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"Warlords" is the thirteenth episode of the eleventh season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the one-hundred and sixty-sixth episode of the series overall. It premiered on March 20, 2022. It was written by Jim Barnes & Erik Mountain and directed by Loren Yaconelli.[1]

Plot

Maggie, Lydia, and Elijah help a stranger from another community called Riverbend. They run into Aaron, who tells them about a mission he embarked on with Gabriel as emissaries for the Commonwealth.

Synopsis

Elijah and Marco guard the Hilltop gate. Lydia tells them that she's decided to join the Commonwealth. Elijah remarks that a lot of people have been leaving. A stranger soaked in blood approaches on horseback, then falls off his horse. He gives Lydia a map and says that a slaughter is taking place. He dies.

Maggie studies the stranger's map but says they lack the resources to help whoever sent the stranger. Lydia, Elijah, and Marco decide to head out on their own to help the stranger's group.

Maggie changes her mind and accompanies Lydia and Elijah on their mission while Marco stays behind.

On the road, Lydia asks Maggie why she refused to accept help from the Commonwealth. Maggie says a corporate farm developer once tried to buy out her father's farm, but her father refused their offers even when they were desperate – and they eventually got back on their feet. She says the Commonwealth hasn't been tested in years and that she doesn't want to be there when they're finally tested. They encounter several Commonwealth troopers who've turned. They kill the walkers.

Maggie's group examines the troopers and discovers that they were murdered. Aaron spots them on the road and runs over.

Flashback to one week ago: Aaron visits Gabriel at the Commonwealth church, where he is delivering a sermon. Gabriel urges his parishioners to open up to each other.

Aaron tells Gabriel that the Commonwealth has enlisted him to help with a new immigration initiative. He asks for Gabriel's assistance reaching out to a religious group of settlers holed up in a building complex. A young man named Jesse tells Aaron that their boss, Carlson, is ready – the young man is the rider who will later die at Hilltop's gate. Aaron reassures Gabriel that the settlers have been deemed friendly.

Carlson scopes out the complex through binoculars. Aaron remarks that the building doesn't look as friendly as he'd been told but reassures Gabriel that they'll have Commonwealth troopers with them. Carlson informs them that the troopers are hanging back to avoid spooking the settlers. Gabriel and Aaron refuse to go in, but Carlson says it's not up for discussion.

Aaron announces himself at the building entrance and says they have MREs to offer. A woman steps out and collects their weapons before allowing them inside.

The woman directs Aaron's group to a room down a dark hallway. Inside the room, the leader, Ian, orders them to sit. Aaron describes the Commonwealth and invites Ian's group to join them. Ian shows them a collection of skulls from raiders who came to kill his group. He shoots his gun and orders them to kneel, worried they've come to eat his people. Aaron insists they aren't cannibals and offers to leave if Ian lets them go. Ian agrees, but Carlson grabs his gun and shoots him.

In a flashback to one week ago, Hornsby summons Carlson to his office. Hornsby explains that a convoy full of guns and cargo was en route to the three communities when it was hijacked by a religious group. Hornsby orders Carlson to lead a surgical operation to retrieve the goods. Carlson tells Hornsby that he's no longer an assassin, but Hornsby threatens to upend Carlson's life if he refuses. He suggests Carlson take Gabriel and Aaron.

In the present day, Carlson interrogates Ian and demands to know where the guns and cargo are located. Ian says he has no idea what Carlson is talking about. Carlson beats him up. Gabriel punches Carlson, prompting troopers to handcuff him. Carlson shoots Ian dead then runs outside when he hears Jesse flee on horseback. A trooper shoots Jesse, but Aaron smashes him in the face before he can shoot again. Back inside, Carlson discovers that Gabriel has escaped and his guard is dead.

After Aaron recounts his story to Maggie's group, Maggie wonders why the Commonwealth had so many guns. She looks at Jesse's blood-soaked map to find a route to the Commonwealth. Aaron asks where she got the map. Maggie says it's the map that Aaron gave to Jesse, but Aaron says he never gave Jesse a map.

In a flashback to twelve hours ago, Jesse flees the complex to unhitch his horse. Negan emerges from the woods with a comrade named Annie and realizes Aaron and Gabriel are at the complex. Negan gives Jesse a map to Hilltop and asks him to tell Maggie that Gabriel and Aaron are in trouble. Jesse gets on his horse.

Negan and Annie sneak into the building and overhear Carlson talking to Aaron. When Carlson runs outside, Annie kills Gabriel's guard as Negan cuts Gabriel's bonds. They flee. Carlson finds the dead guard.

Carlson tells the residents of the complex that they are enemies of the Commonwealth because they stole from his community. Negan, Gabriel, and Annie hide in a room with others from the complex. Annie tells Gabriel she doesn't know anything about stolen weapons.

Carlson interrogates two hostages on the building roof and pushes them off the edge after they insist they know nothing about the stolen goods. One by one, he shoves more hostages off the roof. Negan's group hears the screams of victims plummeting to their death. Carlson orders his troopers to kill anyone in the building who won't talk.

Annie tells her group to stick together and reminds them that they know the building better than the troopers do.

A Commonwealth trooper lies dead in a hallway at the complex. Carlson tries to reach him via walkie. Maggie turns off the walkie and hides the body with help from Aaron, Lydia, and Elijah. They sneak up a stairwell.

Other Cast

Co-Stars

Uncredited


Deaths

Trivia

  • First appearance of Toby Carlson.
  • First appearance of Crowe.
  • First appearance of Annie Smith.
  • First (and last) appearance of Jesse.
  • First (and last) appearance of Hodges.
  • First (and last) appearance of Hart.
  • First (and last) appearance of Billy Johnson. (Corpse)
  • First (and last) appearance of Ian.
  • The title of the episode, "Warlords", refers to Toby calling Ian a "warlord" throughout the episode, as well as Toby himself acting as one.
  • This episode was made available for streaming to subscribers of AMC Premiere on March 13, 2022.
  • This episode marks Cassady McClincy's 25th appearance on the TV Series.
  • The original plot summary for the episode was as follows: Months have passed and many of our heroes have settled into the concept and routine of the Commonwealth, rediscovering who they were prior to the apocalypse and envisioning who they want to be now. But life at Hilltop during this time has been stark in comparison. As food becomes harder to find and the daily grind continues to wear on them, some question if the Commonwealth might be the better option. Then one cryptic message starts a deadly chain of events into motion.[1]
  • Aaron mentions that the rebuilding of Alexandria is continuing with the Commonwealth pouring even more resources into the effort.
  • Gabriel has regained his faith in God since joining the Commonwealth.
  • This episode marks the first time that a Commonwealth resident dies on-screen as well as a Commonwealth soldier.
  • This episode marks the return of Negan, who left to be on his own in "No Other Way".

Comic Parallels

TBA

Episode Highlights

TBA

References

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