The Walking Dead

Walking Dead: What Is Lance’s Secret Commonwealth Group (& What Do They Want)

The Walking Dead season 11 reveals Lance Hornsby as the leader of a secret Commonwealth group. Who are they? What's their role? And what do they want?

Lance Hornsby has a secret club in The Walking Dead and since we can’t join, let’s figure out what he’s up to. The Commonwealth is a great place to be if you A) held a prestigious job pre-outbreak, and B) are adept at ignoring massive red flags. For everyone else, it’s only marginally better than the wilderness, and the more The Walking Dead season 11 pulls back its Commonwealth curtain, the more inner darkness bubbles to the surface. The biggest example so far comes when Eugene discovers the truth about Stephanie – she’s a spy for Lance Hornsby.

Most Walking Dead viewers had figured that much out already, but the scale of Lance’s operation is cause for surprise. Stephanie (or Shira, as we now know her to be called) is just one agent in a much larger group operating directly under Lance Hornsby. Meeting in secret under the cover of night, Lance’s squad contains at least two other members. They’re well-trained, dangerous, and seemingly operate with total autonomy inside the Commonwealth’s walls. Despite coming off like a film noir speakeasy, Lance Hornsby’s secret service is a clear and present threat to The Walking Dead’s heroes. What function does this group serve? And what could Lance’s ultimate goal be?

In the short-term, Lance’s machinations revolve squarely around Alexandria. When the Commonwealth introduced its fake Stephanie, many viewers assumed this was a security measure to ensure the Alexandria newcomers posed no danger. As the episodes passed, it became clear that Stephanie’s true mission ran far deeper, as she engineered a scenario that left Eugene no choice but to give Lance Alexandria’s location. Since then, Stephanie has been vacuuming up snippets of information about Eugene’s home – even though the cloud of suspicion has long since passed from Alexandrian heads. Lance Hornsby is plotting something far more sinister for Alexandria than a new coat of paint and a fixed fence.

The takeover/destruction/subjugation of Alexandria may be Lance’s immediate plot (and the reason behind his entire Stephanie ruse), but this clandestine after-hours club was plainly established long beforehand – back when Lance might’ve assumed “Alexandria,” “Oceanside” and “Hilltop” were nothing more than air freshener fragrances. There are two possible explanations for Lance’s secret group, and which way the dagger falls depends entirely on a question The Walking Dead season 11 is yet to answer – does Pamela Milton know this Commonwealth secret police exists? If she does, then the truth is simple enough: Lance is the head of a Gestapo-style organization that “protects the Commonwealth” in ways Mercer’s official military isn’t permitted to. Making Tyler Davis disappear, for example. But if Pamela Milton doesn’t know about Lance’s undercover outfit (and meeting late at night in an abandoned building suggests she probably doesn’t), then the group isn’t concerned so much about protecting the Commonwealth, but rather putting Lance in control of it.

That brings the conversation neatly back around to Alexandria, Stephanie and Eugene. If Lance’s group was nothing more than a license-t0-kill task force charged with doing the ugly jobs necessary to protect the Commonwealth, Stephanie would’ve dumped Eugene after their second helping of Rum & Raisin. Instead, she read his novel, plaited his pony tail, and slept in his bed, feeding intelligence back to Lance Hornsby all the while. How Lance uses that intel remains to be seen, but the extreme, shady methods with which he acquired it proves the Commonwealth’s secret service is Hornsby’s own pet project. And their mission is likely to exploit other communities for their leader’s benefit.

The Walking Dead season 11’s Lance storyline is entering territory that’ll befuddle comic readers and TV-only viewers alike. The original Lance Hornsby was a sniveling, snake-like politician just the same as his live-action counterpart – but did not sit at the head of a secret service, nor spy on Eugene by using a fake Stephanie. Josh Hamilton’s portrayal of Lance treads new ground for The Walking Dead… and that means there’s no limit on what Pamela Milton’s right-hand man may be plotting behind the scenes.

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