This episode of The Walking Dead checks back up on Alexandria and Co. with the overall themes of temporary homes, the cost of getting help, and what it means to be, as the title says, “the lucky ones.”
The main story follows a field trip to Alexandria, Oceanside, and Hilltop as Lance (Josh Hamilton, 13 Reasons Why) wants to convince Pamela Milton (Laila Robins, The Boys) that these three communities are worth working with and helping. With Daryl (Norman Reedus, The Boondock Saints) and Mercer (Michael James Shaw, Avengers: Endgame) in tow, they rendezvous with Aaron (Ross Marquand, Invincible) in Alexandria to start their presentation.
During this time, there’s a great exchange between Daryl and Mercer when the latter questions if Daryl was in charge of the community back when he lived here. He then goes on to ask what Daryl did before the fall, and Daryl tells him that it doesn’t matter to them, which is a direct contrast to the Commonwealth whose initial questions to incoming residents were what jobs they did back before the fall.
This isn’t the only scene that highlights the inherent differences between the Commonwealth and the smaller communities. It’s even directly addressed by Maggie (Lauren Cohan, The Vampire Diaries) when they eventually meet, which is the main conflict of this storyline.
Despite Aaron’s attempts to make a good first impression, one walker managed to breach the walls which definitely soured Pamela’s perception.
Things only got worse when they offered their partnership to Oceanside—a community Pamela clearly favored—only to be turned down due to Rachel’s (Avianna Mynhier, Panic) loyalty to Maggie. She tells them, however, that they will happily partner with them if Maggie agrees to do the same.
This stresses out both Lance and Aaron, as they both want the support from the Commonwealth for Alexandria to continue, but the only way Lance claims it can is if Oceanside agrees; which means it’s time to convince Maggie.
Meanwhile, back at the Commonwealth, Eugene (Josh McDermitt, The Loudest Voice) learns the truth of “Stephanie” from Max (Margot Bingham, New Amsterdam), Mercer’s sister whose secret identity was stolen by Shira (Chelle Ramos, Outer Banks), as revealed in the last episode. Still reeling from last episode, Eugene ran away from Max, unable to process the truth.
He has a moment with Rosita (Christian Serratos, Selena: The Series) by the lake where she echoes a sentiment that all the other Alexandrians have shown since arriving in the Commonwealth: it’s just temporary. They all miss home and, while grateful to be physically safe from the walkers, struggle with the lack of freedom awarded to them.
Eugene nearly tells Rosita the truth that Stephanie wasn’t real to begin with, but ultimately lies and tells her that she just broke up with him. Rosita tells him that there’s a woman out there for him and to not give up hope.
Understandably, this leads him to visit Max with apology ice cream and a genuine acceptance of the hurt he caused. Despite this objectively great apology, Max was still understandably hurt, and the two have a bittersweet scene where they discuss what happened, oscillating between tense distance and an easy rapport that solidifies Max as the true Stephanie, referencing their past conversations.
Ultimately, the two clearly have a budding relationship, finally connecting after all the heartbreak, and it’ll be very sweet to see how things go from here, especially with all the turmoil and tension building around them.
Speaking of tension, when the Commonwealth crew finally convened with Maggie, it was tense from the very beginning, with Maggie asking how Aaron and Daryl could trust the Commonwealth and Daryl arguing that there’s no reason to say that he actually does.
Also, when Pamela gets Maggie alone to talk, the two have a strange mutual respect and disdain for the other, surprised by her resourcefulness but in fundamentally disagreement with her beliefs; or at least Maggie is, what with her pointing out Pamela’s privilege and how she has a more comfortable lifestyle than the people she claims to be equal with.
Pamela herself states that there’s a natural order to things that she wants to reinstate in the world, which is concerning since the order she refers to is what created the class divide where a waitress’ children will probably never eat a mango while Lance can casually throw away an entire case of perfectly good wine.
The class divide where people like Lance can pull strings that can mean the difference between life and death, which was the case in Ezekiel’s (Khan Payton, Invincible) storyline.
Making good on the agreement Carol (Melissa McBride, The Reconstruction of William Zero) had made with Lance, Ezekiel was moved to the top of the list to surgically remove his tumor. However, when Ezekiel discovers that the switch wasn’t an accident but an intentional abuse of power, he’s disgusted.
A call to Pamela and Maggie’s conversation on luck having everything to do with opportunity, he points out that there are hundreds of other people in the hospital that are waiting for surgery just like him, and it’s not fair that he should get to cut the line because someone pulled strings.
Carol, however, argues that a broken system shouldn’t mean that Ezekiel deserves to die, and that he has an opportunity typically wasted on people who do nothing to deserve it or give back to society in any way afterwards; the ends justify the means.
Not only does this call to the theme of privilege and opportunity being the key to what those in power refer to as “luck” in order to hide a broken system, but also the idea that “everything costs something.”
This idea was brought up by Pamela and restated by Maggie when she declines their offer of a partnership. It’s a complicated choice, as it’s obvious and understandable why everyone wants to accept the help offered.
Diane (Kerry Cahill, Free State of Jones) points out that while Maggie has a point about considering who they trust, they also need to consider when it’s time to ask for help. The Commonwealth genuinely helped Alexandria and during the time they were with Hilltop they gave them supplies, helped them hunt food, and took down a surge of walkers threatening to overwhelm the camp.
But it made sense that Maggie was wary; after all, the reason they were being so nice and accommodating was to convince her to accept the offer. It begs the question of how they would act when they weren’t trying to win her over.
Also seeing that the people who would be aiding them in fighting against walkers are so heavily militaristic definitely didn’t do the Commonwealth any favors.
In the end, Diane and some other members of Hilltop left and Lance was granted permission to continue helping Alexandria so long as he maintained his work for the Commonwealth, which means things are definitely taking a turn for the worse.
That being said, there were still sweet highlights amongst all the tension, such as Mercer letting Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller) wear his helmet and Tomi (Ian Anthony Doyle, All Rise) looking happy for the first time since being taken away when he was able to tell Ezekiel that he was going to get surgery. But despite these little moments, there’s no denying things are going downhill.
With people splitting up due to ideological differences—as foreshadowed during the midseason premiere—and Lance now in control of Alexandria, it’s only a question of how bad things will get, not if they will.