In Sunday’s Season 9 finale, The Walking Dead went from the apocalypse to snowmageddon. But of course the big question was, did Alpha ice any more of our survivors? Read on and find out…
‘WE’LL NEVER FORGET THE MAGIC WE FELT IN THIS PLACE’ | As “The Storm” began, Ezekiel gave a radio address of sorts in which he recounted the fall of the Kingdom. (Guess the trade fair wasn’t exactly the cure-all he’d hoped it would be, what with the mass murder and all.) Once he’d wrapped up his voiceover, he, Carol, Daryl, Michonne, Jerry, Lydia — OK, half the cast — led the Kingdommers down the path to their new home away from home — Hilltop. Along the way, Michonne learned from Yumiko that Hilltop’s council had thus far been unable to come to any security resolutions. What’s more, Maggie hadn’t answered any of their letters. Nearby, Daryl stuck up for Lydia when Alden took a verbal swipe at her. And when her protector caught Carol glaring, he reminded his bestie that “Henry wanted her here. She’s a good kid.” Alas, Carol saw only her son when she looked at Lydia. What, then, did she see when she looked at Daryl? “I see you,” Carol insisted. As the temperature dropped and the titular storm drew near, the group decided that they’d have to travel all night in order to beat it to the next way station.
After Daryl and Carol shot a couple of walkers with arrows, Ezekiel sent Carol on with the caravan; he’d retrieve the shafts with Daryl. Once the men were alone, Ezekiel said that after the rough few months he and his queen had endured, he thought it would be easier for them to make a fresh start at Hilltop “if it was just us.” He wasn’t trying to be a royal pain, he added, he was just trying to get back some of what he’d lost. “You think you can give me that?” In familiar Daryl fashion, he didn’t answer. Meanwhile, Lydia wandered off from the group and was thisclose to letting a walker bite her (a la a suicidal Charlie on Fear TWD) when Carol happened upon the scene and wordlessly ushered her back to the road. Since it turned out the gang would need shelter before the next way station, they holed up for the night at the Sanctuary.
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‘I FEEL LIKE I’M LOSING MYSELF AGAIN’ | During a moment alone with Daryl, Carol asked if something had happened between him and Ezekiel, and assured him that the King “only blames you [for Henry’s death] because he can’t let himself blame me.” Needless to say, Carol was having a bad time of it. After she admitted, “I’m really trying to hang on, but I don’t know what I’m doing,” Daryl offered to take Lydia away, keep her safe somewhere on his own. Did he want that? Carol asked. No, he replied. Later, the group’s leaders realized that they had to reach Hilltop before the storm made the roads impassable, potentially for weeks. They could cut their travel time by a lot, Carol noted, if they just walked across the frozen pond. When Ezekiel pointed out that that route was “a straight shot through Alpha’s territory,” Carol responded, “Those borders are hers, not ours.” What’s more, they could go under cover of darkness, Michonne suggested. The Whisperers needn’t know they were ever there.
Before setting off to traverse the pond, Ezekiel and Michonne took turns playing the blame game. He held himself responsible for the fall of the Kingdom, she beat herself up for the time that the communities spent apart. “That woman… was able to walk among us because we didn’t know each other,” she said. “We can never let that happen again.” And they wouldn’t, they swore. When at last the group reached the pond, Lydia again went missing. While Carol took off to find her, everyone else discovered that buried in the snow beneath them were hungry walkers — a cool different effect than we’d ever seen (which is hard to do nine seasons in!). While they fought off the zombiecicles, Carol located Lydia, who begged Henry’s mother to kill her. “Everything’s gonna be better when I’m gone,” she said, pointing Carol’s spear at her chest. Her own mother was right; she was too weak. Instead of off Lydia, Carol jabbed a walker and tearfully told the girl that she wasn’t weak.
‘YOU COULD TRY TO BE A LITTLE LESS PREDICTABLE’ | While all of that was going on, the residents of Alexandria were forced by malfunctioning solar panels to huddle up wherever there were the biggest fireplaces. Negan, sprung from his cell for the duration of the storm, delighted in a) being in a new room and b) getting to observe firsthand the awkward quadrangle that had formed between Rosita and her men. “It’s like Christmas to me!” he chuckled. Since the chimney flue turned out to be, as Eugene put it, “completely gunkified,” they’d have to move to Aaron’s house with RJ and Judith, who was concerned because she’d misplaced Dog. As they attempted to move through the storm, Judith heard Dog barking and took off to find him; in turn, Negan took off to find her. By the hardest — he got whacked by flying debris — he managed to get both the little girl and my favorite character to safety.
The following morning, Ezekiel, Carol and their entourage arrived at Hilltop, which Jerry immediately wanted to rename Kingtop. Daryl and Lydia would be heading to Alexandria the next day. It sounded nice to Alpha’s daughter; why’d he leave. “One day,” he’d tell her, he said. Nearby, Carol broke it to Ezekiel that she’d be moving to Alexandria and returned his ring. He understood, but… “I will never stop loving you,” he said. “And I’ll never regret the fairy tale,” she replied. When the Alexandrians subsequently made it home, a snowball fight broke out that allowed us to see Lydia happier than she’d ever been. Even Carol participated. After Michonne was reunited with her kids, she paid a visit to the infirmary to thank Negan for saving Judith. And their interaction was almost… friendly?!? He even commiserated over Ezekiel’s loss of the Kingdom and called crossing into Alpha’s turf “ballsy.”
‘WE’LL MAKE IT THROUGH THIS WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT’ | Next thing we knew, it appeared to be spring, and the Whisperers were back from their winter holiday. “The time away has been good for the pack and for you,” Beta told Alpha. Mm-hmm. “But I’ve made mistakes I can’t make again,” she said. “I’ll need to be stronger for what comes next.” With that, she had her right-hand man lash her arm as if to make her impervious to pain. Finally, as the episode and the season came to an end, Ezekiel and Judith chatted over the radio. Once they were done and he’d stepped away, a staticky message came across. “Is anybody out there?” So, what did you think of “The Storm”? After last week, I thought it was anticlimactic (though I did dig the snow zombies). Grade the finale in the poll below, then hit the comments.