AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 9, Episode 5: “What Comes After”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Matthew Negrete
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Obliged” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Who Are You Now?” – click here
We begin like it’s “Days Gone Bye,” the first episode all over again. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) stands over himself in that hospital ages ago, as the end of the world commenced, and the zombie apocalypse came down on everybody. He actually wakes up on that slab of concrete with a piece of rebar through his side. He struggles, trying to pull himself off. But it’s a deep wound, and the horde of walkers headed for him are hungry. He pulls off his belt, hauling up on the other rebar, and manages to get himself out, though he’s badly injured. He gets to his horse, and they barely trot away from the starving zombies nearby.
Elsewhere on the road, Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh) breaks down in the camper she’s driving. She continues getting calls from the mysterious person on the walkie, asking for the “status” of her “A.” What exactly constitutes and A and a B? Will this be how Rick ultimately leaves the series somehow? Anne’s busy trying to buy herself a way out of the shit, and this all suggests there are other, larger communities outside of our survivors and their own communities.
Poor Rick is attempting to get back to his people, yet the blood loss is getting to him. He passes out momentarily, only to find the horde close when he comes to, and he has to keep pushing to move forward. He makes it to a cabin, where he heads inside to try closing his wound temporarily. He passes out again, having a vision of Shane (Jon Bernthal) in their cop car. Rick relives the earliest moments before the apocalypse started. He keeps saying: “I‘m looking for my family.” The old friends revisit the bittersweet past, specifically a dividing line between who Rick was then and who Rick’s become.
“Because there’s nothing you can say, there’s only what you do.”
When Rick comes back to the world, he’s nearly chomped. He force his way out of the cabin to his horse, and they barely make it out of there alive again. Meanwhile, Michonne (Danai Gurira) and little Judith are spending a day at home, doing normal things like any other day. That is, aside from Maggie (Lauren Cohan) showing up to take her revenge. She meets Michonne at the door behind which Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is being kept in his cell. She wants the man who killed her husband to pay in blood, whereas Michonne hopes to show her there’s another way. That isn’t enough for Maggie. And so she’s given the key.
Maggie heads in to see Negan, as they confront one another after a year and a half. He taunts her somewhat about Glenn’s brutal murder and bashing his “big, beautiful brains” out. She tells him to get on his knees. So, he does, relishing in the pain he’s caused others. However, when she forces him into the light from the dark of his cell she sees how pitiful he’s gotten. Negan cries, begging to die so he can see his wife again. And this makes Maggie reconsider killing him.
Another vision for Rick, and a truly hard pill to swallow given Scott Wilson’s recent death— Hershel comes to speak with him. They look out over the new world together. The former sheriff apologises for what happened to Beth, Glenn, and Hershel. He feels he failed others and didn’t listen enough. Not long and it’s a different vision: Rick returns to that hospital he woke up in during the initial episode of The Walking Dead. He pushes through a door into the outside world where bodies are strewn everywhere, far as the eye can see, including his own friends, from Daryl (Norman Reedus) to Carol (Melissa McBride), to Maggie and others. It’s like an embodiment of his worst fears, losing every last person. From the pile of corpses rises Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), trying to tell Rick people affect one another in many ways, helping each other gain strength, even if some of them die. She also makes clear the struggle’s eternal, though eventually the balance leans “towards the brave, toward love.”
Rick wakes again, only his horse has run off and left him. He’s in the middle of the camp by the bridge again. Nobody’s around other than zombies. He kills a couple, and more keep coming from the woods. He makes it out to the bridge, seeing that the horde is about to cross over it. Lucky for him, his community are right behind him. Daryl and the others run in to save him, and Michonne rushes to her man telling him “We don‘t die” just like Sasha did in his vision.
Only, it’s a dream.
Moments later from a distance, he’s actually saved this time by Daryl, and it isn’t a dream. Rick realises the only thing he can do to protect those he loves is ruin what he’s tried so hard to build these last so many months. He decides on blowing up the bridge to halt the dead from crossing. He shoots the dynamite and everything goes up in flames, while his friends watch flaming walkers pour into the river, assuming the blast took their friend, too.
“You’re my family— I found you.”
Anne watches the explosion from afar, hearing people all over the walkie. In the sky she sees the helicopter hovering. She also sees a bloody, living Rick on the bank of a shore at the river. She calls over the walkie telling them she has “a B.” She says she wants to help her friend, because he helped her once. Perhaps the helicopter isn’t sinister after all. Either way, our old sheriff is on a ride someplace else. Maybe he’s leaving The Walking Dead for the time being. That doesn’t mean he won’t return someday, especially considering Michonne and the others believe him dead, and they won’t find a body. This gives the series a whole new twist. Father Gore guarantees Mr. Grimes will be back one of these days.
Before the episode’s end, we see another community, including Luke (Dan Fogler) and Magna (Nadia Hilker). They’re viciously fending off zombies, caught in an open field full of them. Someone starts firing shots from the treeline, allowing the group to flee. They find a little girl in the trees with a gun and a samurai sword on her back. Her name?
“Judith— Judith Grimes.”
WOW! A BIG TIME JUMP. Wild.
What a little bad ass queen Judith has grown into, after having Rick, Carl, and Michonne – among others – as role models. Perfect ending to a wild episode. There’s so much to come. Father Gore feels this series is going to do well coming out of this episode’s events. More communities to find, more relationships to explore, and more danger for all our survivors.
For those who didn’t see it, Variety published a piece earlier about how AMC is moving into movies for The Walking Dead. At Father Son Holy Gore, we’d love to see that, and it’ll be interesting to watch happen/how things will translate to the big screen. More stories with Rick? Giddy up.
“Who Are You Now?” is next time.