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The Ending Of The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 1 Explained

Contains spoilers for "The Walking Dead" episode "Acheron: Part I"

The Season 10C finale of "The Walking Dead" was a Negan-centric (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) episode that took viewers on an enlightening journey back in time to learn more about the show's most enduring villain. It also ended the season by setting the stage for a reckoning with Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan), who returned to Alexandria aghast to find that Negan, the man who murdered her husband, was walking free. In the premiere of Season 11, titled "Acheron: Part I," tensions between the two finally boil over.

The show's final season begins with a tense opening that sees a group of Alexandrians pulling off a daring heist at a walker-filled military installation. They put their lives on the line to secure a supply of military rations, which they need to keep their community from falling into famine. Unfortunately, when they return, they learn that the rations will only buy them a short amount of time, and without another large influx of food, Alexandria will be at risk of collapse. Realizing what must be done, Maggie assembles a team of Alexandria's finest to head out on a dangerous mission that will see her facing adversaries from her past.

Elsewhere in post-apocalypse America, Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), Ezekiel (Khary Payton), and Princess (Paola Lázaro) have found themselves at the doors of the Commonwealth. After being rounded up by the community's security forces, the group is subjected to intense rounds of interrogation that leave them questioning whether they have reached salvation or subjugation.

Here's how everything played out in the Season 11 premiere of "The Walking Dead."

Maggie's leadership is tested

When Maggie returned to "The Walking Dead," she brought with her several members of the community she had been living in while she was away. Meridian, we learn, was attacked by a mysterious group of ruthless people known only as The Reapers that overtook the settlement and killed many of its citizens. But, by Maggie's estimation, there is still likely plenty of food stored in Meridian, enough to keep Alexandria afloat. With her fellow Meridians and Alexandria's best brawlers along for the mission, she reckons they can overpower The Reapers.

This storyline continues an arc for Maggie that began back in Season 10C. In her time away, she has grown as a strong, compassionate, and calculating leader who commands respect. However, her leadership skills are tested early on the mission to Meridian. A severe storm forces the party underground into DC's subway system. Maggie wants them to continue moving through the tunnels, but Negan objects.

While Negan's concerns — that they are at a tactical disadvantage in the tunnels, which are also at risk of flooding due to the rain — aren't unreasonable, his past with Maggie turns the strategy disagreement into a personal one. After things get heated between the pair, Negan makes an off-color reference to Glenn and promptly gets punched by Daryl (Norman Reedus). Maggie then puts a gun in his face, reasserts her leadership mandate, and sets the record straight.

"As for me killing you — it's always on my mind. I'm not going to tell you that you're wrong about me, because you aren't," she says. "The woman who left six years ago is not the one standing over you now. There's a little bit of her left in me. And that little bit is the only thing keeping you breathing. But I don't know how long that's gonna last."

The Alexandrians question whether they want to enter The Commonwealth

While Maggie and Negan's bad blood spills all over the DC metro, Eugene, Yumiko, Ezekiel, and Princess are busy being evaluated by the Commonwealth. They each spend hours enduring a barrage of invasive questions ranging from whether they had a criminal record to how many times they go to the bathroom in a day. Should they fail, they'll be sent for reprocessing. While it's not immediately clear to any of the quartet what that entails, none are eager to find out.

One question that the auditors continuously return to is: "What is the location of your settlement?" None of the Alexandrians or Princess are willing to answer, instead implying that they were drifters with no permanent home. Considering that they've already seen the military might of the Commonwealth on display, it's understandable that they aren't eager to give away the location of their friends.

Although they are left without clear answers as to the Commonwealth's intentions, the group becomes increasingly suspicious that they could end up in trouble if they don't make a quick exit. Of particular concern is Ezekiel. In Season 10, he disclosed that he believes he has thyroid cancer given his family's medical history and a newly formed growth on his neck. When he's asked about the tumor during his interview, he tells the auditors that it's a benign growth he's had since childhood. But when he succumbs to a severe coughing fit, it becomes clear that they suspect otherwise.

Yumiko points out that the auditors seemed particularly focused on the group's medical history and the prospect of being let in with a serious health condition doesn't seem likely. After talking about their predicament, it's Princess who comes to a difficult realization: they've got to get out of there.

Yumiko makes a startling discovery

Princess and Yumiko agree wholeheartedly that something doesn't feel right about their current position in the Commonwealth and that it would be best to, as Princess puts it, "pull the ripcord." Eugene, who is still holding out hope of meeting up with his long-distance radio crush Stephanie (Margot Bingham), is resistant, but ultimately acquiesces to the rest of the group.

Thanks to Princess' astute reading of the body language of the futuristic armor-clad guards, they are able to steal enough uniforms to make a clean exit out of the holding area. They are about to break out when they come across a large wall of pictures under a banner that reads: "FLAG FOR EXPEDITED ASSESSMENT AND ADMITTANCE TO THE COMMONWEALTH." These are photos of the loved ones of the Commonwealth's citizens who have yet to find their way to the secretive community. One of those images is of Yumiko.

"Have you seen my sister Miko? Contact Tomi," a note underneath the picture reads. After she sees the note, Yumiko declares, "I ... I have to stay."

Yumiko's connection to the Commonwealth not only torpedoes the group's plan to escape, but it also raises a host of questions about how this storyline is going to play out. While Eugene has his connection with Stephanie, she still remains nothing more than a voice on the radio and neither Eugene nor the viewers can be sure of exactly what her intentions are. But Yumiko's brother is someone she obviously has a deep and pre-existing relationship with, meaning the Alexandrians will now be entering the Commonwealth with an ally on the inside. Depending on how they take to this new community, it could prove to be immensely helpful, or incredibly complicated.

Negan's potentially deadly decision

Back in the tunnel, things go from bad to worse. Maggie's group is cornered by a horde of walkers and the only way forward is blocked by a subway car covered in rubble. Everyone manages to climb on top of the train car except for Daryl, who chases after a frightened Dog (Seven) who has run underneath the rubble, and Maggie, who is bringing up the rear.

As the hoard closes in, Maggie struggles to pull herself onto the train car. And unfortunately for her, the last person up was Negan. She calls out to her enemy/comrade to help her while her fingers begin to lose their grip on the tiny ledge. Negan looks at her for a moment, considers the situation, and then turns away from Maggie, who begins to slip just as the episode ends.

Although Negan has transformed quite a bit as a person since his first appearance on the series, that doesn't mean he's completely changed his stripes. Leaving Maggie to die may not earn him new fans but when you look at things from his perspective, it's not a totally outlandish decision. Maggie did, after all, basically threaten to kill him, and when he challenged her leadership earlier in their mission, there were a few other people who took his side. If Negan is interested in improving his political standing with the Alexandrians, getting Maggie out of the way would be a major boon to that endeavor.

Of course, that only works if Maggie actually does die. Things look pretty dire for her but we've seen her come through more than a few tricky situations. She also still has Daryl and Dog down in the tunnel who may be able to come to her rescue. Should she survive, it may push the situation with Negan to its breaking point.