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"What Comes After" serves as an emotionally raw and rousing farewell to series lead Andrew Lincoln, though some viewers may find Rick Grimes' ambiguous departure more of a cop out than a relief.
"What Comes After," at least before things take a serious turn for the bonkers, is a perfectly acceptable, if somewhat, cliché-ridden hour of television, with some extremely welcome returns.
This episode was perhaps the most vital in Walking Dead history, featuring the end of an era as well as the start of a brave new chapter.
Given Lincoln's popularity with the cast, the desire on the part of the producers to retain him as long as possible is understandable. But, artistically speaking, perhaps the biggest shame is that his on-screen death didn't happen sooner.
They have shamelessly manipulated our affection for Rick...
The Walking Dead has a sprawling cast of characters, but the story at its core has always revolved around Rick's leadership of the group of survivors.
In a show like this, killing off characters is like breathing. I like the idea that Rick will be somewhere, hidden from his family.
Not everything needs to be a cinematic universe. Sometimes, stories can end. Rick Grimes's story needs to end. The Walking Dead probably needs a better idea of an endgame.
Rick actually survived beyond the end of the episode... Knowing that, these cameos do lose a bit of their emotional strength, but they're still perfectly fitting ways to honor Andrew Lincoln's work on The Walking Dead across nine seasons.
Despite Rick's horse making me shake my damn head at times, despite Maggie and Negan's scene together succumbing to the trope/cliche... this episode was one more reason why this season has been an entertaining ride.
If you think a Citizen Kane reference is a reach, consider that much of this week was basically Bridge on the River Kwai.
I was bawling like a baby. I enjoyed all of the callbacks to episode one. And seeing the return of Jon Bernthal, Scott Wilson and Sonequa Martin-Green was heartwarming.
Call it bold, crazy, stupid, fantastic, infuriating, whatever -- I can't remember the last time a Walking Dead episode ended with my jaw on the floor.