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For anyone who isn't caught up with the most recent episodes of The Walking Dead, there are spoilers lurking below.
"The Calm Before" marked one of the most shocking and deadly Walking Dead installments in all of its nine-year journey. (At least for those lucky enough to watch the entire thing.) One of the bigger surprises involved Alpha's big revenge plan coming to light in the penultimate episode, as opposed to taking center stage in the Season 9 finale. That episode is coming soon, though, and outspoken star Norman Reedus says it's huge and probably won't be what viewers are expecting.
In the first place, the Season 9 will be the first the The Walking Dead hunkers down for the winter, and fans will finally get to see these characters mucking about in the snow. And there are apparently some narrative beats that will shift character dynamics around in interesting ways. Here's how Reedus put it to EW.
There are some personalities at the very end that get wrapped up in a certain way, like you think a person’s far to the left and they end up far to the right. We ended on a way that’s kind of The Great Escape. It’s not a wrap-it-all-up-in-a-bow episode. It’s definitely a moving forward sort of vibe. It’s just huge.
Sidestepping any presumptions that Norman Reedus is speaking politically when using the terms "right" and "left," I'm quite intrigued by just about everything the actor says there. Let's first talk about the character flip-flops, as it were.
When it comes to characters capable of pulling a complete 180 on the personality spectrum, there are some decent options. (Especially after all those disembodied heads were discovered.) For one, it wouldn't be hard to buy into Carol shedding her recent happiness in order to go into full monster-mode while on the hunt for Alpha. She essentially lost her second child when Henry died, and the finale trailer hints at her not showing full respect for the Whisperers' boundary system.
On the opposite end, could "The Storm" find a way to inarguably turn Negan from a still-despised villain into something in the vague mold of a hero? That sounds like something drastic enough to bring Maggie back from her self-imposed exile, if nothing else. Comic book readers are aware that the freed Negan eventually acquaints himself with members of the Whisperers, and I'm extremely interested to see how the TV show approaches adapting that particular storyline.
Though I did just bring up Negan, I am not immediately convinced that he's at the heart of Norman Reedus' comment about the finale's ending being comparable to the classic Steve McQueen war film The Great Escape. In fact, I'm not entirely sure how to draw any similarities between that flick and The Walking Dead's finale.
Unless, of course, the snowy conditions cause some characters to try and escape their surroundings, only to be shot down by German soldiers. Wait, scratch the soldiers, since both the Whisperers and the protagonists have guns. But who's escaping, and what will be the final destination?
For his final salient point, Norman Reedus teases that the Season 9 finale, like most Walking Dead cap-off episodes, won't be a calm and casual ride setting the characters up for a sweet summer vacation. Although it doesn't necessarily sound like Reedus is teasing a monumental cliffhanger, either.
For years now, Walking Dead fans have had a love-hate relationship with each season's finale. For instance, everyone's goodwill took a stark dip for Negan's introduction at the tail end of Season 6, when his first victim(s) were kept a mystery until the Season 7 premiere. That season ended on the onset of the All Out War with the reveal of Sonequa Martin-Green's Sasha as a walker. Most recently, Season 8 riled fans up by ending that war with Rick stopping short of killing Negan.
Logically speaking, there's essentially no way for any single Walking Dead finale to please each and every one of the fans. But considering it's got multiple narrative beats that could each appeal to different people, perhaps "The Storm" will unite Walking Dead fans as one doing into the summer hiatus. Should be slightly easier, since there aren't quite as many viewers now as there were for Season 6's final ep.
Despite all the changes that have been brought to the show, however, Norman Reedus couldn't be happier to be a part of it with showrunner Angela Kang. In his words:
After nine years, you have to reinvent yourself a little bit. I just want to make the show that we want to make, and it feels like that’s what we’re doing. You can feel it in the crew. You can feel it in the cast. You can feel it in the scripts. It’s the show that we want to make.