So. Where were we?
The episode begins with panic in the tower, as everyone is aware of the massive walker herd headed their way. Gabriel tries to assure some kids that things will be fine because everyone will fight to keep them safe, but the kids have seen walker herds and none have ever been as big as this one. Even with Alexandria, the Kingdom, Hilltop, and for whatever reason, Oceanside, the kids don’t think that will be enough.
Luckily, Gabriel mentions “the others” will help as well.
“The others” refers to those who are outside, fighting and searching for others. People like the group of Daryl, Kelly, and Carol, or the group of Princess, Eugene, Yumiko, and Yumiko. In the meantime, Virgil arrives at Oceanside, Alden and Aaron fight off Whisperers when they spot a mysterious, masked stranger, and Maggie finds a note.
Oh, right, Maggie’s back. Whiskey Cavalier got the axe, so I guess it was just a matter of time.
With his herd assembled, Beta commands his army onwards towards the tower.
Eugene, meanwhile, takes a nasty fall from his bicycle. That or the tire fails on him. We only join these four after the impact. While Princess and Ezekiel get to work fixing the bike, Eugene laments their situation. As far as he’s concerned, it’s already too late to make their destination, and the bike trouble doesn’t help. Their rendezvous was set in stone, so if they aren’t there, neither will Stephanie.
He apologizes for giving everyone hope, saying that it’s time to go eye-to-eye with reality and go back home. Ezekiel reminds Eugene that in his own moment of doubt, Eugene did not waiver, and Ezekiel won’t let Eugene do it now. This journey must be completed not just for Eugene, but everyone. They have to at least try, as that’s what’s gotten them this far.
Ezekiel wants to remember that they gave it everything they had, even if Ezekiel has to carry Eugene. Ezekiel might not want to tempt fate right now. Anyway, it’s the sort of morale boost that Eugene needs, but he still feels that Stephanie won’t meet them at the planned time of sundown tomorrow. Princess rightly points out that unless Stephanie said that to Eugene, he can’t know for sure.
As Daryl sets a trap, he and Carol discuss their upcoming spin-off- I mean, they talk about Michonne leaving to help someone else, with Carol believing that Michonne wouldn’t leave without knowing that Daryl was still around to look out for Judith and RJ. Daryl, though, believes he might not see Michonne again, just like the others. Still, Carol’s here. That has to count for something.
Upstairs, Gabriel explains to everyone that the plan is to lure away the herd, just not from Oceanside as planned. Once the herd is clear, everyone evacuates to rendezvous point B. Luke, meanwhile, has prepared a contraption that must be connected to the wagon. For it to work, though, someone has to get through to the wagon, which is on the other side of the horde.
Someone will have to go through it, knowing that there are Whisperers mixed in the herd.
There will be four groups of two- one carries the cargo, while the other protects. It’s crucial that all of the equipment makes it to the wagon. Lydia offers her services, but Oceanside isn’t willing to partake if she’s involved. She may have earned everyone else’s trust, but not Oceanside. While I don’t think that Oceanside should even have a say in that, it turns out that Lydia’s role is at the tower.
Daryl speaks up, telling everyone that they may not all make it through, but this is the only way.
Carol goes to Dianne, who hasn’t forgotten that Negan helped the Whisperers attack the Hilltop. For that, Carol apologizes. As Carol hides a blade in one of her sleeves- so we’re gonna see her use it a key moment, I bet- Lydia materializes from thin air and asks if Carol needs help. She doesn’t, but Lydia asks Carol to stop avoiding her, as she’s not upset at her for Alpha’s death. Carol, though, feels that Lydia should.
It didn’t fix anything, but it at least made Lydia feel a bit better. After all, Alpha was never really her mother in the way that matters. Lydia would at least like if she and Carol can still talk about things like walkers and shoes. Carol tells Lydia to find her own way, but Lydia isn’t looking for another mother. That’s not what this has to be, but it can be something else.
Fine. Carol can be Lydia’s surrogate aunt. How about that?
While Luke lathers Jules in walker guts, Daryl gives Kelly a Whisperer mask for protection. Negan, though, isn’t covered up because he has no intention of going out there. After all, killing Alpha makes him a prime target for the Whisperers, so he feels no one should be next to him. Daryl calls bullshit on that, saying that if Negan wants to help, he has to put his ass on the line like everyone else.
I’d like to think that entering Whisperer territory and killing Alpha would be proof that Negan put his ass on the line, but hey, I’m not one of this show’s writers. Either way, it’s time. The groups assemble to head out of the tower, but not before Daryl has a Wrath of Khan moment with Judith. Jerry opens the door as the walkers soon stream into the building. With seemingly no Whisperers in sight, the teams head outside.
With walkers pressed among them on all sides, everyone makes their way through the herd. As one Whisperer approaches with a blade, he’s taken down by an arrow and become a meal for some walkers.
Turns out Lydia is pointing out Whisperers while Scott and Dianne shoot to wound them. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Beta, who tells a nearby Whisperer to tighten the herd. Indeed, the herd tightens together, making it hard for Gabriel and the others to spot any Whisperers.
Lydia realizes that Beta is onto them, but Rachel has her sights on a Whisperer. Before she can fire, they hear an explosion- one of the Whisperers tripped Daryl’s trap. Judith retreats as everyone realizes that the Whisperers are headed upstairs. The survivors start setting up barriers while Gabriel goes over the extraction plan. Children and the wounded go second, and if Rosita argues…then someone needs to grab Gabriel.
Where the hell is Rosita, anyway?
Negan joins Lydia, as both acknowledge that neither of them knows what’s about to happen. However, Negan knows that the others will never fully trust either of them, no matter what they do. Lydia could slip out, but she points out that he could as well. While Negan knows that he’s no hero, he can still be one to Lydia now, which he does by presenting Alpha’s mask.
Luke, Magna, Jules, and Jerry have made it across the herd and await the others, though Jules wonders whether they’re the only ones who could make it. Daryl and Kelly soon join them, but no sign of Carol and Beatrice yet.
They’re still in the herd. One Whisperer approaches and swipes at Beatrice. Carol guts the Whisperer, but before being devoured, the Whisperer does manage to stab Beatrice in the leg. This puts her down as well as she yells out for Carol to take the backpack, which she eventually does once the walkers have devoured Beatrice.
She then spots and joins Lydia, who teleported through the entire herd and made it to the end in record time while it took everyone else minutes just to reach that point.
In the tower, everyone awaits the inevitable. This includes Dog which, I don’t know why you’d keep Dog up there since his barks would attract more attention, but you also can’t bring him through the herd either.
As the herd approaches, something attracts its attention: music. So what was the device Luke was working on? That’s right: a radio. It works, as the teams on the other side manage to draw away the walkers to the sound of Talking Head’s “Burning Down the House.” I wonder who had final decision over the song of choice.
Upstairs, though, the Whisperers continue breaking through the barriers. Evacuation has begun, but it’s going to take time to get everyone out. A grenade is thrown into the corridor and takes out two red-shirts, but Gabriel and Rachel survive. Again, red-shirts, so who really cares?
Night falls as the outside team continues leading away the herd. The Whisperers hasten their advance, using walkers as shield from incoming arrows. This forces the survivors to fast forward not the music, but their escape. They manage to take out some Whisperers, but one resourceful Whisperer tosses a chain into the road, thus dismantling the wagon.
Everyone retreats into the woods while the Whisperers destroy the radio. Not everyone’s a fan of Talking Heads, I suppose. Daryl radios to Gabriel that the walkers are headed back to the tower, even though everyone should have evacuated by now.
So Daryl comes up with a half-assed plan to turn around the herd: hunt down the Whisperers and take them down, one by one. There’s still the problem of leading away the herd, so Lydia volunteers to do so herself, as she knows a way that her mother taught her. Even if this worked, Luke points out that there’s no wagon to lead them over the edge, so this is a suicide mission. Daryl opts to work this out later.
Back in the tower, Gabriel orders everyone to retreat, with Judith realizing that he’s not coming with them. He argues that someone has to stay and prevent the Whisperers from cutting the rope. Okay, so what’s his farewell message to deliver to Rosita? “Eres mi media naranja.” Judith doesn’t get it, but Rosita will.
The Whisperers break through and Gabriel fights with every fiber of his being, but he’s soon subdued. Before he can be killed, he’s saved by the timely arrival of Maggie, Aaron, Alden, and the masked stranger.
Daryl’s plan is put into action as the survivors begin taking out the Whisperers, one at a time. Beta spots Lydia, but before he can pursue her, he’s interrupted by another familiar face in the crowd: Negan.
Beta pursues him and gets him down, but with two blades to the eye from Daryl, Beta is without his sight. As he remembers Alpha’s words, the walkers soon surround and devour him. Negan recognizes Beta without his mask on, but whoever it is, Daryl doesn’t care.
As morning breaks, Lydia continues leading the herd towards the cliff, but then she spots Carol, who reminds her that this is her choice. Before Carol can sacrifice herself, Lydia stops her, saying that she’s found her own way, too. Still, the walkers head off the cliff, so that’s still a win.
Plus, Lydia tosses Alpha’s mask over the cliff, so that chapter is closed.
So we get the happy ending as everyone reunites, even with Judith meeting Maggie for the first time in forever. As for Negan, he tells Lydia that he’s still sticking around…for now. While it’s all over, Carol tells Daryl that she didn’t get what she wanted and probably won’t, but she’s still got Daryl. Still, New Mexico is out there, but as far as Carol is concerned, they still have things to do here.
Elsewhere, Connie of all people awakens, caked in dirt, blood, and all kinds of shit. She staggers around before collapsing when a horse approaches. Its rider? Virgil.
Hey, it’s more of a comeback than Heath got.
Princess, Yumiko, Ezekiel, and Eugene arrive at an empty train yard, with Princess asking Eugene if he and Stephanie set up some sort of sign or code to let them the other know that they’ve arrived.
They didn’t. So…yeah, they’re gonna sit and wait. Eugene believes that Stephanie isn’t here anymore, if she ever was, but he soon changes his tune when he tells everyone that they aren’t turning back. There are people out there, even if they aren’t in this train yard, so they’ll keep looking until they find them. That’s the only way they grow stronger.
Princess chalks this up to Eugene just being a really horny dude, which is enough to lighten the tension and give everyone a laugh.
Then lights turn on all around the four. Armed soldiers in white armor rush from all directions and order the four to lower their weapons as the episode comes to a close…
This finale felt like a race against the clock. Both sides kept applying the pressure in order to take out the other in the conclusion to this war. Was it bad? No, but I wouldn’t say it was great, either. It was good, but I feel that it could’ve been better. Between this and the war with the Saviors, I don’t know what it is with The Walking Dead being unable to stick the landing when concluding these ongoing conflicts.
Perhaps that’s me as a comic reader setting my expectations too high or expecting something more explosive, but this isn’t that sort of show. This wasn’t going to end in some bloody brawl or explosion-fest because The Walking Dead has never had to do that. At the same time, while the stakes were high, the body count in the end was pretty lacking. Perhaps, like Season 8, it’s the budget that holds things back.
Again, there was tension, but I thought that we’d be losing more than the people we did. Yes, the cast herd has been thinned due to the events of “The Calm Before,” but I figured we might lose someone noteworthy again. Is anyone really going to lose sleep at night over losing some red shirts and a named character from Oceanside? I doubt it.
Having said that, there were some nice nice fake-outs. I was convinced that Jules was going to bite it because of how much screen time she and Luke got, but she made it to the end. Lydia making the sacrificial play made her a potential candidate to die, and though you and I figured Gabriel would be saved at the last second, things did look grim for him for a moment.
So in that regard, I appreciate that the episode made it seem like anyone could die. Both the survivors and Whisperers had kept one another on their toes and had to stay sharp, while also not becoming food for the ocean of the dead surrounding them at all times.
What made this herd more menacing than ones in, say, “No Way Out” is how sandwiched together the walkers were. There was next to no breathing room, and Whisperers being hidden among the dead just drove home the issues how stealthy they could be. Beta proved his quick thinking when he instructed the herd to tighten in order to minimize any more Whisperer deaths.
In the heat of battle, it pays to be quick on your feet, and the Whisperers were definitely a more credible threat than the Saviors. Tightening the herd, using quick attacks to neutralize a threat, and making use of the walkers as shields to protect as arrows all show how the Whisperers could adjust their strategy on the fly while not missing a beat.
Sure, besides Beta, all of these Whisperers were cannon fodder, but I appreciate that they could adapt to shifting circumstances. Things like that really help paint them as this unstoppable force.
The same goes for the survivors because in order for them to win out in the end, they had to be quick on their feet. Planting traps and setting up barriers only get you so far when the Whisperers are lobbing grenades at you. Splitting into groups of two helped lighten the loads needed for the radio, and taking out the Whisperers one-by-one was a moment of quick thinking on Daryl’s part, but it paid off.
There’s attacking with brute force, and then there’s playing smart. We’ve seen the survivors attack Whisperers before in order to have the walkers target them instead, but it worked out in another way here because any walkers that turned on the Whisperers helped further thin the herd.
What I enjoyed about this compared to other skirmishes is that many characters were given moments. Normally we’d just focus on the likes of Rick, Michonne, Daryl, Carol, and so on, with other characters being given just a few lines here and there.
Here, much of the cast had a moment or two to shine. Dianne’s still miffed about Negan working with the Whisperers to attack Hilltop, Luke and Jules had several moments together before and after the conflict ended, Ezekiel and Yumiko were both used to help give Eugene a needed morale boost, Gabriel showed great leadership in the face of danger, and though I’m not a fan of Oceanside, even they had their moments.
This episode was as much about the characters as it was the end of the war. Lydia and Carol are both still searching for their paths, and they’re forever linked due to the circumstances of Alpha’s death. There was friction early on, but with Lydia keeping Carol from sacrificing herself, they’re on better terms. Though with the news of Carol and Daryl getting a spin-off, no one really expected her to die.
Hopefully Carol doesn’t start to see Lydia as an adoptive daughter, because we know that Carol’s track record with kids is awful.
Beta’s end was lackluster. All this buildup of him taking over the Whisperer horde and we don’t get any sort of final fight. Negan distracts him and when it seems like he might sacrifice himself, Daryl ends Beta with two blades to the eyes. Their first fight was more memorable than this. That said, I did like the visual of Beta giving himself over to the dead and becoming, as Alpha sees it, “free.”
Despite good moments sprinkled throughout, some points just felt rushed for the sake of moving things along. Last we saw Aaron and Alden, they were surrounded by Whisperers. Here? Completely fine with no explanation of what happened.
Maggie shows up and besides her hugging Judith, we don’t get anything on that. At least not yet. Hell, Negan’s free and at the moment, it doesn’t seem like she even notices or cares. At the end of the day, it’s nice to have Lauren Cohan back, but I hope we get some explanation as to what Maggie’s been doing. That and who the hell her masked friend is.
Virgil returning was a nice surprise, though, since we really didn’t know where he’d be going next after he and Michonne parted ways. Whether he chooses to ally with the others remains to be seen. He apparently got a horse from Oceanside? At least, that’s what I think happened because we first see him entering the area without a horse, and then he has one when he finds Connie.
Connie’s back too, by the way. However she survived all this time, it paid off in the end, so good on her.
Eugene and company reach their destination and I like the light-hearted moments they had. Princess seems to have latched onto the others quite well and I’m glad the earlier friction is gone. Plus, Eugene’s speech about continuing to assimilate and grow civilization was a great, uplifting moment for him after he’d been so down throughout the episode.
Of course, this doesn’t matter anymore now that they’ve been surrounded by these soldiers from…well, we’ll get into that next time. But if you’ve read the comic, you know who these guys are.
All in all, this was a good finale. Not great, but there were some standout character moments that made “A Certain Doom” a worthwhile watch. I can’t even really call this a finale since we know there will be some additional episodes tacked on before we get the 11th and final season. The show itself won’t even be back until 2021 if production goes well, so this is where we’re left with The Walking Dead for now.
So until then, what did you all think of “A Certain Doom?” Like it? Lump it? Let me know what you’re thinking and until then, see you in 2021 when we hopefully return to the world of The Walking Dead.