The Walking Dead Awards: It’s never the end of everything

Season 9, Episode 5: We can’t wait to see what happens to Rick next week . . . right? Guys?

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Goodbye for now, Rick.

Photograph by Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

(Spoilers ahead)

Each week, we comb through the guts of The Walking Dead, much like a horde of hungry walkers, to bring you the episode’s best moments, surprises, and other post-apocalyptic curiosities. This week: Rick does a pull-up, Rick paints a horse pink, and Rick goes out for smokes. He’ll be back in a minute.

Season 9, Episode 5: “What Comes After”

Best full-circle: Rick came into this show being screwed over by a horse, and he’ll leave this show being screwed over by a horse.

The Walking Dead 905

Photograph by Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Not quite like you remembered: This episode’s early season callbacks were fun for longtime fans, but did you notice that the much-loved “Don’t Dead Open Inside” hospital doors actually read “Don’t open dead outside”? Once again, it was an accurate message.

Best actor? We know Negan is a master manipulator and excellent double-crosser. So we have to ask—did he really want Maggie to kill him so he could be reunited with his wife in the afterlife? Or was it the opposite—he knew that Maggie would keep him alive if he looked like he was suffering enough already?

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A scene made more poignant by the recent death of actor Scott Walker, who played Hershel

Photograph by Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Best cameo: Shane, Hershel, and Sasha. All three were excellent and helped Rick through easily his darkest hour in some way.

Surprising omissions: We were sorry not to have seen Carl, Lori, Glenn, or Abraham though.

Best inventor: Hallucination-Shane took credit for creating “Crazy Rick.” Our recaps and weekly Crazy Meter thank him.

Best construction: We can’t help think Rick’s situation on the bridge was win-win for him. Either he saved his communities with the herd falling into the river as the bridge collapsed from the weight, or his team built the absolute best possible bridge.

Worst CGI: Rick’s “death” scene really would have been more impactful without constant shots of poorly animated flaming walkers tumbling into the river.

Unanswerable questions: We still have no idea where Rick went, what an “A” or a “B” is, and how all of this is going to tie into the future of the show.

Name that tune: One question we can answer though—yes, the song that played while Rick traveled away on the helicopter was the same song that played as Rick sat in the tank at the end of the very first episode. It’s “Space Junk” by Wang Chung.

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Judith is the new Carl.

Photograph by Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’: Why, yes, that was another time jump into the future. Six years, in order to turn Judith into Carl 2.0, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Missed opportunity: While we loved the Judith reveal at the end, we were a little bummed that she didn’t ask the newbies Rick’s three questions.

Best exchange:
Maggie: The only thing I had—the one thing I had—was knowing I was going to see Glenn’s murderer die. And you took it from me.
Michonne: So taking it back, what the hell is that going to do?
Maggie: It’s going to start things over—
Michonne: No, it’s gonna start something else.
Maggie: If he butchered Rick in front of you instead of Glenn—
Michonne: Maggie . . .
Maggie: If you had a child to raise alone because of him, he would have been dead a long time ago and you know it. So stop acting like this is a choice. Stop acting like I can just turn it off. Because it has been a year and a half and I can’t.

Most disturbing image: Not getting a clearer answer on Rick’s fate. We can assume he’s alive, but this just didn’t feel like a final episode for a character. There’s no meaningful resolution, and we were left waiting for a post-credits scene. AMC has announced that Rick Grimes’s story isn’t over and that multiple (television) movies are in the works to continue his character. But still, that’s a lot of leave without resolution in the series itself.

Best kill: Rick blowing up the bridge. In a moment reminiscent of Tom Hanks’s final scene in Saving Private Ryan, Rick fired one shot into an absurdly large amount of dynamite (stored in the worst possible location for construction, we might add) and saved everyone. That bridge may have been Rick’s pet project, but, well, family first.

Episode MVP: Andrew Lincoln. Could it have been anyone else? For eight years, he anchored The Walking Dead, and quite frankly, we’re not sure what to expect without him. The next few weeks are going to be interesting, but, as we noted above, hopefully the character will return to the universe soon. Until then, we’ll keep the Rick Grimes Crazy Meter in storage.

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We’re not crying, you’re crying . . .

Illustration by Matt Walljasper, photographs courtesy of AMC