Season 10 of The Walking Dead ended with a cliffhanger, a new threat, and a real-world pandemic. (Part of its filming took place in the wake of COVID-19.) Now, just a few months after the tenth season’s shocking end in April, the cult-favorite show is back: The premiere episode of season 11 hit AMC+ on August 15, followed by an August 22 debut on AMC. And this season (the last of the series) promises to begin with a bang. A new threat in the form of the Commonwealth, the return of a mysterious and deadly group, the trust of former villains like Negan — the show still finds new ways to generate unlikely turns.
If past seasons are any indication, we’re going to some strange new places. “We’re all doing The Exorcist right now,” Norman Reedus (who plays one of the most beloved and longest-running characters, Daryl) has said. “All of our heads are spinning in a circle.” For now, at premiere time, fans’ heads are just beginning to spin. The question remains: where do we go from here?
1. Who gets to be redeemed?
In a deeply affecting season 10 finale, we finally learned of Negan’s backstory and who he was before he donned his expensive leather jacket. We last saw him walking back into Alexandria with Maggie, not knowing if he’ll live or die, or if he’ll even be forgiven. Going into season 11, it’s no surprise that he’s still haunted by his past demons. But he’s not the only one. Daryl, seen here searching for his missing Dog, might follow through with his will-he/won’t-he with Carol. Or, he might just go through a journey he’s never expected. Expect this season to play with expectations, Reedus has teased us, through the reappearance of beloved characters to shocking new villains and even clever new directorial styles.
2. Will they, won’t they?
Speaking of Daryl, he and Carol are the only two who have survived. And that’s never felt like a sure thing, even as far back as when they were fresh-faced Atlantans. They’ve endured so much — we’ve seen their characters change in tough, compassionate, and unexpected ways — and also bonded in a way that keeps us guessing. Will they escape like they said they would? Will they become more than just besties? Here’s hoping they will, just like past couplings in this show, but hopefully with more success and less baseball bats.
3. Who are the Reapers mad at?
Everybody? Themselves? In The Walking Dead, there’s no saying. After all, it is a show that’s all about factions: from the original band of Atlanta survivors, to Terminus, to Negan’s Saviors, and now the Whisperers, this show emphasizes family in a way that would make Vin Diesel proud. Now we’re reintroduced to the Reapers, whom we first saw last season: well-armed and deadly, they’ll become the primary antagonists against both our survivors and the Commonwealth. There might be some familiar faces in the midst of both groups who swear allegiance to these guys in spooky white masks.
4. What is the Commonwealth?
Not Massachusetts, if you’ve been following along. Instead, it’s another colony. Led by a mysterious figure named Pamela Milton (played by Laila Robins), it’s a land somewhere in the Midwest guarded by ultra-futuristic soldiers clad in red and white armor, led by the red-suited Mercer. With far-reaching interests across the post-apocalyptic landscape, we last saw them halfway through season 10, rounding up Eugene, Yumiko, Princess, and Ezekiel. The last bastion of a dystopian paramilitary colony, complete with slick uniforms and big rifles, versus our plucky band of perpetually sweaty survivors? This could very well be the final showdown.
5. Even greater monsters?
“That is God telling us to turn around,” says Negan in the season 11 trailer, upon hearing a sound that’s very much unlike a Walker’s gurgling. No, this is some kind of bloated boom — and the fact that Daryl and company are underground, in some spooky facility with their guns drawn in the dark, certainly speaks to a laboratory. If this has to do with the Commonwealth, then it makes sense: a well-funded bureaucracy with slick soldiers and a nightmare wasteland agenda could conceivably be engineering some new chimaera. Dabbling in science is nothing new, as we’ve seen with Eugene, the satellite, and various research laboratories. If you’re used to your walkers being all-natural, as if having sprung from the Earth, then this season you might be in for a surprise.