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The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 3 Ending Explained

Contains spoilers for "The Walking Dead" episode "Hunted"

While the esoteric title of the opening episodes of "The Walking Dead" Season 11 — "Acheron Parts I and II" — left room for some interpretation, the title of episode three gets straight to business. "Hunted" is a visceral installment that sees many of our protagonists physically and emotionally scrambling for safety.

After navigating their way through a treacherous subway tunnel during the first two episodes of the season, Maggie's (Lauren Cohan) party was ambushed by a battalion of Reapers. The members of her group were killed, maimed, and scattered in the night. When we picked back up with Maggie, she was on the run and no matter how much ground she covered, the masked menaces seemed to be everywhere.

There was also a different kind of hunting going on in this episode. While Maggie's group faced deadly opposition on their mission to secure supplies from her former community of Meridian, things in Alexandria remained dire. Of the many calamities facing the survivors, the disappearance of the community's horses was the most pressing issue for Carol (Melissa McBride). Without the horses, there's little hope of plowing fields or finding fruitful new spots to forage. She set out to track the animals down and, of course, managed to learn a few lessons along the way.

Here's how everything wrapped up in "Hunted."

Father Gabriel learns more about the Reapers

Ever since we first heard about them in the Season 10C premiere "Home Sweet Home," the Reapers have existed as a distant, menacing threat on the periphery of the narrative. We know they overtook Meridian and are feared for their brutality, but we haven't learned much about what makes this group tick. "Hunted" gave us a bit more insight into just that.

The morning after the ambush, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) comes across an unmasked and gravely wounded Reaper sitting against a log. While the man bleeds out, he also quietly recites a passage from the Bible.

When he sees Father Gabriel approach, he says, "We have been blessed. I have been blessed." He asks Father Gabriel to pray for him, imploring, "Even your enemies deserve that much."

That's not the way Father Gabriel sees it, however, and instead of praying for the fallen Reaper, he deals a fatal blow. A little later in the episode, we get a clue that this particular Reaper's religious piety isn't an anomaly.

While walking through a forest, Maggie, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and Alden (Callan McAuliffe) come across a burnt walker affixed to a tree. The sight is startling, especially when the group looks up and sees that there's a sign that reads "JUDAS" above the corpse's head. We don't get explicit confirmation that this is the work of the Reapers, but they seem to be the most likely culprits.

Judas is, of course, a Biblical figure synonymous with betrayal, and we can imagine that whoever this walker used to be turned against the Reapers and met a gruesome end. There is still much we don't know about the Reapers but "Hunter" does seem to be implying that the group is some kind of extremist religious group with a particularly violent take on Christianity.

Carol enlists Magna, Kelly, and Rosita for a mission

The other big storyline of this episode gave us the chance to spend some time with a few characters who we haven't seen much of since the end of the Whisperer War. When Carol goes on her search for Alexandria's missing horses, she recruits Magna (Nadia Hilker), Kelly (Angel Theory), and Rosita (Christian Serratos) to come along with her.

Magna and Kelly are both still reeling from the presumed death of Connie (Lauren Ridloff). However, their different approaches to the loss have caused a small rift to form between the companions. Magna is in the process of moving on while Kelly believes there's a chance that Connie is still out there. At several points in the episode, Magna senses that Kelly is drifting away from her, likely as a coping mechanism to keep her hope for Connie's return alive.

Meanwhile, Rosita reveals that she's been having dreams about Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), her long-dead ex-boyfriend. She believes that he's trying to send the Alexandrians a message from the beyond: "I know it's something important. Something I'm supposed to do."

While his message isn't clear to her now, it's something to remember as the season goes on. Abraham has appeared in dream or hallucination form multiple times since he was murdered by Negan during the fateful Season 7 premiere, so fans of the character may even see Cudlitz make a cameo should this storyline go further.

Speaking of "murdered by Negan," we also have to wonder if invoking Abraham's name is laying the groundwork to bring Rosita into the current Maggie and Negan storyline, as she has a long history of wanting Negan dead, too. But considering Maggie and Negan's relationship is becoming more complex by the day, how Rosita will fit into that dynamic is up in the air.

What the horses represent

Carol's mission to wrangle Alexandria's runaway horses has all the hallmarks of a classic Carol undertaking. Despite multiple people telling her that her plan is impractical, she is dead set on seeing it through to the end. But capturing the horses proves to be a frustrating endeavor as the animals flee every time they are approached. It's not until Carol tries a different strategy that she has any results.

After they've cornered the horses in a paddock, Kelly suggests that the group try to let the animals make the approach instead of actively trying to nab them. The group puts down their lassoes, and sure enough, the horses calm down.

Of the characters you might describe as "determined," Carol is possibly the most dogged of them all. Here, though, she sees that sometimes there is a solution that doesn't involve attacking a problem head-on until you beat it into submission. Sometimes a passive approach is the best one.

She gets a similar lesson when they return. Magna pulls Carol aside and asks her to stop doing whatever she's doing to give Kelly false hope that Connie could still be alive. Carol's guilt over the responsibility she bears for Connie's disappearance has been palpable and it's no wonder that Magna believes she's tackling it the same way she tackles all of her problems. Magna wants Carol to stop trying to solve her grief by actively creating hope that her actions didn't lead to Kelly's sister's death.

She tells Carol, "You don't think Connie's alive. You just can't accept what it means if she's not."

We the viewers know, though, that Connie is indeed still alive and there's no doubt that Magna's own method of coping — moving on aggressively and demanding that everyone around her do the same — will be challenged when Connie eventually reappears.

The future of Alexandria

While the adults are off on their various missions, "Hunted" gives viewers a peek into the lives of some of Alexandria's younger residents. A scene early in the episode shows Judith (Cailey Fleming), Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller), R.J. (Antony Azor), and Gracie (Anabelle Holloway) playing cards and gossiping about the grown-ups.

"Grown-ups are always running off to do things," Judith says. Hershel, meanwhile, posits that when the adults promise they will return unharmed before leaving on a dangerous task they aren't doing it for the benefit of the children, but rather "to make themselves feel better." Judith proudly declares that her mom always comes back, while R.J., the son of long-missing Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira), solemnly says, "Yeah ..."

This season is about community and the kids are a breathing manifestation of why community is so important to characters like Maggie and Carol. Without those kids, Alexandria has no future, and without Alexandria, it's unlike that the kids do, either.

Carol further shows her devotion to this endeavor later in the episode. While most of the horses that were rounded up will be used for labor, one that appears to have a limp is taken into a barn where Carol slits its throat. She cries as she does this but the lack of hesitation shows that her own personal feelings are irrelevant. In the next scene, we see the kids again, this time they are comparing notes on the plate of cooked horse meat that they've just been served.

The grown-ups are trying their best to give these kids a semblance of hope for the future because they want to protect them from the despairing reality that the future is not certain.

Maggie makes a tough decision

Carol's horse whispering may have saved the day but Maggie is still trying to secure the future with her mission to Meridian. After being stalked through a deserted mall by the Reapers, she meets up with Negan and Alden, just as the latter suffers a serious leg injury in a scuffle.

Maggie and Negan help move Alden away from the mall and closer to Meridian but as night approaches, it becomes clear that their injured comrade won't be able to complete this mission. They find an abandoned church and Maggie is faced with a decision she doesn't want to make: leave Alden in the church to fend for himself so that she and Negan can make it to Meridian, or bring her friend along to protect him, which may compromise their mission. Maggie is uncommonly emotional at the thought of leaving Alden behind, even though he encourages her to do it as it's for the betterment of Alexandria.

Negan, too, encourages her to leave Alden, which elicits a strong reaction from Maggie. She snipes at Negan that he is the reason they are in this mess to begin with, casting the conflict between Alexandria and the Saviors as the original sin that led them to where they are now. After she has laid the blame at his feet, he merely responds, "You still have to decide."

There is no use in blaming Negan for the predicament they are in. Blame won't defeat the Reapers and it won't feed the hungry mouths of Alexandria. Maggie, of course, knows this, and her outburst seems to be a moment of pure, guttural frustration. When she's finished, she makes the decision she always knew she would and leaves Alden at the church with some supplies while she and Negan, who has now reluctantly become her strongest ally on this mission, head off toward Meridian.