sebastian in The Walking Dead

How ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 11, Episode 18 Tackles Classism and Privilege in a Post-Apocalypse World

Privileged living? In the apocalypse? Yes.

One would think a post-apocalyptic world would mean that the old world is dead. In some ways, that’s true, but not entirely. AMC’s The Walking Dead has never really avoided topics surrounding social issues. After all, Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) used to be a character, and he definitely would’ve voted for the orange man. The show has demonstrated what uncontrolled power does to people. But what happens to people who already had privilege and power before? In the case of the Miltons, they avoid the dangers of the new world by living in the Commonwealth.

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Major spoiler for “A New Deal” (Season 11, Episode 18) ahead!

The Walking Dead Wiki’s description of the community is as follows:

The Commonwealth is a civilization composed of numerous united townships across the eastern and Midwest United States with over 50,000 survivors total in AMC’s The Walking Dead.

– The Walking Dead Wiki

Even the concept of such a community where people are being ripped apart every day is privileged. But there’s also a class system in the Commonwealth, essentially mimicking our regular world. While living in the community is better than being out on the road, the people in Pamela Milton’s (Laila Robins) community in particular aren’t all rich people. In fact, even this community has people not being able to receive assistance for themselves or loved ones. Meanwhile, Sebastian Milton (Teo Rapp-Olsson) is able to do what he wants and flaunt his privilege.

“A New Deal” doesn’t remotely hold back on these ideas. It brings even more to light about what Sebastian really thinks about his own community. He’s aware of the privilege and not-so-subtle class system that’s put in place. But nobody wants to fully address that they’re seen as common folk (ironically), with the service workers being even more disposable than anyone else and not being fully appreciated for what they do. For a character like Sebastian to be the most honest is rough.

“People don’t want honesty. They wanna be told that everything’s gonna be A-Okay so they can go about ignoring the goddamn mess this world really is. (…) Please. The Commonwealth is built on buying into bullshit. The desperate need to believe that the All-American dream is still real. Ya know, anything — anything is possible, we can rise above our stations. It’s a fricking joke. The reality is that the poor stay poor so that the rich can do whatever the hell we want. The game is rigged. There are no bootstraps to pull up, Christ my mom handpicks the lottery winners! And none of it matters. And nothing will ever change, but those people that you think want honesty? Yeah, they’re just too stupid to see it. It’s pathetic.”

—Sebastian Milton in “A New Deal”

Despite my disinterest of the TV adaptation of Stephanie (Chelle Ramos), her being the one to expose Sebastian on Founder’s Day is perfect. His quote above is played over the speakers because Stephanie secretly recorded him prior to the event, and his explosive male rage (which isn’t surprising, and Stephanie should’ve been written as a bit smarter in this moment) that results in his own death is chef’s kiss. Meanwhile, his mother is left to be booed out of office, most likely, essentially losing her manipulative hold over the community.

Rather than Sebastian getting his comic counterpart’s arc that involves a shocking death (though it would’ve been with a different character), he dies screaming on the street while people watch. Nobody but Judith (Cailey Fleming) even attempts to help him. Literal chaos erupts because the spell is broken. His family is now the enemy. It’s just funny that his privilege, and ridiculous anger at a Black woman for exposing him, is what got him killed in the end.

(featured image: AMC)


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Vanessa Maki
Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.