The Walking Dead – A New Deal Review

The Walking Dead “A New Deal” was directed by Jeffrey F January with a story by Corey Reed and the teleplay written by the team of Corey Reed and Kevin Deiboldt. We finally catch up with some of the other characters, and we start to really see the beginning of the end – and Sebastian (Teo Rapp-Olsson) finally gets what he deserves! And a shout out to Rapp-Olsson for making the character such a thoroughly unlikeable prat!

The episode begins with another voice over from Judith (Cailey Fleming). We get another montage of those we’ve lost – who are kept alive in our memory.

The episode picks up where we left off, with Daryl (Norman Reedus) holding a knife to Hornsby’s (Josh Hamilton) throat with a fistful of his hair – and Hornsby smiling weirdly. We quickly find out that he’s smiling because those troopers aren’t Hornsby’s – and he thinks he’s being saved by Mercer (Michael James Shaw) and Pamela (Laila Robins). I love Mercer’s entrance as he just takes control, and whips off the head of the walker they’d tied up as bait. Daryl is reluctant to let Hornsby go. Mercer tells Daryl to let him go after Pamela says she needs Hornsby alive. But I doubt he would have let him go if Carol (Melissa McBride) hadn’t been there. He asks her what she’s done – and she tells him, she’s made a deal for them – the “New Deal” of the title. Daryl drives his knife through Hornsby’s hand before letting him go, telling Pamela ‘he’ll live’ as he stalks past her.

Back at the Commonwealth, Carol outlines the deal for Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Annie (Medina Senghore), Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Aaron (Ross Marquand), and Daryl. They get supplies and everything they need to rebuild. They get to go home – that simple. But Carol says it’s up to everyone to decide – some may want to stay after all. Pamela gets Hornsby out of the deal. Hornsby will take the fall over April to save Sebastian. Annie and Negan don’t know what they’ll do. Maggie doesn’t trust them, but she doesn’t want to be alone anymore. She thinks it’s worth the risk if they get their homes back – and even Daryl is ok with it.

Hornsby taunts both Mercer and Pamela. He tells Mercer that the soldiers were never Mercer’s men. Pamela tells him that he’s made a mess of things and his life at the Commonwealth is over. Hornsby insists that he’s made something of himself. She tells him that he’s an angry disappointed little boy, and he’s too foolish to realize that he’s never actually been a player in the game. Hornsby insists that she still needs him. If anything happens to him, a bunch of alliances are going to crumble – he insists that he’s very much a player.

Back at the Commonwealth, Pamela tells a crowd that she’s going to make sure that Hornsby pays for what he did. Tomorrow is Founder’s Day and she’s planning a big celebration. Even Max (Margot Bingham) has to concede that Pamela played it perfectly. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) tells her that there’s more they can do. She tells him that it’s not his problem anymore – his people are leaving. He adorably takes her hand as he points out that he’s still there. He then asks if she’d ever considered a change of scenery – he could show her his home. She’s says maybe some day – but not just yet.

Meanwhile, Aaron is going with Jerry (Cooper Andrews) Lydia (Cassady McClincy) and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) to check on Oceanside – finally! Carol checks in with Lydia – and we see the adorable budding romance between Elijah and Lydia. Carol teases her, and Lydia apologizes. She still remembers Henry. Carol tells Lydia to take happiness wherever she can find it – and never apologize. We also get a sweet moment between Lydia and Daryl – he thanks her for saving Carol and she says she never thanked him for saving her. Lydia says they don’t have to say it – they just do it.

Daryl has gathered up all the weapons that they had to turn over and tries to give Rick’s gun to Judith. She tells him that she doesn’t want it. It’s another stunning performance by this young actor. Judith tells Daryl that her Mom (Michonne) talked about the day she’d hang up her sword for good. That she’d have to feel that they were completely safe and she didn’t need it anymore. Judith is a realist. She knows things can never be the way they once were, but they should be better. Daryl tells her that they will be, once they get home. But Judith asks how? Things are still broken, and shouldn’t they stay and help the people of the Commonwealth?

She asks if that isn’t what Daryl, Rick and Michonne did at Alexandria and Hilltop? She tells him it’s no different – the only difference is that he’d rather run away than stay and fight. Daryl finally tells her to stop. Gracie (Anabelle Holloway) isn’t happy to say goodbye to Aaron again, and Judith hugs her as they drive away.

On Founder’s Day, Ezekiel (Khary Payton) is setting up his petting zoo, and Carol tells him that he doesn’t have to do it anymore – he could get someone else to do it. Carol realizes that Ezekiel has decided to stay. She tells him there’ll be plenty of medicine, but it’s not that. Ezekiel left because he was looking for a purpose, and he’s found it – helping the people of another kingdom before it all falls down.

In Pamela’s office, she listens to a taped recording of one of her father’s speeches with Sebastian and Max. Sebastian, as always, has no respect for the past. Pamela has prepared a speech for him to deliver. He doesn’t think he needs to – he’s a Milton and therefore he will become leader regardless. Pamela tells him that he has to show the people that he is Milton’s grandson – and show her. She tells him that Politics was not her first choice either. Max rolls her eyes and leaves the room as Pamela tells Sebastian that he was born to lead the Commonwealth.

Negan and Annie get an ultrasound. She has a mild issue with her amniotic fluid, but she’s going to be fine. Annie insists that staying there isn’t an option. There are people counting on them, looking to them to lead. Negan tells her that he can just hear his father – ‘your life isn’t your own once you have kids.’ Annie can’t get past all of their people that were killed by the Commonwealth. They don’t need them because it’s “us” now…

Daryl is packing up the apartment and puts his iconic vest back on. RJ (Antony Azor) is reading and Invincible comic – a nice little easter egg and shout out to Robert Kirkman who created it as well as The Walking Dead. Azor has really come along as an actor, and I loved this scene between him and Daryl. He tells Daryl he can’t tell him where Judith is, but she’s not coming.

Daryl turns to help from Carol to find Judith. He tells her that he’s not very good at “this parenting thing.” Carol tells him that it’s weird suddenly being a parent. She had no idea what she was doing when Sophia was born – she just knew that she loved her. She has faith that Daryl will figure it out.

Eugene helps Max, and I loved the irony as she tells him that she’s worked in Pamela’s office for years. She knew what was going on and that Sebastian was bad news – and she just let it happen. She tells Eugene that he just doesn’t understand that kind of guilt! LOL! I loved McDermitt’s expression, as Eugene tells her that she’d be surprised… oh yeah. He gets it! Max insists that she has to try for something better – but he doesn’t have to help. Eugene tells her that he just wants them to be safe. He doesn’t trust Hornsby, but he’ll go along with it, if she really thinks it will help.

Eugene goes to Hornsby and gives him a candy apple. Eugene beats around the bush, and Hornsby tells him to just ask for what he wants. Eugene asks if Hornsby has any dirt on Pamela or Sebastian. Hornsby says that Pamela is likely the only reason he’s still alive. Eugene is better off making peace with Pamela – unless he and Max are willing to burn the whole thing down.

Gabriel is practicing his sermon when Rosita (Christian Serratos) arrives with the baby. He tells her that he’s practicing his last sermon – and she tells him it won’t be his last. He tells her that he didn’t think he’d ever get back to preaching – the people there gave it back to him. She tells him that he gave the people something too – and it will be there long after he’s gone. They’re interrupted by a noise and find Judith in a back room.

Some janitors are griping about setting everything up and tearing it down again – without getting to enjoy any of Founder’s day. The one talks about his hopes for winning the lottery. And then shockingly Shira (Chelle Ramos) and Roman (Michael Tourek) are there, shooting and killing all of them…

There’s a beautiful shot of Daryl walking down the main aisle of the church with the crucifix in the foreground. Let’s not forget that he’s wearing his angel wings. He finds Judith sitting on the floor. She tells him that she didn’t mean to worry him – and he gets it. She just wanted to be alone. He tells her that he used to have a spot like that – he had a spot by the river where he’d go to wait for his father to go to sleep. Judith doesn’t mind being alone. Daryl points out it gives you time to think. And Judith adds, to figure things out.

Daryl apologizes for earlier, and tells her that he wished things were how she wanted them to be. He tells her that’s the way they should be, but they aren’t and he has to keep her safe. He tells her that he’s going to hold onto the gun until she wants it or not. Either way, he tells her that she’s stuck with him, and asks her if they’re good. Judith says yes, but wants to know if she can say good bye to her friend. Daryl – of course – says of course!

In Pamela’s office, Sebastian continues to practice – and pout loudly about his speech. Pamela hands Max the tape recorder for later and goes home to change. Max pours Sebastian a drink and asks him if he’s going to do it. Sebastian tells her that he doesn’t have a choice. Pamela really wants his brother – but he’s not there. Sebastian accuses Max of being Pamela’s lackey, but she tells him that she’s not only Pamela’s assistant, she’s also a citizen – and maybe the way to go with his speech is the “truth.” People respect that sort of thing. Sebastian denies it – the Commonwealth is built on buying into bullshit – the desperate belief that the American Dream – anything is possible – is still alive. The reality it that the poor stay poor so the rich can stay rich. Nothing is going to change. Sebastian tells us that Pamela even handpicks the lottery winners! Max says that sounded like he believed it. She says maybe he just chooses to be a spoiled asshole! She picks up her tape recorder from the sideboard – (where it’s been taping all of Sebastian’s tirade!) – and leaves.

At the Main Event for Founder’s Day, Eugene is running the sound system and Max drops off the tape recorder. Daryl has brought Judith to say goodbye to her friend. They’ve clearly made it up, and Carol tells him good job.

The Main Event at Founder’s day is apparently some WWE-style wrestling. Of course it is. The most faked “sporting” event on the planet. It’s perfect. And of course Captain Commonwealth (Nick J McNeil) wins! Pamela and Sebastian take to the ring after the match. Pamela introduces Sebastian to the crowd – to some pretty anemic applause. Sebastian falters as he starts to give his speech – and Pamela looks nervous, but then Sebastian actually sounds humble as he changes the speech. Max isn’t buying it, however, and when Sebastian cues the old speech, Eugene plays Max’s tape. Sebastian quickly realizes what’s happened, and calls Max a bitch and takes off after her. The crowd starts throwing bottles at the ring and Pamela. Mercer narrowly prevents a trooper from firing into the crowd. Sebastian pursues Max through the crowd.

In his cell, Hornsby looks at his blood-red candy apple. Shira and Roman show up outside his window and give him the all clear sign. He picks up his apple and starts to eat it. Can we hope Eugene poisoned it?

Back in the square, the janitor walkers are there. Mercer calls for back up – the undead are inside the walls. Mercer goes to protect the city – and Pamela reminds him he is supposed to protect her…

Daryl and Judith are separated in the crowd. Judith watches, seemingly horror-struck as a walker comes toward her. And then Daryl shoots him in the head. He suggests that they go, and Judith insists that he give her the gun. He does and tells her they’ll do it together.

Sebastian catches up with Max and grabs her, telling her that she’s nothing. He essentially hands her to a walker, but before it can bite her, Eugene tackles it… right into Sebastian! Eugene spirits Max away, and the crowd watches as Sebastian cries for help and then the walker rips out his throat. Judith arrives and shoots the walker in the head – as her friend Mei (Chiara Misawa) looks on in horror. Daryl looks at Sebastian’s body – and there’s almost a smile on his face….

It’s interesting to see who is eager to leave the Commonwealth, who is torn about it, but how many want to stay and help. It’s clear that Pamela isn’t as in charge as she thought and that Hornsby is still a danger to everyone. Can we hope that Eugene poisoned that apple? Knowing as we do that there are two spinoffs coming – one which finds Daryl alone in France and one about Michonne and Rick, I found Daryl’s comment about Judith being stuck with him a bit heartbreaking. Is anyone surprised that Daryl is an excellent parent? But where is Dog??? What will the others find waiting for them at Oceanside – Hornsby was just there after all… This was another really good episode, I thought. Some great actual walker action at the end, but some really lovely moments between characters too. And it’s always nice when a villain finally gets their just desserts….. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Stevie Flavio
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