Photograph: Jace Downs/AMC
“You deserve a contented ending, too,” Judith says to her Uncle Daryl, in one of many episode’s many poignant moments. In a way, Judith can be speaking to us, the legion of Strolling Lifeless watchers who’ve caught with the collection from the start, by good occasions (seasons one by 4, early Saviors, Lizzie trying on the flowers) and unhealthy (Glenngate, season six, late Saviors, all of Lizzie’s storyline earlier than she regarded on the flowers). When you had been hoping for an apocalyptic “Crimson Marriage ceremony,” you had been doubtless disenchanted by just one vital character’s demise — although by the point she breathed her final, you had been doubtless all out of heartstrings to tug on. There have been fireballs, flashbacks and flash-forwards, and at last, the long-awaited semi-return of Rick and Michonne. But for all that was packed into this super-sized collection finale, maybe the one factor lacking was an important — satisfying closure.
Not like the earlier episodes that started with Judith’s narration, this one leaps proper into the motion as Daryl carries her to a hospital that’s about to be overrun with zombies. (Had been all of these introductory flashbacks value giving freely that she wasn’t in any actual jeopardy of dying? Anyway, leaving little R.J. parentless and killing each his siblings would have been far too merciless.) Because the survivors shoot and stab their approach by the horde, Jules is a quick casualty, adopted rapidly by Luke, who will get his leg munched on and may solely watch as his girlfriend disappears right into a crowd of ravenous walkers. The scenes within the hospital and out on the streets achieve making a rigidity this present hasn’t had shortly — the sensation that, moments earlier than the curtain closes for good, completely anybody may kick the bucket.
Or so it appears when Luke can’t survive his walker-bit amputation. He was good individuals, a gifted troubadour and a hero in taking down the Whisperers, however man, we haven’t seen such an outpouring of grief since Ralphie went blind from cleaning soap poisoning. Additionally in grave hazard is child Coco, who’s in an overturned crib simply barely out of attain of some hungry zombies. It’s becoming that—with all of the speak this season of the long run, defending the children, and a mom’s burden in bringing a toddler into this nightmarish world — Rosita goes into mom-surging-with-adrenaline-lifts-car-off-trapped-baby mode. She obliterates the monsters aiming to snack on her baby, pulls a Spider-Mother and leaps off an ambulance onto a slender pole with out harming the child strapped to her chest, and after falling into the mosh pit under, hops to her toes and leaves a path of zombie destruction in her wake. However her heroism comes at a steep value, as she reveals to Eugene that suffered a shoulder chew in the course of the melee. They know that neither amputation nor the rest can save her.
The hospital crew, the child brigade, the Mercer liberation squad — everybody ultimately converges to take out Pamela, who’s holed up on the Estates with the elites, the nice meds, and her final remaining loyal troopers. Earlier than the massive showdown, Mercer offers the outsiders an opportunity to flee again to A-town. However Zeke leads a near-unanimous vote of hell no, we gained’t go in your time of want (Daryl, although, appears for a second like he’d be glad taking newly aware Little Ass-Kicker to security and calling it an evening).
The showdown on the Estates delivers excessive drama, as Pam and Mercer’s loyalists find yourself in a guns-drawn standoff. The strain lastly breaks when Gabe steps ahead to open the gates and Daryl offers Pam a lecture that’s memorable for its mic-drop kicker: “You constructed this place to be just like the previous world, that was the fucking downside … you bought one enemy. And it ain’t the strolling lifeless.” (If we had been all watching this in a movie show as a substitute of our residing rooms, the gang would have misplaced its collective shit after that line.) After the residents are secure and the gates shut on the walkers, Pam sees a well-recognized face pressed towards the metal bars — it’s lifeless Hornsby, with Carol’s arrow nonetheless lodged in his neck. Keep in mind that bizarre second of kink between her and Lance when he was tied up a number of episodes in the past? Pam will get so tantalizingly near his face that it appears like she’s fascinated with both suicide by chomp or a very gross makeout sesh. However Maggie places a bullet meant for Pam into Hornsby as a substitute, snapping the governor out of her demise trance and successfully sentencing her to life behind bars. Fittingly for this closing chapter, the brand new chief nods to the previous one as Maggie manifests Rick’s dream of mercy prevailing over wrath.
Recognizing that the brand new “variants” are too harmful to only lead away, they prepare dinner up one final doozy of a plan to exterminate these two-legged pests. With Residing Color’s “Cult of Persona” on the turntable and cranked to 11, they draw the zombies to a blast zone rigged with gasoline and explosives. Because the final notice rings out and the tonearm swings again, it triggers a Rube Goldberg–kind response to create a spark with jumper cables and steel. The result’s an enormous, walker-vaporizing explosion that obliterates the Estates above floor and under by the sewers, turning the neighborhood right into a flaming crater of undeath. (Appropriately sufficient, the file participant that units off the blast is Pam’s. Look carefully and also you’ll see framed images of lil’ Sebastian in his baseball uniform and a younger Pam and her husband with their new child in far happier occasions.)
With the Commoners saved and Pam jailed, it’s time for a wine-fueled feast and a few severe waterworks. Maggie pays tribute to Glenn and tells Negan that whereas he’s lastly welcome to remain, she nonetheless sees Glenn’s closing moments — Lucille swinging down and he calls out to his spouse — at any time when she appears at Negan. (Does she see Glenn’s eyeball, too? I do.) So please forgive me, she says, if some days, I simply can’t take a look at you. It’s a heart-wrenching second for each of them, one which rings true. That’s a picture she’ll always remember, and forgiveness is rightly far-off sooner or later (as in season three of their spinoff).
Maggie’s come-to-Negan second is an emotional appetizer earlier than the primary course, as Rosita’s gradual decline permits for loads of teary good-byes. Maggie and Carol lead her to a mattress the place she cuddles with Coco and will get a prayer from Gabe. As he lifts the child from her arms, Gabe whispers, “We’ll see you once more sometime.” Eugene shares her closing moments, and together with her final breath, she says, “I’m glad it was you on the finish.” Eugene and Rosita’s bond was a curious however enduring one, so deep that the daddy of her baby generously stepped apart to present this odd couple their final goodbye.
Rosita’s demise results in a kind of triple ending paying homage to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Leaping forward one 12 months, there’s a memorial to these misplaced within the Commonwealth bloodbath and new management, with Zeke in cost and a bespoke-suited Mercer as lieutenant governor. Eugene and Max have a child lady named Rosie, which is relatively huge of Max to call their baby after Eugene’s finest good friend/love of his life/supersoldier/supermodel/apocalypse skin-care icon. Negan — final seen by Daryl simply strolling away in the course of the Commonwealth freedom feast — offers Judith her compass again with a candy notice that ought to have mentioned, “Catch me within the subsequent collection, child.” A-town and Hilltop are each thriving, a lot in order that Maggie tells Carol and Daryl that it’s time to FAFO and go see what’s on the market (but once more, cue the spinoff promo!).
However it’s no shock the most important moments belong to Carol and Daryl. He sees Connie first and though he virtually giggles on the sight of her 1000-watt smile, no luck for anybody hoping for these two would hook up. As a substitute, he shares a number of quiet moments with Carol, who’s taken over Hornsby’s gig. Daryl is headed again out to the wilderness, after all, nonetheless hoping to search out Rick and Michonne and maybe some kind of peace (therefore Judith’s line about deserving happiness for himself, relatively than placing others first). Carol calls him her finest good friend and in a surprising second of vulnerability, Daryl tells Carol, “I really like you.” She returns the sentiment and for a second, it appears like he’s about to say one thing else — maybe “why don’t you include me”? As a substitute, Daryl hops on his hog and speeds away. Their bond is so deep that neither desires to threat ruining it with romance.
That relatively vanilla ending is adopted by extra of a mind-blower, as we see and listen to Rick and Michonne writing notes to Judith by firelight. As they replicate on their lives up so far, we take one final gradual, groaning, guts-covered stroll down reminiscence lane as photographs of the departed cross by — everybody from Hershel and T-Canine to Bob and Andrea to Siddiq and Beth and Jesus and Sarge and Sasha and Shane and plenty of extra. At first, it appears like Michonne and Rick are collectively, till it’s clear that they’re not solely aside, however on totally different timelines.
Let’s flash again, ourselves, to season ten, episode 13, which aired approach again in March 2020, simply as our personal world was descending into chaos. Michonne had hallucinated on Bloodworth Island and located Rick’s boots and a mobile phone marked with drawings of her and the children on an deserted boat, together with a ship’s log with notes about New Jersey. This explains the gear Michonne is lovingly admiring. It doesn’t, nonetheless, clarify her fabulous couture armor, or why she’s on horseback charging swords-drawn right into a valley teeming with zombies. No clue what’s happening there however contemplate me hooked and signal me up for a Kung Fu-style collection as this samurai roams the Earth.
As for Rick, we learn the way his gear ended up on the boat — he tossed it there as a helicopter, which appears similar to the one which carried him away from the bridge explosion, reveals up. “Consignee Grimes, you’ve been positioned and are instructed to give up,” says a booming voice from the chopper. “Stay in place together with your palms up. C’mon, Rick. It’s like he instructed you. There’s no escape for the residing.” Who’s “he”? Who’re these individuals? What has Rick been consigned to? Why does he break right into a smile? He’s carrying a jacket with the identical three-circle emblem that we noticed on the chopper when he was rescued and it appears like he’s been on the run for a while. The chook descends with what seems to be the Manhattan skyline within the background (which is becoming, because the upcoming Maggie/Negan collection is about in New York). We lastly be taught the phrase that Judith referenced listening to her from her mother and father, as Rick and Michonne and eleven seasons’ value of heroes every say “We’re those who dwell” as one final nostalgic montage flashes by.
The ultimate scene of Judith talking those self same phrases to RJ on the wall of the Commonwealth is relatively neat and tidy — they appear out at a brand new windmill and a crop area the place trooper armor is now put to higher use as scarecrows. It’s a brand new begin and the long run appears brighter than ever. Not each unfastened finish wants tying up, for certain. However to have such a vivid, sunshiny ending on one facet, and apparent setups for at the very least two new reveals on the opposite — Michonne and Rick in a single, Maggie and Negan within the different — feels a bit underwhelming. Solely three individuals who died on the Battle of the Commonwealth had been value a brick on the memorial wall. Nobody appears too nervous concerning the newly-nimble walkers, who can climb partitions and open doorways and smash home windows with heavy objects.
Name it “deadwashing”—as a substitute of a daring, daring end, it’s a secure one, with slightly little bit of all the things and the glad ending Judith wished for together with loads of profitable alternatives for spinoffs with the identical key characters. (TWD goals to observe the MCU blueprint, however at the very least Marvel had the heart — pun meant — to wipe out a few of its hottest heroes in Avengers: Endgame.) In making an attempt to please everybody — or at the very least offend nobody, like Glenn’s demise did in season seven — the finale fell simply wanting totally satisfying. The Lifeless has ended, however the ones who dwell aren’t going away anytime quickly.