WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the Season 9 finale of The Walking Dead, "The Storm," which premiered Sunday on AMC.
The Walking Dead's Season 9 finale may have introduced yet another group of survivors. In a season that brought us the Whisperers, Magna’s group, the Highwaymen and Jocelyn, it's an ambitious move.
“The Storm” takes a breather after last week’s “The Calm Before,” and delivers more contemplation than tragedy. Instead of losing any characters due to exposure or any number of other dangers that could befall humans making their way through a blizzard booby-trapped with white walkers, they arrive safely at their destinations, with all limbs intact. But after everyone settles in for a long winter’s night, “The Storm” throws a curveball. We don't mean Beta flagellating Alpha, revealing she intended to mount another assault on the communities that held her daughter. No, we’re talking about a garbled radio transmission that comes through just before credits roll.
Ezekiel provides narration throughout the episode, promising someone whom we find out is Judith that things will all work out. Judith hangs up and, sadly, the king follows. But after he leaves his seat, a voice can be heard asking, “Is anyone there?” It’s unmistakable, and seems to be some latent validation for Rosita, Gabriel and Eugene’s mission from the sixth episode of the season, “Who Are You Now?”
The first glimpse of the communities after Rick’s “death” takes place six years after the event, and reveals Alexandria under tight guard. Michonne vetoes most people leaving the compound, but the council she can easily veto clearly disagrees. Gabriel and Eugene get a radio working and, with Rosita’s help, go on a mission to set up receivers. Their intentions are to attract those in need, but Michonne (as we now know, with very good reason) is diametrically opposed to anything that would reveal Alexandria’s location. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the mission to set up receivers goes horribly wrong resulting in the Eugene’s injury, Jesus’ death and the antagonization of the Whisperers.
Until “The Storm,” the radio seemed to have been forgotten, but the close of the season finale reveals someone has picked up the signal and is trying to communicate. But who are they? The comics offer little in the way of guidance: Whoever is using the frequency probably isn’t a Whisperer (unless they’ve defected), nor are they a member of the Commonwealth, a decently advanced civilization. It’s also doubtful they’re part of whatever group airlifted Jadis and Rick to greener pastures (again, unless they’re a defector or have gotten lost).
It’s likely The Walking Dead just introduced another group of wayward souls looking for solace, regardless of what kind of moral character they might house. Or maybe Morgan and Alicia have finally found their way back to Virginia after tooling around in Texas for four years. One can dream, eh?
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC, The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Nadia Hilker, Dan Fogler, Angel Theory, Lauren Ridloff and Eleanor Matsuura.