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The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 23 Recap: Devotion And Decimation

Contains spoilers for "The Walking Dead" Season 11, Episode 23

If "The Walking Dead" is about anything, it's about found family. Multiple characters have lost their biological connections over time, to walkers, to other humans, or to the caprice of luck. But they've managed to form new ones — romantic, emotional, parental, or otherwise — as time has gone on.

At the opening of Season 11, Episode 23, "Family," Judith (Cailey Fleming) tells us all about the cost of freedom, and of a new beginning, as we see a montage of our surviving characters in battle against walkers. "We're fighting now for something else, something bigger, a new beginning. But that comes with a cost. There's always a cost," she declares. And for Judith, that's about to become quite a true statement. For the first time in weeks, we actually get to see her in the flesh, and she seems to be packing up for the trip out of Alexandria.

After last week's episode, which was filled with twists and placed a lot of our favorite characters in jeopardy, it's hard to fathom how much more dire things could get. But leave it to "The Walking Dead" to shock its audience, even in its final stretch. Absolutely none of these characters are safe, and this episode definitely proves that notion. Here's the skinny on all the tragic, exciting, and even romantic developments that went down during "Family."

RIP Judith Grimes?

Much of Season 11 of "The Walking Dead" has featured Judith's ruminations about what's important in life. As the episode opens, it's clear that she's decided her father's ideals are what matter — we even notice that she's carrying the Multi-Community Charter of Rights and Freedoms on her. She declares she wants to be part of the upcoming Commonwealth raid, and Daryl (Norman Reedus), impressed with her forward-thinking mindset, allows it. In spite of her maturity, he'll soon come to regret that, for Judith is a Grimes, and thus prone to doing the right thing.

The Alexandrians climb aboard the steam train, planning to infiltrate the Commonwealth and assassinate Pamela Milton (Laila Robins). Their plot runs into one snag: She's been spying on Mercer (Michael James Shaw), whose allegiance is discovered. The gang is ambushed, and they end up in a firefight with a group of armed combatants loyal to Pamela.

In the end, it all comes down to Judith — and her sacrifice. Pamela grabs a machine gun out of a dying combatant's hand and tries to finish them off herself. Judith spies Pamela taking aim at Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and shoves her out of the way, the bullet meant for her lodging in her chest. Pamela is horrified by her own actions but immediately blames them all for what she's done. As the episode ends, we don't know if she's added "murdering a child" to her list of evil deeds, with Judith alive but dying in Daryl's arms, but Judith's actions have definitely helped prove that what her family believed in is real — friendship and devotion have won out.

Eugene tries to hide out and Mercer tries to blend in

Mercer, who has definitively chosen to stand with the rebels, gets Eugene (Josh McDermitt) to the safe house where Max (Margot Bingham) and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) are hiding. He urges them to lie low while he tries to recruit enough soldiers in the Commonwealth Army to rise up against Pamela, but she definitely suspects that something is rotten and has him tailed. Eventually, Eugene's hiding place is discovered, forcing him to knock out a Commonwealth soldier in self-defense. He is later seen helping liberate the Alexandrians from the train station.

While Eugene might still be conflicted, Mercer definitely has no quandaries about where he stands morally. As he's questioning Yumiko, he hears from Princess (Paola Lázaro) via shortwave radio. She informs him of the coming rebellion, and he asks her what exactly they're planning to do. "Change things, take Pamela down," Princess says. "Think you'd be okay with that?" He replies with a simple "yeah."

This is a huge step forward for Mercer, who had previously refused to side against the governor despite his concern for the Commonwealth's people due to his devotion to order and rules. He even agrees to provide an entry point for the rebels. That's a shocking flouting of authority, and it definitely costs him a lot — Pamela has him arrested for treason. His insistence that the walker horde is dangerous falls on deaf ears. Soon enough, his troops are overwhelmed by a bunch of wall-climbing walkers. Pamela's solution? Flush the group toward the lower wards and away from the Commonwealth's richer neighborhoods. Talk about true colors.

The Oceanside gang goes out on a limb and loses one

There's a reason Pamela keeps pooh-poohing Mercer's worries about the walkers — she's been the one directing the horde the whole time. The gaggle — which includes the not-walkerized Oceanside gang — has been driven out of the forest and toward the Commonwealth to break up the rioters clogging the city's streets and force a lockdown. Pamela believes that the Commonwealth's walls are impenetrable, thus making her gambit a win-win prospect ... or so she thinks.

The Oceanside gang decides to make a break for it as soon as they can, but their attempt at finding cover in an abandoned RV results in Jules (Alex Sgambati), Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari), and Luke (Dan Fogler) being separated from the group. Tragically, Lydia (Cassady McClincy) is bitten on the forearm by a walker as she tries to pull Elijah back from the horde, forcing Jerry (Cooper Andrews) to amputate half of her arm with his sword as Aaron (Ross Marquand) tries to encourage her through the pain. Despite her trauma and massive blood loss, Lydia is obsessed with finding Elijah, so Jerry braves the horde to retrieve him and the others. "See you on the other side," he says to Aaron as he dips out of the trailer. But while Luke and Jules later emerge from the walker horde in the Commonwealth and join the other Alexandrians behind Pamela's blockade, Jerry's and Elijah's fates are left unclear as the episode fades to black.

When does The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 24 air?

It all comes down to this. The series finale of "The Walking Dead" — Season 11, Episode 24, "Rest in Peace" — will debut on November 20 at 9 p.m. on AMC.

"Family" left the show's audience with quite the cliff-hanger. The lives of Judith, Lydia, and dozens of other poor Commonwealth citizens hang in the balance as walkers overrun the settlement. This is clearly the team's final stand, and the fate of everyone's safety is up for grabs. Since there have been a few more spin-offs announced, it's possible to hedge your bets as to who will survive, but in the end, it's anyone's guess.

There are dozens of questions left dangling in the air at the end of the episode. Will Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) get Coco back? Will Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Maggie ever see eye to eye? Will Ezekiel's (Khary Payton) newfound friendship with Negan continue apace? Who will live, and who will rest in peace? We'll all find out next week.