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The Walking Dead 9.16 Review – ‘The Storm’

April 1, 2019 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
The Walking Dead - The Storm Daryl
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The Walking Dead 9.16 Review – ‘The Storm’  

This week, in the Season 9 finale of The Walking Dead, the Kingdom has fallen, not with a bang, but a whimper, but the survivors find ways to keep going on.

The plot: Months have passed since Alpha marked her bloody border, and the Kingdom has finally fallen. Too many pipe breakdowns are the final death knell that drives the last remaining Kingdomers out, on the eve of a huge snowstorm. The storm is coming in fast and the only way to get to stocked waystation in time to wait it out is by cutting through Whisperer territory. They do, facing not just frozen walkers hidden in the snow and crossing a frozen river, but also tensions within their own group. Lydia tries to off herself, and then tries to get Carol to kill her, but ultimately neither happens, and Ezekiel asks Daryl to not stay with them at Hilltop in order to help he and Carol move on. They reach Hilltop all in one piece, but Carol is leaving Ezekiel, too torn up over losing Henry, and goes on to Alexandria with the others. Meanwhile, in Alexandria, Negan is let out of his cell so he can stay the night somewhere warm, but the group in the meeting house has to move out mid-storm thanks to a blocked chimney. Judith runs off to find Dog and he chases after her. He injures his leg but finds her and gets her, and Dog, back to safety. When she returns, and after some playtime in the snow, Michonne thanks him. Somewhere much further South with no snow, Alpha and Beta talk about the need to be stronger for what’s coming. Finally, we see the communities staying in touch via the radio, with Ezekiel talking to Judith at the front and end of the show, and after he leave, a new voice comes in over the radio asking, “Is anybody out there?”

“The Storm” was in many ways calmer than “The Calm Before,” despite it’s title, but this storm is less about rage than it is about surviving and finding the clear skies that follow. While the weather is harrowing, and leads to some interesting new challenges in terms of walkers, it’s more about our survivors are changing than anything else. Both as individuals and as a group, they’re all changing.

At the top of that list are those most effected by what’s happened–Carol and Ezekiel. In the opening montage, we see the hints that their marriage is fraying and falling apart, and the signs only continue as the episode goes on. Ezekiel has some rare moments of lacking confidence tonight, most notable when he asks Daryl to not stay at Hilltop with he and Carol once they get there, because they need a chance to move on. Carol suggests later that this is because Ezekiel blames Daryl for Henry’s loss, but I think it’s that Ezekiel is feeling threatened. He notices how Carol is spending more time talking to her old friend to her husband, and he wants to be the one who gets to be there for her. It makes sense, she is his wife, after all. I appreciate that the show doesn’t have Ezekiel pull an ‘alpha male’ routine with this, but is as respectful with Daryl as he can be instead. Much like what Gabriel says regarding the situation between himself, Rosita, and Siddiq, they’re all adults and they respect one another. Ezekiel treats both Carol and Daryl with respect. When she tells him she’s leaving, he doesn’t argue, he doesn’t try to override her, he accepts that she knows what she needs and tells her he’ll always love her. Which only makes it all the sadder that she still gives him the ring back and leaves. These two! I’m hoping for a reconciliation down the line, to be honest, I like them a lot as a couple. Then again, of course, this whole does hint that some hope may finally be in the air for the Daryl & Carol shippers, so who knows!

Carol herself is of course struggling with herself in the wake of losing Henry, and even if we’ve skipped months ahead, it’s heartbreaking. Still, she’s doing what she can to move on, move forward. Her brief interactions with Lydia are the most telling, I think. There have been versions of Carol that would absolutely have killed Lydia when she asked. Hell, there are versions of her that wouldn’t have even waited that long to do so. But instead, seeing Lydia broken and begging to be killed, Carol tells her she isn’t weak, takes her hand, and leads her back to the others. I have to wonder if Carol doesn’t see a little of herself in Lydia, really. Someone who’s been abused, who’s learned to adapt to survive, someone who doesn’t think she’s a good person or worth saving, but who can’t bring herself to off herself. Carol has absolutely been all of those things, and I think this is why she doesn’t hurt or shut Lydia out in that moment. She was able to turn things around, and maybe Lydia can, too. What’s more, if Lydia can do it, then maybe Carol can do it, too.

The other notable change we see is in Negan. Although his delight at being out of his cell and around people was itself delightful! It was refreshing to see him back to his more charming ways, giving people shit in his classic Negan way. But the big change come when Judith runs off to find Dog in the middle of the snowstorm. It’s not shocking, given what we’ve seen of their relationship this season, but Negan doesn’t hesitate to take off after her. And while others look as well–we can hear others calling for her in the storm–it’s Negan who finds her, gives her his coat, and then carries her to safety despite his injured and bleeding leg. All still in the middle of the snowstorm in the middle of the night! It’s an instinctive and selfless act, the likes of which few people here have ever seen him do. I expect that his having done this, and others seeing him do it, will be an important moment next season. Even Michonne is already treating him differently.

Most notable here is that all of these changes point to hope. These survivors have yet again been through hell, and hellish losses, but rather than dwelling on the shock and trauma of that, the show is taking a new tack of focusing on finding notes of hope in the aftermath by coming together. Last week, with Siddiq’s story about the heroism of their fallen loved ones, and this week with people making positive choices as the come out of their darkest hours. There’s even a snowball fight when they reach Alexandria! It makes for not necessarily the most dramatic television, but it is still very compelling. And after all the trauma in the past, it’s refreshing to have a change from dwelling on that too heavily. It’s different, and that’s a good thing. Besides, there’s still plenty of dark shadows looming with the Whisperers at large…and now a new mystery of who was that on the radio at the very end?

Also, it was cool to see snow on this show! That’s never happened before, and they found some cool new ways to use that with the walkers that I enjoyed. Really, the effects team for this show deserves all the applause for the great work they do all the time.

As always, thanks so much for watching and reading with me this season, everyone! It’s been great as always, and I’ll be back with Fear the Walking Dead in June!

8.0
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Though far less dramatic than other season finales, there was still a lot to like in this episode. There are notable changes in people and in relationships in the show, most notably Carol, Ezekiel, Daryl, Lydia, and Negan. The notes of hope that they all find in the end are refreshing, and in the meantime we did some good tension in the episode as the survivors struggled with the blizzard. The Whisperers are still out there, but for now there's a reprieve before whatever comes next in Season 10.
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