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The Walking Dead - The Lucky Ones - Review

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  The Walking Dead “The Lucky Ones” was written by Vivian Tse and was directed by Tawnia McKiernan, whose other credits include ER, Criminal Minds, and NCIS: Los Angeles (and Supergirl, but we’ll maybe just ignore that one…). The episode primarily focuses on Pamela Milton (Laila Robins) touring Alexandria, Oceanside, and Hilltop, but we also get a follow up to last week’s episode with more information about Max (Margot Bingham) and an update on Ezekiel (Khary Payton). Josh McDermitt turns in another terrific performance as does Josh Hamilton (Hornsby), Robins, and Ross Marquand (Aaron). 

The episode begins with Max’s backstory – the other side of what we’ve already seen from Eugene’s eyes. There’s a nice extended metaphor of her finding the radio parts abandoned as “trash” that just needed a little love to become useful – sounds like Alexandria, Hilltop – and Eugene! It’s clear that Max fell in love with Eugene – and that Max was thinking about leaving the Commonwealth. And then Mercer (Michael James Shaw) found out – because he’d been told to find out who was talking on an unauthorized radio channel. She was about to sneak out to meet Eugene. Mercer warns her that it’s dangerous for everyone – but especially them. Why them? This sets up an interesting question! Mercer tells her that she’d better pray that Hornsby didn’t recognize her voice. Max knew she couldn’t get past Hornsby…

Then we flash ahead to the scene we’ve already seen – when Eugene shows up with some other girl, calling herself Stephanie and using Max’s words! I loved getting this scene from her view! She’s clearly happy to see Eugene, but doesn’t speak to him in case she gives herself away – and she’s also clearly disappointed that he seemed so happy. 

We see Max in with Pamela, and when she asks if Pamela needs anything, she responds, “a day without my son acting like a little asshole?” And then she tells Max to cut off Sebastian’s line of credit at the bank. Pamela clearly doesn’t much like him! Then Hornsby showed up buzzing about Eugene and Alexandria. We’re back in the present and Eugene wants to know what Hornsby is planning. Max doesn’t know but says he’s ambitious. Eugene is crushed that Mercer – who hates him – is Max’s brother and that there is no Stephanie… I liked the touch that Max actually used her mother’s name. I wonder if that helped tip off Mercer?

Hornsby and Pamela road trip to Alexandria (and then Oceanside and finally Hilltop) in the Mercermobile. It looks like it’s been got up as more of a party bus! The two discuss the wisdom of extending their empire. Pamela doesn’t want to extend beyond what they can easily control. Pamela tells Hornsby if it doesn’t go well, she’s out.

I loved Aaron walking around trying to make everything look perfect – by putting plants in front of broken windows for example. He welcomes Pamela and Hornsby and takes  them on a grand tour. Aaron tells them that they got the blueprints for a self-sustaining community from Maggie (Lauren Cohen) – who we know got them from Georgie. Mercer and Daryl (Norman Reedus) trail after the other three, and Mercer asks how they keep a place like Alexandria safe, being so isolated. Daryl says it wasn’t easy – understatement! And Mercer is impressed and surprised that Daryl was a leader there. Mercer asks what Daryl did before ‘all this,’ and Daryl tells him it didn’t matter – at least it didn’t matter to them. Mercer looks thoughtful – he’s clearly not happy stuck in the class system of the Commonwealth. 

Pamela recognizes Deanna from her photograph. Daryl is surprised that she knew her, and Pamela tells him they used to cross paths in philanthropy circles. At the time, Pamela wasn’t interested in politics, but Deanna was born to it. She asks what she was like, and Daryl tells her that Deanna brought them in and they’d never met anyone like her before. Pamela seems surprised – impressed? – that Daryl admired her, and Daryl tells her very much so. He tells Pamela that Deanna built all that for them and it was worth fighting for. Pamela says it fell – ie they failed, but Daryl quickly responds that they always won it right back. Pamela is even more surprised that it fell more than once. Mercer interrupts as there’s a breach.

Daryl goes out to take care of the walker wandering through, and Hornsby and Aaron come in – with Hornsby saying ‘shit’ under his breath. Pamela asks Aaron about Deanna and how they lost her. He admits that she was bitten and they had to have her put down. Pamela declares she’s seen enough there. And it’s clearly not good.

Ezekiel thinks he’s getting just a routine check up when Tomi (Ian Anthony Dale) arrives and gives him instructions for his surgery. Jerry (Cooper Andrews) is with him. Tomi tells Ezekiel that he’s now at the top of the list, and Theo (Nicholas Velez) tells him he’s lucky because some people wait years. Jerry is thrilled – and who doesn’t love Jerry. Ezekiel is baffled – but Jerry doesn’t care. In Jerry’s eyes, Ezekiel deserves a little luck.

Pamela is clearly thrilled with Oceanside – or at least getting to stick her feet in the Ocean. No doubt thinking about a nice vacation condo down there for herself… She meets with Rachel (Avianna Mynhier), but we don’t see any of the other familiar Oceanside faces. Pamela isn’t thrilled when Rachel tells her that they’ll only join if Maggie does because they are keeping the agreement between Oceanside and Hilltop. And Maggie has said that she’s not joining. Hornsby uncomfortably tells Pamela that they did offer Maggie the same deal as the others…

There’s a great scene between Aaron and Hornsby on the way from Oceanside to Hilltop. Hornsby is angry that Aaron didn’t tell him about Rachel and Maggie. When Hornsby says it looks like they’re not prepared, Aaron doesn’t just sit back and take the scolding. He tells Hornsby it looks like he’s not prepared – after all, Hornsby knows Pamela, and he doesn’t. He also tells Hornsby to stop acting like Alexandria means more to him than it does to Aaron. Hornsby looks taken aback. He’s finally getting a sense of what he might be up against – Aaron, and none of the others, are going to just submit. Hornsby tells him ‘right now, we want the same thing’ – which of course, directly points out that what Hornsby wants could change. Hornsby also tells Aaron that for Pamela, it’s an all or nothing deal. Aaron tells him that they’ll figure it out.

Their conversation is interrupted by a group with a wagon being attacked by walkers. It’s Maggie, Lydia (Cassady McClincy) and Dianne (Kerry Cahill). Maggie lets their horse go, and the two take care of all the walkers, with only one assist from Daryl, who helps her up. The two hug hello. The others join them, and there’s an immediate contrast between how clean the Commonwealth people are and how dirty (and bloody) Maggie and the others are.

In the next scene, Maggie is behind the Commonwealth convoy, cleaning herself up. Aaron brings her a package of food – and she says she’s already eaten – and Daryl brings her knapsack. She asks them why they trust the Commonwealth people. Daryl immediately responds – ‘who says I do’ and ‘when do I ever?’ It’s the answer Maggie wants to hear. He goes on to point out that they kept their word in helping to clean up Alexandria. Aaron points out that most of the people in the Commonwealth seem like good people. He tells her that she doesn’t have to do it alone and asks her to come with them. 

It looks like they are getting through to her when they are interrupted by Hornsby. They’ve detected a swarm and have extra rifles with them, so the military is going to take care of it. Pamela has suggested they all go hunting while they wait. Mercer goes with the hunting party. It’s clearly a set up as Hornsby gives Pamela a signal and she suggests that she and Maggie pair up while the others go on together. Mercer isn’t happy, but Pamela tells him she doesn’t need a minder. I loved the contrast in how the two are dressed. Pamela looks like she’s on a vacation safari – which she is. Of course, she’s not hunting wild game, really, she’s hunting Maggie’s community.

Pamela asks how things got so bad. Maggie says how do they ever? She’s met many communities and still hasn’t figured out why some survive and some don’t – but honestly, have we seen any really thrive long term? Pamela says she doesn’t believe in luck, and Maggie points out that luck is about opportunity and Pamela has had more opportunity than anyone. Pamela tells Maggie – “cards on the table” – that she didn’t want to come on this tour. She has 1,000s of people under her care – there’s clearly a bit of one-up-manship going on here. Does Pamela fear Maggie’s leadership skills? She tells Maggie that what keeps her up at night is whether her community is safe and who can they trust. It’s the cost of leadership – like Maggie doesn’t know that. Of course, that’s also exactly what Hornsby overheard Maggie talking about to Aaron and Daryl. 

Pamela goes on to say that she’s not sure the danger of moving between the communities is worth it. Maggie asks why she’s there then. Pamela tells her that the right allies make them stronger. Their stories have confirmed her belief in the natural order that is necessary to make a better future for their kids. She tells Maggie that she’s offering the same thing as her mutual protection pact with Oceanside – someone who has her back. Maggie looks thoughtful – but unconvinced.

Carol (Melissa McBride) goes to visit Ezekiel who is busy burning his dinner. Carol says that Jerry told her that he’d had a check up and asks if anything came up… He tells her that Tomi has scheduled him for surgery. Carol does a terrible job of looking surprised. Ezekiel immediately wants to know what she did – his entire debt was wiped out in order for him to get to the top of the list. Carol admits that Hornsby owed her a favor. Ezekiel insists it was cheating. Carol tells him the lines are a lie. Ezekiel doesn’t want to jump over all the other people who are suffering. Carol asks if he’s just supposed to die because the system is broken? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? She tells him “lesser men have been given more and done nothing with it” – and she’s right. It’s why none of us want to see Ezekiel die. He is “not a lesser man.”

Pamela and Maggie take a break and discuss leadership styles. Maggie insists that she leads the way she was taught by Deanna and Georgie. She insists that the communities that they built are fair. Pamela insists the Commonwealth is too. Maggie points out that Pamela lives in a nicer house and drives a nicer car than everyone else. Pamela says that she has more responsibilities than the average worker – and it’s clear that the average worker means nothing to her. She’s supposed to be an inspiration. Maggie says she wants people to look up to what she’s done and what she does – not what she has. The two pause their conversation to take out the two walkers approaching them – and it’s a beautiful metaphor for their conversation. Maggie uses silent skill to throw a knife into her walker’s head. Pamela explodes her walker’s head off with a noisy shotgun blast. The two share a glance of mutual respect. They both know what the other is about. 

Eugene sits by the river and is joined by Rosita (Christian Serratos). I loved that there is someone there painting him into her picture. Neither regrets having come to the Commonwealth, but neither is really happy about it either. Rosita says it’s safe and they get to be together, so it works for now, but she didn’t envision herself as a cop. But she’s good at. Eugene tells her she’s good at everything she does. She admits that she misses the freedom they used to have. Once Alexandria’s walls are fixed, people will have choices again, and that’s a good thing. Eugene points out that she’s excited about the future – and she admits she is. She also knows something is bothering him – not like he’s a closed book after all! Eugene could win a pouting contest! LOL!

Eugene tells her that he was thinking about when they first met and how he lied to her about everything. She tells him it all worked out – so tell her what’s really going on. Eugene tells her about “Stephanie” – but he just tells her that she broke up with him and that she wasn’t who he thought she was. Rosita assures him that he deserves better and that he’ll find his person. 

Maggie gets back to Hilltop and is met by Dianne, Lydia and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari). Dianne tells her they’ve been true to their word. The troopers who came back with them are fixing the water tower. Elijah happily takes the two little pheasants off as it’s better than they’ve had in weeks. Hilltop is clearly really struggling.   


      Lydia says she hopes it means that they can really get some sleep. She runs off to give Daryl a hug. She tells him that they’re doing their best to get along but maybe some things just can’t be fixed. She asks him when you know it’s time to walk away. He asks if that’s what she wants to do… but we don’t get her answer as she’s interrupted by Hornsby who asks Maggie if they can pass out some supplies. Maggie grudgingly says yes – and thank you. 

Daryl gets pulled away to help, and we see Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller) is wearing Mercer’s helmet. Mercer comments to Daryl that it must be hard to be a kid out there. Daryl tells him that he grew up on the road, and he’s a different kind of kid. Mercer asks if Maggie likes torturing herself out there. Daryl tells him the place used to be different – special. He says it may have it rough times, but it will be back up and running. Mercer says not all places can be as lucky as Alexandria – and Daryl points out that not all places are as lucky as Commonwealth – there’s that luck them again. Mercer asks Daryl if he's coming around. Daryl won’t go that far, but he concedes that the Commonwealth has done good stuff for them – is his military service also helping to pay that debt? Mercer tells him not to get too comfortable. The only reason he’s out of his armor is because someone (Hornsby?) thought it would be good for appearances. And it was VERY good to see Daryl’s angel vest again…

Carol and Jerry are at the hospital with Ezekiel to see him go into his surgery. They promise him pizza and ice cream, and he’s clearly already a bit doped up as he warns Jerry – no pineapple! Theo arrives and tells him he’s getting nothing but jello for a while and takes him off to surgery. 

Hornsby is playing with a lucky coin his father gave him as he comes up to talk to Maggie. She tells him that she had a lucky rabbit’s foot once – the dog brought it home with the rabbit still attached. (This could also be a shout out to Cohen’s time on Supernatural when she played Bella – one story involved a cursed rabbit’s foot and her ultimate demise was being dragged to Hell by hellhounds…) Here we are with luck again – and who gets it easily, via their parents (let’s not forget that Pamela inherited her political clout from her family – she’s already said that she wasn’t even interested in politics when she knew Deanna) and who gets it by violence – Maggie. Hornsby thought his coin was solid gold when his dad gave it to him – but found out it was only gold plated… rather like Hornsby.

Hornsby asks Maggie if she’s decided, and she asks what he gets out of all of it. Hornsby tells her that it’s obvious that she’s in over her head. She tells him he doesn’t know her very well. But he knows he’s pissed her off when he tells her she knows a good deal when she sees one. She presses him to answer her question. Hornsby tells her that she can have so much more – wouldn’t it be great to drop Hershel off at a concert. Take Hershel to a doctor at Alexandria. Take a boat up the coast to a university… for Hershel. He tells her to imagine the world she wants to build – and as he says it the camera focuses on the gilded coin in his hand – it’s all smoke and illusion. After all, he’s drawing castles in the air, using Hershel, rather than answering her question. He tells her to think what she could accomplish with 50,000 Commonwealth workers, working for her. 

Once again, they are interrupted by walkers who have broken through the barriers. Maggie, Dianne, Lydia and Elijah arrive first, followed by Mercer. Mercer’s troops show up on the other side and at his command fire, shooting all the walkers – and miraculously not shooting any of the people on the other side of them… UGH!! Who blocked this scene?!?!?!?!

As they walk back to Hilltop, Dianne says ‘imagine not having to deal with this.’ Dianne urges Maggie to look around – they need this. Maggie sees Mercer line up all the troops – including telling Daryl to fall in – and then goes up to him to remind him that they are always watching. Maggie also sees Pamela and Hornsby giving orders to other troopers. She immediately sees the class system in place.

Hornsby and Pamela join her. Hornsby asks if everyone is ok, and Maggie says yes. And that Hilltop is passing on their offer. Pamela asks why, and Maggie tells her, it’s like she said: Everything costs something. Maggie isn’t giving up her freedom – or power. Pamela looks a bit shocked and more angry. Aaron looks disappointed and Hornsby looks worried.

Eugene goes to see Max – and borrows Princess’s trick of showing up with food: ice cream. She finally relents and lets him in. She’s got gadgets and radio parts all over her desk – Eugene can see she’s a tech-nerd like him. He apologizes for his ungentlemanlike behavior – running away and not listening. She tells him he was rude. Eugene says he let Hornsby get inside his head and he’s a snake – she agrees. He tells her that he let an imposter into his home and heart and let her read his manuscript. Max picks up on that immediately. He tells her that he’s writing a novel – and she asks (randomly!!!) if a sepulcher is involved – he says obviously!

Max is incensed that he let “Stephanie” read it, but even more angry that after all the time they spent together, talking, he didn’t know she wasn’t her! Eugene says he doesn’t know, but he tells her that he figured out a long time ago that he wasn’t like other people. He’d gotten used to rejection – even when he didn’t recognize it. Sadly, part of him wondered if their connection was all in his head. When he got there and she didn’t push him away, he just wanted it to be real so badly. He tells her that he didn’t mean to hurt her – but he also tells her that he doesn’t think that’s an excuse for having done so. He asks her to allow him to try to make it up to her. McDermitt is just outstanding in this scene. We see how truly far Eugene has come. He’s making himself vulnerable, but he’s also really seeing and acknowledging what he’s done. 

Max says she doesn’t know. Eugene looks disappointed and sad but turns to go. She stops him by asking if she can read his novel. He tells her that he was burning the only physical copy when she found him the night before. He tells her that he’s committed most of it to memory. She asks what the concept is – it’s a rollicking whodunnit about a gumshoe – Steph Portman (OMG! It’s almost a portmanteau of their names!!!!) trying to avert nuclear disaster… Max approves of the evil twin storyline. She tells him that he should make the twin a scientist and ramp up the stakes on the nuclear disaster. Eugene looks shocked as he says that’s exactly what he did! The two laugh, and Max says it felt like old times. 

Daryl has a present from Judith for Hershel. Maggie tells Daryl it’s good to see him as the two hug goodbye. He tells her to be careful – and he knows where to find him. Dianne and some of the others leave. Dianne tells Maggie that she should come to, and she tells Dianne that she should be careful who she trusts. Does Dianne have any value to the Commonwealth other than as a soldier – she’s likely to continue her days killing walkers – just in new armor. Dianne says you also have to know when to ask for help. She respects the hell out of Maggie but can’t do it any more. Maggie looks like she may be having some doubts – and Cohen is really good in this episode as we see a little more of the Maggie we used to know than we have for some time.

Pamela is packing as Hornsby joins her. She tells him it’s over. Hornsby insists that they still have Alexandria and with time he can get the other two. Pamela tells him it was a bold move trying for three new communities. After all, they would need someone to run them and she clearly knows that he wanted to be appointed to do it. She tells him that she’s going to believe he was doing it for the good of the Commonwealth and not personal gain. He insists he was doing it for her. She tells him that he’s been ambitious their whole lives. She tells him that if he wants to try to make it work, that’s fine, but if his job at home starts to suffer, there will be consequences. Hornsby clearly knows when he’s been bitch slapped and it’s not hard to see where Sebastian gets his attitude from – Pamela is also clearly a spoiled rich kid.

Hornsby walks off into the forest by himself. He pulls out a gun, and for a moment, I thought he might be going to shoot himself. Instead, he shoots it into the air a few times to attract some walkers, who then dispatches one shot to the forehead at a time. Aaron comes up and asks him if he’s ok. Hornsby tells him A+. Aaron looks concerned, and asks what Pamela said about Alexandria. Hornsby says Pamela is in – and they’re going to bring in even more people: They’re “going to re-make the world.” And Hornsby looks just a tad disturbingly unhinged.

I loved the discussions about luck and leadership in this episode. Let’s hope that Ezekiel continues to be lucky and that Tomi doesn’t have his inevitable breakdown in the middle of his surgery. Loved the scene between Rosita and Eugene, but I’m really looking forward to watching more of him with Max. And is anyone not looking forward to what Mercer has to say about it? I’m looking forward to seeing more of what Mercer really thinks about the Commonwealth. It’s clear that he’s not 100% on board with the hierarchy. We definitely got to see more of what makes Pamela and Hornsby tick. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below – and especially who you think turned in the most brilliant performance! 

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