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Why You Might Not See The Commonwealth On The Walking Dead Yet

It looks as though the COVID-19 pandemic is delaying more than just production and premieres for the many shows of the Walking Dead franchise. Now it might be pushing back storylines as well.

One of the last things audiences saw in the season 10 finale of the flagship show, The Walking Dead, was Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and his small group of survivors being taken prisoner by a well-armed group of soldiers. Eugene and the others had been journeying to meet up with Stephanie, a stranger he had been communicating with over the radio. She belongs to her own community of survivors, which turns out to be a pretty significant plot point.

Readers of the comic series know this ends up being the Commonwealth, a massive collection of around 50,000 survivors gathered in various localities across part of what used to be Ohio. It was assumed this would be the series' next big setting, providing more and more complicated relationships to navigate in the post-apocalypse. 

Not so fast, says the pandemic.

Setting aside for a moment the fact that the TV series has never been shy about zigging where its source material zags, if the Commonwealth arc is actually where we're headed, it's probably going to take the series awhile to get there.

The long, long road to the Commonwealth

In the wake of the pandemic, it was announced that the next episodes audiences would see of the show wouldn't be part of season 11, but rather a six-installment extension to season 10. The descriptions of these episodes, as reported by Deadline, reveal that they'll each follow a small group of characters, and that none of them seem to have a whole lot to do with the Commonwealth — not even Eugene's, which seems contained to his journey with his captors.

The reason for this is likely the obvious one, as Screen Rant points out. Given the current restrictions affecting productions throughout the world, as Tom Cruise has helpfully reminded us, it would be difficult to bring in the volume of extras needed to convey the scale of a giant community of survivors like the Commonwealth. It's safer for cast and crew to do these smaller bottle stories now and wait as long as possible to up the scale. Hopefully once the pandemic has been brought under better control, it will be easier to film scenes with large groups of people without turning the set into a White House-style super-spreader event

Season 11 proper isn't expected to premiere until October of 2021. Its 24 episodes are expected to be split up, drawing out the series' close and hopefully leading to an easier production experience. In the meantime, for those fans who need something to tide them over, the six bonus episodes of season 10 are expected to begin airing on AMC in February of 2021.