Introducing a new variant of zombies this late in the game was always going to be a bitter pill to swallow.
But those who watch the other shows in the franchise know that there have been different traits in walkers, but we just haven't had much in the way of confirmation.
The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 19 was a harrowing hour that continued to set the wheels in motion for the big finish, and the arrival of these different walkers was terrifying.
The look of sheer confusion on Aaron and Lydia's faces as they heard the gates open made it evident that something big was about to go down.
It was only natural they would think that Whisperers were to blame because none of them had been in the company of a zombie that opened doors, climbed walls, grabbed weapons, and tried to bash someone's skull in with a piece of concrete.
If you watch The Walking Dead online, you know the survivors have adapted to fighting walkers and always seem to make it out unscathed these days.
Rosita: It's me. Daryl: How'd it go?
Rosita: A lot of repeat questions and intense staring. You?
Rosita: You talk to the others?
Daryl: Yeah. We're gonna leave at dawn if we can get out.
Rosita: Alright. Mercer's gonna be watching.
Daryl: I'm counting on it.
That's because they know the rules of the zombies, but now, that's all been thrown out the window because they'll always be wondering whether a group of walkers are regular walkers or if one of them will possess the ability to fight back.
For that reason alone, someone should have died here. I'll give the writers props for making us think every character will die by giving everyone much more screen time.
Am I the only one who thought Jerry would tell everyone to hold the door as the walkers piled in?
It went in a completely different direction, and one that I wish had bigger stakes. Yes, this incident will take a toll on everyone mentally, but there's so much more that could have been done here.
It's a travesty that their mission was to get to Oceanside and give viewers a resolution to the cliffhanger from The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 16.
Did Lance kill everyone, or did he kidnap everyone? It's something that needs to be answered and quickly.
Aaron helping Lydia realize she should live every day like its her last and proceed with her relationship with Elijah was nice.
Ross Marquand brought a tear to my eye as he showcased the most vulnerable Aaron we've seen to date.
Losing Eric was tough on him, but he's managed to overcome so many hurdles since that many thought Eric was a distant memory.
Aaron: You alright?
Jerry: Yeah, yeah. shit. It's my knee.
Aaron: Wait. There might be a place over there. Looks like it has walls. We gotta go on foot.
The truth is, Eric is still with him in everything he does, and hearing that he would give anything to take back one of the nos just to spend a day with his husband was sad.
The insanity at the Commonwealth was needed to show the ripple effect that Sebastian's death caused.
Sebastian wasn't a nice person, but he was a product of the community he lived, and while his mother understood that, she still wanted to get some revenge.
The only way she knew to fight back was to go after the people she thought responsible, and in this case, Eugene, Max, and Lance are well and truly on her shit list.
Eugene and Max being separated was surprising, but seeing everyone running for dear life as walkers invaded the Founder's Day event was quite the spectacle.
Attention, my fellow citizens. The perpetrators of these horrific events cannot be allowed to go unpunished. Anyone providing information on the whereabouts of these individuals will receive a generous reward, while any persons found aiding and abetting these fugitives will share their fate... That of swift and final justice.Pamela
I didn't buy that Daryl could keep Eugene hidden in the church, and the blame here falls on the lack of scope for the Commonwealth.
It's portrayed as having thousands of people, but the show makes it look like just over a hundred at a push.
I know that COVID-19 impacted production, but it's a shame that things as trivial as people hiding out in a church aren't believable.
Eugene surprised me because, when he was introduced, he was this scared individual, using knowledge as power.
He had so many missteps and moments that could have made him one of the worst characters, but the way he's carried himself has resonated with everyone he's encountered along the way.
I know the survivors wanted to get Eugene out, but he didn't want to run like he had in the past, and taking the blame for everything is such a 180 for the character.
His love for Max is strong, and he may well have signed his death certificate by turning himself in.
Mercer rounding up Eugene's associates and quizzing them was shocking, but he had to follow protocol. If he made it look like he was cherrypicking people, Pamela wouldn't buy that his investigation was legitimate.
I mean, we've all seen some that come back to the places that they remember. I've heard stories about walkers like this that can climb walls and open doors. I was never sure if they were just stories. Maybe there's other kinds too.Aaron
He wanted to save his sister while salvaging his relationship with Princess. What more could he do?
This show has always been about survival; Mercer was surviving the only way he knew would save the most people.
The beauty of a character like Mercer is that there's still so much we don't know about him, and I suspect he will side with the good guys very soon.
Despite Mercer telling her, he would help her get out, Rosita being called in for questioning changed their relationship.
Rosita had built up this rapport with Mercer, so she thought he would allow her to continue with her job.
I doubt Rosita will be very forgiving to him, but if he does actually do something to help Eugene, it will go a long way to help.
Rosita and Eugene's goodbye was one of the most emotional scenes we've had in a long time because there was a finality to it.
I would love for them to meet back up, but with Pamela on a reign of terror to get some vengeance, it's hard to be optimistic about everyone making it out of this mess.
The stage is now set for a climactic endgame, but it remains to be seen whether Pamela or Lance will be the final villain.
Pamela has been subdued to date, but seeing her son's corpse changed her outlook on life.
Laila Robins played this new side of Pamela to perfection, and I think her thought process is that if the Miltons are being run out of the Commonwealth, they'll go out by taking down everyone who wronged them.
"Variant" was a really great episode of the series, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
What are your thoughts on Eugene's arc? Do you think that was a goodbye between him and Rosita?
What are your thoughts on the variant walkers? Is it too late to make them worthwhile?
Hit the comments.
The Walking Dead continues Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC. Episodes air a week earlier on AMC.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.