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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

[RECAP] Season 9, Episode 5 of The Walking Dead, "What Comes After"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

Well, after much marketing and hype by AMC, we have finally arrived at what has been continuously billed as "Rick Grimes' Final Episode". is and it isn't his final episode.  And what's more?  It was probably the best, most exciting episode in YEARS.  Confused?  Let's elaborate.

When we last left off our hero, Rick Grimes was left lying on a piece of concrete, impaled on a some rebar, as two converging herds slowly neared.  We can see that he is dipping in and out of consciousness with the phase "What is your wound?" being asked by a male voice, popping in and out throughout the episode.  He eventually comes to after hallucinating that he was talking to his comatose self at the hospital and telling himself to "WAKE UP" (and seeing a swarm helicopters, *hint hint*).  When he comes to, he sees the looming heard and he uses his belt to throw it on a higher piece of rebar and (ugh, I want to close my eyes just typing this) pull himself off the piece that impaled him.  That was without a doubt one of the most cringe worthy, painful scenes ever filmed on this show that I had to watch.  And listen, when your own husband has to turn his head because he cant stomach watching the scene, you KNOW it's intense.

In any case, he's able to get off, hold his wound to prevent himself from completely bleeding out and hoists himself onto his white horse, starting to lead the herd away from the area.  And so begins, Rick Grimes' journey to find and protect his family.  What follows are a series of hallucinations during his route, that occur at points where Rick is losing strength and is knocking on death's door.  These are the moments where he has contact with some of his lost loved ones, who provide guidance, support and remind him to "WAKE UP".

But before we get to Rick's story (obviously the significant story), we need to address the Maggie-Negan confrontation.  Maggie ends up arriving at Alexandria and eventually ends up convincing Michonne to allow her to see Negan, even though Michonne knows that Maggie simply wants to kill Negan.  Maggie enters Negan's quarters and he immediately starts egging her on, trying to incite her anger.  This begins to work but Maggie wants to see his face and asks him to step into the light and get on his knees.  Losing her patience, she grabs him and flings him against a wall.  It's at this point that Negan breaks down into tears and implores Maggie TO kill him.  That this is something he is not able to do himself and that her killing him would finally set him free and would allow him to be his loved one, his wife Lucille.  Maggie then realizes Negan is in a far worse place mentally than she ever could've imagined and therefore she leaves him to suffer in his own personal hell.  The absolute tearful, broken site of Negan in this scene was utterly heartbreaking but again, I am a Negan apologist so do with that information what you will. Regardless, Jeffrey Dean Morgan was incredible in this scene and it needs to be said and noted.

Now back to Rick: The first hallucination comes when Rick takes a break in a cabin to tend to his wound and it involves *gasp* Shane!  YES.  Shane Walsh himself, the original bad ass.  Rick and Shane sit in their old police car and catch up and joke, just the way they would've done back when they were partners.  Shane even goes so far as to ask Rick how's his little girl and does she have my eyes?  OUCH.  Shane bold as hell, even in the afterlife.  Seriously though, Shane fully acknowledges that Rick needed to do what he did, after Rick apologizes for of course, being the one that killed him.  Shane tells him that he understands and that he takes full credit for the evolution of Rick Grimes from Officer Friendly to a savage beast that would bite a man's throat out and hack threatening forces in a church (yes, Rick Grimes did all that), if need be.  He tells him he always knew he had it in him and those situations prove it.  When Rick tries to tell him that he's just a guy looking for his family, Shane tells him that he shouldn't be here and he needs to WAKE UP

Rick wakes up just in the nick of time, since walkers start to descend on the cabin and he narrowly escapes and climbs back on the horse.  He continues on and his next hallucination involves *tear* Hershel.  Rick is back on the farm with Hershel and he is especially emotional, apologizing for not doing more to be able to save his life.  Hershel assures him that he's fine and that he knows his daughter (Maggie) is strong and now with a child, she is even stronger.  Rick talks about being tired and continues to insist about seeing his family but Hershel assures him that this is not the place he needs to be and that he needs to WAKE UP.

Again, Rick wakes up and continues on, still losing a significant amount of blood and still slipping in out of consciousness.  We see that he's on a trajectory heading to the bridge, as Daryl recommended that he should.  As he starts to slip again, he has another hallucination where he is back at the hospital (IE the pilot episode).  He is walking down the same hallways but this time he unlocks and opens the doors labeled "DO NOT OPEN; DEAD OUTSIDE".  Upon opening the door, he is greeted with a bright light and he finds himself standing on a horizon completely filled with bodies.  Bodies of some that have already passed, bodies of people he knows are alive right now.  Eventually, Sasha stands up from the sea of bodies and talks to Rick.  He is again apologetic but Sasha reassures him that it is all a cycle and that everything that we all learn and help each other and pass that along.  But most importantly, he needs to WAKE UP.

He finally does and he is back at the campsite, horse now gone.  The campsite is deserted (seriously, what happened after the firefight?  Well, I guess it doesn't really matter now) but the walkers are overrunning it.  Rick manages to get a few head shots in, even while mortally wounded (what a bad ass) but then realizes he needs to get out of there and fast.

He then begins the slow arduous task of dragging himself, limping, toward the infamous bridge. It's at this point that we see the whole cavalry squad arrive and run over the bridge and start taking out all the walkers.  Michonne embraces the wounded Rick and tells him that she loves him because he is such a fighter but...none of this is real.  And he needs to WAKE UP.

He then finally comes to, alone, on the bridge.  The walkers start advancing over the bridge but unfortunately the bridge does not give and they just keep on coming.  This time, however, the cavalry really DOES show up and it is REAL.  They are not on the bridge but rather below the bridge and Daryl starts shooting walkers to prevent Rick from getting bit.  Michonne, Carol and Maggie on their part, run with a terrified urgency to try to get to Rick before it's too late.  Unfortunately, Rick notes the dynamite on the bridge that had been used in a previous episode to clear an area.  He utters that he "found them", his family, and he then shoots the dynamite which promptly triggers a huge explosion, blowing up the bridge and, we assume, himself in the process.  Michonne is devastated and her crumbling on the ground, being restrained by Maggie and Carol was utterly wrenching to watch.  And if that wasn't enough, Daryl's face crumpling into tears and dejectedly walking away likely put you over the edge.'s not over yet.  Rule #1 of The Walking Dead: Until you see a body, it's not official.  

We then see Jadis, in communication via her walkie talkie with the helicopter again, and this time, she is by the river stream flowing with walkers from the bridge.  Not only that, the camera pans and we then see Rick Grimes STILL ALIVE, but obviously insured, washed ashore by the river.  Jadis sees him and immediately radios the helicopter stating that she doesn't have an A but she does have a B and this B is a friend who desperately needs aid.  The helicopter obliges her deal and it touches down and we even start hearing the song "Space Junk" from the end of the pilot episode when Rick was stuck in the tank (did you catch that?).  While in the helicopter (where he is asked what his wound is), Jadis accompanies him and assures him that he will be in excellent shape and that he's going to a place with all the resources he needs.  Rick gives her a quizzical look but considering he has an oxygen tank hooked up to him and he is in a comfortable helicopter, what CAN he say?  The helicopter then whisks them away to...well, that is a question that apparently will be answered at a future date.

The episode could've ended here and it would've been totally acceptable but instead, we see the landscape change and we get the impression that time has passed.  At this point, we are not clear on how much time exactly.  We then see a new group of survivors fighting against a group of walkers that have them effectively surrounded.  All of a sudden though, shots ring out and the walkers start to drop.  A young girl's voice instructs them to follow her into the clearing in the woods and they promptly do.  Once there, they see that the voice came from a little girl, likely no more than 10 years old...but she has Rick's gun, Michonne's katana and Carl's hat.  Her name, as she introduces herself, is Judith.  JUDITH GRIMES.


The episode ends here with some previews to the remaining three episodes until the mid-season finale.  It is clear that the departure of Rick Grimes is obviously something to be missed.  However, it needs to be said, that Angela Kang and her team of writers found a way to write the character of Rick Grimes out of the show, majestically and honorably...but not out of the story.  His story will continue in another medium which will allow the further development of the current story line and characters which definitely feels incredibly exciting, particularly with "Little Ass Kicker" at the helm.

Dare I say it, has "The Walking Dead" become Sunday night's Must See TV again?  I think it actually has.


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