The Walking Dead season 11 has arrived at last after a lengthy pandemic delay. The supersized “final” season of the show will end the main show, but we already know that The Walking Dead as a brand will live on through spin-offs, movies and other projects.
This does, however, mark the beginning of the end for its adaptation of the actual source material, Robert Kirkman’s story. Season 11 will focus on the Commonwealth storyline that closes out the comics. The problem? The Walking Dead has to do it without any of the main players from the comic version.
The main thrust of the Commonwealth storyline in the comics is Rick Grimes trying to balance on a tightrope that involved interacting with the leader of the class-based community, while two friends pull him in opposite directions. Michonne, previously a lawyer in her old life, finds herself treated fabulously and also able to reunite with her sibling. Dwight, meanwhile, is not a fan of this society set-up which goes back to the “old way” of class oppression.
In the comics (comic spoilers, that may not happen in the show), Rick is forced to kill his longtime friend Dwight when it looks like he’s going to assassinate the Commonwealth’s leader. Later, when Rick himself is deemed a threat, he’s killed by the leader’s son, and the comic ends soon after with a flash-forward featuring a grown-up Carl Grimes.
Almost none of this foretells what’s going to happen with the show, because all these characters are either dead or gone. Rick has been abducted by the non-comic group CRM, and is waiting to debut feature films about his adventures. Michonne has left the show to go look for him. Dwight is on Fear the Walking Dead now and it is abundantly clear he is not returning for this season. Carl Grimes is dead, possibly the dumbest decision the show has made in its history.
So, what happens now?
We have one clear 1:1 replacement. Yumiko has taken on Michonne’s role. She’s an Oxford-educated lawyer and her brother is supposed to be living in the Commonwealth. But as for everyone else? We have no idea.
It stands to reason that Daryl may be forced to be the new Rick, although that’s a bit hard to see given that Daryl would rather live in the woods than interact with some politician in a giant city community. Rather, it seems like he would fit more properly into the Dwight role in this situation, minus the fact that Dwight was killed, given that we know both Daryl and Carol will survive this season so they can have their own spin-off show. I could also see Ezekiel given the Dwight role, given that he’s still alive when he’s not supposed to be, and a “lower class” citizen as a former zookeeper. I could also see Magna and Yumiko sparring, divided by the new class rules (I don’t actually know where Magna is, she’s not in the premiere at all).
So could Carol be the new Rick? Could Maggie? I could see either of them sparring with Daryl in the Dwight role. As for Carl, that is likely either going to be Judith Grimes or Lydia, but my money would be on Judith. That said, I sort of doubt The Walking Dead will end as conclusively as the comics with this decades-later flash-forward with an aged-up Carl, given that it wants to continue the universe long past the main show ending. But we’ll see.
Anyway, I have seen the first two episodes of the season and they’re pretty good. But I do like the non-Commonwealth stuff more than the Commonwealth stuff, and we’ll see how it develops in time.