After the emotional high provided by the first two weeks of these produced-in-pandemic episodes of the extended The Walking Dead season 10, the third of its six bonus stories is surely the least vital so far, but it’s also the most fun. While last week’s “Find Me” used a cast of three characters to tell one of the most heart-wrenching stories in the show’s long run, “One More” is a borderline comedy episode, and though it’s flawed, it still serves as a reminder of how far the show has come.
To borrow a term from anime, “One More” feels like a filler episode. The same could not be said for the first two bonus episodes, but this time there’s no doubt the entire series remains unchanged with or without this Gabriel and Aaron-led misadventure.
The first half of the episode suggested the show was about to do something it has never done: show us what a successful mission looks like. Understandably, our tortured heroes always run into trouble when they’re out scavenging, recruiting, surveying, etc. But for a good while, and save for a Gabriel slip-up with a mud zombie, their vague orders from Maggie were going off without a hitch.
Perhaps foolishly, I thought the episode may run its course that way, even after the pair irresponsibly get drunk and gamble away all their fancy found whiskey in a one-on-one card game. To that point, I had found the episode atmospheric, enjoyably slow, and appropriately goofy once they’re inebriated, even if neither actor plays a very convincing drunk.
But “One More” takes a sharp turn once a shadowy figure steps out of the darkness after stealthily watching the pair all through the night. As it turns out, the boar they ate, the whiskey they drank, and the cards they played all belonged to an unkempt solo survivor played by the beloved Robert Patrick, who has an ability to show up in pretty much every TV drama if it runs long enough.
Patrick’s character, Maze, is a tortured pessimist who claims his brother’s betrayal of him some time ago is why he now finds it fitting to use his collection of Bibles as toilet paper exclusively. This is certainly the best line of the episode, which is quite rich with other intended humor but none that lands so well.
Sadly, the climax of the episode, where Maze makes the Alexandrian pair play Russian Roulette, falls flat because these episodes are beginning to have the air of a pro wrestling “house show,” the name given to live events that go untelevised. Rarely do the matches there ever affect the televised shows, so fans learn to expect nothing major to happen. In The Walking Dead‘s terms, viewers can reasonably suspect neither Aaron nor Gabriel is going to die at the hands of a one-off guest-starring Robert Patrick in an episode written as a relative emergency during a pandemic.
Still, even if the intended drama of this scene misses the mark, a lot of the thematic elements still land. Maze’s belief that humanity can’t be redeemed is at odds with sober Gabriel’s, though in line with drunk Gabriel’s, and our heroes just barely manage to convince Maze that he should forgive his brother and move on. It works, and Maze finds himself finally trusting of the pair’s inherent goodness in a bad world. Maybe there really are still good people out there. No sooner does he buy this and let his guard down than does Gabriel deliver a killshot to the famed character actor’s head.
Stunned, Aaron seeks explanation, and Gabriel perfectly captures the directive of their community as we’ve seen it for the past five seasons. “We couldn’t trust him. He killed his brother’s family.” Sure, the Alexandrians do seek goodness and are willing to lay down arms with other good-minded folks, but they’re also willing to strike down anyone who challenges their ambitious reconstruction project. As an aside, I wonder if it’s intentional that Gabriel literally picks up arms – as in Aaron’s prosthetic arm – to use on Maze. Alexandrians seek the greater good, and Maze had no place in their community with his destructive worldview.
Cleverly, the story ends up seeing Patrick pull double duty as Maze’s twin brother, whom Maze had tied up and forced to live beside his family’s corpses for who knows how long. He too isn’t long for this world and soon offs himself, promising Patrick’s guest spot won’t outlive this episode, but he served his strange character well. And with two of the B-team favorites in Aaron and Gabriel, “One More” does continue The Walking Dead‘s streak of good episodes, even if it’s the least necessary story of the entire season.
With a Negan flashback episode and perhaps a conclusion to the Reapers storyline introduced in episode 17, these bonus The Walking Dead episodes still have a lot of potential to finish strong even if one of these next three remains a mystery right now. The show has gone in three very different directions so far, but they’ve collectively proven the renewed stability of television’s prestige zombie drama.