REVIEW: The Walking Dead, S9 Ep5 – What Comes After

The Walking Dead, S9 Ep5 - What Comes After

Rick’s final episode on The Walking Dead was a roller-coaster of emotion, an impressive chapter that managed to combine familiar tropes with some genuine surprises, all leading to a new and exciting direction for the story.

The Walking Dead, S9 Ep5 - What Comes AfterWhen the news first broke out that Andrew Lincoln wanted to leave The Walking Dead, everyone assumed he would be written out by dying on the show in some epic way. And the previous episodes certainly did much to set this up and to calibrate all expectations. Rick was experiencing a rare period of domestic bliss which always means that tragedy and loss would not be far behind. Last week, we got the frustrating cliffhanger of him being stabbed in the gut with rebar while hordes of walkers converged on him.

He then spends most of this episode bleeding and walking away from the hordes, struggling to stay conscious and to make his way back to his loved ones. And in true, finale-fashion, he has visions of characters long dead to guide him along his journey home.

The Walking Dead, S9 Ep5 - What Comes AfterOne significant, non-Rick related part of the episode was Maggie’s long-awaited confrontation with Negan. After a tense conversation with Michonne, Maggie made her way into the cell, fully intending to exact her revenge on the man who murdered Glenn. But the Negan she finds is a pathetic shell of his former self, begging and crying to be killed so that he could be reunited with his dead wife. Maggie looks at him with both pity and disgust and then realizes that she does not need to kill him after all. His continued existence is already a fate worse than death and she leaves him to it.

It’s a powerful moment that also frees Maggie from all the rage and sorrow that had been weighing her down since Glenn’s death. She faced her demon and she triumphed over him. So now, she is finally free to move on with her life unburdened by the past.

The Walking Dead, S9 Ep5 - What Comes AfterThe ghosts of the past all pay a visit to Rick as even the audience takes a walk down memory lane. The three major visions (like The Walking Dead version of A Christmas Carol) all have important people in Rick’s life giving him sage advice and encouragement. The first reunionwith Shane was great to watch, showing the deep friendship between the two (and confirming once and for all that Judith is not Rick’s biological daughter). This was followed by a touching scene with Hershel (the late Scott Wilson, making this part even more poignant), showing Rick a vision of the better world he was dreaming of.

The Walking Dead, S9 Ep5 - What Comes AfterThe most effective speech came from Sasha, as she confronted Rick in a field of corpses. Her message was powerful, reminding Rick that they needed to make sacrifices to give strength to the people they loved and to help them survive the harsh world of The Walking Dead. She said that everything didn’t really end, but that one left a legacy for future generations. The only thing strange about this was that, as much as I love Sonequa Martin-Green’s performance in Star Trek: Discovery, Sasha was never particularly close to Rick, so her cameo was a baffling choice.

It was a pity that we did not get to see Carl or Lori in such a momentous episode, especially considering it was Carl who had been Rick’s driving force for most of the season.

The Walking Dead, S9 Ep5 - What Comes AfterRick also had a vision of the rest of the gang running to his aid, and a sweet, final moment with Michonne, who told him that she loved him because he never gave up and he always fought for the people he loved.

He decided to live up to this legacy as he blew up the bridge full of walkers, right before the eyes of all the people he loved. Even if I saw this coming, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears when I saw Michonne and Daryl’s grief at seeing someone they loved taken from them. But Rick Grimes went down in a blaze of glory.

Except he didn’t.

In a surprising (and slightly frustrating) twist, he not only survived the explosion, but is also taken away to safety by Jadis and the mysterious people in helicopters. Rick is going to live to see another day.

The Walking Dead, S9 Ep5 - What Comes AfterAnd apparently, Andrew Lincoln is also going to appear in three spin-off feature films of The Walking Dead, as confirmed by Scott Gimple. So, the showrunners have created this loophole to ensure that Rick can return somewhere down the line, and this somehow diminishes the impact of this emotional finale. It’s a bit disappointing, but with the final scenes, I’m hopeful about the future of the show, especially now that the war with the Saviors has been effectively wrapped up. Others may not be as optimistic but there are still enough characters to root for.

The Walking Dead, S9 Ep5 - What Comes AfterAnd we also get a huge time-skip to where Judith is old enough to start following her father’s footsteps. Li’l ass-kicker indeed. Judith rescues group of survivors, all characters from the comics, and ushers us into a new era without Rick. The communities are thriving but there are also new threats across the horizon, and the loss of Rick Grimes (for now) has given the other main players a chance to shine. Plus, it’s exciting to see that the brave and badass ladies of The Walking Dead are taking the spotlight: Michonne, Maggie, and Carol are in the lead while Daryl is still around somehow. This is the start of an intriguing new chapter and I can’t wait to see what it brings.