The Walking Dead 9.05

The Walking Dead 9.05 Recap: “You Did Your Part”

The Walking Dead delivered its much-hyped final episode for Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) this week. I can’t say I’m too surprised that it turned out to be the most disappointing and frustrating episode of the season so far.

What is surprising is that the episode doesn’t entirely focus on Rick, but cross-cuts with other characters separate from him as well. The episode also clocks in at a standard hour with commercials. In the last couple of seasons, an episode like this would have been padded out to somewhere from 70 to 90 minutes, followed by a two-hour Talking Dead afterwards. (That one’s the regular length too.)

I’m also a little relieved that the episode doesn’t exactly play out as I expected, with the entire hour being Rick’s death dream ending with him dying while still impaled on the rebar rod. That said, I can’t say that I’m particularly satisfied with what does happen.

I’ll start with the other characters first.

Jadis

While driving away, Jadis’ camper (the same one Rick’s group drove in Season 6, I think?) breaks down. Stranded and feeling out of options, she makes radio contact with the mysterious voice she talked to earlier. Jadis lies and claims that she has a “A” and they’re awaiting extraction.

Maggie

On their way to Alexandria, Maggie and Dianne stop to take out a Walker in the road. Maggie uses this as an opportunity to unleash a lot of pent-up anger, bashing it repeatedly in the head with her crowbar, as if she’s practicing for what she’ll do to Negan.

When Michonne receives word that Maggie has arrived in Alexandria, she immediately knows what’s up and blocks her from entering Negan’s cell. The two women argue about what killing Negan will mean. Maggie insists that he needs to die and they will handle whatever consequences result from it. Not wishing to fight anymore, Michonne hands her the keys and lets her in.

Upon seeing Maggie, Negan works up all of his obnoxious swagger and taunts her about how he enjoyed murdering Glenn. Enraged, Maggie unlocks the gate and drags him out. However, Negan then suddenly turns extremely pitiful, begging her to kill him and put him out of his misery so he can join his dead wife. Witnessing this pathetic spectacle, Maggie has a change of heart and sends him back into the cell. “You’re already worse than dead,” she declares.

The way this plays out feels entirely too convenient and out-of-character to me, and leaves me questioning whether Negan was really just playing Maggie, but the scene ends without confirming that one way or the other.

Michonne is surprised by this turn of events, but they’re interrupted before they can talk about it with news that something bad has happened at the work camp.

Goodbye, Rick (Or, More Accurately, See You Later)

The episode opens in a dream. A bearded Rick speaks to his younger, shaven self in a hospital bed, telling him to wake up. Outside the building window, a swarm of birds changes into a squad of menacing helicopters. (Foreshadowing!)

Rick wakes up on the bar, Walkers closing in on him. He struggles and pulls himself off of it, then manages to climb onto his white horse – which, despite being spooked by the zombies just moments ago, calmly stands around waiting for Rick. As they slowly ride off, the horde follows them. Bleeding profusely from his open wound, Rick fights to stay conscious.

Spotting a mailbox on the road, Rick turns his horse down a secluded path and finds an old cabin in the woods. Two corpses lie inside, long dead (and not reanimated). Rick turns a gross bedsheet into a makeshift bandage, but can’t stop himself from passing out.

Rick dreams of riding his horse into the city of Atlanta, much as he had in the show’s pilot episode, except this time he has a massive horde of thousands of Walkers trailing him. He runs into Shane (Jon Bernthal), and suddenly the two find themselves back at the scene of the original shooting that put Rick in a coma. Shane busts his balls about Judith being his daughter, then tells Rick to find his rage. “This has to get done,” he urges.

Rick wakes up with Walkers nearly on top of him again. He escapes the cabin and again finds the horse calmly standing by, not distressed by the zombies at all. They ride off, leading the herd. Rick murmurs about needing to find his family while continuing to drift in and out of consciousness.

In his next dream, Rick is back at the farm speaking to Hershel (Scott Wilson in his final acting appearance before his death last month). Hershel doles out fatherly advice about how Rick doesn’t actually need to keep his family together. They’re strong enough to manage without him.

After that, Rick finds himself back in the hospital from the pilot episode. He opens and walks through the famous “DON’T OPEN DEAD INSIDE” doors. A blinding white light transports him to an apocalyptic landscape covered in bodies, including many he knows. (The camera doesn’t dwell on any too long, but I definitely saw Maggie and Jesus in there.) Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Greene) stands up to talk to him. She assures him that his job is done and he has accomplished as much as he could.

Rick falls off his horse and comes-to on the ground, back in the abandoned work camp. The horse, finally having had enough, runs away. Walkers approach from every direction. Despite his blood loss and hazy consciousness, Rick is still a crack shot and picks off a bunch of them with perfect head-shots. He trudges to the road and leads the herd toward the bridge that he had previously been so desperate to protect. Before he can cross it, however, Daryl, Michonne, and a huge group of his friends arrive to rescue him and save the day. Michonne gives him a kiss and tells him to fight.

That was another dream, of course. Rick is still alone on the bridge. He crosses to the other side, Walkers following. Expecting the bridge to collapse from the weight of all the Walkers, Rick makes it across and realizes, regrettably, that the structure is holding. If the horde crosses, the Walkers will have a clear path straight to the Hilltop.

As a Walker comes right up on Rick, it’s killed by an arrow to the head – a real one this time. It’s not a dream. Daryl is on the other side of the river, picking off zombies from a distance. Maggie and Michonne are with him. Maggie tries to lead a group to distract the Walkers and turn them back around, but it’s too late. The herd has too much momentum and can’t be stopped.

Looking back at the bridge, Rick notices a crate of dynamite conveniently sitting directly in the middle of it. That seems like a really terrible place for someone to have left volatile explosives. Heeding all the ghostly advice given to him, Rick knows exactly what he has to do. He aims his iconic revolver and fires directly into the dynamite. The bridge explodes in a huge fireball. Flaming zombies pour into the raging waters below. Everyone on the other side of the river runs around in a panic. Michonne screams. Even Daryl cries.

Don’t Trust the B

Somewhere down the river, Jadis sees smoke from the bridge explosion rising in the distance. A helicopter with an “A” painted on its side approaches her location. Worried about what she’ll tell them, Jadis looks toward the river bed and sees Rick washed up on the shore. Improbably, he’s still alive. Jadis radios the helicopter and confesses that she never had an “A” but says she has a viable “B” ready for pickup.

The voice on the other end sounds perturbed in a threatening manner. Jadis begs them to make an exception. After a moment, the chopper lands.

Rick drifts back to consciousness on the helicopter with Jadis hovering over him.

Flash Forward

As we watch the helicopter fly away, the scene ends in a dissolve transition to the same field at an indeterminate amount of time later. A group of random people are surrounded by Walkers and fight desperately for survival. Just when hope seems lost, gunshots ring out and take out enough Walkers to make a hole that the people can escape through.

They run to the woods, where they run into a little girl holding a gun. She picks a hat off the ground – Rick’s sheriff hat – and introduces herself as Judith Grimes.

Episode Verdict

Rick Grimes may have entered The Walking Dead as a cop, but his exit is a pretty big cop-out. (Groan if you must.) Despite promises that this would be Rick’s final appearance on the series, former show-runner (now designated a supervisory role for the entire Walking Dead universe) Scott Gimple announced on The Talking Dead that in fact Andrew Lincoln is not done with the franchise at all. Although he may be leaving the flagship show, Rick will return in a series of TV movies focused on his character’s adventures separate from the rest of his friends. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he circles back around after that to rejoin them later anyway. This is meant to be exciting news for fans, but I (and I’m sure a large number of other viewers) see it as a huge cheat. We were promised closure for at least this character, but instead it’s just a tease to launch a new spinoff project.

Even more galling is that, as as confirmed by current show-runner Angela Kang, this was also Lauren Cohan’s final episode as Maggie. You would not guess this from watching the episode. While it was known that Cohan would leave the show at some point this season, no exit for her character is suggested at all in this entry. Nor did anyone mention it on The Talking Dead. Apparently, she’ll be written out off-camera in a later episode. Maggie is far too significant a character to be quietly booted off the show like this without so much as a goodbye.

The time-jump at the end seems like it might have the potential to lead to an interesting refresh for the remaining characters and storylines, but I’m not sure that it will be enough to stanch the show’s deteriorating ratings, which are currently hemorrhaging viewers faster than Rick lost blood from the hole in his abdomen. I imagine that this will be a jump-the-shark moment for a lot of disenchanted fans who feel like they’ve been jerked around one time too many.

14 comments

  1. I gave up on Dead a couple seasons ago, but I’ll read these recaps from time-to-time to see if they’ve gotten back to what once made it a great show. I’m shocked that they still constantly lying to the audience and somehow not losing their audience. The series seems to thrive on misdirection, which is sad because the first few seasons relied on (mostly) great writing.

    This ultimately lead me to walking away from the series. (Glen’s fake death was the last straw.) For those still watching, I’m curious: does this kind of stuff bother you at all? Or am I being super nitpicky?

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      The show in fact is losing its audience. Although it’s still the most watched drama series on television, ratings have been on a precipitous decline the last couple seasons.

      Issues like this definitely bother me, and Glenn’s fake-out dumpster death was especially galling. I understand why that (or this) would be a jump-the-shark moment where a lot of people would give up on the series. I’ve continued to hang on mostly because I’m still attached to some of the characters, but as those characters get killed off or written out, I question how much longer this can really last.

  2. Joshua P. Christie

    The show’s jump-the-shark moment was the Glenn dumpster “death”. Everything from that point on has been a slow (and sometimes rapid) unraveling of a once very good and fun to watch show. If you go by the ratings, Glenn & Abraham’s death was when the shark jumped and quality-wise last season altogether bordered on the unwatchable. While Kang has done a tremendous job so far this season pulling the show back from the brink, this episode had Gimple’s fingerprints all over it and demonstrated if nothing else why a) he needed to be pulled as showrunner, and b) continues to haunt and dog this franchise (including Fear The Walking Dead but that is another matter). I was going to hold out until the mid-season finale to decide whether I was going to use Rick’s exit as my jumping off point only out of respect for Lauren Cohan but this might have sealed the deal. Regardless of how the show might carry forward quality wise, who really wants to see not 1 but 3 movies featuring Rick Grimes? It is clear AMC is going to milk this property for everything it is worth but at some point as fans you have to choose when to say your own goodbye vs sticking it out for another 10 seasons just because you’ve been there since the beginning. This turned into a digression somewhat but it is frustrating as hell to reflect upon what could have been. RIP Scott Wilson — phenomenal actor.

  3. BHB

    Was this also the last we see of Jadis on the main show? I can’t say I was surprised at the end, since they had been setting it up for several episodes, although I thought Rick would have been considered an “A”! Still, it does seem a little dishonest to go all the way with Karl’s death and not Rick’s.
    If they were going to bring back past characters for the dream sequences, it seems like it would have been most effective to bring in Karl and Laurie along with Shane.
    Will Negan still be there after a six year time jump? Hopefully not.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      I assume Jadis will join Rick in the spinoff movies.

      There are a lot of characters I’d think Rick would talk to in his dreams before Sasha. Carl and Lori, certainly. Likely Glenn also. Even Abraham, Tyrese, or T-Dog would have been more meaningful for Rick to speak to than Sasha.

      Negan was seen in the teaser clip for the next three episodes. So, yeah, he’s not going anywhere.

  4. I half expected Rick to survive based solely off of their marketing blitz surrounding his “Final” episode. WD’s fake-outs have become routine by this point. That said, I’m still dumbfounded by how it actually turned out. I’m not sure what to think of it all. Time will tell, I guess.

    Also, having not watched Talking Dead: they seriously bailed on Maggie in the same episode? With absolutely no clue to it happening or fanfare? What the hell? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since they’ve otherwise ignored the character, but that’s pretty messed up. Sasha (?) gets to turn in up in Rick’s dream and Maggie gets a shoulder shrug. WTH?

  5. genesim

    “There are a lot of characters I’d think Rick would talk to in his dreams before Sasha. Carl and Lori, certainly. Likely Glenn also. Even Abraham, Tyrese, or T-Dog would have been more meaningful for Rick to speak to than Sasha.”

    Shane was first. Hershel middle. Sasha the end. Made sense to me. I think she was a very important character and a welcome surprise. Her sacrifice was very memorable. I am glad she was in the scene.

  6. genesim

    DH Good point. I always had a Watership Down feel with this show and Rick is without question Hazel in this capacity.

    The key is a man letting go and moving on with the possibility that he doesn’t have to do it all for others to survive.

    The story elements were in place for those that actually paid attention to the show and don’t have a sick obsession for the so called glory years only, and expect the story that they want in their head to be the only possibility.

    It has to be this…has to be that…blah blah. Why not just try to understand the story presented?

    Sasha was a very hopeless person that came to peace in her last moments. In many ways the progression from Shane to her was a true awakening and I welcomed it. Her story was criminally underrated.

    It reminds me of so called fans that only scream at bands that play their hits and refuse to even try to embrace progress.

  7. Beavis Malone

    I’m still perplexed why this site continues to ‘review’ The Walking Dead when shows like Better Call Saul exist. Please.

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