The Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 9: Finally, We Have Hope

Photo: Gene Page/AMC.
When we last left Rick and Co. in Alexandria, things were looking pretty desperate. But after the midseason premiere of The Walking Dead, I’m feeling as confident and hopeful as ever. Or, at least as confident as one can be about a fictional zombie apocalypse and the fate of its equally fictional heroes.

Firstly, the cold open was one of the best in the series. Sasha, Abraham, and Daryl are driving in their truck when they encounter a group of jerks on motorcycles who ask them to hand over their weapons. As if! “Your property now belongs to Negan,” their front man says. (Negan’s the next big baddie whom we haven't met yet.) Facing the motorcycle crew with guns pointed at them, our friends have no choice but to relinquish their weapons. The man instructs one of his cronies to take Daryl around the back of the truck and start searching for more supplies.

While that’s happening, Sasha and Abraham try to ask some questions about what this guy is trying to do. Like all lackluster villains, he reveals his plan, which is to drive them back to wherever they came from, pillage more of their shit, and in the meantime, he’ll kill a couple of them. He points his guns up to shoot them both, then puts those guns back down. “I’m not gonna kill you,” he decides. Then, a moment later. “Wait, ya know what? Yes I am.” But before he can do it, he and his gang of motorcycle bros die in a fiery explosion, because Daryl has killed the cronie who led him to the back of the truck, located his weapon, and used it to blow them all up. KABAM.

“What a bunch of assholes,” Daryl says. And then they’re off to Alexandria. Now that’s how you start an episode.

Speaking of Alexandria, the zombies are just everywhere — like glitter that you opened five years ago but is still somehow consistently wedged in your carpet. Rick, Carl, Judith, Gabriel, Michonne, Jessie, Ron, and Sam, are all walking through the crowd of the undead, wearing guts and blood, which has a successful track record of concealing them. It’s all very stressful because you know something bad is going to happen. Either the cover-up-in-guts trick will finally fail to work, or that kid Sam is gonna break.

They manage to slowly make it to a big bush and Rick pulls them aside to regroup. He wants to lead them to a group of vehicles at the quarry so they can round up the walkers, and get ‘em outta town. Because herding walkers has worked so well for them in the past. Why is Rick like a big, beautiful sheepdog?

Jessie reminds Rick that Judith is a baby and should probably not make the journey, lest she cry or laugh or make any human noise that gives them away. (Honestly I don’t know how she’s stayed quiet for this long.) Gabriel offers to take her back to the church where they can wait things out. He feels it’s his duty. I think Rick is batshit crazy for handing his daughter to a man who willingly let hundreds of his own congregation get eaten alive so he could have the church and supplies to himself, but I suppose he’s a reformed man.

And this is where you know things are about to go to shit. Jessie tells Gabriel to take Sam with him, too, but Sam fights her on it. “I can keep going,” he insists. And she lets him. Bad idea, man. That kid can NOT keep going. He has consistently been unable to handle anything. But, sure. Let’s have him stick around.

A quick note about this whole blood-and-guts technique. It’s about as convincing as seeing three kids stack on top of each other, wear a trench coat, and try to sneak into the movie theater. I’m no director, but would it be helpful to maybe act more like zombies? I know that’s very Shaun of the Dead, but it certainly couldn’t hurt to blend in a bit.

Feels like a good time to check in on everyone else. Rosita and Tara are still holed up with Eugene, who’s beginning to feel a bit useless — mainly because Rosita tells him he’s never helping figure out plans. You can tell it really hurts him, but she's right. Carol and Morgan still hate each other because the Wolf that Morgan was keeping captive in hopes he would become a good guy has taken off with Denise as hostage. Morgan’s all, “You had a child...right? A husband?” It’s true that we almost forget this about Carol, because she’s so hard and ruthless now it’s difficult to remember a version of her from season one where she was letting her husband walk all over her and didn’t know how to shoot a gun. But she doesn’t take the compassion bait. “You saved him for you, not us...I should’ve killed you. I should’ve.”

Glenn and Enid find haven in a nearby church where they search for supplies: a gun for protection and anything like sheets, ropes, and towels to help Maggie climb down from a platform where she's stuck with zombies waiting to eat her on the ground below. Glenn’s rummaging through the place, and Enid’s staring at words painted on the wall: “Faith without work is dead.”

She asks Glenn something that’s been on her mind. “When I wanted to run you said that’s how you lose people. Even after they’re gone. What the hell does that mean?”

“People you love...they made you who you are,” he tells her. “They’re still part of you. If you stop being you, that last bit of them that’s still around inside — who you are — it’s gone.”

She asks who those people are to him, and he lists many of the characters we’ve loved and lost — Dale, Hershel, Andrea. GOD, I MISS YOU HERSHEL. He asks her the same question.

“My parents,” she tells him. He reassures her by saying, “They’re still here ‘cause you’re still here.” And that’s enough to get Enid on board. She’s now all about helping Maggie off the platform and going with Glenn to fight the good fight against the zombies. They find some supplies, including a small handgun, and they’re off.
Photo: Gene Page/AMC.
Denise is unfortunately being held semi-hostage by the Wolf. He’s plotting their escape from the surrounding walkers, but she’s scared and would rather be left behind. The Wolf insists she come with him when there’s a chance to make a break. She’s visibly creeped out by him, but in a way that makes you laugh a bit.

It’s no mistake that comic relief comes now, because we need a happy memory to hang on to for what’s about to happen. It’s nightfall and Rick and his comrades are still slowly walking through the herd, making their way to those cars.

Sam is about to lose it. He’s unable to look away from the grotesque images of the zombies, and he begins replaying what Carol said to him about how the monsters will come for him, tear him apart and eat him alive. He starts to cry and not move anymore. This is it. He’s gonna blow it. He’s just shaking his head to his mother’s pleas and immediately gets eaten. Even though I knew this might happen, it’s still so jarring to see. Then Jessie screams, the walkers notice and eat her. It feels worth noting that every woman Rick loves dies.

Carl is tugging at Rick, who seems to be in some kind of shock. He snaps out of it in time to cut an arm off a zombie who’s tugging at Carl. In the process, Carl falls back and drops his gun. Michonne pulls out her huge sword. Ron holds the gun up to Rick. “You,” he says, clearly blaming him for the death of his entire family. But before he can do anything drastic, Michonne kills him because this is a crowd of zombies and we cannot fuck around. In the moment though, he’s accidentally shot the gun anyway, and sends a bullet straight through Carl’s right eye. “Dad?” Carl says, then falls to the ground. Rick picks him up and he and Michonne are tearing through the zombies now, slashing and running to get Carl to the infirmary.

We’re back to the Wolf and Denise. He tells her the people of Alexandria aren’t fighters. “We did put up a fight. That’s why your friends are dead.” Sick burn, Denise. His plan is to go up the guard tower and over the wall. He tells her not to be afraid, that it’s safer out there than it is where they’re hiding, and forces her to move. In the middle of their escape, a walker comes after Denise. And the Wolf does something very surprising: He saves her. And in the process, he gets bitten. “Get me to the infirmary, I’ll save your life,” she tells him.

They reach a temporary haven, but still have to cross an alley to reach the infirmary. “Maybe you changed,” she tells him. I mean, he did come back for her. And since he’s already bitten, he decides to just barrel through the walkers, functioning as a human shield for Denise. Unfortunately — depending on who you ask — Carol sees him and shoots him on site. I wonder if she had known what he did, if she would have been able to see past his previous actions and allow him to live. Later, once Morgan sees the Wolf turned into a zombie, he says, “I’m sorry,” then kills him.

Denise is in the infirmary where some Alexandrians were hiding out, minding her patients. They see Rick running with Carl, and Denise takes a moment to ready herself. She knows it’s bad. “Is he bit?” they ask. “Nope,” she tells them — and she’s ready to handle it.

Once inside, Michonne takes the zombie guts off Rick as he freaks the fuck out silently. How can all this happen? He can’t watch. He looks out the window to see zombies approaching. He takes out his axe and makes his way out there, because the walkers have officially crossed a line. Here we go it’s Rambo Rick. He’s outside axing zombies one by one, because you do not fuck with Carl! Michonne resolves to go out and help Rick after Carl’s sutured up. She gives him a quick kiss on the head and then she’s out. People are watching from within the safety of their homes, and then something amazing happens: They work up the courage to come out and help. “We can beat ‘em!” Rick shouts to his fellows.

In the church, Gabriel and Judith and some Alexandrians are holed up. He sees what’s happening outside and hands Judith to one of the women. “We’ve been praying together,” he tells them. “Praying that God will save our town. Our prayers have been answered. God will save Alexandria, because God has given us the courage to save ourselves.” I am very into this.

Carol tells the group they have to get out there and make a stand and help Rick. “Eugene you don’t have to,” Rosita tells him. “That’s incorrect. I do,” he tells her. “No one gets to clock out today. And hell, this is a story people are gonna tell.”

And before long, the entire town is out there fighting. We’re witnessing a revolution. It’s so beautiful.

Glenn sees Maggie stuck at the top of a crumbling platform. He tells Enid to go get her while he runs around shooting his gun to distract zombies from them. Enid climbs to meet Maggie, but now Maggie is shooting her gun and banging on things to distract them from Glenn. This is real love, folks. It looks like we are about to lose him, but then Abraham and Sasha are there with machine guns and eliminate the zombies around him. Honestly, how many near-death scenes will Glenn get this season?

Maggie and Glenn and Daryl and friends are back in the truck. Daryl unloads gas from the truck to create a pool he can light on fire to pull the walkers away from Alexandria and into a blaze where they’ll literally burn out. He shoots his weapon to ignite the gas. Flames surround the town. All the zombies turn to look at it and begin to walk towards it. While Rick and friends welcome the relief, they’re not just gonna stop. They keep slashing zombies. It’s so fucking awesome. We see rapid cuts of every single person killing zombies — to really drive home that they’re all in the fight now.

Daylight comes. We see a veritable pile of slaughtered walkers. Everyone who’s still standing is together at the house. The only question is the question they always have. What the hell do they do now?

Michonne is holding Judith. Carl is unconscious, and Rick is talking to him. “I thought after living behind these walls for so long that maybe they couldn’t learn,” he tells his unresponsive son. “But today I saw what they could do. What we could do if we work together. We’ll rebuild the walls. We’ll expand the walls. There will be more. There’s gotta be more.” He tells Carl that everything Deanna had planned for the community is possible. He tells Carl that when he was out there with the Alexandrians, when he knew they had this place again, that he had this feeling, one he hadn’t felt since before he woke up in the hospital. “I wanna show you the new world, Carl,” he says crying. “I wanna make it a reality for you. Please, Carl.” It’s impossible to not cry along with him.

The camera pans down to show us they’re holding hands. At the final moment, Carl moves his fingers.

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