Back to IndieWire

‘The Walking Dead’ Review: ‘Bounty’ Is Satisfyingly Tense (And Full of Terrors)

The audience still needs more answers, but this week’s episode included plenty of quality zombie action.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 11 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

“The Walking Dead.”

Gene Page/AMC

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for “The Walking Dead” Season 9 Episode 11, “Bounty.”]

This Week On “The Walking Dead”

“Bounty” is a perfectly solid episode of “The Walking Dead,” with suitably taut plotting and one fresh bit of zombie business. It also goes out of its way to practically scream, “Something absolutely terrible will happen in the near future.”

Portends of Doom

One of the pleasures of “Bounty” is how it effectively wrings tension from its plotlines. The Whisperers are new enough on the scene that there’s no telling how they’ll react to any situation, and the hostage negotiations that dominate the hour have enough wrinkles that the outcome remains in doubt. The Kingdom subplot is a little less effective, since once Carol fully embraces Ezekiel’s side mission there’s little doubt that it won’t succeed, but before then the presence of long-established but lesser-seen characters like Jerry and Dianne lends an air of danger to the proceedings.

But everything works out! True, Hilltop has to give up Lydia, but no war is declared and nobody dies. Ezekiel’s team manages to get their projector bulb for movie night and everything’s finally coming up Kingdom. Then Ezekiel has to open his big mouth and say, “Maybe we’re done losing for a while.”

My dude, you simply don’t say things like that on the zombie murder show.

Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 11 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

“The Walking Dead.”

Gene Page/AMC

Obviously, Ezekiel doesn’t know he’s on a TV show. He doesn’t even know about the Whisperers or Jesus’s death. But the writers sure do, and this moment along with some others (“It’s all going to work out,” a sudden re-interest in Jerry and the large family he and his wife have created) all seem to point to something very, very bad happening in the near future, as much as it might be better that it didn’t. Oh hey, the fair’s coming up!

Man Is The True Monster

Despite her more prominent role this episode, we don’t learn too much more about Alpha than we did last week, except that she’s a “survival of the fittest” type, and yes, that includes sacrificing babies who won’t stop crying and attracting the dead (don’t expect a Whisperer baby boom anytime soon). It’s been some time since the show has had a genuine baby-in-peril moment and this episode makes the most of it, as Connie leaps from her hiding place in the corn to snatch the baby.

There’s an inspired bit of zombie business as we experience things from Connie’s hearing-impaired perspective as she ducks through the corn field without being able to hear the walkers around her. At last, the show has found a way to justify a walker getting the drop on somebody. Fortunately, Daryl and the others arrive just in time.

Despite it all, Alpha is true to her word and gives up Alden and Gregory in exchange for Lydia, and promises no further conflict. Obviously there will be further conflict, since Henry goes chasing Lydia and Daryl, Connie, and Dog go chasing after Henry. Leave it to Henry to spark the post-zombie-apocalypse equivalent of an international incident, even if it’s probably the right thing to do.

Eleanor Matsuura as Yumiko, Nadia Hilker as Magna, Angel Theory as Kelly, Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler, Katelyn Nacon as Enid - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 11 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

“The Walking Dead.”

Gene Page/AMC

A Shred of Humanity

We finally learn the purpose of the Kingdom’s upcoming fair: Ezekiel wants all the communities to finally sign the charter that was drawn up but never signed for still-exasperatingly-unexplained reasons. It’s a noble pursuit, but someone still needs to convince Michonne. Although couldn’t the other communities still enter into an agreement even if Alexandria doesn’t want to? Why deny the benefits of the charter to so many just because Michonne’s being a jerk? Still, better late than never.

The Remains

  • We learn that Tara left Alexandria by stealing more supplies than Michonne was willing to part with. Drag her, Tara.
  • Daryl’s utterance of, “Look, the world is just shit sometimes,” might be the most “Walking Dead” line ever spoken.
  • “Cobra strike!”
  • Jerry lip synching along to the music they use to lure the zombies away from the theater is so delightful. It will be a genuine bummer when Jerry dies.
  • Henry alludes to some action Daryl took when Alexandria was in trouble in the past. Daryl says Henry doesn’t know anything about it. NEITHER DO WE. JUST TELL US ALREADY.

Grade: B

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox