‘The Walking Dead,’ Season 9, Episode 5: “What Comes After” Recap

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 9, Episode 5, What Comes After, Rick's gun

[Image via Jackson Lee Davis/AMC]

So, here we are, at Rick’s final episode. Did it break my heart? Did Rick Grimes really die? Well, read ahead to find out…

Oh, and I apologise in advance if things get messy in this recap. I literally went straight from the couch to the keyboard in order to write this recap up rather than watch the episode again. It wasn’t that I didn’t like this episode — I totally did. But, it is an episode that has ALL of the feels and I am not quite ready to go there again just yet.

CF: I will attest to this, as Rachel was PMing me on FB almost the minute the episode was over and gave me a few quick thoughts before she sat down to write. I’ve done this as well: you so want to get your impressions down while your emotions are still reeling.

Here’s what went down in Episode 5 (titled “What Comes After”) of Season 9 of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

I was totally fearing this episode would be one long coma dream and we would get to the end of Episode 5 and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) was still impaled on the rebar and the walkers were devouring. What I hoped would happen was that Anne/Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) would turn up with her helicopter and take Rick away.

Well, both of those things happened to varying degrees.

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 9, Episode 5, What Comes After, Rick Grimes

[Image via Jackson Lee Davis/AMC]

Firstly, Rick watches the undead approaching him. Using his belt, he manages to pull himself free of the rebar and staggers towards the horse that was previously skittish but is now just waiting patiently for Rick. There goes that theory that the horse was a relative of the original one Rick rode into the city in Season 1…

CF:  That theory was too many fans being bored and having nothing to do.  We know we can always blame this on Gimple instead.  😉

While he rides away from the two herds of walkers, Rick wanders in and out of consciousness.

Which means we get to see some flashbacks to Rick being in hospital and scenes between Rick and Shane (Jon Bernthal). Shane gives a pep talk about how Rick has gone full Shane now. He also asks how Judith is going. Because why not when Rick is injured and dying and all.

Oh, and wake up Rick!

CF:  Right off the bat I loved the scene between Andrew and Jon.  Now, I will point this out: Shane saying “How’s my baby girl?” isn’t a confirmation that Judith is his: it’s more Rick’s belief that she’s Shane’s.  But Rick does believe that so is it true?  Probably.  Beyond that Shane got right up in Rick’s face and let him know what he needed to do, as well as letting him know he’s been an asshole more than a few times, probably something he got from Shane.  It was right at this time I started falling in love with the episode because you sort of knew this was gonna be Rick’s Walk Through Purgatory and he was gonna relive a lot of his past sins. This part was powerful as hell.

RT: Purgatory! That’s spot on.

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 9, Episode 5, What Comes After, Rick on horse back, Walkers behind

[Image via Jackson Lee Davis/AMC]

So, the herds are still following Rick and now it is time for a chat to Hershel (Scott Wilson). Of course, it is way too soon to be seeing Hershel considering the actor that plays him just recently died. But, here he is telling Rick that it’s not his fault in regard to all of Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) suffering.

Hershel is being too kind. Some of it is entirely Rick’s fault. The rest of it is Daryl Dixon’s (Norman Reedus). But I digress…

After their chat, Hershel tells Rick to wake up and it is back to staggering along while the undead is hot on his heels.

CF: I damn near started crying when Hershel showed up.  We knew Jon was going to be in this episode, but Scott? Christ.  It hurt seeing him playing the part and us figuring out that he probably knew he was a dead man walking when he did that cameo.  And again, the part was perfect, as it was Hershel giving Rick absolution for everything that’s happened to him, to Glenn, and to Maggie.  It’s something Hershel from the Afterlife would do, because that’s Hershel.  And yes: we can blame Glenn’s death on Daryl and that hillbilly better watch it when he meets up with Hershel in the same fashion.

There is an awful lot of talk about Rick and his family in this episode. So, about now I am throwing my theory about Anne rescuing Rick right into the wind and deciding Rick is really, actually going to die now even though, technically, AMC hasn’t actually said that only that this episode is Rick’s “final” episode.

Now it’s time for Rick to walk on a mountain of dead bodies. Bodies that belong to everyone ever in the Walking Dead universe — including those that haven’t died yet. Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) turns up now to give her pep talk to Rick about how everyone has a part to play.

It’s still looking grim and I have abandoned my Anne rescues Rick theory entirely, even though Anne has appeared at the start of the episode asking for her mysterious people to come and collect her. So, in theory, a helicopter should be in the area.

CF: Anne driving away in a mini-RV had me laughing: even at the end of everything, we gotta have an RV.  And she has as much luck with them as Rick.

RT: Yes! I wondered if we would get a visit from Dale until I realised it was Anne in the RV 🙂

CF: I will also say that Sasha’s cameo left me sort of unmoved.  Yeah, I know she’s done filming Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery and she’s free, but I really would like to have seen Andrea (Laurie Holden) show up and give Rick a bit of a talk about bad decisions–because this was really the part where Rick was sort of wondering about his bad decisions.  And after Rick, Andrea was the Queen of Bad Decisions

RT: Andrew would have been a much better choice for sure.

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 9, Episode 5, What Comes After, Walker on the bridge

[Image via Jackson Lee Davis/AMC]

Rick decides that he must lead the herd across the bridge. He knows, after previously speaking to Eugene Porter (Josh McDermott), that the bridge will likely not hold.

It is now that Rick’s horse remembers it is scared of walkers and takes off for good. So, Rick must shamble across the bridge by himself, leading the undead behind him.

CF: And did that horse ever come back? Or was it eaten?  We have to know.

He somehow manages to do this even though he is bleeding like a fountain now. He finally gets across the bridge and drops.

The rest of the community arrive and rush in and start fighting the undead. Michonne (Danai Gurira) squats down beside Rick and has a chat to him rather than trying to get him away to medical assistance.

At this point, I smell bullshit and wonder if the whole episode really has just been a coma dream. Then Michonne tells Rick to wake up and it is time for Rick to watch the walkers ambling across the bridge that isn’t collapsing.

CF: For a few seconds I thought the same thing, then realized it really would have been maudlin for Rick to die in Michonne’s arms, so I figured, no, it’s not happening.  And we were right.

But wait, a walker knocks over a box of dynamite and Rick has an idea.

Because, seriously, it would be wrong not to go out with a bang…

Then the community really do turn up but they are on lower ground and can’t really help at all, other than Daryl knocking off a few walkers that are trying to chow down on Rick. The rest try to run around and distract the herd from the other side rather than have the bridge collapse.

Rick is all, “Fuck this shit” and manages to shoot the dynamite and everything goes up in a fiery explosion.

CF: The person in me who’s always going, “It doesn’t work that way” was right there going, “No, Rick: you can’t just shoot dynamite and have it blow up like that.” But since it was Rick’s “Fuck This Shit” moment, I’ll let him have it.

RT: Haha! Yes, this episode was definitely a “suspension of disbelief” episode.

Daryl cries. Which is totally calculated on AMC’s behalf because we all know what happens when Daryl cries.


[Image via AMC]

CF: Hate to say it, but I’m that asshole who started laughing when Daryl cried, ’cause this means we’re getting Mopey Daryl for the rest of the series.  Which is actually sort of funny.

RT: I totally rolled my eyes at this point. because we all know it was done entirely for the feels. Ditto, Daryl walking off into the forest. Luckily, with the massive time jump at the end, we might not have to witness sullen, petulant Daryl. Oh, wait, that’s his normal personality…

Michonne is devastated and the general assumption is that Rick exploded along with the dynamite and is now floating down the river with the walkers.

Now it’s time to return to Anne. She can see the plume of smoke from the bridge explosion, so she is close. She can also see the helicopter approaching. Turning, she sees all the walkers floating downstream. Then, she sees Rick.

He’s still alive.

CF:  Again, the person in me who’s always saying shit don’t work that way was rolling her eyes at this point.  One, that explosion wouldn’t have blown Rick into the river as it was centered over the river–and second, as close as Rick was to the explosion, it would have shredded him.  Then again, this is a world where the dead walk, so what the fuck do I know?

Suddenly, she’s shouting into her walkie-talkie saying she has a “B,” which confused me because I thought Rick would be an “A”…

But, it doesn’t matter because Rick is being rescued and not dying like everyone thought.

CF: We should point out that, as you asked me last night, the song that played as Rick was flown off was the same song played at the end of the pilot episode, Days Gone Bye.  And that song is Space Junk (Wang Chung ’97) by, if you haven’t figured it out, Wang Chung.  And if you want to relive those moments, here’s the song:

While you would think that would be the end of the episode, AMC decides now is the time for a massive time jump and the introduction of the Whispers storyline.

We also get to see Judith as an older child. She is wearing a katana on her back and has the sheriff’s hat and is totally kicking ass — just like Daryl predicted.

CF: When I saw the time jump I was thinking, “Oh, shit: Rachel’s gonna hate this,” ’cause I know how much you like time jumps in The Walking Dead. And this one was a good jump: maybe five years if we can take a guess on Judith’s age.  But I did love her being out there killing zombies and helping people, and I also loved how the jump transitioned, with the last scene of the helicopter flying off and everything in the shot becoming more of one with nature as the building in the center became dilapidated.  On shots like that, when The Walking Dead gets them right, they’re right.

Oh, and before I forget, Maggie totally pays Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) a visit and doesn’t kill him. Why? Because Negan wants to die and Maggie is happy to let him live and suffer forever more now.

I have no idea how I feel about this yet.

CF: Okay, spoiler time ’cause I can.  I think what we saw is the TV version of something that plays out after The Whisperer War in the comics. In the comics, when The Whisperers become an issue Rick lets Negan out of jail and used him as an adviser on how to handle the situation.  As you may guess, this worked as well as any of Rick’s plans and perhaps we’ll still see it happen in the second half of Season 9.

Anyway, Negan finally uses the situation to bug the fuck outta town, but before he can go Maggie shows up with the intention of killing him. It doesn’t go quite the same way as in the TV show, but in the end Maggie leaves Negan alive so he can live with the horror of all the shit he’s done.

And as a special treat, here are most of the panels straight from the comic to show you how it went down there:


RT: Thanks for this info! 😀

CF: And there you have it.  Will it go down that way?  Hell, we don’t even know if Negan’s still alive.  I’m sure we’ll find out in the next episode.  And when is that episode, Rachel?

Season 9 of The Walking Dead returns to AMC with Episode 6 (titled “Who Are You Now”) on Sunday, November 11. As yet, no synopsis for this episode has been released.

[Featured image via Gene Page/AMC]

One thought on “‘The Walking Dead,’ Season 9, Episode 5: “What Comes After” Recap

  1. Rick’s long and slow shamble to the bridge was tough because you knew he was going to cop it, but you didn’t really want to see how and finally face up to his ending.
    Shane and Herschel’s appearances were powerful and they showed just how good the series used to be, with Shane especially being as foil for Rick.
    As for Negan faking it, that clearly leaving him to make a comeback and I reckon they wrote the ending the way they did because they couldn’t bring themselves to actually kill Rick off for good.
    Great way to go out though and timeshifting forward has piqued my interest again.
    One of the best episodes for ages.

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