The Walking Dead recreates an important comic book scene – but with a twist that makes Pamela Milton look even worse. Joining the Commonwealth seemed like such a good idea at the time, but The Walking Dead’s survivors are rapidly discovering the true cost of entry into Pamela Milton’s post-apocalyptic paradise. Showing most reluctance among the main crew is Maggie Rhee, who stays behind at Hilltop and rebuffs any Commonwealth advances. In The Walking Dead season 11’s “The Lucky Ones,” Pamela and Lance Hornsby embark on a special diplomatic mission to convince Hilltop’s head honcho of the Commonwealth’s benefits, and as part of their charm offensive, Pamela suggests going on a hunt.
She orders all guards to leave her and Maggie alone, and there’s some actual bonding between them as Pamela smoothly sells her style of leadership. The Walking Dead’s hunting scene adapts a similar moment from Robert Kirkman’s original comic books, where Pamela takes Rick Grimes and Michonne on a zombie hunting party. Mercer later confirms these are conducted so Commonwealth citizens believe Pamela is actively taking up arms and protecting them. On the surface, that would seem to make comic Pamela the more despicable villain. She’s pretending to kill zombies so her followers like her, whereas Laila Robins’ live-action Pamela takes Maggie on a genuine hunt for food. From another perspective, however, it’s The Walking Dead’s TV Pamela who comes off worse…
In The Walking Dead‘s comic version of events, Pamela spots a zombie, selects a firearm like a golfer chooses a club, then meekly fires a bullet into the walker’s shoulder. Satisfied with her work, she leaves the rest to Mercer. Clearly, Pamela Milton is useless on the front lines of battle. In The Walking Dead season 11, Maggie assumes Pamela will be useless, but gets a pleasant surprise when the Commonwealth’s Governor offers to take down a zombie creeping at six o’clock… then expertly puts a bullet straight through its head. Maggie (like The Walking Dead‘s audience) is left surprised and impressed in equal measure… but doesn’t this actually make Pamela worse? Because whereas the comic character couldn’t fight, TV Pamela can… she’s simply choosing not to.
Not everyone in The Walking Dead is good at fighting zombies, and that’s fine. The likes of Eugene and Nabila (Jerry’s chatty wife) rarely venture into battle voluntarily, but they contribute to their respective communities in other ways. Comic Pamela isn’t a bad person because she’s garbage at killing zombies – she’s a bad person because rather than using her leadership and diplomacy skills to the Commonwealth’s advantage, she’s exploiting them to benefit herself. In The Walking Dead season 11, Maggie watches as Pamela makes a perfect zombie head-shot, but when Hilltop’s perimeter is compromised later in the episode, Maggie’s team and Mercer’s soldiers react while Pamela doesn’t lift a finger. Her marksmanship could be the difference between a Commonwealth soldier becoming zombie lunch and surviving to see his family again… if she cared enough to try. Pamela’s refusal to get involved – despite being a decent shot – highlights the Commonwealth’s inequality far more than her being unable to shoot a barn door from 10 yards out would.
If Pamela Milton is a worse villain on screen than on page, she’s only following the larger Commonwealth pattern we’re seeing in The Walking Dead season 11. Pamela’s community unquestionably had an equality problem in the comics, but there was no clandestine secret service led by Lance Hornsby, no mysterious list of disappeared rebels, no lying about Stephanie’s identity. The live-action Commonwealth makes its comic predecessor look positively pleasant by comparison… and Pamela being a half-decent fighter who sits by idly when the actions starts only rubs salt in that wound.