Rick Grimes is injured and drifting in and out of consciousness. He’s always been a fighter, and this episode was no exception. His visions were the perfect way to end his story on The Walking Dead. Rick Grimes, This is Your Life.
The first person to visit Rick (Andrew Lincoln) in his memories is his partner and best friend Shane (Jon Bernthal). The two brothers in arms chat over a few cheeseburgers in the squad car, shooting the shit like old times. There are the bromance jabs, the “asshole” name-calling, and a realization that there is still fight in Rick’s soul. This scene also included the best jump-scare that the series has had to date.
Next, we get a visit from father-figure Hershel (Scott Wilson). He tells Rick that he doesn’t need to worry about Maggie (Lauren Cohan), which is part of the reason that Rick is in the predicament that he’s in. Their embrace and conversation are heartfelt and bittersweet, as we lost Wilson just a few weeks ago.
Sasha’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) speech felt like a eulogy. She explains that the deaths of those who have gone before have all had a purpose. They have all given strength and meaning to the other characters’ futures. They’re standing on a pile of corpses of all of their loved ones while Sasha explains that they have paved the way for the future to be. Symbolic, but a little gross.
Rick’s final hallucination is the most realistic, and Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) dialogue brings everything back around. He knows that she loves him, he knows why, and he’s assured that he has truly found his family. It was almost like she was telling him that it’s ok to pass on.
Both Sasha and Michonne echoed the same proclamation: “We don’t die.” While that rings true in a zombie apocalypse setting, Rick truly does not die. Our white-horse-riding-knight-in-khaki-armor sacrificed himself with one last gunshot to blow the half-built bridge to smithereens, sending the walker herd into the raging waters below. Yet, the blast doesn’t kill him. We find him along the riverbank, and so does Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh).
As the plot must go on, Rick isn’t the only character we focus on in this episode. Jadis is still in communication with the helicopter people, whoever and wherever they may be. I did find it odd, though, that she was talking with them on the same walkie-talkie that she heard the commotion from the encampment on. Can others also hear her conversations with the helo-gang? Is her secret rendezvous really still a secret?
And, after several weeks of anticipation, Maggie is finally face-to-face with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Their exchange beings in typical Negan-fashion with him acting like a total prick. But soon, he cracks like an egg and turns into a pile of sobbing goo. I really expected him to turn on Maggie, using his vulnerability as a ploy. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a gifted actor, which makes Negan a gifted actor, but he sheepishly retreats to his personal hell. And so he shall rot.
Season nine’s second time-jump happens, and we’re introduced to a few new characters and one character that’s done a lot of growing up. Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) is poised and ready to take her place in the communities and make her father and late brother proud.
This episode had a very season-finale feel to it with storylines being tied up, pay-offs galore, and a time-jump that will put us another six years forward. There’s still a lot to see in this season, and I’m curious to see “What Comes After.”