The Walking Dead season 11 premiere reveals a little more about the Commonwealth, and in the process, draws a parallel between the clandestine community and Rick Grimes. Now beginning its final season, AMC’s The Walking Dead has been through many changes over the years. Only two characters remain from the original group of survivors, and they’ve moved on from being largely nomadic travelers in Georgia to settling in a community in Virginia. Still, for all the changes the show has seen, there are some things that remain the same — a desperate need for supplies and a strong distrust of new people.
This need to search for supplies is often what has The Walking Dead‘s survivors meeting new people, and more often than not, new people are trouble. This is why in season 4, Rick Grimes began asking three questions of every new person they come across: How many walkers have you killed? How many people have you killed? And why? Judging from their responses, Rick and others can usually suss out if they could later become a threat or a liability. These questions are the first line of defense, and even after Rick’s departure, they’re still used as the template for judging new arrivals. In The Walking Dead‘s season 11 premiere, the Commonwealth is shown similarly asking questions, though it’s a far more thorough line of questioning.
In The Walking Dead season 11, episode 1 “Acheron: Part I”, Eugene, Ezekiel, Yumiko, and Princess are still prisoners of the Commonwealth, having been taken captive late in season 10. The season 11 premiere finds them moved to a holding facility where the Commonwealth sorts through the new people they’ve encountered. While here, each of them are subjected to a lengthy line of questioning by a pair referred to as the Commonwealth’s auditors (though interestingly, it’s only the woman auditor who’s shown asking the questions). The questions cover a range of topics, from pre-apocalypse employment and education to physical health and criminal history. In fact, few of the questions asked directly relate to surviving in the world today, which is in stark contrast to Rick’s three questions. Only one question, and it’s repeated several times, is concerned with what’s happening now — “Where is your settlement?” Of course, this is the one question Eugene, Ezekiel, Yumiko, and Princess all refuse to answer, instead, sticking to the lie that they’re travelers who met on the road.
Where Rick’s questions were about gauging a person’s threat level, the questions from the Commonwealth’s auditors are more about who a person was prior to the world ending. Through grilling Eugene, Ezekiel, Yumiko, and Princess about their past lives, the Commonwealth can learn what kind of people they are, the skills they offer, and yes, if they might be a threat. Like Rick, the Commonwealth does appear interested in how trustworthy someone is, but they’re even more interested in what someone has to offer. For example, the auditors appear far more impressed by Yumiko being a Harvard-educated lawyer than the fact Princess used to work at a music store. Additionally, given that in The Walking Dead comics, the Commonwealth is portrayed as a heavily stratified society, this line of questioning from the auditors makes sense. They are a community built on merit, but not one that’s overly concerned with the hardships that come with surviving in the apocalypse. This speaks to how well-supplied they appear, suggesting that many within the Commonwealth haven’t had the same struggles as other survivors.
The Commonwealth’s intense questioning of newcomers, however, does draw a parallel with Rick questioning any new people who crossed their path. It demonstrates the Commonwealth also have a process by which they evaluate new people, and that by doing so, they’ve maintained a secure community. This isn’t a bad thing, either, and having it be similar to Rick’s process helps to illustrate that. Still, their exact line of questioning and the intimidating means by which they do it could be a reason for concern. It’s obvious in The Walking Dead season 11 premiere that the auditor is trying to make either Eugene, Ezekiel, Yumiko, or Princess slip up and inadvertently reveal something they shouldn’t; namely, the location of Alexandria. As such, the Commonwealth hasn’t exactly made themselves appear very trustworthy, and that’s only going to make it more difficult for the two communities to work together as Eugene originally wanted.