeing it, she lost something. She doesn’t think it’s a bad thing. What they had at Hilltop was rare. Negan adds it means that they were lucky. No body had it figured out – and no body ever will. Is it bleak? Yes. I wonder what Glenn would say. Perhaps we can breathe easier about Maggie, knowing that she’s not going to ever become the conscience of the show? Perhaps, she’s lost the empathy to do so.

Daryl takes out one walker in the tunnel with his crossbow after two others shut a gate and lock him in. He pushes them out of the way and takes them out with a mace!! Nice new weapon! Roy (C Thomas Howell) staggers out of the tunnel – he’s bloody but still alive – and how does one get bloody from walkers and not get infected? Dog returns and Daryl dispatches the walkers following Roy. He apparently got topside – so maybe injured there by the humans? He lost Gage and the ammo bag. He gives Daryl the grenades that he does have, and asks him to tell his kids that he didn’t die a coward. I was sure Roy was dead…

Back in the car, they are prevented from getting any further by a door that is blocked by bench. The walkers are starting to break through behind them – with Gage leading the way. Dog and Daryl hear when Gabriel starts shooting and start running toward the noise. The group runs through their ammo and arrows, and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) and Cole (James Devoti) go hand to hand. Duncan makes headway on the other door, but walkers are coming that way too. Maggie gives Negan a loaded gun – it’s likely as close to a truce as these two will ever get – and he goes to beat the other side back. 

Daryl shows up behind the group on Duncan’s side of the car. He pulls out a handgun and there’s a great shot of him from outside the car, moving through the herd, shooting his way forward. We’ll simply ignore the fact that he’s shooting toward his friends – and at least some (if not all) of those shots must be through and throughs… Daryl’s down to knives by the time he gets close to the door. Negan shoves open the door and the others come running through – Daryl tells them to get behind something and shoves one of Roy’s grenades into the mouth of a walker, pushing and kicking him back into the other car before shutting the door. It’s a nice gore-fest from Nicotero!

It’s night at the Commonwealth – or at least the lights are out. Eugene is alone and clearly terrified. When the guards come for him, he’s been making a small weapon out of a piece of wood and shoves in up his sleeve. He’s taken back to Mercer and Evens, and I love how Evans has this little package of sinister looking instruments in which he keeps his pen. Eugene demands to know what they’ve done with his travelling companions and Mercer tells him they’re being processed. Eugene wants some clarification at this point – is it administratively or are they being processed like lunch meat? 

Mercer asks him if he likes being nervous. Eugene says no. Mercer tells him that the only thing that gets his heart rate up is when he’s ‘out there’ battling the dead – and then his raised heart rate isn’t a bad thing. He clearly enjoys the ‘exercise.’ Evans hands Eugene Kleenex as Mercer tells him to ‘mop up.’  This scene was a bit of a trigger for me as I remembered an interview I had with someone who had power over my life. She was sure she was going to make me cry and at one point literally pushed a box of Kleenex across the table at me – much more rudely than Evans does here! (fyi, I didn’t cry and told her she could screw herself)

And then Mercer makes the biggest mistake of his life. He tells Eugene that he “can’t lie for shit.” And we all know that Eugene is the Olympic champion of lying. Eugene says he wasn’t going to lie. Mercer tells him that makes him like him. And we know how often Eugene has lied to get people to like him. Mercer asks him two questions. Where is his settlement and why was he at that train station? He tells him he’ll see his friends if he tells the truth, and he tells him he’ll know if he lies. Eugene resurrects ‘okey dokey’ and there’s a terrific shot of his hand under the table. He’s not shaking anymore. 

Eugene knows exactly how to play it. He starts by giving Mercer something he wants. He says he has been holding back – because he was afraid of what the others would think of him. It’s typical classic Eugene-speak. He tells Mercer that he hasn’t always been the emotional type but his 10,000+ hours of death, loss, and fear have opened him up. He basically tells Mercer the story they’ve already told him. There’s enough truth for him to completely sell it. And then he adds something that nobody would admit to if it wasn’t true. He tells Mercer that he’s a virgin. Shaw’s reaction here is classic! It even gets Evans’ attention! I loved that he admitted to “watching” – Evans also looks up at that. He tells Mercer that he hoped Stephanie (Margot Bingham) might be his one true love, and now he’s afraid that she’ll have nothing to do with him. Eugene tells them he’s very relieved to finally get that off his chest, but everything else up to then “has been the God-damned truth!” And that’s how you sell a lie, folks. Give them just enough of the truth and then something nobody would lie about – and hopefully something that makes them uncomfortable…

Once more Eugene is transported with a hood over his face and handcuffed to a railway car. However, inside, he’s reunited with the other three and quickly learns that they’re all being taken in. Ezekiel (Khary Payton) has been to an infirmary where he got some treatment that helped him sleep. They all ended up in a waiting room together and were worried about Eugene. Mercer enters and starts reading an official document, citing all kinds of other documents and regulations – with the upshot that they’ve passed initial processing and are approved for asylum and citizenship in “these united townships” – whatever that means. 

        He welcomes them to the Commonwealth. He tells them when the doors open they be lead to orientation by a ‘beat cop.’ I loved that his last words are spoken as he leans in to Ezekiel and tells him: “I went to West Point, asshole.” And then the door opens, and it’s Stephanie, looking for Eugene.

The group emerge from the subway tunnels and the storm has ended. Negan gives the gun back to Maggie – somewhat reluctantly, but it does clearly make her think. She sees Daryl with the letter on the money and asks what it is. He tells her it’s a kid to his parents and that he didn’t see anything else in the tunnels that she didn’t see. Yet, that’s not entirely true. Maggie and Daryl now make a really interesting contrast with each other. Both have been through horrific events, yet Daryl is more open and empathic and Maggie less so. He did see more than she did.

Maggie tells the group that they need to make a detour before proceeding. There’s a supply depot – with ammo, food, and weapons that Georgie set up. It begs the question of why she never tried to get to them when she was alone with Hershel. Her entire backstory really need a lot more thought. The group proceeds and apparently Roy didn’t die in the tunnel. They come upon a road that is lined by bodies hanging upside down. Negan suggest an alternate route… And then Roy is dead when he’s shot by an arrow. Cole takes a knife to the leg – which almost certainly severed the femoral artery. The group retreats as a menacing group in iron masks – just like Elijah’s – stalks up the road after them.

Once again, the show seems to be setting up a contrast between two communities. One has clearly gone overboard on rules and regulations while the other is clearly lawless. I’m betting that by the end of the season – if not much sooner – we’ll see that neither are as they seem – or that they are both equally bad in their own way with our core group still being the heroes of the story. Josh McDermitt gets my vote for performance of the episode, but Eleanor Matsuura finally gets a scene to really shine in too. Best kill has to go to the grenade stuffing. What did you think of the episode? Are you excited about this final season? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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