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Recap / The Walking Dead S 09 E 05 What Comes After

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Season 9, Episode 5

"It feels like it's ending."
Rick Grimes

The end of an era has come as Rick reflects on his past and future.

  • Adaptational Villainy: Downplayed, but in their confrontation in the comics, Negan profusely apologized to Maggie for killing Glenn, realizing that for all the grief he feels over his dead wife, he dished it out to Maggie by killing her husband, and outright cried about how horrible he felt for his actions. Though TV! Negan does break down crying and begging to be killed, he does not apologize to Maggie for killing Glenn nor does he explicitly express remorse for his actions.
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  • And Then What?: Michonne demands to know if Maggie can live with what will come after killing Negan. It doesn’t work, because as Maggie attests, she can’t live with the way things are now.
  • Arc Words: Throughout the episode, Rick keeps uttering that he's "looking for his family", then prompted by his various hallucinations telling him different iterations of "Wake up!".
  • Bait-and-Switch: Rick appears to die when he is caught in the explosion he caused at the bridge to stop the herd, only to be shown shortly after, having been drifted down by the current, injured but alive.
  • Beneath the Mask: Negan acts like his old, dog-kicking self to try and provoke Maggie into killing him, but her insistence on him stepping into the light and hesitance sees his bravado fall to pieces, revealing the broken Death Seeker he's become.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
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    • Subverted when Rick has a vision of the group coming to his rescue on the bridge. It’s another hallucination, and they’re unable to save him from the destruction of the bridge.
    • Judith saves Magna’s group from being pinned down by the herd and helps them escape into the woods.
  • Book-Ends: Rick’s last episode echoes much of his first episode, the pilot.
    • The iconic shot of him riding into Atlanta.
    • His conversation with Shane in their cruiser over burgers.
    • Rick’s awakening in the hospital is recreated. This was actually confirmed by Andrew Lincoln to be the very last scene he shot for the show, since he needed to shave to recreate Rick’s earlier, younger look.
    • The return of the mysterious helicopter, only this time, the helicopter saved him from death as opposed to endangering his life.
    • The song “Space Junk” by Wang Chung, which was used in the pilot’s credits, is played when Rick is being spirited away by the helicopter.
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    • And most poignantly, both this episode and the pilot feature Rick’s search for his family.
    • Rick’s conversation with Hershel also qualifies. His first real conversation with Hershel was in “Cherokee Rose” when Hershel invited him to take a look at the gorgeous countryside around his farm. Their final conversation in the series (compounded even further by the death of Scott Wilson preventing any future appearances of his character) begins with Hershel asking the same thing of Rick.
  • The Bus Came Back: Shane, Hershel, and Sasha make posthumous reappearances.
  • Changing of the Guard: Rick's Disney Death vacates The Hero and Big Good roles for other characters to fill. Word of God says Daryl, Michonne, and Judith will fill them.
  • Continuity Porn:
    • What “What Happened and What’s Going On” was to Tyreese, in many ways, this episode is to Rick, as he confronts faces from the past as he is on death’s door.
    • The iconic shot of Rick riding into Atlanta in the pilot episode is recreated via hallucination, only this time with the herd of walkers behind him.
    • Rick’s conversation with Shane has Shane recall Rick’s killing of Joe, Dan (Season 4’s “A”) and Gareth (Season 5’s “Four Walls and a Roof”), as well as his own death at Rick’s hands Season 2’s “Better Angels”).
    • Rick apologizes to Hershel for his own murder (Season 4’s “Too Far Gone”), and the deaths of Beth and Glenn (Season 5’s “Coda” and Season 7’s premiere, respectively).
    • Judith saving Magna’s group from walkers despite being far younger than any of them recalls when Carl did the same for Tyreese’s group in Season 3’s “Made to Suffer”.
  • Cruel Mercy: After seeing what utter despair Negan has fallen into in his incarceration, Maggie decides to leave him alive to suffer and deal with the remorse he feels for his actions.
  • Dawn of an Era: With Rick's Disney Death, The Hero and protagonist roles will be distributed to Daryl, Michonne, and Judith per Word of God.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Rick has this with Shane, Hershel, and Sasha.
  • Death Seeker: Negan's downfall and imprisonment has thoroughly broken him. He now wants nothing more than to simply die and be reunited with his beloved wife.
  • Disney Death: Rick ultimately suffers this, as everyone believes he is dead, but he ended up surviving the destruction of the bridge and was ferried to safety by Anne in the helicopter.
  • Dramatic Irony: Rick survives the destruction of the bridge, but his friends and loved ones will likely never learn of this.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Subverted; Rick blowing the bridge to wipe out the walkers would have been this, but he managed to survive.
  • Easily Forgiven: Rick’s vision of Shane shrugs off that Rick killed him, and insists that he needs to let it go.
  • End of an Age: The episode marks the Grand Finale of Rick Grimes' nearly decade-long tenure as The Hero and Big Good of the show.
  • Ex-Big Bad: Far from the mighty warlord he once was, Negan has been reduced to a broken and weeping old man, pleading for the death he feels that he deserves, only to be denied and left more broken than ever.
  • Fake Shemp: During the lead-up to Rick's Dead Person Conversation with Sasha, one of the corpses the camera focuses on was Beth's, who is not facing the camera as she's not played by Emily Kinney.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Maggie decides to spare Negan and keep him imprisoned when he begs her to kill him, stating that the way he is now is a worse punishment than death.
  • Foreshadowing: One of the characters who can be seen most prominently during Rick’s hallucination of a field of his dead friends and family is Jesus, who ends up perishing three episodes later in “Evolution”.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Rick's group has been worried all season that the bridge wouldn't be able to stand the rushing river or the weight of transportation. When Rick is wounded and drawing the herd of zombies, he lures them across the bridge thinking it will collapse under them, only to find out to his horror that it is sturdy enough to hold the weight.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Knowing that the massive herd will threaten Hilltop and the other communities if it manages to cross the bridge is why Rick decides to detonate the dynamite and take himself with it.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Negan sobs out that he can't see to his own death, implying that he's tried, but can't bring himself to commit suicide.
  • It Was with You All Along: Hershel tells Rick that he doesn’t need to search for his family, as he hasn’t lost them. It’s not until the end when Rick sees his friends and family fighting to save him that Hershel’s words ring true.
  • Kid Hero: Judith becomes a bonafide Little Miss Badass after the Time Skip.
  • Last Stand: With no other options, Rick mounts one of these on the bridge.
  • Long Bus Trip: Both Lori and Carl are suspiciously absent from Rick's hallucinations, despite being his family and original reason for living. Other notable, close friends of Rick’s who do not return are Glenn, Andrea, T-Dog, Dale, Beth, Tyreese, Bob and Abraham.
  • Made of Iron: Rick not only survives being impaled on a rebar, he crosses a considerable distance on horseback and on foot, holds his own against several walkers, and even survives the bridge blowing up in his face.
  • Manly Tears: Rick has these throughout his visions as he reunites with his fallen friends. Negan after his confrontation with Maggie. Daryl has these when he believes Rick has died.
  • The Musketeer: Judith is shown using a Sniper Rifle in combat, but also carries what appears to be a kendo stick on her back.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Implied when Michonne tearfully surrenders the key to Negan’s cell to Maggie. She appears to truly realize the anguish and torment Maggie has endured the last year and a half knowing that Glenn’s murderer survives, and can’t produce any other meaningful way to help her friend.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The scene where Rick stands in an endless field of his friends’ corpses recreates one of the covers of the comic’s issue #100.
    • Maggie’s confrontation with Negan is lifted largely from issue #174, albeit it takes place quite some time earlier in the timeline.
  • My Greatest Failure: Rick apologizes to Shane for killing him, and later apologizes to Hershel for not being able to save Beth and Glenn.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Everyone naturally assumes that Rick died in the explosion that takes out the bridge (and, given how he was near the heart of it, they probably figured there wasn't much of a body left). It's only later revealed to the audience and Anne that he survived and washed up on shore.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: Aside from Anne, all the other characters believe that Rick has really died.
  • Papa Wolf: Shane particularly relishes Rick’s killing of Gareth, who had directly threatened Judith’s life during the confrontation in Gabriel’s church.
  • Please Kill Me: Negan outright begs for Maggie to kill him.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Rick is put on a mysterious helicopter and taken to parts unknown. Scott Gimple clarified on Talking Dead that this is the end of Rick’s tenure on The Walking Dead - but he will be the focus of future spin-off films in the franchise.
    • Along with Rick, Anne has also departed the series as she is the one who ferried him onto the helicopter.
    • This is also Maggie’s final episode of the series for the foreseeable future, as Lauren Cohan officially departs the show as of this episode as well.
  • Say My Name: Michonne screams Rick's name in horror when he blew the bridge up.
  • Scenery Gorn: Rick's Worst Aid mentioned below is shown in its bloody glory.
  • Sole Survivor: Downplayed due to Rick’s survival, but as of this episode, Judith is the last biological member of the Grimes family on the show.
  • So Proud of You: Both Shane and Hershel express pride in Rick for all the good that he’s done.
  • Taking You with Me: Rick's intention for blowing up the bridge with TNTs is to take the walkers with him. Of course, he suffers Disney Death.
  • Time Skip: The epilogue slips forward several years, as Judith is shown as an independent, gun-toting warrior in her own right. The accompanying episode of Talking Dead establishes that six years have passed, making Judith eight or nine.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After the Time Skip, Judith has become a fully capable combatant.
  • Villain Has a Point: Discussed. Shane is happy that Rick took a page from his book and hardened, and Rick agrees that he had to do so if he was to survive.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Negan has one when Maggie goes to visit him in his cell. He just wants to die so that he can be reunited with his wife, which is why he tried to goad Maggie into killing him.
  • Wham Line: One that reveals the second Time Skip: "My name's Judith. Judith Grimes."
  • Wham Shot: Three.
    • Anne seeing the injured Rick, who is presumed dead by everyone else, then taking him to a helicopter.
    • The tree shot that establishes the second Time Skip.
    • Overlapping with the aforementioned Wham Line, the fact that the Little Miss Badass picks up the Grimes police hat not long after the second Time Skip essentially confirms her identity.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: After Rick previously said Judith was Shane’s daughter in Season 7, his Dead Person Conversation once again confirms it as he admits to Shane that she has his nose.
  • Worst Aid: Rick pulls himself out from being impaled to a rebar.
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