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The Walking Dead - What Comes After - Review

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The Walking Dead “What Comes After” marked the end of Rick Grimes’ (Andrew Lincoln) story on the show – but as we’ve since learned – not the end of his story. I think that the show is going to struggle without the character, but I am glad that they didn’t kill him – and fyi? I totally called how it would work out in my last review! This episode was, not surprisingly, written by the team of Scott M Gimple and Matthew Negrete and was directed by Greg Nicotero (who you can also see in the field of bodies if you look closely!). I loved seeing some old friends back in the hallucinations. And of course, there were more throwbacks to the very beginning of the series.

I loved that the episode began back in Rick’s hospital room with him in a coma. The birds we’ve been seeing all season morph into helicopters – like the ones from the bombing of Atlanta – but also like the one that’s going to save him. We get a voice over that also takes us back to season one as Morgan (Lennie James) asks what Rick’s wound is – is it a bite? Comatose Rick wakes up and tells hallucinating Rick to “wake up, asshole” – as the walkers are closing in on him.

We might not like that horse much for dumping Rick, but he did wait for him. Of course, Rick would be able to do the superhuman thing and use his own belt to pull himself off that rebar! And just as an aside? That horse was not especially cooperative – if you watch closely (and know horses) he just about goes off bucking on several occasions!

I was pretty sure that the early scene with Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) was not unfolding chronologically with Rick’s – but later. Jadis tells the helicopter people that she needs to leave, where she is, and that she has an A. Of course, she’s lying – but I don’t doubt her when she tells them that she’s ready and waiting.

Rick’s life continues flashing before his eyes as he’s in and out of consciousness – and the walkers continue to get closer. In a nice parallel, Maggie (Lauren Cohen) and Dianne (Kerry Cahill) continue on their way to Alexandria. Maggie stops to kill a walker and in a nice parallel to Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) scenes in the last two episodes, wipes the walker blood off her arm.

Rick tries to take refuge in a cabin, and at least manages to slow the bleeding a bit. He discovers a typical scene inside – tied up turned person – and then the person who shot them with a self-inflicted kill shot. It takes real strength to be able to kill your friends and loved ones – to truly let go of them – as we’ve seen so many struggle with.

We get a beautiful shot that re-imagines Rick’s initial entry into Atlanta. This time he’s on a white horse and followed by a huge herd of walkers. The voice over tells us he’s looking for his family – and he finds Shane (Jon Bernthal) – and it was a delight to see these two together on screen again. The scene parallels the scene from the first season – which we can assumed happened many times during the time they worked together. The two are having lunch in their squad car and having a serious conversation – with a lot of teasing. The bond between the two is clear to see. They discuss the third man who changed everything – who was the one to shoot Rick in the first place.

Rick tells Shane that he’s looking for his family, and Shane is brutally honest as he says it could be argued that Rick is looking for Shane’s family. And Shane claims Judith as his own. I loved the banter over whether she had his eyes – and how it was really good that she didn’t have his nose! Shane wants to take full credit for turning Rick into an asshole – for turning him more to Shane’s way of doing things. Shane tells him that it’s glad it was him that killed him. And he tells Rick that the only way he’s going to get out of the mess he’s in now is to dig deep to the place where Rick finds the strength to do what has to be done – like when he bit out Joe’s throat, when he killed Garth with the red machete. He tells Rick to find the rage, hatred, and loyalty that’s buried deep down. Shane absolves Rick of what he had to do – and tells him to wake up! Just in time to avoid being bitten.

Back in Alexandria, Michonne is working and watching over Judith (Chloe Garcia-Frizzi) when Scott (Kenric Green) shows up to tell her that Maggie’s in town. Michonne is waiting for Maggie to stop her. Maggie tells her that she’s there for herself. Michonne asks her if she thinks that Glen would want Maggie to do it – and at this point it’s killing someone in cold blood. Maggie is brutally honest when she says that she has no idea what Glen would have wanted because she never had a chance to say goodbye – and that’s a nice bit of foreshadowing for Michonne not to have that chance either.

Michonne also brings up Hershel (Scott Wilson) – and it’s a nice reminder of the bond that existed between Michonne and Hershel too. Michonne is quite right in surmising that neither Glen nor Hershel would want Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to be executed – and certainly not like this. Maggie is bitter that the one thing that she had to hold onto was that Glen’s murderer would die, and Michonne took that from her. Maggie is sure that killing Negan will start things over, but again, I think Michonne is quite right that it will start things over. If you are going to die either way, why bother worrying about the consequences to your actions? You might as well just do what you want and hope you kill the other person first.

However, Maggie also knows where to push Michonne’s buttons. She knows that if Negan had killed Rick and left Michonne alone to raise a family, Michonne would have killed Negan herself. It’s an interesting echo of Michonne’s conversation about her sons with Negan in the last episode. It also raises the question of whether Michonne is currently pregnant with Rick’s child – is this more foreshadowing? And Maggie isn’t wrong either. Maggie tells Michonne to tell her to stop telling her to just turn it off – and we finally see that Maggie has been struggling with this for a year and a half. She’s tried to put it all behind her. And she can’t. Gurira and Cohen are simply wonderful in this scene as both reveal the character’s pain and turmoil.

Michonne tells Maggie that she’s just going to have to find a way to put it behind her, and Maggie asks – quite reasonably – for Michonne to tell her how. The scene is so much more powerful because Maggie is completely reasonably, not hysterical. Maggie confesses that she just can’t keep living the way she is – and Michonne finally says that she can’t tell her a way. Maggie tells her that that’s because it’s not what you say, but what you do. Michonne asks her if she can live with what comes after – another nice nod to the title. Maggie tells her that she’ll have to live with what comes after because she can’t live the way things are now. Michonne gives her the keys.

I absolutely adored the scene between Maggie and Negan. Again, Cohen and Morgan are spectacular. Negan is happy to see Maggie – because while Michonne has the blade, Maggie has the fire. Negan’s end game is to die, and he thinks that it will be easy to get Maggie to do it. But Negan misreads Maggie – and this time his tongue gets him in trouble. He thinks to goad her by reminding her of how he killed Glen and disrespecting him by not even remembering his name. Negan asks her if she’s finally come for revenge, and Maggie clarifies, calling it justice.

Negan thinks that Maggie has waited so long because she’s had to screw up her courage to do it – not that she finally was no longer able to prevent herself from doing it. He gruesomely describes how he killed Glen. Negan goes on to say that he really enjoyed killing Glen. He tells her to do it. Have her justice. Kill him – it was worth it.

Maggie has the key in the lock when she suddenly starts to get suspicious. He keeps telling her to kill him, and Maggie tells him to come into the light. The light/dark metaphor is a bit on the nose. When he won’t come out on his own, Maggie drags him into the light and he continues to beg her to kill him. She wants to know why she should, he tells her so that he can be with his wife – and Lucille. He’s supposed to be dead. He tells her that he can’t be like this, and Maggie suddenly realizes that Negan is just as tormented as she is. She tells him that she came to kill Negan, but he’s already worse than dead. Rick was right – this is actually a worse punishment. Life will get better for Maggie – but it’s more likely to get worse for Negan. Leaving him alive is a much worse punishment.

We get a close up of Maggie’s non-bloody crowbar as she leaves the prison. Michonne is surprised to say the least. There are no words in this scene – just two actors at the height of their game. Cohen is brilliant as you can see the change in her face – a burden has been lifted. She understands now that Rick was right – or at least she’s satisfied that Negan is paying a heavy price for what he did. The two are interrupted by Dianne who tells them something is up at the camp – and the three women immediately go to take care of it.

Rick continues to bleed as he rides slowly in front of the herd. He continues to slip in and out of consciousness as he looks for his family – and of course members of that family appear in his visions. The dialogue is so short – “What’s your wound?” – that I didn’t realize at first that the different voices are also family members who he’s lost. It’s Beth (Emily Kinney) who asks just as Rick finds himself back in the barn on the farm with Hershel. This must have been the final thing that Wilson shot before his death – making it even more bitter-sweet to see his kind and wise face again.

Hershel is happy to see Rick and urges him to the very spot where Rick once sat with Carl during an iconic scene. Hershel wants Rick to see the beauty that still exists in the world. Rick has a chance to apologize for what happened to Hershel, and for what happened to Glen and all that Maggie has lost. But Hershel tells Rick that Maggie is strong – and his grandson will make her stronger – Rick doesn’t need to worry about her.

Rick tells Hershel that he needs to find his family and keep them together – but Hershel tells him that he doesn’t. Hershel knows it’s been hard – and Rick admits that the vision of the future – that little farm in the prison that was a seed planted from Hershel’s farm that was the seed for Alexandria and Hilltop – a world where things grow again – that’s the future that Carl saw too – Rick has had a hard time getting there. Hershel tells him they will get there. Rick wonders if he can find his family with Hershel – but he too wakes Rick up and sends him back to the fight.

I’m pretty sure that the next voice is Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), which is fitting because when Rick opens the door from the first episode that now says “Open Dead Inside” with the “Don’t” crossed out, Rick enters a field of the dead and finds – Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green)! Which was a terrific surprise. I could likely write an entire essay just on the bodies lying in the field – it’s worth pausing. You see Carol (Melissa McBride), Jerry (Cooper Andrews), and Maggie – lying in Glen’s arms – though it isn’t Steven Yuen and looks more like a dummy. The message on the door is also, of course, an echo of what Rick is doing – he’s actually reflecting on and visiting the dead instead of locking their memories away and moving on. The fact that there’s no Carl in this episode has to be because Chandler Riggs declined to come back – because it’s a huge hole not to have him have a scene with Lincoln.

Other bodies of note – we come back to Maggie alone, Greg Nicotero, Beth, Daryl (Norman Reedus), and Jesus (Tom Payne). And then Sasha rises out of the dead. She is clearly at peace. Rick is horrified that they are all dead, but she tells him that it’s ok because he did his part like she did her. The dead have already given them what they needed – the strength to do what they had to for the others. Sasha tells him that they change each other to help each other, to make each other better. Rick tells Sasha that it feels like it’s ending.

        But Sasha tells him that it’s ok. Little things end, but they don’t die. It’s not about only one person – it’s about all of us – it’s about the survival of the species. She tells him that she thinks it’s the good and the brave who will prevail – and it crosses over toward love. She tells him that he’s not going to find his family because they aren’t lost – and neither is he – but he needs to wake up. And that stupid horse takes off again!

Rick finds himself in the camp with his wound running blood again. The camp is full of dead people – the fight clearly escalated – but we don’t find out exactly what happened. Even almost dead, Rick is deadly accurate with his gun – but there are too many of them. We also see him kill the girl who was riding the white horse in the first place. Once he’s dealt with the new walkers, the herd is there.

Rick limps toward the bridge, and we get one rather unforgiveable tease as we see Rick’s “family” lead in the charge by Daryl all run past him to take on the herd and save him. Michonne kneels down with him. She tells him it’s ok, they’ll get him out of there. She tells him that it’s not over, that they don’t die. She tells him that she fell in love with him because he’s a fighter and he never gives up – she tell him to fight for all of them. Rick acknowledges that they are all his family and he found them – but he knows that “this” isn’t real. Michonne tells him that it is and kisses him – and then tells him to wake up.

Rick does wake up – and continues to bleed and limp over the bridge – he’s going to do what Daryl wanted him to do – lead the walkers over so the bridge will collapse. But what Rick’s built is too strong – and the bridge holds. And just as we think that Rick IS going to go out by walker, Daryl is there to protect him and takes out the walker with an arrow. And then the rest of them ARE there. They all rush to try to save Rick.

Rick sees what the others are doing, but he knows that there are too many walkers – and he doesn’t want them to die just for him. As the others run to try to save him, Daryl stays by him, still using arrows to try to protect him, but Rick has seen the spilled dynamite and shoots it (which wouldn’t really set it off – but go with it). Michonne and Daryl both see what Rick is about to do. Daryl acknowledges it and Michonne screams for him to stop – but it seems that Rick is going out a hero. We get a wonderful shot of Reedus – as Daryl mourns his friend alone. Michonne is supported by Carol and Maggie. Daryl is clearly devastated and simply walks away.

And then we’re back with Jadis, and the timeframe is confirmed as she turns and sees the smoke from the bridge. The helicopter is there – and she sees the burnt walkers floating down the river. More importantly, she sees a still alive Rick on the bank of the river. She tells the helicopter that she has a B – she admits that she never had an A. And this leaves us still wondering about what A and B stands for. Last week, it seemed like an A was a “leader” – or someone that she turned? And why did she say she thought Gabriel was a B but now was an A? Does B mean wounded? I have to say that I’m pretty curious to have this explained!!!

Jadis pleads that it’s not a trick. She’s trying to save a friend who saved her. She tells them that he’s hurt, but he’s strong. And we see Rick flying off in that helicopter that he saw so long ago. Did they know even then? Still, it seems highly implausible that Rick won’t be trying to get back to Michonne and Judith – and the rest of his family – but maybe that will be the focus of the movies of his continuing story that we’ve been promised.

I would have considered this to be a very satisfying episode had it simply ended there instead of introducing us to the “new” characters. And the time jump. And having Judith (Cailey Fleming) show up with Carl’s hat and a mini-me Michonne katana and Rick’s cowboy boots? No thanks. Frankly, not one of them impressed me with their acting skills. What did you think of the episode? Are you looking forward to "what comes after?" Was this a fitting send of for Rick? Are you looking forward to the movies following his story or is this the end for The Walking Dead? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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