The Walking Dead, Season Nine, Episode 16, “The Storm” Review: An Interesting Finale.

3 and a half stars
The Walking Dead 
season nine came to a close with its season finale this week, “The Storm”, in a surprisingly anticlimactic end to a fantastic season.
That is not to say “The Storm” was a bad episode but, compared to the other finales the series has had, the episode did not have that much of a climactic feel.
This does makes sense though, considering the episode is following the shocking pike scene from “The Calm Before.”
In fact, “The Storm” not only lives up to its name by a being a continuation of “The Calm Before” title, but by also featuring a snow storm, the first in The Walking Dead show’s history.
This is surprising when you look at how many snow storms have been in the comics, but hey, better late than never.
The previous lack of snow is more than made up for in this episode, with the snow storm being the main threat the characters face.
This new threat, combined with the characters dealing with the aftermath of the pike massacre make for some compelling moments.
For example, the scenes between Carol (Melissa McBride) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) were touchingly tragic, with Henry’s death having driven them apart.

Ezekiel.jpg
It is tragic to see Ezekiel and Carol’s relationship plummet after the death of Henry and makes me wonder what the future holds for them.

It made for a sad contrast, with their relationship being established at the beginning of season nine, only for it to end in the finale.
The fall of the Kingdom basically represents the fall of their relationship.
Speaking of Carol though, the way she and Lydia (Cassidy McClincy) interacted was great.
I especially liked Lydia’s growth through her battle with suicidal thoughts in the aftermath of Henry’s death and being ostracized by many of the other survivors for her mother’s actions.
The big highlight of the episode though is definitely Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), with him taking another step towards his redemption.
After Judith (Cailey Fleming) is lost in a snow storm searching for Daryl’s dog, Negan is the first to give chase and eventually rescues her, even though he gets hurt.
His line that she “wanted more Negan time” was a great moment from him that showed the connection between the two.
It honestly feels like the connection Negan had with Carl in the comics, so I am glad the show found a way they could keep that alive, even with Carl being dead.

Negan
I am loving how Negan’s redemption arc is being played out in the show, especially Judith’s role in it. 

As for the rest of the episode, it was fairly standard.
With the Kingdom having fallen and the Sanctuary not living up to its name, the group are forced to make their way through Alpha’s territory to get to safety but nothing all that massive comes from it.
It is revealed later in the episode that Alpha (Samantha Morton) and the other Whisperers left for winter, however, this does not make much sense to me because wouldn’t it be winter everywhere else?
In any case, the scene with her and Beta (Ryan Hurst) is basically just a reminder that they are still in the story so does not offer much weight.
However, The final scene of the finale definitely does as someone attempts to communicate with the group on the radio they have set up.
I heard rumors that Rick would be on the radio so it was a bit disappointing to not hear his voice, but I am not going to let my expectations influence my opinion on the episode.

Rick
I was sad to realise Rick was not on the radio, however, we still have The Walking Dead movies, where he will appear, to look forward to. 

As to who was on the radio, there has been a lot of speculation.
Most people think it is Maggie and this is the way the show will bring her back, but I personally think it is Stephanie, who is a new character that will be in the next arc, after the Whisperers.
This means, when they are finally dealt with, we will be getting the Commonwealth arc, which I am kind of dreading because of how lackluster this arc has been so far in the comics.
Whatever the case, this cliffhangers is still better than many of the other ones we have had in the series.
I am looking at you “Last Day on Earth.”
Overall, “The Storm” is a decent season finale, and director Greg Nicotero did a good job with it.
Not a lot may have happened, but it was still better than some of the other season finales and was a good way to wrap up season nine.
And, with how great this season was, I am eager to see how season ten will turn out.

The Walking Dead, Season 9, Episode one A New Beginning Review: A Return to Form?

4 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

Coming into The Walking Dead season nine, I have felt like this was the season that would return the show to its former glory or doom it forever.
The series has been in a slow decline ever since season six that it all culminated in the disastrous decision to kill off Carl.
However, season nine opens on the A New Beginning story arc, which gave the comics a new and fresh feel to it that made the already great comic even better.
So, even with Andrew Lincoln, and possibly Lauren Cohan, leaving the show, season nine could pull The Walking Dead out of the drain it has slowly been circling.
For this season they even changed showrunners, moving Scott Gimple over to Fear The Walking Dead and, given how terrible that show has become since he started working there, I think it is good he no longer holds that position for the main show.
Angela Kang has replaced Scott Gimple as showrunner for season nine and if episode one, “A New Beginning”, is any indication then she was definitely the right choice.
Written by Kang and directed by Greg Nicotero, “A New Beginning” felt incredibly different from the last two seasons in the best of ways.
It had great writing, acting and pacing, which, looking back on season seven and eight, were features that were sorely lacking.
It even had a new title sequence, which was well done and different compared to what we have seen previously.
If the other episodes of season nine play out like this then this season may be a return to form for the series that gets me fully invested in it again.
There are no guarantees though, especially with two of the main characters leaving this season, but I remain optimistic based on this episode.
“A New Beginning” was a great start to the season that has me intrigued for what the rest of it holds.

Spoiler Review:

Now to get into the specifics.
“A New Beginning” starts off with a time jump, being a few years after the war ended Rick and the communities are working together to help get the Sanctuary back on its feet.
Numerous things are revealed in this opening half hour, like many of the Saviours still want Negan to return, Daryl has taken over Dwight’s comic storyline by being leader of the Sanctuary, and Carol and Ezekiel have got together.
This leads to a both sweet and humorous scene where Ezekiel proposes to Carol after a close call.
This close call was at a museum where Anne (Jadis’ real name) remembered there was gear that could help the Saviours with their crops.
There were many interesting character interactions and events during this mission, including Siddiq being attacked by a Walker.
I loved this moment because it made Walkers scary again, which was once again something that has been lacking in the past few seasons.
The threat the Walkers pose is truly established when, in a freak accident, one of them bites and kills a survivor from the Hilltop named Ken.
We just met Ken this episode so his death does not really mean anything on an emotional level.
Rather, it is the impact of his death that truly delivers, both emotionally and for the story.
We get to see his parents’ reaction to his death and both actors playing these characters do a tremendous job of getting their grief across, which really made me feel for them.
Story wise, Ken’s death also has huge implications because it leads to Gregory manipulating the boy’s father to try and kill Maggie.
I was very surprised by this turn of events because Gregory’s attempt on Maggie’s life does not come until much later in the comics, but it was a nice surprise.
This lead to Gregory’s comic book death when is hanged for his crimes on Maggie’s orders, showing Rick that she is planning on doing things differently and subtly shaming him for sparing Negan.
This was a great continuation on the weak cliffhanger from season eight that hinted at Maggie, Daryl and Jesus going against Rick because its set up numerous debates and conflicts that were not present at this stage in the comics.
Along with all this, I liked what the episode did with its characters, primarily Daryl.
For the past three seasons I feel that Daryl has been a very weak character with little to no character development and because of this, when it was announced that Rick would be killed off, I had no confidence in Daryl taking over as the lead.
After this episode, however, I can say that, if he continues on this track, Daryl may actually be able to take over from Rick.
Daryl got development in this episode that made me like him a lot more.
On top of this, the dialogue and acting during these character development scenes was much better than seasons seven and eight, along with the pacing.
“A New Beginning” is, in my opinion, miles better than what we got in season seven and eight, and if the show continues like this then it may actually redeem itself.

 

Predictions:

  1. Ezekiel and Carol’s interactions have me worried because Carol seems to be taking the path comic Michonne did by leaving Ezekiel. All of this points towards (Warning: Potential Spoilers!) Ezekiel being killed by the Whisperers, just like he was in the comics, and Carol regretting leaving him.
  2. It looks like we will see Negan in his prison next episode, which I am very interested in. While I am disappointed we will not get to see him interact with Carl again, it will be interesting to see how he and Rick’s conversations play out.