‘The Walking Dead’, Season 9, Episode 5
It’s Rick’s last episode, and it begins with the same murmuration of crows that we saw in the first episode of the season. Current Rick sees season one Rick in a hospital bed, and tells him to wake up. Rick will have a series of dreams in the episode, meeting friends from the past, all dead. He’ll visit his past, gather wisdom and love, and move on. The only person he doesn’t see is his son. The theme throughout the episode is waking up.
Back in the present, Rick actually awakes to find himself impaled on a metal rod, in the same spot he’d been shot in season one. He uses his belt to pull himself up and his horse is waiting for him.
Cut to Jadis, who is in a broken van and communicating on a walkie talkie, as she has been all season. She’s asked to confirm location and she lies and says she has an A for delivery. We still don’t know who Anne/Jadis really is, but she’s desperate and needs evacuation.
On the road to Alexandria, Maggie overkills a walker on her way to kill Negan. Maggie is grim and determined to walk through the gates of Alexandria and use her crowbar on Negan’s head.
Rick finds a cabin and makes a tourniquet. He has his next fever dream, and he’s back in a police cruiser with Shane, his old partner and nemesis. Rick apologizes to Shane about killing him. They joke about baby Judith. It’s understood that Judith is Shane’s child, but she no longer belongs to either of them. Then Shane tells Rick–wake up.
In Alexandria, Maggie walks in as planned, with her crowbar. At first Michonne stops Maggie, but then she relents. What else is Maggie supposed to do? Michonne knows what it’s like to need revenge. She hands Maggie the keys, and Maggie heads down to Negan. The scene is predictable, but Negan’s descent into a pitiful mess is still effective. Maggie sees his pathetic nature, and orders him back into his cell. Negan does it, and even closes the door. I don’t believe it, but for the moment, Negan is tamed.
Rick’s next dream is of Hershel, and the two friends stand together in a hayloft. Rick apologizes again for all that’s happened to Hershel and to Maggie. Hershel tells him to stop worrying about his family. Rick has to wake up again, and now he’s back in the hospital, in the original set from episode 1. He sees the doors that read “Don’t Open Dead Inside” and he opens it. He finds a massive field of the dead, like Gettysburg but it goes on forever. There he sees Sasha, long dead but still mourned. “It’s okay,” she tells him. “It feels like it’s ending,” Rick says, with longing. Sasha reminds him, “It’s about all of us. Now wake up.”
Then Rick’s back at the camp, now abandoned except for walkers who move slowly through the tents to get him. He shoots and slowly leads the walkers to the bridge. Soon Rick is surrounded by all his family, all the members of Alexandria. He shares a tender moment with Michonne, who tells him to fight. He tells her, “This isn’t real,” as he knows by now that he is dying. “Yes it is,” Michonne insists. “Now wake up.”
Rick wakes up, and he’s on the bridge and his family is actually there in the forest protecting him. The walkers cross the bridge, and it holds. Rick sees an opportunity to kill the herd when a walker knocks some dynamite out of a box. He shoots the dynamite and the bridge collapses, the herd falls into the river, and the family wails as they realize Rick is gone.
But back on the riverbank, Rick’s last chance has arrived. Because omg Rick is saved omg Rick is saved – because Jadis is there, with the mysterious helicopter that Rick saw in the very first episode of the show. Rick will survive, and the show will take a six-year leap forward in the next episodes. Now it’s Judith who wears the hat, Negan has shaved, and the walkers are beginning to evolve. In one of the creepiest moments of the previews, a walker growls, “Where are they…”