The Walking Dead Season 9 finale recap: Let it snow

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 /

Winter is coming to The Walking Dead Season 9 finale in a pensive installment that looks ahead to the future in more ways than one.

In the wake of the horrific attack perpetrated by the Whisperers, the Kingdom finally falls. Unfortunately, the trade from the fair wasn’t enough to keep the lights on, and the once idyllic compound collapsed in on itself. But, led by the ever-optimistic King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), the people remain undeterred. After all, a house is just four walls and a roof, but Ezekiel knows that a home is wherever your loved ones are.

The efforts to relocate the Kingdom’s community are hampered by a coming storm. And this isn’t any storm, it’s a blizzard. In the absence of the National Weather Service and weather apps galore, Jerry (Cooper Andrews) and Ezekiel are kicking it old school with a barometer and a Spidey sense for snow. The group gamely tries to beat the storm, trekking along the road with a few protectors in tow. Michonne (Danai Gurira), Magna (Nadia Hilker), Aaron (Ross Marquand), and Daryl (Norman Reedus) have come to lend a hand in ensuring a smooth transition to the Hilltop.

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Moving is the worst, y’all, and it’s even harder without a moving van. The group has horse-drawn carriages to carry their belongings, but as the winds kick up and the temperature drops, things get dodgy. So they decide to take shelter in the old Sanctuary while they decide on a new game plan.

You know what else is the worst? Blizzards. Yup. Oh, and blizzards without heat are even more challenging. While the Kingdom hits the road, Alexandria deals with a heat issue. The solar panels are inoperable during the storm, so they have to huddle around fireplaces for heat. Gabriel (Seth Gillam) makes the executive decision to break the community up into three groups, using the biggest fireplaces for collective warmth. Also, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is coming with them because they’re not monsters. Thankfully so, because Negan is the first to notice that something is wrong when the fireplace is lit in the first house. The flue is clogged, so the soot backs up into the chimney, causing an explosion.

(Side note: Mmmmkay, but an explosion probably wouldn’t happen here. More likely the carbon monoxide laden smoke would just flow back into the house, silently killing them all as they slept. Glad this didn’t happen. Check your flues, people.)

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

The Alexandria group heads out into the storm to seek warmth in Aaron’s house. They band together, tethered together onto a long rope so they can follow one another in the white out, when Judith (Cailey Fleming) hears Dog and breaks ranks to save him. Aww. It’s adorable. And it becomes even more adorable when Negan races after his buddy Judith to save her.

Yes yes, Negan is evil, but his relationship with Judith is really one of the best things going on this show right now. The interplay between the two of them is somehow natural, entertaining, and heartwarming all at the same time. So when he swoops in and saves both her and Dog from the dangerous winds and freezing cold, it’s a win for everyone.

The elements swirl around both groups as they attempt to survive, reminding us that Mother Nature can be the cruelest villain of them all. In many tragedies involving individuals stranded in the wilderness, those people generally don’t die of starvation or thirst. Nope. They die of exposure to the elements. Severe cold will kill you before anything else. Well, unless there are zombies lurking underneath the snow….

And that’s exactly what happens as the Kingdomites take a shortcut through the Whisperers’ territory. As they attempt to cross a frozen river, frozen walkers emerge and attempt to nosh on the humans above. Daryl’s got it covered through. He even kills a walker with an icicle! That’s certainly the walker kill of the week in my book.

But in all the excitement, Lydia (Cassady McClincy) slips away to attempt suicide by walker. Just like psychopath Lizzie before her, she dangles her sweet pale flesh in front of the walker’s gnashing chompers in a daze. Carol (Melissa McBride) appears, but she doesn’t move to stop her. After the loss of her son Henry, she’s in a haze of grief herself. She’s haggard and near broken, and it’s hard to see her like this. So when Lydia approaches her and attempts suicide by Carol, Carol just leads her back to the group in a resigned manner.

Eventually, all roads lead to safety. The Kingdomites reach the Hilltop, with Ezekiel potentially the new leader of the community. And then, in a surprising move, Carol announces that she’s headed out to Alexandria with Daryl and Michonne.

Cassady McClincy as Lydia, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Cassady McClincy as Lydia, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

A lot of things happened in The Walking Dead Season 9 finale, but the fact that one of the biggest love triangles on TV right now features a fifty-three year-old woman feels revolutionary. At the start of the episode, Ezekiel asks Daryl to bow out of their lives, leaving them to regain some semblance of normal. Carol doesn’t know about this ask, but she decides to leave her King anyhow, abandoning the fantasy for reality. Caryl shippers are sure to rejoice given this new turn of events, but this relationship triangle will certainly be explored next season.

Also, now with two main communities, we have less ground to cover in Season 10. This will hopefully prove to be a nice change of pace from the pinballing around to the several different locales throughout the wilds of the new world. But at the conclusion of the episode, a whole new option opens up to our heroes. Of course we get a sinister glimpse of Alpha (Samantha Morton) and her minions waiting in the wings, but something even more curious is around the corner.

As Judith and Ezekiel adorably sign off on the radio at the end of the long blizzard, the frequency goes silent. But then, a tinny female voice comes through to an empty room, indicating that there are other survivors out there, just within reach. It’s not such a small world, after all.

This intriguing cliffhanger leaves us with much to ponder over the break. Who’s on the other end of that radio transmission? Are they friend or foe? In the comics, the call is coming from the Commonwealth, a large society of people led by a woman named Pamela Milton. And Pamela already has a counterpart in The Walking Dead TV series. We met Georgie (played by Jayne Atkinson) back in Season 8, and there have been several mentions of her since then, as Maggie (Lauren Cohan) headed off with her to help start a new community during the six year time jump.

Seeing as Cohan’s involvement moving forward in the series is still a question mark, it’s certainly possible that the show is going to go the comic route and have Commonwealth be on the other end of the line. However, given that Georgie’s people already know where to find our gang, it seems unlikely that the show is going to use this big reveal to introduce a community we already know exists. Alternatively, could the communication be coming from wherever Jadis (Pollyanna MacIntosh) has taken Rick (Andrew Lincoln)? Only time will tell…

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Random Thoughts Before I Go:

  • A huge blizzard equals a half inch of snow? Hoooookay. I get that they probably used snow machines to make this piddling amount of snow, but c’mon. Go film somewhere with snow if you want to make the aftermath of a blizzard realistic. I’m from New England, and I approve this message.
  • Can you really kill someone with an icicle? The internet points to no – if the icicle is used as a murder weapon. If it’s just falling on someone, then it’s definitely deadly.

The Walking Dead will return to AMC in the fall for Season 10.