The Walking Dead: Season 11 Episode 19 “Variant” Incorporates Spinoff’s Mythology

Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter - The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 18 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Welcome back to my weekly coverage of The Walking Dead here on Horror Obsessive! The title of The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 19 was “Variant,” a title that’s likely to conjure up pandemic-related feelings. Which is fairly on brand for Angela Lamb’s reign as showrunner on The Walking Dead. The show hasn’t beaten us over the head with what’s happening in the real world but it’s felt. It helps ground the show in reality. As always, there’s a lot to discuss here so if you haven’t seen The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 19here’s your spoiler warning. Let’s get into it.

Powerful Character Moments

The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 19 might be one of the final episodes of the series, but that didn’t stop the writers from doubling down on heavy moments of emotion with multiple characters. Princess, Eugene, Aaron, and more would all have significant scenes in this episode. When you’re this close to the end, you can’t help but wonder if these moments of power will be the last for any given character. We’re on borrowed time after all…

The main story arc running through the episode is that Pamela Milton wanted someone to “make an example of” following her son Sebastian’s death and that example was set to be Eugene. Mercer was activated to find Eugene and also his sister Max, with Pamela telling him that Max would be safe as long as she had Eugene.

To start, we got to see tremendous growth on display with Eugene. He spent a bulk of the episode in hiding, being protected by Daryl and Rosita. Eugene insisted that he would not leave the Commonwealth with Max, who Mercer’s soldiers did eventually find. Max stood her ground, refusing to give up Eugene, despite Mercer’s desire to save his sister.

Eugene, long a character defined by a lack of bravery, finally found some of that heroic spirit that his peers tsp into. He knew that Max wasn’t going to be freed, so after a heartfelt goodbye with Rosita, turned himself into one of Mercer’s soldiers, confessing to all the crimes he knew they wanted him to confess to.

This was a huge moment for Eugene. The man who lied about being able to save humanity so he could be protected way back when, the same man who joined Negan during the height of that war with the Saviors, was now putting someone’s life and well-being ahead of his own. In his tearful moment with Rosita, it very well could have been goodbye. We only have a few episodes left. If that was the last time they see each other, it was a sendoff befitting of their friendship.

Eugene wasn’t the only character with a major moment in The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 19, though. Princess, who has been mostly sidelined, save for a few scenes with Mercer, had her biggest scene to date. Getting to hear about the abuse and trauma she’s been fighting for most of her life gave the character this tremendous level of depth that she’s been missing. Having Mercer hear her story also has to signal that he’s going to do an about-face with Pamela Milton. Mercer has been her trusted bodyguard more or less but he’s on the verge of doing what he thinks is best. This should be the moment that flips him to the good side.

Princess & Mercer in The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 19

Then there’s Aaron, who was on the verge of flipping out during their mission to take supplies to Oceanside for the whole episode. Aaron had a really tender moment with Lydia where he spoke of love lost and not depriving themselves of love at the moment. Of not letting their pain and losses cripple them emotionally. It seemed to re-energize Aaron, who has been through a lot recently.

Deaths Are Coming

The TV critic in me had a moment during The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 19 where I went from excitement over all the character development to the realization that these moments were setting us up for heartbreak. It’s hard to say if it’s Aaron, Lydia, Jerry, Princess, Mercer, or even Eugene that’s being set up to die, but these tender moments will have tough payoffs. We’re only a few episodes away from the end after all.

I’m not sure that the show tipped its hand too much here as to who it will be that dies before the end but the writing is on the wall that some of these characters that we spent time with here in The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 19 are going to break our hearts soon.

The Variant

In Tales of the Walking Dead, the newest spinoff series, there was an episode dedicated to a scientist who studied the movements, patterns, and behaviors of zombies. The scientist noticed that one zombie, in particular, was taking care of his herd, making sure that the slower and weaker zombies had food and were evolving. It was a startling moment to see that zombies, dead humans, were starting to gain human characteristics.

Here in The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 19we had an equally as unnerving moment. A zombie following Aaron, Jerry, and company seemed to be paying close attention to the human’s whereabouts in a way the other zombies couldn’t. Then, during the big fight scene at the end, this zombie climbed up a structure and actually picked up a rock, to the point where Aaron and Jerry assumed that it was a Whisperer before the realization that it actually was a zombie.

As we move closer to the final episode of this series and into new spin-offs, having the zombies evolve more and more is a really intriguing development. With every human in the world being affected, there’s almost a never-ending supply of zombies and they’re only getting smarter and more human-like. It’s almost as if the human race is being replaced by the dead, who are now evolving themselves. What does that say about the fate of the world?

Pamela Milton in The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 19

Let’s Not Forget Hornsby

Pamela Milton, as shown in The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 19is in a weird place of both grieving and trying to cling to power. With Sebastian dead, she does feel a sense of vulnerability, coupled with the fact that her bloodline could be out of power after her death.

She doesn’t trust Hornsby and wants him to be subservient, hence playing the game with him in his cell. I don’t think she wants him to die but she does demand loyalty. Of course, if Hornsby is released in the next episode as expected, then all bets are off. He’s out for himself and power above all and that makes him a true wild card in the final run of episodes.

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Written by Andrew Grevas

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