CF: It was strange in that I think they tried to make it a character building episode, but really, it was more of a set-up for what’s coming in Season 10. They haven’t really done something like since A and the end of Season 4.
Here’s what went down in Episode 16 (titled “The Storm”) of Season 9 of AMC’s The Walking Dead.
The Kingdom Is Cactus
It has been hinted at for a while now in The Walking Dead that the Kingdom is on the decline. However, Episode 16 sees King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) packing up shop and moving out way too late in the season. For winter has arrived and a terrible storm is brewing. However, Ezekiel thinks now is the best time to head out as they plan to amalgamate with the other communities.
CF: And with this action King Ezekiel becomes the Jon Snow of the Zombie Apocalypse, because he should have known Winter Was Coming and he Knew Nothing. Really, if your place is falling apart and, as we saw, burning down around you, get the fuck out of town before you’re under a half-meter of snow.
RT: Considering the storm seemed to last just long enough for them to make it to Hilltop, I’m wondering why they didn’t just stay at the Kingdom for a bit longer. Oh, that’s right, plot.
CF: This was also something that didn’t happen in the graphic novel. The Kingdom is actually the second biggest of the communities after Hilltop. My guess is since the location for The Kingdom is space rented from Tyler Perry Studios, AMC is moving everything back to the Hilltop and Alexandria sets, which they control.
RT: I also suspect that there are just too many communities and group in theTV series for AMC to handle.
CF: In case you ever wondered, Tyler Perry Studios is located on the grounds of what used to be Fort McPherson, found just to the southwest of Atlanta. Here’s a couple of photos of the area. The first is what the area used to look like:
And here it is with all The Kingdom set dressings:
RT: Thanks Cassidy! 🙂
So, the plan is to make the trek across the landscape, making a wide berth of the Whisperers boundaries as they head to Hilltop and Alexandria. But, as to be expected, that goes completely off the rails when the barometer drops and the storm hits sooner than expected. The group then decides that they must cross over the boundary and head into Alpha’s (Samantha Morton) territory in order to save time.
Not one of them assumes this group will freeze solid during the cold snap and even though they are struggling against the extreme weather conditions, they assume they will be busted upon at any given moment.
And, they are.
Except it is by the undead and not the Whisperers.
First off, walkers are spotted in the swirling snow and viewers wonder if maybe the Whisperers are superhuman and can survive in the wild and without proper shelter. However, it is just some upright, frozen walkers and viewers quickly learn that the undead freeze solid in these conditions. Totally, a rule is set up and easy to grasp.
But then, as the group attempts to cross the frozen river, walkers start rising up from the snow and attacking.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong because I am in Australia and we don’t get a lot of snow here, but wouldn’t the walkers under the snow freeze just like the walkers that are standing upright?
Regardless, now the group is now fighting the undead who can survive in the snow but manage to make it across the river and to the safety of Hilltop.
CF: The scene with the walkers under the snow is the part that bothered me the most. Yes, we saw zombies frozen solid in their tracks–including one just outside Hilltop–and this is sort of a nice nod to the novel World War Z, where the various governments of the world did a lot of zombie hunting during the winter because the low temps slowed the zombies down and even froze them in their tracks, which made it real easy to kill them.
So if we’re establishing that zombies can freeze solid just walking around, if you’re not only buried in snow but laying against the icy surface of a frozen river, those walkers should be Zombie Pops(tm). Really, I was muttering “What is this bullshit?” during the whole crossing the river scene, because that shouldn’t have happened. The show set up a great rule and then turned around and took the piss out of it by ignoring the rule just so they could create some fake-ass drama.
RT: So, it wasn’t just me then. Phew! I was sure there was going to be some sciencey explanation to make this work because it just seemed so wrong to me. But, nope. Once again, because plot.
CF: It’s what is known as the Rule of Cool: if it looks cool, it’s the rule, not the exception. You only get frozen zombies when it isn’t cool.
Carol And Ezekiel And Daryl
In the midst of all this having to survive the elements, there is still time for some romantic drama in the Season 9 finale of The Walking Dead.
Notably, Ezekiel and Carol (Melissa McBride) have been having some issues since Henry (Matt Lintz) died and nobody really cares much because this is news to the audience since last week’s episode. However, AMC decides to throw Daryl (Norman Reedus) into the mix because some people are still Team Caryl. So, Carol and Daryl bond over Lydia (Cassady McClincy) in a roundabout way. Carol can’t stand to look at Lydia because all she sees is Henry. However, Daryl is all for Team Lydia and tries to get Carol to see this.
Meanwhile, Ezekiel is seeing just how close Daryl and Carol are becoming and puts the hard word on Daryl to leave with Lydia as soon as possible.
Carol responds by breaking up with Ezekiel when they reach Hilltop and moving on back to Alexandria.
CF: This part was so uninteresting to me that I completely blew it off and sort of didn’t realize it was happening at first. This also means Ezekiel is probably going to die next season because he dodged the Head On a Pike Moment, so we gotta fuck him up later.
I also think this falls in line with a storyline from the graphic novel, where Michonne–who’d had a relationship with Ezekiel before and during the All Out War story–was spending a lot of time going out on boats with Oceanside fishers and felt a bit guilty about having dumped The King. Of course, it fucks her up when she finds Ezekiel’s head and that really sets her up for what happens after The Whisperer War…
RT: Ah, now this makes sense. So, we will get emo Carol in Season 10, then. I can deal with that, especially if it also means she fucks up shit with the Whisperers as well.
Lydia And Carol
Lydia is feeling the pressure of being the reason so many people died in Episode 15 of The Walking Dead. At first, she tries to get a walker to bite her so that she’ll turn but Carol manages to step in just in time.
Then, she escapes during the kerfuffle with the snowy walkers at the river and ends up in what looks like the place in which the ten who died last week were taken by the Whisperers before they were killed. Carol, once again, turns up on the scene and somehow Lydia just seems to know that Carol is a child-killer and begs for Carol to kill her.
However, Carol doesn’t do it this time, probably because it would mean Henry died for no good reason. But, now I guess Carol is stuck having to like Lydia.
CF: This was one of my favorite parts of the episode and I the scene between Lydia and Carol in the barn was soo good. You could see the pain on Lydia’s face as she explained that no one was ever going to accept her and Cassady McClincy sold the hell out of the moment. I’m beginning to like her a lot.
Meanwhile, In Alexandria
It is cold as shit in Alexandria as well in Episode 16 of The Walking Dead Season 9. And, to make sure no one dies of hypothermia, the groups congregate in the houses and locations with the largest fireplaces.
Except, the building in which the main characters — including Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) — have chosen actually has a dud fireplace now and they all nearly die on account of the chimney being blocked up. This means that they have to get in a conga line and move onto the next house.
CF: Really, with all these fireplaces, has no one cleaned any of the chimneys? I felt this was another bad moment to set up the drama that came later.
RT: I was wondering the same thing. We have a wood burner and are always aware of the fact that the flue could clog. With winter coming, surely someone checked the chimneys? There seems to be an awful lot of plot bullshittery going on in this episode…
CF: The “Let’s Not Clean the Flue” bullshit seems even more so when you realized that’s something that Mr. I Know Fucking Everything, aka Eugene, would have been all over before the weather gets cold. He can make a battery out of nickles, but he doesn’t remind people to check the chimneys? Nope. Not gonna happen.
In the midst of all this, Judith (Cailey Fleming) is looking for Daryl’s dog because she has been tasked with looking after it and the damn dog hasn’t stayed in the house. So, during their walk across Alexandria, Judith breaks free when she hears Dog barking. Negan, who has only just been freed on account of the crappy weather and no one wanting him to freeze to death in jail, takes off after her.
Because Negan is totally getting his redemption story arc on in this episode of The Walking Dead.
No one else takes off after Judith even though they will likely know that Michonne (Danai Gurira) will beat their arses for not doing so. Which means that Negan manages to track down Judith and Dog and get them to safety. However, he is injured in the process.
Which also means that he is in the infirmary when Michonne arrives and he can’t escape. However, lucky for Negan, she can’t do anything else but thank him for saving Judith’s life. They then sit down to have a chat over life in general and I could have watched the shit out of this conversation for way longer than AMC allowed.
CF: First off–and I gotta get this bitch out of the way–The Dog Tropes were in full play here and Negan got to Pet the Dog and save Judith at the same time. This is one of the reasons I really hate seeing dogs in shows, because you know at some point the dog is going to be in extreme danger and the chances are good if there’s a precocious kid around *coughJudithcough* a situation will present itself where the kid is like, “I don’t give a shit if we’re hip-deep in a blizzard, I gotta save the dog!” and they run off and require saving themselves. Which why this happened: it allowed Negan to be the good guy.
And it sets up a major plot point in The Whisperers War where Rick, who is sort of getting his ass handed to him by Alpha, enlists Negan as his adviser on how to deal with The Whisperers. Since this is one of Rick’s Plans(tm) you know it’s shit and will likely drag a few people straight to hell when it finally goes tits up, and we’re not disappointed. But Michonne isn’t Rick and it seems like they’re beginning to understand each other, so look for Negan to step in and help out when Alpha finally comes calling
Also, Negan had the best line of the night when he says he really feels for Ezekiel. “I know what it’s like to lose a kingdom: it sucks ass.” Yes, it does.
RT: I get the feeling they will steer clear of Rick’s Plans(TM). Or, I am hoping, anyway. I could see a really interesting dynamic occurring here between Negan and Michonne and I hope AMC explore that rather than trying to copy the comics on this point.
CF: Given that Michonne’s going to be around for maybe 7 or 8 more episodes, it probably means just when shit is getting interesting between these two, it’s going away. Maybe Negan will become Daryl’s new best bud?
Alpha Gets Her 50 Shades On
Even though Judith is nearly dying of hypothermia after being out in the blizzard for a short amount of time, the Whisperers have survived the storm and Alpha is getting Beta (Ryan Hurst) to whip her.
Except I have no idea why this is going on and I am hoping Cassidy has some comic book insights that can help sort out this strange scene.
CF: In terms of the graphic novel, this scene never actually happened. But allow me to offer a little perspective:
In terms of the GN, we were partially in the No Turning Back volume of the story and we’re entering the Call To Arms story, which will eventually end with The Whisperers War, which I expect to take place in the second half of Season 10. Now, in Call To Arms, we never actually see Alpha being a masochistic bitch, but we do learn that she allows extremely violent and shitty things to happen to her people because, as she explains, it’s all part “of nature” and it helps make her people strong. Remember, we’ve already seen that Lydia was abused, but in the GN we also discover she was raped again and again and her mother did shit to stop this because nature, bitches.
So let’s face it: Alpha is a sick bitch and if she needs Beta to whip the shit out of her to get her mind right for fucking shit up, it’s gonna happen. Which means get ready for her to Release the Zombie Kraken on the Communities so said shit gets fucked up.
Really, during this scene I was wondering more if (1) we were seeing a time jump and it was now spring, or (2) The Whispers moved south to get out of the snow. A lot of people seem to think it was a time jump based upon what Beta said, so I’m going with that. Which means if that’s true, would Alpha have known people went through her territory? It hurts my head thinking about this.
RT: Okay, so with your perspective, I imagine you are absolutely right in that Alpha will be releasing the zombie Kraken and this is a time jump. However, I still can’t work out how the Whisperers could survive the extreme weather and also notice their boundaries had been exploited by the communities. After all, if they were close enough to see footprints in the snow, surely they were close enough to attack? Otherwise, those prints would have disappeared under the snow pretty quickly.
CF: Yeah, this was some shaky shit right here. There was no way The Whisperers were going to make it through that winter if they stayed in the area. For them to know something if they moved south there would have to be a spy in the Kingdom and they left info for Alpha when she returned to the north. Which then makes me wonder why the hell they’d stay in the north where it gets cold. So south, rest on the beach, soak up the sun. Fuck that cold.
Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) have been low-key messing about with a radio throughout this season of The Walking Dead. And, now that Michonne has gotten over her snit about her best friend being an arsehole, the radio is now in working order.
So, of course, the Season 9 finale ends with someone making a garbled call across the radio after Ezekiel and Judith finish up their conversation. I have no idea who the person is but I am assuming Cassidy will also be able to help out here as well 😉
CF: Why do you assume I know? 😉
In the Graphic Novel Eugene was the master of the radio and during the events happening at this point he establishes communications with a woman living in a distant community. We eventually learn this is Stephanie and she’s calling from the Commonwealth, which gets introduced during the New World Order story. I know the fan theory was that Rick would make contact with the communities, but the voice on the other end was for sure a woman’s, so I’m guessing this is either Stephanie or whomever The Walking Dead decides was on the other end.
So through the first half of Season 10 I half expect this radio contact will continue and we’ll discover that the Commonwealth exists and that Rick and Maggie are there, and that Georgie is probably running this joint. Get ready for that.
RT: My assumption is that Stephanie will just be Georgie. however, I wonder if maybe that was Maggie on the radio in this episode. However, I couldn’t catch a damn thing the woman was saying so cannot really base the assumption on anything other than I want it to be Maggie.
CF: The voice was deliberately hard to hear so that it could have been Maggie, but they wouldn’t need Lauren Cohan to come in and do a quick recording–much like how the first appearance of Michonne was really one of the set crew with a hood and shadows covering her face because they hadn’t cast Danai Gurira for the part yet. The problem with having Maggie on the other end of the radio is that someone would know her voice pretty fast, so if they do bring in Rick or Maggie, it’s going to be so they can do a quick set up for the first movie. For the first couple of transmissions, it’s probably going to be someone we haven’t met yet.
Let us know what you thought of this episode of The Walking Dead by commenting below!
As yet, no release date has been set for Season 10 of The Walking Dead. However, if AMC follows its normal pattern, Season 10 should debut sometime in October.
[Featured image via Gene Pages/AMC]