Is it just me, or is Toby Carlson one of the most shocking villains in the history of the series?
The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 13 was filled with red flags from characters, but I was gobsmacked when Toby became this ruthless killing machine.
"Warlords" was an appropriate title for the episode, but I figured Ian was the villain of this narrative.
If you watch The Walking Dead online, you know the survivors have encountered countless terrible people during their time on the road, but Ian seemed so much more unhinged.
Learning it was all a ruse to keep his people safe threw me for a loop, but the moment Toby pulled out the gun, well, it was clear where things were going.
We don't know much about Toby, but we know his mission is to make the people of River Bend pay for allegedly stealing weapons.
How do we know Hornsby hasn't constructed this whole thing to showcase the extent the Commonwealth will go to neutralize anyone they deem a threat?
It would be a great way to give Maggie the nudge she needs to join them, but this being The Walking Dead, there will be plenty more twists and turns before we learn the truth.
Elijah: You need an escort?
Elijah: It's a long walk, you know? Might get bored. That's all.
Maggie has been anti-Commonwealth from the beginning, but one thing she hates is dictators, so she will want to dole out some revenge if she comes into contact with Toby.
There's a lot we don't know about River Bend, and let's just say it was a shocker that someone like Ian got killed off during his first scene.
Gabriel and Aaron's bewilderment at the events will not go unnoticed and will likely give them the same thoughts about the Commonwealth as Maggie.
Maggie's apprehension is warranted, especially when you consider what she said about the people who wanted to buy the farm from her family all those years ago.
You don't get anything for free in the apocalypse, and maybe Toby's dramatic heel turn will be the thing that changes how the survivors view the Commonwealth.
There will come a time the people inside the Commonwealth will not be allowed to chat with their former allies because what's happening beyond the walls of the community will not align with the propaganda being fed to the people.
The events of River Bend will change everything, but it's intriguing to consider how Negan came into the narrative.
He is very close with Annie, and as another new character, I'm interested in who she is, and how her people live.
Maggie: We're not going.
Lydia: Maggie, he died begging for our help.
Maggie: I understand it. But we're barely holding on as it is.
Elijah: Someone we know must've sent him. Could be from the Commonwealth, or Georgie...
Maggie: Or it could be a trap. We go to help and leave the Hilltop open to attack.
The issue, though, is that we don't have many episodes left, so River Bend was clearly utilized as a way to show the breadth of how far the Commonwealth will go to do what they think is right.
Toby's reign of terror shows no signs of slowing down, and throwing the people of this new location off the roof can only last so long.
Lydia's decision to pursue the lead was an excellent way to move this plot along. Lydia spent most of her life with the Whisperers, so she anticipated these people were being picked off, one by one.
The bigger surprise was that Lydia was leaving the remnants of the Hilltop behind.
Lydia will have quite the culture shock if she makes it to the Commonwealth alive. A part of her wants somewhere to call home that she feels safe, but she's still battling the emotional torture her mother subjected her to.
Whether the events at River Bend will put her off the Commonwealth remains to be seen, but the more significant concern is that Lydia will be killed off before her arc develops.
The series has a habit of killing off characters who randomly get screentime again to make the death land with a thud.
It would be an unfortunate way for her to go out, especially when you consider that she was a pivotal part of introducing the previous band of villains.
Ian's dead. But he wasn't our first leader. He wasn't what kept us together this long. We did, and we did it by working together as a family. And right now, our family's scattered all over this building, but you know what? We know this place better than the assholes in our house do. We're coming out of this on top.Annie
The series is picking up a lot of steam as we head toward the midseason finale, but something tells me there will be another big display of power from the Commonwealth.
Perhaps Maggie takes in the survivors of River Bend. It would be a logical way to explain how Daryl, Hornsby, and a band of soldiers arrive at the Hilltop not too far in the future.
There is so much we still don't know about the Commonwealth, but if recent events are anything to go by, they will wipe out the people they deem to be threats.
Knowing about all of the spinoffs ahead of the series finale has ruined some of the fun with speculation about who will live and die, but people like Lydia, Gabriel, Rosita, and Aaron are so far unaccounted for in any of the announcements.
River Bend is a good plot, but it's hard to get excited for a new group of people with so few episodes remaining.
And, if the show has introduced them for us to watch them being killed off, well, it wouldn't be that worthwhile.
I dare say some of them will become more prominent, but for now, all they have to do is survive this reign of terror from Toby.
Hornsby clearly has a much bigger interest in other communities, but now we know that it's always to benefit his game plan, his cards have been shown.
He doesn't like to get blood on his hands, so that he can make it look like he's an approachable man who will consider anything.
For that reason alone, he's way scarier than Pamela and Toby.
Alas, the wait for The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 14 will feel long because of the tremendous cliffhanger.
Many of the narrative possibilities appear to be diminished due to the aforementioned spinoffs, but maybe we'll get more clarity about what the heck is going on.
What are your thoughts on Toby's murderous tendencies?
Did it take you by surprise that Lydia was ditching the Hilltop?
Could you be invested in a pairing for Elijah and Lydia with so few episodes left?
What do you think the Commonwealth's goal is here?
Hit the comments below.
The Walking Dead continues Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.