- Warning: There are spoilers for season 11, episode 20 of “TWD,” “What’s Been Lost.”
- In a slightly surprising move, Carol (Melissa McBride) kills a member of the Commonwealth.
- The death feels like a wasted opportunity to connect multiple “The Walking Dead” shows.
“The Walking Dead” claimed another victim on its latest episode.
After refusing an opportunity to escape the Commonwealth, Carol (Melissa McBride) shot Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) through the neck with an arrow before he could try and gun both her and Daryl (Norman Reedus) down.
As Carol and Daryl went on their way, Lance was left on the ground to die alone.
While Lance’s death is one we’ve been expecting — he was high up on our ranking of expected deaths by the time the show ended — his demise came a bit prematurely and in a lackluster way to how we hoped to see him go.
Sunday’s episode not only failed one of its most interesting antagonists, it also wasted an opportunity to connect “TWD” to its vast universe.
What happens to Lance in the comics: We don’t know
In the comics, Lance’s fate is left ambiguous.
A smaller, inconsequential character in the comics, he’s simply never seen again after the comic jumps forward 25 years in its final issue.
As far as we know, Lance survives through the penultimate issue of “TWD.”
Lance’s show death is a massive letdown
April’s mid-season finale, in which Lance suffered a gun wound to the face and horrifically lined up the Oceanside community to kill them in mass, set the character up to become the show’s main antagonist in its final eight episodes.
The show adaptation, played masterfully by Hamilton, was slowly devolving into a deranged, calculating madman complete with a coin that he flipped like a Batman villain to exact his own brand of twisted justice.
It was an exciting deviation from the comics where, admittedly, Lance is a pretty boring character.
But that’s not what happened.
After going on a mini rampage on the show’s mid-season opener, Lance’s villainous momentum was quickly kneecapped as he was jailed. There was a hint on season 11, episode 18 that his comrades Calhoun and Shira were going to bust him out of prison, but that never happened as Calhoun was caught and killed. (It’s currently unclear what happened to Shira.)
Instead of allowing Lance to continue on an exciting quest against Daryl’s gang, the show decided it was simply done with that story and needed to carry forth wrapping up some of its many other arcs with only a handful of episodes to go in the series.
And that’s a bummer.
If “TWD” continued on for a few more seasons, as was the original plan, perhaps a longer arc with Lance would’ve been part of the plan. (It seems like “TWD’s” final season has changed many things.)
As a viewer, it’s frustrating because, looking back, it appears as if the series wasted a block of episodes on Daryl’s ex and her group when it easily could’ve — and should’ve — focused on Lance’s much more captivating downward spiral. Lance’s death didn’t feel so much earned as it felt like the show ran out of time to explore an interesting character.
Lance’s death is a wasted opportunity to connect the larger ‘TWD’ universe
Lance’s death wasn’t only unsatisfying because there was wasted potential for the character, but because of the way in which his character could’ve been used to connect “TWD” with at least one of its spin-off series.
I’ve been hoping small moments from this season would pay off by connecting Lance to the Civic Republic Military (CRM), the group with working helicopters who presumably have Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and who were expanded upon on spin-off series, “TWD: World Beyond,” for two sluggish seasons.
The CRM has a large military clad in black that looks like it was created specifically to be in opposition to the Commonwealth’s soldiers armored in white. On season 11, episode 13, Lance mentioned redirecting some supplies to another project.
At the time, it seemed like he could’ve been hinting at an alliance with another group, like the CRM, a group of 200,000. But after Sunday’s episode revealed that the Commonwealth has been working on re-establishing a train network on the east coast, it seems more likely that Lance was referencing the railroad project rather than an alliance with the CRM.
Now that Lance is out of the picture, it’s seeming a lot less likely that he had ties to them, but perhaps the CRM will still make their mark on the show’s final episodes.
Lance warned Pamela that if he was killed that certain “stabilizing factors” and alliances may become a problem for the Commonwealth.
Now, that Lance is dead, we’ll see if anything comes of that seemingly important line of dialogue.
Even if Lance was bluffing, it’s difficult to believe that a group of 200,000 wouldn’t know about the Commonwealth, which, Lance points out again on Sunday’s episode, is 50,000 strong. It’s more difficult to believe that a group with active helicopters wouldn’t be aware of a group that has a network of operating trains when both have stations on the east coast.
I’m still hoping we’ll see some connection or impending showdown between the two groups in the final episodes, but it would’ve been much more satisfying and clever to see the calculating Lance Hornsby really was, as he told Pamela two episodes ago, “very much” in whatever game Pamela was playing.
Instead, Lance’s exit form “TWD” makes Pamela’s snap assessment of her second-in-command seem correct — that he was nothing more than a delusional little boy.
In that way, “TWD” failed Lance because the build up of his character up until its mid-season finale showed viewers he held the promise of being so much more.
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