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The Ending Of The Walking Dead Season 11 Part 2 Explained

The final season of "The Walking Dead" is officially two-thirds of the way over. Episode 16, "Acts of God," wrapped up Part 2 of Season 11 and offered a glimpse of the upcoming clash between the domineering Commonwealth and the scrappy communities in its orbit.

The episode follows Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) as she prepares Hilltop and its people for battle. Along the way, she makes an unexpected alliance and comes face to face with someone who will stop at nothing to kill her. Meanwhile, Deputy Governor Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) and his battalion of soldiers continue their bloodthirsty search for Maggie and the runaways from Riverbend. Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) puts a target on his back after choosing which side to fight for in a not-so-surprising twist.

Back at the Commonwealth, Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and her growing team of supporters move forward with their investigation into the Miltons. A powerful ally secures enough evidence to publish their exposé, but their proximity to Governor Pamela Milton (Laila Robins) could jeopardize everything.

A showdown of biblical proportions is on the horizon for everyone as the wait for Season 11 Part 3 begins. As the swarms of locusts cloud the skies, the survivors are on the brink of an all-out war. Can they take fate into their own hands, or is whatever happens beyond their control?

19 hours and one act of God ago

"We want to believe that everything is within our control, but is it truly all within our control?" showrunner Angela Kang asks in the "Acts of God" Episode Insider. She explains that several characters are grappling with this question and whether or not they can take destiny into their own hands. Can they change fate, or is it merely a coin flip?

The biblical theme of the episode further plays into Season 11 Part 2's overarching themes of luck and fate. As everyone struggles to figure out what's next, a slowly growing swarm of locusts descends around them. Negan Smith (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), now a member of the religious Riverbend community, calls the buzzing bugs a "sign from the Man upstairs."

Later, former Reaper-slash-religious fanatic Leah Shaw (Lynn Collins) chuckles in disbelief as she looks up at the locusts. Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) is curiously the only religious character to not comment on the ominous appearance of the locusts.

Their presence references the biblical tale of the 10 Plagues of Egypt, in which God inflicts various disasters on Egypt to free the enslaved Israelites. It's unlikely that Part 3 of Season 11 will continue down this path, à la water turning to blood and characters breaking out with boils. However, Kang said that they wanted to include an "atmospheric element" to distort their perceptions of the future.

Are the locust swarms a harbinger of impending devastation or an eerie coincidence?

Daryl turns his back on the Commonwealth

"The Walking Dead" fans were surprised by Daryl's conformity to the Commonwealth's rigid social structures when he joined their army. Even Norman Reedus admitted that he was skeptical of his character's arc, but he promised that it would make sense in the end. With just eight episodes remaining, Daryl is finally back with his old allies.

Realizing that he's on the outs with Lance after cosigning Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Gabriel's lie in Episode 15, "Truth," the group plots to break away before it's too late. While searching a junkyard for survivors, the trio launches an attack against the group of soldiers they're working alongside. Bullets and broken glass fly around them until only Daryl, Aaron, Gabriel, and a badly injured Romano (Matt Bushell) are left.

Daryl forces the Commonwealth soldier to give up Lance's location before killing him. Romano also reveals that Lance ordered the soldiers to "clear the field," meaning they only leave allies behind. They realize that Maggie is in danger and head out to find her, but not before radioing Lance to inform him that his men are dead. Their shaky alliance is severed, and Daryl has earned a place on Lance's increasingly long list of enemies.

Maggie and Negan forge an alliance

When it was announced that Maggie and Negan were getting a spin-off series, fans couldn't wrap their heads around how or why the longtime rivals would embark on an adventure together. Their prickly dynamic has been a central focus throughout Seasons 10 and 11. Maggie took a dark turn as she hyper-fixated on revenge, while Negan left before she turned on him.

He built a new life at Riverbend, where he met Annie (Medina Senghore), got married, and is now expecting a baby. He reunites with Maggie during the fiasco at his new community, stunning her by saving her son, Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller), who gets caught sneaking in. This selfless act forces Maggie to acknowledge that the man who savagely murdered her husband years ago has changed.

In "Acts of God," survivors of Hilltop and Riverbend hide out in a Whisperer wormhole while Maggie, Lydia (Cassady McClincy), Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari), and Marco (Gustavo Gomez) go after Lance. Before their mission, though, they bring Hershel to the hideout, and Maggie and Negan share an unexpectedly tender moment.

Maggie swallows her pride and admits to beginning to trust him, and he promises to protect her family and praises her bravery. In the Episode Insider, Kang explained that Annie's presence helped Maggie make peace with her complicated feelings toward Negan.

"She has not forgiven him, and I don't think she's ever going to forget, but there is something different about the idea of saying 'but I can trust you as an ally,'" she said.

Leah goes rogue

On the contrary, Maggie's relationship with Leah takes a deadly turn. After Lance's soldiers track the last-standing Reaper down, he hires her to assassinate Maggie. "Things are coming together! You get the scalp of the woman who killed your family and I finally get to do my job without interference," he joyously tells her.

Leah remains tight-lipped as she gears up. She heads out with a group of Commonwealth soldiers and quickly deviates from Lance's plan upon arrival at Hilltop. She uses his men as collateral damage to lure Maggie out of hiding, then hunts her down.

They skulk through the dark forest, their footsteps concealed by the buzzing of the locusts. Leah manages to knock Maggie unconscious and drags her back to the cabin she previously shared with Daryl, not knowing that he's tracking her. Maggie wakes up tied to a chair and staring down her captor's gun.

Leah then reveals that she intends to kill everyone Maggie loves before killing her. This speech gives Maggie time to break free from her restraints, and a life-or-death fight ensues. Kang called it a "fight of pure hatred" between two headstrong leaders caught in an endless cycle of violence.

As they throw each other around the room and exchange blows, neither notices Daryl's arrival. Leah gains the upper hand and pummels Maggie, but before she can fatally stab her, a still-unseen Daryl shoots her.

Lance and his soldiers, who also arrived undetected, move in only to realize that their assassin is dead, and the enemies have evaded them again.

Max betrays the Milton family

Max Mercer (Margot Bingham) may hold a prestigious government job, but she's never been one to follow the rules. Her brother, General Michael Mercer (Michael James Shaw), covered for her when he discovered that she was using a radio to contact Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt), but she's taken her rebellion against the Commonwealth to a higher level. Now, not even General Mercer can protect her.

Since the truth about Stephanie/Shira (Chelle Ramos) came out, Max and Eugene have rekindled their radio romance. When he informs her that things within the Commonwealth are worse than she thought, she hesitantly agrees to contribute to his friends' ongoing investigation. Max pushes past her fear when she learns that Pamela's son, Sebastian Milton (Teo Rapp-Olsson), has been forcing vulnerable citizens to steal money for him.

While Max is anxiously flipping through Pamela's file cabinet, Sebastian arrives and is frazzled about his mother avoiding him. His frustration initially overshadows Max's snooping, but he notices her odd behavior and tries to take the file from her under the guise of saying she works too much off-the-clock.

He sees that she's reading about the Commonwealth's resettlement plans, including a list of names and coordinates of the people he sent on these missions. They have a tense exchange, but neither confronts the other. She leaves with the file intact, but her cover as an anonymous source gets blown.

Connie's exposé rocks the Commonwealth

Connie, an experienced political reporter, is stifled by the Commonwealth's PR-only approach to journalism. With the help of her sister, Kelly (Angel Theory), she launches an independent investigation into the disappearance of Tyler Davis (Cameron Roberts). They hit dead ends until Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos) and Eugene tell them about Sebastian's money heists. Then, Max delivers the resettlement file, and Connie's exposé begins to take form.

She insists that it's too soon to run with the story about Tyler, April (Wynn Everett), and countless others disappearing. However, they have more than enough to publish a story about Sebastian's antics. Kelly points out that this alone will convince people to begin "(questioning) everything about this place" and cast doubt on Pamela's leadership.

The glimmers of resistance within the seemingly impenetrable social system also come forward as people quietly rally behind their cause. Magna (Nadia Hilker), Ezekiel (Khary Payton), and a network of others are eager to help spread the truth to the blissfully oblivious people of the Commonwealth.

"Acts of God" ends with Pamela storming into her office and slamming a newspaper onto Max's desk. In addition to the inflammatory headline, the subheading reads, "Milton's adult son used innocents in deathly money grab." It's unclear whether or not Pamela knows that Max is involved with the article, but now, the ball is rolling, and she's helpless to stop it.

The Commonwealth takes over

While things are falling apart back at the Commonwealth, Lance struggles to keep his off-the-record business ventures under wraps. Between the bloodbath at Riverbend, being betrayed by Daryl, and the failed assassination attempt on Maggie, the smarmy leader has lost control. His only option to return to the Commonwealth and proceed as usual is to eliminate anyone and everyone who witnessed what happened.

"Now we take it all," he snarls to the soldiers after hitting his breaking point. At the end of the episode, we learn that this means assuming control over every surrounding community. Commonwealth soldiers have moved in on the newly-renovated Alexandria and the ashy remains of Hilltop.

Then, they aggressively round up the people of Oceanside as Lance walks toward them with a smirk. He flips a coin, and the episode ends before their fate is revealed.

Things aren't looking great for the survivors as we head into Part 3. Maggie's group, the people from Riverbend, and anyone who wasn't at Alexandria during the takeover is now without a home base. Commonwealth banners hang over the walls as a declaration of ownership and a warning to the now-stranded survivors. With limited resources, powerful enemies, and nowhere to call home, it's hard to imagine how they will recover from this.

Parts 1 and 2 of Season 11 of "The Walking Dead" are currently streaming on AMC+.