The Walking Dead season 11
5) Lance Hornsby
If I were to oversimplify Lance Hornsby, I would say that he was a massive snake in the grass, a self-serving schemer who was always looking out for what would put him ahead…but, again, that would be oversimplifying.
While Hornsby was those things, there was much more going on than just that. For starters, he was the Commonwealth’s Director of Operations, meaning that, even more so than Governor Pamela Milton herself, he was the one who made the Commonwealth run. One could argue that he was so vital to the Commonwealth’s successful operation that his arrest was key to the Commonwealth’s (Or, at least, the Milton government’s) swift downfall. The problem with this situation is, despite the effort he put into maintaining the community and keeping things running smoothly, he never got the recognition for it, a fact which greatly bothered him and would serve as the motivation for the more nefarious things he did throughout this season. In fact, if you look back at all of those nefarious things, you realize that they were all in service of his greater political ambitions, largely aimed at getting him the recognition he felt he so richly deserved.
Let’s take, for example, his manipulation of Eugene. In the second part of this season, we learned that everything that had happened to Eugene since arriving at the Commonwealth — Meeting Stephanie, getting arrested for contacting Hilltop, punching Sebastian (And getting arrested again) — were all part of an elaborate, circuitous plan to learn about the location of Eugene, Ezekiel, and Yumiko’s home communities.
Why? Well, as we’d later learn, so that he could have his own communities to lord over, free from Pamela’s watchful eye.
While we’re at it, let’s look at his attempt at “relations” with the Riverbend apartments community. After a shipment of guns (God only knows who those were intended for) was stolen by Leah, Lance sent Father Gabriel, Aaron, and his friend, Toby Carlson, to serve as a “diplomatic” mission to the community, only for Toby to reveal that he was sent specifically to wipe the entire community out, he and Lance believing that they had stolen the weapons. When Aaron, Gabriel, Negan, Annie, Maggie, Lydia, and Elijah thwart this plan, ever the opportunist, Hornsby turns around and uses this as his “Reichstag Fire”, giving him the excuse he needed to cut out all pretense, and actively attempt to annex Hilltop, Alexandria, and Oceanside into the Commonwealth, under his jurisdiction. Not only that, but he also turned around and tried to recruit the real culprit, Leah, to assassinate Maggie and make the annexations all the easier.
The takeovers would have been bad enough in their own right, but, much like with the attack on Riverbend, Hornsby cared little for how many people died in the attempt, the only thing sparing the people of Oceanside from a full-blown massacre was the flip of a coin.
Even after Pamela was forced to come down on Hornsby for his power play and forced to feed one of his agents to Sebastian’s walker, Lance was still playing his own games. After being freed by Carol and Daryl and forced to help them find out about the Commonwealth’s secret plan to reach the Atlantic, he attempted to weasel his way into power over the Commonwealth, trying to convince the pair to put him in charge of the community after the group removed Pamela from power, claiming that they’d need someone to stabilize the community and fill the power vacuum.
Lance Hornsby might be one of the most underhanded villains we’ve seen in the show. A consummate manipulator, he was always angling for something more and didn’t really care who got trampled in his quest to achieve it. Acquaintances, friends, and allies were all fair game to be thrown under the bus if it meant he wound up getting more in the end, and all the while, he acted as if he was the benefactor, putting a positive spin on his machinations, and using every turn of events to his advantage.
Maybe I was right the first time: He was a massive snake in the grass.