The Walking Dead – Rogue Element review S11 E11

An inherent problem with a show’s final season is it doesn’t allow for frivolous episodes.

Rogue Element wasn’t exactly a worthless, skippable episode, but it was more a case of a bad collection of subplots coming together. Individually, they’re important pieces of the Commonwealth arc that needed a stronger, dominant plot to anchor them. 

Sometimes saying the L word can get in the way of a nice, casual relationship of ice cream dates and novel reading pillow talk. For Eugene, that means the sunshine and cherry music turns to bleak and dreary days when Stephanie just up and disappears.

He heads to her apartment hoping she’ll answer only for the camera to zoom in on her quietly and frantically packing. It was probably all that knife pillow talk…

the walking dead rogue element - rosita and eugene

Princess comes through to check on Eugene with an empty dish of “lasagna.”  He’s gone in to full conspiracy mode with Stephanie’s disappearance, stalking the guy who came out of Stephanie’s apartment building the other not and is convinced this Roman Calhoun is not a plumber.

At this point, the episode goes in to a noir story by way of Eugene. He tracked Roman to a building where he meets with four other people — seemingly oblivious to the fact that one of the women bares a very striking resemblance to his missing girlfriend.

Taking advantage of Princess’ eagerness to help, Eugene decides to break into Roman’s apartment only to get caught. An elderly neighbor alerted the storm troopers of a break in. Even the Commonwealth’s neighborhood watch is on point!

the walking dead rogue element review - kelly and connie

Meanwhile, Connie (with Kelly) is relentless about seeking the real truth about what happened at the masquerade ball. This isn’t sitting well with her editor who just wants Connie to do her job. Mercer adds to the suspicion by being in Tyler’s hospital room.

After a pro-task force story ride-along, Connie questions if Mercer took a stronger interest in this case since Tyler took Mercer’s sister hostage. Tyler is gone and Mercer asks the nurse where he was taken but gets nowhere.

Connie takes one for the team and writes the fluff piece but gets a knock on her door and a note with columns of names. The final one is Tyler. Are these all the known and conveniently ghosted Commonwealth dissidents?

the walking dead rogue element review - mercer

Lance takes Carol on a carriage ride to the poppy field where opium is made for the hospital. He takes the foreman fishing and Carol sizes up that he’s been pocketing the payment. The workers are striking because he’s gotten out of line.

He wisely listens to Carol and arrests the foreman prompting a subtle nod from the workers. That should be good enough to get Ezekiel bumped up a few more notches on the list. 

Eugene isn’t done with his pipe dream yet even after Lance explains everything away. Lance even got Roman to not press charges provided Eugene signs an NDA. The Commonwealth loves these, don’t they? 

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Deciding Roman’s place was a dead end, Eugene goes to the meeting spot and promptly gets kicked in the gut — literally and figuratively — by Stephanie. She doesn’t seem too broken up about it and Lance emerges from the shadows to diffuse the situation.

Lance is clearly the most interesting and mysterious member of The Commonwealth. I’m half convinced he’s the man behind the anti-Commonwealth faction as it would help further raise his stock to the masses. 

Lance listens to Eugene’s tearful breakdown and then drops all the facts that Alexandria is too dumb to not just accept a good thing. It’s very hard to disagree. They’ve got jobs, money, apartments and ice cream! Yet they keep trying to uncover a conspiracy at every corner. Is it really that difficult to just sit back and enjoy a well-earned zombie killing on the run retirement? Clearly. 

While Stephanie Shira hated Iron Maiden, she did like Eugene’s book and Lance encouraged Eugene to keep writing. Although intended as an olive branch, Eugene rightfully took it as a deeper level of Shira’s betrayal and burns it along with the missing posters he’d placed throughout the complex. 

the walking dead rogue element - stephanie and eugene

As he finishes burning, a woman gets his attention using the actual call names Eugene and Stephanie used on their radio calls. It’s Pamela Milton’s assistant and Mercer’s sister and she reveals she was the one Eugene talked to on the radio. Well, things just got interesting. 

This episode needed an exciting subplot to balance out the more deliberate Eugene plot. 

Rating: 7 out of 10

Photo Credit: AMC

Pick up The Walking Dead Vol: 31 – The Rotten Core trade paperback for the comic take on The Commonwealth on Amazon.

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