‘The Walking Dead’ season 9 finale: winter has certainly arrived

Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Originally posted Sunday, March 31, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

“The Walking Dead” season 9 was a greatly improved product from seasons 7 and 8 but as ratings have shown, the damage was done. Viewers left in droves and aren’t coming back.

But those who decided to stick around were rewarded with a strong second half that led to the climactic 10-head Whisperer “border” wall that was officially the biggest speaking role cast thinning at one time in the show’s history.

It was the start of what will become the war with the Whisperers season 10, started in part by the now dead Henry. 
But first: we get this inevitably anti-climactic winter episode featuring no deaths. The primary message is that Michonne is all in on the United Nations "all for one, one for all" ideal and that principle helped the members of the fallen Kingdom make it to the Hilltop.

The episode also shows Alpha setting up for the season war while the ham radio indicates life beyond what we are seeing.


Anyway, winter has indeed come and it isn’t pretty.

The Kingdom’s aging piping goes kablooey. With no heat or functioning water, residents are forced to trudge to the Hilltop just as a huge blizzard is arriving.

During the walk, Ezekiel sets Daryl aside and tries to convince him to separate from them, that somehow he is to blame for Henry’s death. (Who’s to blame for Henry’s death? Not Daryl! No. It was Henry’s teen hormones.)

Daryl isn’t sure what to do, but he and Carol remain close buds and they need each other.

“I feel like I’m losing myself again,” she tells  Daryl. “I’m trying to hang on but I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Daryl offers to separate from her and the King and take Lydia with him.

“I can take her away from here,” Daryl said. “I can keep her safe on my own.”

But he doesn’t want to go - for once. He realizes there is a leadership void and he is indispensable now.

In the immediate moment, it becomes clear this scary blizzard could kill them all if they don’t find a place to stay. What’s nearby? What’s left of the Sanctuary. There is nothing much left there, though.

They need to get to a way station which has supplies, even if it means crossing Alpha’s territory.

In the meantime, Ezekiel feels guilt and regret that he couldn’t keep the Kingdom together.

“The kingdom fell,” Ezekiel tells Michonne. “I should have seen it coming. We could have gotten out sooner.”

But she blames her own isolationism for the Kingdom’s weakness. “All this time we spent apart, I thought it made us stronger. It didn’t. That woman was able to walk amongst us because we didn’t know each other. We can never let that happen again.”

The only good thing about the deep freeze is it caused the river to freeze up well enough for them to cross and make it to the Hilltop.

Guilt ridden: Lydia is feeling super guilty over Henry's idiocy. She tries to kill herself by having a frozen walker bite her but Carol finds her. Then she tries to escape a second time. Carol catches up to her again. Lydia asks her to just kill her to prevent others from dying. "Do it for Henry," she said. "I'm sorry it has to be you but it does. I'm too weak. Just like my mother said."

Of course, Carol won’t do it. That was predictable.

Seeking Dog: The solar panels are not working at Alexandria. The residents stay in places with fireplaces. But in the room with Negan (who was taken out of the prison due to the cold), Eugene, Rosita, Gabriel, Judith and Siddiq, the chimney gets clogged up and they can't keep a fire. So they have to leave to Alden's place. But when Judith hears Dog, who she had lost before the blizzard began, she goes off and searches for him. Negan chases after her. Some piece of flotsam blows by and hurts him. But he finds her and picks her up. Yes, Negan is doing something heroic.

Odd couple: Rosita and Gabriel. She's a warrior who had the previous hots for Abraham. If anything, she has shown rather varied taste given she has also bedded with Siddiq. Just one dude is stuck in the friend zone: doting Eugene.

You knew this one was coming: At least the ice gives Daryl an excuse to kill a walker with an icycle.

50 Shades of what?: In the briefest of scenes, Alpha and Beta talk about how they had taken a break of some sort. Then he whips her arm. Why?

Radio is working! King Ezekiel and Judith talk via ham radio. Ezekiel is trying to be optimistic, his default mode. The final moments of the season has the ham radio revealing somebody else trying to communicate. Who is it? Maybe this will be the connection to Rick?

Best perspective of the night: 

“Facing evil brings good people together,” Michonne said to Negan.

“The thing is nobody ever thinks they’re the evil one,” Negan said.

The past couple of episodes raise a few questions. (I was too busy to actually recap the beheading episode.)

1) How did Alpha infiltrate the fair so easily?

2) How were the Whisperers able to take such a disparate group of people hostage from the fair before anybody noticed?

3) How did the Whisperers take down all seven hostages despite the Highwaymen coming?

4) How are the Whisperers managing in these frigid blizzard conditions? Where did they go?

5) Why don’t the walkers all just freeze into oblivion at this point? Given the temperatures, how could they even come out of the snow like that?

6) How did the Whisperers place all those walkers into that valley without any of the Hilltop/Alexandria/Oceanside/Kingdom folks noticing. I mean, that's loud.

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