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The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 21 Recap: Hope Springs Eternal

The following contains spoilers for "The Walking Dead" Season 11, Episode 21 — "Outpost 22"

Hope is a quality that's both merciful to hold and dangerous to cling to in the "Walking Dead" universe. For every untimely fate one of our heroes is saved from, there's another horrifying potential death waiting right around the corner. For every happy family made, there is a union torn apart, sometimes permanently. 

Hope is something that Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) has known little of in her young life. She's lost many of her parental figures and her older brother, Carl (Chandler Riggs). She has, however, experienced positive times, and briefly lived a stable family life in the Commonwealth. Her more tenuous grasp of what hope actually is definitely comes across in her opening monologue. "The only thing I've ever known is the fight," she admits, musing on how much has been done and how much is left to be done. "Together, there's hope. Isn't there?" As she speaks of the notion, we watch Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) love, lose, build a family, and become a leader who knows all too well about the horrors of losing hope. 

After the events of "What's Been Lost," our main characters could use a little hope. During "Outpost 22," some manage to capture it, while others are in danger of losing it.

Maggie goes on a quest to save Hershel

It turns out that whatever drugs they're using to keep the Commonwealth's enemies down don't work very well on Maggie. Life at Hilltop seems to have prepared her for the very moment that she comes to on a Commonwealth transport truck — she is instantly ready for action. Thanks to a sleeping guard, Maggie manages to uncuff herself and her fellow convoy passengers, Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam) and Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos). Father Gabriel and Rosita make a clean getaway, but Maggie is grabbed from behind by the formerly sleeping soldier. The ensuing battle over his gun results in Maggie accidentally killing the truck's driver, which causes the truck to crash. She appears to be the wreck's only survivor, but is unable to commandeer the vehicle before reinforcements arrive.

Maggie is haunted by the fact that she's been torn apart from Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller) by the Commonwealth soldiers. Her son weighs so heavily on her mind that, when given the opportunity to kill a child walker (Jonathan Bergman), she instead chooses to leave him shambling through the forest. He ends up providing a distraction when a Commonwealth soldier arrives, allowing Maggie to get the drop on him. But the child tries to bite her, forcing her to kill him and increasing her lack of self-worth. It's here that she meets up with Daryl and Carol, who have been tracking the convoy and managed to spot Connie (Lauren Ridloff) being loaded onto a transport. Carol takes the time to comfort Maggie, reminding her that they have formed a family together. "We're not alone anymore. We're gonna make it right," Carol says. Luck and friendship are still on Maggie's side, in spite of the crushing horrors around her.

Rosita and Father Gabriel's spark reignites

Rosita and Father Gabriel awaken with the morning light — and to the walkerized soldier who lost his life attacking Maggie, who is missing an arm but still ready to chew them to death. A little awkward teamwork results in their survival, and the two lovers couldn't be happier to be alive, whole, and together. A current of warmth passes between them, and it's clear they still care about each other; he refuses to leave her alone, and she proceeds to torture herself, even when walkers torture her by dislocating her arm. The show has been dilatory when it comes to focusing on their romance, which had neither flourished nor floundered in the wake of the Whisperers storyline. But one senses that the tenderness between them indicates that they still love and care about each other. Which is a good thing, because soon they find Pamela's steam engine, which leads them to their friends.

Daryl, Carol, Maggie, Rosita, and Father Gabriel all happily converge in the woods and form a convoy together. But before they leave, Daryl interrogates the Commonwealth soldier who fell afoul of Maggie. He tries to get information about Connie's designation out of him and find out where the kids have been taken. The soldier provides what little information he has while worrying about his immortal soul. Father Gabriel recognizes him as a parishioner. 

"Does God forgive people like me?" the soldier asks. But Father Gabriel cannot provide the man with absolution. Giving up his information might be the last good deed that wins him favor in the afterlife. Father Gabriel and the soldier pray together as the man passes away from his gunshot wound.

Team Carol and Daryl manage to become a well-oiled, well-balanced machine. Maybe it's the love and friendship they share that manages to keep them going and drive them forward.

Negan finds himself alone - again

While Team Carol and Daryl are busy fighting to survive the woods, Negan Smith (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), his wife Annie (Medina Senghore), Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Kelly (Angel Theory), and a truckful of other former Commonwealth survivors awaken, frightened and with aching necks from the sedatives they've been injected with. A guard informs them that the group will be split up, with some moved to another location and the rest working on the train tracks until they can be cleared. "The world works when everyone knows their place — your place is at the bottom," they're told. The guard separates Annie and Negan, who vows he will work to free them both. 

It's hard to ignore the obvious parallel between the show's fictionalized work camp — with its brutal conditions and depravations, which even strip the prisoners of their names — and real-life forced labor camps both past and present. Negan has worked so hard to get over the death of Lucille and make a new family for himself, so this sudden separation is anything but conducive to his mental well-being. His main concern is Annie and his unborn child. Ezekiel, meanwhile, busies himself taking care of Kelly and keeping her from doing risky things like following a group of (quickly executed) escapees on their work detail. Ezekiel is in full dad mode, and his concern for Kelly is tender to behold. 

But his fierce anger has not been forgotten, so when Negan approaches him and says they need to put aside their old grudges to work together, Ezekiel is less than obliging. But they know the only way out is to team up. Ezekiel says a revolutionary spark is necessary for such action, and Negan promises to help wake up their fellow prisoners to the possibility of freedom.

Carol and Daryl Seize a train - and ready for an Alexandria return

Team Carol and Daryl decide that the best way to seize the means of production is by taking the caboose with Connie in it — by force. They clear the body of the train but find themselves in a firefight with several Commonwealth soldiers. They kill all of the men and women in the field except for one, who holds Connie hostage temporarily to ensure his semi-secure getaway via motorbike. That is until Daryl runs the guy down like Mad Max and executes him right on the spot.

The train's conductor they try to hold for information, but he's petrified they'll kill and torture his family, hinting that Pamela has dark, dark things planned for the Alexandria gang's kids. He commits a quick suicide. The gang decides to use the scant information they have to pretend to be a Commonwealth soldier and use the repaired long-wave radio to call for support. With this ruse, they manage to trick information out of the dispatcher on the other end (voiced by Yvette Nicole Brown). They are shocked when the dispatcher gives them directions to Outpost 22, which she notes was formerly a settlement known as Alexandria.

That's enough for Maggie, who declares that Pamela has been underestimating them for ages now. "We are gonna get our kids, take back our home, and make it right," she declares. Anyone who's been watching "The Walking Dead" knows that those are not idle words.

When does The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 22 air?

Ready to find out how things will start winding down? Episode 22 of Season 11 — "Faith" — will hit the airwaves on November 6 at 9 p.m. on AMC. And of course, AMC+ subscribers will be given the gift of early viewership: "Faith" will hit the streamer the Sunday before it airs on the carrier, on October 30.

They say you can't go home again, but man is that ever true for the Alexandrians, who find themselves going back to their former settlement to be "reprocessed" by the Commonwealth. What sort of tortures are waiting for the children of its former settlers, and what might Negan and the others be subjected to as they try to plot a way out? Can revolution be sparked, or will Ezekiel meet the same fate as his comic book counterpart? Will Daryl and the others succeed in breaking them out? They definitely require a little more faith — as do Eugene and the others still at the Commonwealth — to survive what's ahead of them.