|The Walking Dead episode|
|Directed by||Greg Nicotero|
|Original air date||March 31, 2019|
|Running time||46 minutes|
Several months after the fair massacre, winter has arrived and the Kingdom has fallen due to burst pipes, rot, and fires that have consumed multiple buildings across the community, and is unable to keep up its infrastructure. Ezekiel makes the decision to abandon the Kingdom, assembling a large caravan of the remaining survivors to seek out better shelter at the Hilltop, though not before he broadcasts their situation via radio to anyone who might be listening; Daryl, Michonne, and Yumiko help to escort them. They discuss the Hilltop's issues of leadership following Tara's death, noting that Maggie has opted to stay with Georgie and her group after sending her several requests to return. After dealing with rogue walkers, Ezekiel tells Daryl that he wants a fresh start with Carol at the Hilltop, stating "it would be easier if it was just us." Daryl looks at him in thought and asks if that is also what Carol wants. Meanwhile, Lydia wanders into the forest and finds a walker half-buried in the snow. She takes off her glove while crying and offers her hand to the walker to commit suicide, but stops when Carol appears and follows her back to the group. With the storm building up and nowhere close to a waypoint, Michonne decides to take the group to the abandoned Sanctuary. The abandoned factory provides shelter from the storm, but it becomes clear that they do not have the supplies to wait it out. Reviewing maps, they recognize that if they cross the boundary to the Whisperers' land and traverse a frozen river, they can quickly reach a safe waypoint within a day.
Using the cover of the storm, the Kingdom's group passes the pikes into Alpha's territory, finding only frozen walkers along the way, and arrive at a river that has been frozen over. Carol goes looking for Lydia, who has disappeared, while the rest deal with rising walkers buried in the snow. She eventually catches up to Lydia, who realizes she's to blame for their situation and feels she can't stay with them. Since she can't go back to her mother, Lydia asks Carol to kill her, but Carol refuses Lydia's request and tells her that she is not weak. The group eventually make it to the waypoint and soon reach the Hilltop the next day. There, Carol tells Ezekiel that she plans to go with Daryl back to Alexandria and subsequently breaks up with him. She attempts to give his ring back, but he insists she keep it, telling her he will always love her. Daryl, Michonne, Carol, Lydia, and a few others prepare to depart and continue on to Alexandria, leaving Ezekiel in charge of the Hilltop.
At Alexandria, Eugene meets with Gabriel and Rosita to report on the storm. With the approaching storm taking out their solar power, Gabriel concocts a plan to group up next to large fireplaces in the church and realizes they'll have to free Negan from his cell so he doesn't freeze; the residents take shelter in the church. There, Negan antagonizes Gabriel over Siddiq and Rosita's unborn child. Eugene later discovers that the fireplace in the church is blocked off and cannot be used, and so they decide that they need to relocate to Aaron's house. They all tie a rope around themselves and head out into the blizzard. As they cross through the windy snowfall at sub-freezing temperatures, Judith hears Dog barking in the distance and chases after him, forcing Negan to race after her, but gets injured from flying debris. He hears Dog barking and finds Judith, who is beginning to suffer from hypothermia; Negan carries Judith and leads Dog back to the group, despite his injury.
Eventually, Daryl's group reaches Alexandria as the storm subsides. Michonne is elated to see Judith and R.J. still alive. A small snowball fight ensues between some of the Alexandrians. In the infirmary, Michonne goes to talk to Negan, who is being tended to his wound; she thanks him for saving Judith. He compliments her on having the guts to cross through the Whisperers' territory. In their camp, Alpha reminds Beta that she'll need to be strong for what comes next and Beta assures her she will be. Per Alpha's request, Beta flogs her arm with a branch to make her stronger, leaving several lashes on her arm, as she used to do to Lydia. At the Hilltop, Ezekiel converses with Judith via radio to catch up and tells her that just because they lost their house doesn't mean they lost their home. They finish talking and Ezekiel exits the room. Suddenly, the radio picks up a faint transmission and another voice comes through asking if anybody is out there.
While showrunner Angela Kang stated that the faint radio message heard at the end of the episode was meant to be a mystery to be explored in season ten, many journalists believe it is helping to set up the show to follow into the comic's Commonwealth arc, which occurs after the war with the Whisperers. In the comic book series, Eugene uses the radio to contact a member of the Commonwealth and learns it is a thriving thousands-strong survivor community in Ohio, and eventually a small scouting party from the allied communities travel there. At the time that "The Storm" aired, the comic book series was still in the middle of the Commonwealth arc.
"The Storm" received critical acclaim from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the episode has an approval rating of 90% with an average score of 7.33 out of 10, based on 20 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "Hell freezes over in a wintry The Walking Dead finale that takes full advantage of "The Storm" with some chilly scares and a meditative, mournful tone -- although this elegiac installment arguably would have best worked as a preamble instead of a denouement."
Aaron Neuwirth of We Live Entertainment gave a positive review of the episode, writing: "While filming in Georgia certainly doesn’t lend itself to frequent episodes like this, it’s an impressive look for the show to embrace massive blizzards, mounds of snow, and even an icy lake. As a cold way to bring an end to a pretty consistently strong set of episodes (a nice change of pace for this series), The Walking Dead did a lot with this contemplative episode."
Alex McLevy of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B saying: "The show has always tended to follow up installments in which noteworthy characters die with brooding and meditative stories, moments in which both audience and characters can stop and take stock of where they are, reevaluating themselves and asking if it’s all still worth it. And for all the live-or-die snowbound action of the episode, “The Storm” is very much in line with this tradition, a reflection on grief in the wake of trauma, and how it can quietly have significant unforeseen consequences, even weeks or months later."
"The Storm" received a total viewership of 5.02 million with a 1.9 rating in adults aged 18-49. It was the highest-rated cable program of the night, and increased in viewership from the previous week as well being the highest-rated episode since the midseason premiere. However, it was the lowest-rated season finale of the series.
- ↑ Wigler, Josh (April 1, 2019). "'The Walking Dead' Season 9 Finale Just Introduced Its Next Community". The Hollywood Reporter. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/walking-dead-season-9-finale-radio-voice-explained-1198252. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
- ↑ "The Storm". Rotten Tomatoes. https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/the_walking_dead/s09/e16. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
- ↑ Neuwirth, Aaron (March 31, 2019). "Review: The Walking Dead 9×16, “The Storm”". We Live Entertainment. https://weliveentertainment.com/welivetvshows/review-walking-dead-9x16-storm/. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
- ↑ McLevy, Alex (March 31, 2019). "A snowstorm leads to hard choices on The Walking Dead season finale". The A.V. Club. https://tv.avclub.com/a-snowstorm-leads-to-hard-choices-on-the-walking-dead-s-1833670970. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
- ↑ Welch, Alex (April 2, 2019). "Sunday cable ratings: ‘The Walking Dead’ rebounds, still sets new finale low". TV by the Numbers. https://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/daily-ratings/sunday-cable-ratings-march-31-2019/. Retrieved April 2, 2019.