This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11 Part 1
Befitting any scripted drama that’s lasted 11 years filming in hot Georgia summers, The Walking Dead’s final season is a grand affair.
AMC handed its flagship zombie drama a 24-episode order for its 11th and final season back in 2020. The only catch is that those 24 episodes will come in three 8-episode installments. That’s led to a somewhat difficult situation for the show’s marketing department, which now has to hype up the end of The Walking Dead no fewer than three times…and that’s not even counting the spinoffs.
The second batch of The Walking Dead’s final 24 episodes is set to begin soon. The Walking Dead season 11 episode 9 will premiere Sunday, Feb. 20 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. That episode, and all future episodes, will be available to stream one week prior on AMC+. Given that The Walking Dead is technically picking right back up again midseason, nearly half a year after the “season 11 part 1″ finale, you might not even remember what even happened in those first eight episodes.
Well, that’s where we come in! Compiled below is a helpful refresher on The Walking Dead season 11 part 1. Give it a skim to get better prepared for whatever season 11 part 2 has in store for Daryl and the gang.
The theme of season 11 part 1 for Alexandria can be safely boiled down to “hunger.” The main home of most of The Walking Dead’s characters since season 5 is in pretty rough shape following its war against The Whisperers. The food stores have been depleted, infrastructure has been destroyed, and morale has never been lower.
It’s the desperate search for food that actually sets most of the season 11 plot in motion as it sends Maggie, Daryl, Negan, and several other characters down into a dangerous subway tunnel in the two-part season premiere. That subway journey sets off a series of events that brings Maggie and company into conflict with her group’s old foe, The Reapers. As for the rest of the Alexandrians – they spend most of the season at home trying to rebuild…until the season 11 part 1 finale that is.
Episode 8 “For Blood” finds Aaron, Rosita, Carol, Lydia, Jerry, and the rest of the Alexandria homebodies contending with a massive storm that threatens to finally wipe the community off the map. The season ends with a safe house in Alexandria compromised by rainwater, a collapsed exterior wall, and many walkers and with young Judith Grimes and Aaron’s daughter Gracie stuck in a quickly-flooding basement.
Also of note, is that the Alexandria crew does get reunited with the missing Connie and Virgil in episode 6 “On the Inside”. That means the population of Alexandria going into episode 9 currently consists of: Carol, Aaron, Rosita, Jerry, Lydia, Magna, Connie, Kelly, Virgil, R.J. Grimes, Judith, Gracie, and many other unnamed minor characters.
The Reapers and Meridian
The Reapers make up the main antagonistic force of The Walking Dead season 11 part 1. First introduced in season 10’s “extra” episodes, this group is full of former paramilitary experts with a competency for combat. The “family” is led by a man named Pope who has instilled a religious fervor within the Reapers.
The tunnel team led by Maggie comes into contact with the Reapers at the end of the season’s second episode and spends the rest of season 11 part 1 first running from, and then confronting them. Daryl, meanwhile, gets sucked into the Reapers’ world due to the involvement of his old lady friend Leah (Lynn Collins). He spends much of the season trying to survive on the inside as a double agent.
The Reaper plotline comes to a head in the finale when Maggie, Negan, Gabriel, and Elijah form a plan to invade the The Reapers’ home, Meridian, and steal their food. Maggie’s group uses Whisperer tactics, donning dead face masks and blending into a herd. This strategy proves ineffective though due to the Reapers’ having set up landmines. Meanwhile, Daryl can keep up his ruse no longer and moves to kill Pope. Leah, however, slits Pope’s throat first. She’s not ready to join Daryl’s side though – she’s just disgusted with the reckless way Pope has chosen to lead his people.
Leah then reports over the radio that Daryl killed Pope and orders the use of a firework-stocked hwacha at the herd of walkers below. The season ends with Maggie and Negan directly in the path of the incoming missiles.
The majority of The Walking Dead season 11 part 2 is likely to focus heavily on the new massive community The Commonwealth. This post-apocalyptic city-state that’s home to thousands of people was introduced quite a while ago on The Walking Dead. Eugene Porter made first contact with the West Virginia city via radio in season 9. In season 10, he led a group of Ezekiel, Yumiko, and late addition Juanita “Princess” Sanchez to find it.
After Eugene and friends reach The Commonwealth at the end of season 10, they spend the entirety of their season 11 part 1 arc getting acclimated to the place. The Commonwealth is a big, bureaucratic beast that wants to recreate the world the way it was before. That’s good news for people like Yumiko, who was a lawyer in her former life, but not necessarily ideal for former high school teachers like Eugene.
In any case, Eugene’s group doesn’t get into too much trouble at The Commonwealth until episode 5 when Eugene and Stephanie try to contact Alexandria via radio. That leads to zombie-clearing work detail as punishment. Then, in episode 7, Eugene gets in some real trouble by punching Governor Pamela Milton’s son, Sebastian, for being a little shit. To get out of a lengthy jail sentence, Eugene reluctantly gives up the location of Alexandria to Lance Hornsby so that The Commonwealth can make first contact.
The meeting of those two communities – one crumbling and one thriving – will become a major inflection point in The Walking Dead season 11 part 2.
The Walking Dead season 11 episode 9 will air Sunday, Feb. 20 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.