A Hopeful Ending as the Universe Grows



The Walking Dead ends it epic eleven seasons run with a promise of hope. But it wasn’t truly a goodbye as the primary characters survived, sans one, and will undoubtedly be seen again. AMC previously announced spin-off series Dead City, Daryl Dixon, and the eagerly anticipated, Rick and Michonne. Showrunner Angela Kang had the difficult task of delivering a memorable series finale while setting up the next chapters. She succeeds with a thrilling zombie assault on the Commonwealth, a significant tragic loss, and an emotional reckoning of past sins. The extended epilogue gave fans heartfelt closure before pivoting to the long awaited return of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).

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Spoiler Warning”Rest in Peace” opens with Daryl (Norman Reedus) carrying a wounded Judith (Cailey Fleming) into the hospital. We see everything from her groggy perspective as Daryl’s knocked out by fleeing Commonwealth soldiers. Judith shows her Grimes willpower and locks the doors before walkers enter. Meanwhile, on the streets, Jules (Alex Sgambati) is torn apart as the others drag a bitten Luke (Dan Fogler). Daryl awakens with Carol (Melissa McBride) tending to his wounded head. Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), Magna (Nadia Hilker), Kelly (Angel Theory), and Connie (Lauren Ridloff) sob as they dispatch a bloody Luke. Judith lays unconscious on a gurney. Daryl gives her a transfusion with his O-positive blood type.

Mercer (Michael James Shaw) stands in his prison cell as walkers chomp at the grail. A head explodes as Princess (Paola Lázaro) blows up the door and rescues him with a passionate kiss. They regroup with Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) as they fill a military truck with weaponry. Aaron (Ross Marquand) and the forearm-aputated Lydia (Cassady McClincy) joins them from a herd of passing walkers.

Rosita (Christian Serratos), Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) find where the babies have been taken. Rosita kills a walker reaching for Coco in a crib. They put the infants in carriers and try to escape in an ambulance. At the hospital, a frightened Judith thinks she’s going to die. Daryl gently reassures her that she will live. Judith reveals that Michonne had left to search for Rick. A variant walker uses a rock to smash the hospital glass door. The swarm enters and gobbles Diane (Kerry Cahill). Everyone races to leave the hospital pushing Judith on the gurney. Carol radios to the others that the hospital has been breached.

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The ambulance is stuck and surrounded by walkers. Rosita, Eugene, and Gabriel stand back-to-back as they fight off walkers. Gabriel spots a pipe leading to a second floor window. He and Eugene climb up, but Rosita falls down to the snarling zombies. She goes into beast mode with Coco strapped to her back. Rosita shreds walkers and leaps unto the pipe. She’s pulled to safety by a frantic Eugene.

Later that night, everyone regroups at a house near the Estates. A crowd of desperate citizens bang on the locked gates. Pamela Milton (Laila Robins) watches coldly with Vickers (Monique Grant) and her remaining troops. Tomi (Ian Anthony Dale) tends to Judith while the others assess the situation. Aaron comforts a heartbroken Lydia. She believes Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) and Jerry (Cooper Andrews) are dead. Mercer says the Alexandrians should leave now while they can. Ezekiel refuses. He will not let the Commonwealth’s innocents be sacrificed. Ezekiel takes charge and rallies everyone to fight.

Maggie Looks for Negan

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Maggie looks for a missing Negan. He’s taken the sniper rifle to kill Pamela. He doesn’t want Maggie to be haunted by her murder. Maggie takes back the rifle. It’s not his decision to make. Negan tearfully apologizes for killing Glenn. Eugene watches as Rosita “soaks up” Coco. He sits beside her with advice on teaching Coco how to swim. He can’t wait for summer. Eugene realizes something is wrong. Rosita shows him the bite mark on her back. Eugene breaks down as Rosita asks him to be strong. A sorrowful Eugene composes himself before returning to Max (Margot Bingham). Judith wakes up. Daryl and Carol confirm with her that Rick is indeed alive.

Maggie trains the sniper rifle on Pamela. She waits for the kill shot. Mercer leads the group to confront Pamela. She has betrayed her people for the last time. She “disappeared” hundreds, let the herd enter the city, and shot Judith. The walkers close in on the terrified people clamoring at the gate. Gabriel walks by everyone. He will open it and shoot anyone that tries to stop him. A soldier puts a gun to his dead. Daryl yells enough, they are not “the walking dead.” A tense moment passes as Vickers cedes authority to Mercer. He orders Pamela’s arrest for crimes against the Commonwealth. Maggie puts down the gun. Negan comments that jail will be worse for Pamela than death.

Gabriel opens the gate. The crowd rushes in with the herd right behind them. The gates are closed before the walkers enter. Elijah races to embrace Lydia. Jerry screams for Nabila (Nadine Marissa) and their children. Aaron tells him they’re safe in Alexandria. Mercer has a voice-over while a plan comes together. They collect fuel in the truck. Barrels are placed throughout the Estates then concentrated at Pamela’s house. They pour gasoline in the sewers below. Eugene and others rig explosives to the drums. They also attach speakers to them. Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality” blares through the PA and speakers from a record player at Pamela’s house. The gates are opened. Walkers gush towards the blaring music. Everyone hurriedly leaves the Estates. The song ends with a colossal explosion that incinerates the neighborhood and walkers.

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Pamela sits in prison before Carol and Daryl. She wonders how they will decide who gets the nicest house. Carol scoffs they won’t make those decisions, and at least it won’t be her destroyed house. Maggie approaches Negan. She can never forgive him for killing Glenn. He took the most precious love of her life. She understands he’s trying to change. Thanks him for saving Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller) but says he cannot be absolved of his awful crimes. Maggie’s through with hurt and hate. Negan and his wife can live peacefully. He breaks down in tears.

Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” plays over a celebratory feast. Yumiko raises a glass to toast Luke. She and Magna reconnect with a kiss. Judith watches as Rosita whispers her terrible news to Gabriel. His reaction reveals Rosita’s imminent demise. Maggie and Carol embrace Rosita. She lies down beside her sleeping daughter in a room filled with flowers. Daryl watches solemnly. Gabriel prays for her before lifting Coco away. A despondent Eugene sits beside her. They express a deep love for each other. Rosita is thankful that it will be Eugene. She closes her eyes peacefully.

One year later, Eugene places flowers at remembrance plaques for Rosita, Luke, and Jules. He and Max have a had a baby girl. He pushes Rosie in a stroller to a speech given by Governor Ezekiel. Lt. Governor Mercer stands at his side. Princess shouts a cheer. Connie hugs Daryl. She asks him to be careful out on the frontier. Elijah and Lydia give Judith a gift. Negan has returned her compass. He reminds her to follow the right path.

Daryl Will Search for Carol’s Family

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In Alexandria, Judith and RJ (Antony Azor) run to hug Gracie (Anabelle Holloway). Daryl and a short-haired Carol catch up with Aaron. He’s overjoyed they were able to finally find peace. Gabriel holds the hand of an older Coco. Jerry and Nabila wave to dear friends. Maggie tells everyone that it’s time see what’s really out there. Carol and Daryl sit by the water. He congratulates her for taking Hornsby’s (Josh Hamilton) job. Carol’s distressed to not go with him. Daryl promises he will be back. Back in the Commonwealth, the kids and Carol gather by Daryl’s bike. Judith will care for Dog. Daryl will search for her mom and dad. Carol says, “I love you. You are my best friend.” Daryl returns the sentiment. He puts on a shawl and drives through the Commonwealth’s gates. He passes beautiful pastures as Judith and RJ watch from the guard tower.

A match lights a fire. Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rick are seen staring into different flames. Michonne writes a letter to her children. She’s gone too far for the radio. Michonne continues to look for their father. A gray-bearded Rick remembers the friends and family lost. A montage follows of characters that died. Michonne jumps on her horse and rides toward a herd with sword ready. A barefoot Rick walks by a muddy riverbank wearing a leather jacket with the Civil Republic’s interlocking circles insignia. A helicopter hovers above him. He’s been found. Rick raises his hands but thinks about Judith and Michonne. Her face determined as she rides towards danger undaunted. Judith continues to stare wistfully in the distance with RJ. Her lingering words, “We get to start over. We are the ones who live.” The Walking Dead ends with a montage of all the cast members thanking fans for their support.

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A Hopeful and Poetic Ending

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The hopeful and poetic ending worked for me. The Walking Dead has been a rollercoaster of zombie carnage and fatalities. Seeing the characters reclaim their humanity and civilization is a fitting coda to their journey. Diane, Luke, and Jules were minor, secondary characters. Rosita dying had meaning. Some will be upset there wasn’t more of a bloodbath. The apocalypse didn’t need additional grief. Remember the agonizing deaths of Sophia, Beth, Carl, and my favorite character, Glenn. The show had its fill of despair. It honestly lost narrative steam after Lincoln’s departure and the Whisperers storyline. Finding the Commonwealth was a placeholder for the extended universe to seriously take shape. The resolve with Ezekiel’s leadership and Carol as the bad-a** in the background makes perfect sense. He always held the moral high ground. She’s the most formidable character in the entire series. Carol destroyed Terminus and had Alpha killed. The Commonwealth’s left in strong hands.

There should be no issues with further adventures of Daryl, Maggie, and Negan. They are compelling characters who deserve lead opportunities. Rick has been gone for over seven years in the timeline. Rick and Michonne has a mountain of exposition to cover. The Civil Republic loomed over multiple series. It’s about time fandom gets real answers to their true scope and reach. One lame aspect of the finale had me annoyed. The zombie-themed commercials was an unabashed cash grab. I could have done without seeing Laurie Holden, who played Andrea, shill for Deloitte.

The Walking Dead can be seen in its entirety on AMC+. Fear the Walking Dead and Dead City will premiere in 2023.

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