'The Walking Dead': References To The Past In The Finale
A celebration of the show's history.
WARNING: SPOILERS for The Walking Dead 11x24, 'Rest In Peace'.
After eleven thrilling seasons, Zombie Apocalypse drama The Walking Dead has come to an end. References and Easter Eggs celebrating the show's history have already been sprinkled throughout the final season, and this was ramped up in the finale, which was packed full of throwbacks to the series' early years.
Here are all the best references tothe past in The Walking Dead finale, 'Rest In Peace'.
1. The Blood Transfusion
'Rest In Peace' picks up where the previous episode, 'Family', left off, with Daryl desperately racing Judith to the Hospital after she had been shot by Pamela Milton. They make it, only to discover that Pamela has had the Hospital stripped of supplies, and is hoarding everything of value behind the gates of the Commonwealth Estates. Judith is losing a lot of blood, but thankfully, Daryl possesses the Universal blood type, O Negative, and with Carol's help, donates enough blood to keep her alive until they can get her to Yumiko's surgeon brother, Tomi, at a nearby safe house.
For fans, this evoked memories of early in the show's second season. When Judith's older brother, Carl Grimes, was accidentally shot, Rick, who thankfully shared a blood type with his son, donated enough blood to keep him alive while Hershel performed surgery.
2. Variant Walkers break into the Hospital
The group's troubles continue when a large herd of Walkers attempt to force their way through the Hospital doors, with a few unfortunate extras being munched in the process. Eventually, one of the new Variant Walkers smashes the door with a rock, allowing the Walkers to flood in. Daryl uses an empty bed to block the door to Judith's room before rushing to help deal with the problem.
The sequence includes a number of throwbacks to early in the series. In a season one flashback, Shane blocks the comatose Rick's Hospital room door with a bed to keep the Dead from reaching him, and in episode two, 'Guts', a Walker is seen using a rock to try and break the window of the store the survivors are hiding in. In another small Easter Egg, an extra killed by the Walkers wore a baseball cap similar to the one worn by Glenn Rhee in the early episodes.
3. Rosita hiding her bite
In one of the finale's most horrifying moments, Rosita Espinosa falls into a herd of Walkers while carrying her baby girl, Coco. Rosita fights her way free, and for a while, all seems well. However, a few scenes later, Rosita reveals to her best friend Eugene Porter that she had been bitten on her shoulder, in an areaunable to be amputated.
Rosita is not the first character to have not revealed a bite right away. In season five, Bob Stookey keeps his bite hidden, until he uses the fact that he has been bitten to to taunt the Terminants for consuming tainted meat after they consume a portion of his leg.
Of course, the even more memorable example is that of Carl Grimes in season eight. Carl is bitten on his ribs while helping newcomer Siddiq fend off some Walkers, but keeps the bite hidden until the mid-season finale, a few episodes later.
4. The return of Little Ass-kicker
To the relief of our survivors, and fans everywhere, Judith survives her gunshot wound. When she wakes, Daryl fondly greets her with a familiar nickname: Little Ass-Kicker.
In season three, Daryl becomes attatched to baby Judith immediately after her birth. He eagerly volunteers to embark on a supply run to find baby formula, and upon his return, is one of the first to feed the new arrival. While feeding the baby, who has not been named yet at the time, he dubs her Little Ass-Kicker. It was a nickname that stuck throughout the early seasons.
5. Ezekiel's inspiring speech
While our heroes huddle in a safe house as Judith recovers, they become aware that Pamela's loyal Troopers are shooting civilians trying to climb into the Estates in the hope of escaping the approaching horde. Mercer plans to go confront Pamela, but offers to sneak our heroes out of the Commonwealth first, absolving them of any responsibility for the current disaster. In response, Ezekiel delivers a rousing speech about how the people of the Commonwealth are in fact their people, and he will fight to save them if possible. Many of our group agree.
Ezekiel, since his debut in the series seventh season, has been a character known for his inspiring speeches, especially during his time as 'King' Ezekiel. While his confidence was shaken for a while following the slaughter of some of his subjects, and the death of his beloved pet tiger, Shiva, the final season has seen a return to the earlier Ezekiel, with his rousing speeches now perfectly foreshadowing his new role as Governor of the Commonwealth at the end of the series.
6. Gabriel opens the gate.
When our heroes reach Pamela, Father Gabriel is the first to approach the locked gate to the Estates, eager to let the citizens in for a chance to survive. He is almost shot for his trouble, until Vickers is convinced to cede control of the Commonwealth back to Mercer, and orders that Gabriel be given the key to the gate.
The fact that Gabriel was the one to open the gate and save the lives of many outside brings the character full circle, showing how much he has grown. Shortly after his introduction in season five, Gabriel revealed his shame at having been too cowardly to open the doors of his Church for his paritioners, allowing them to be killed by the Walkers outside.
7. "We 'aint The Walking Dead"
Despite valiant appeals from Mercer, Gabriel, and Carol, it is ultimately Daryl Dixon's words that turn the minds of the Troopers. Rather than fighting each other, Daryl says, they should focus on the true enemy: The Walkers.
"We aint The Walking Dead."
This scene throws back to two memorable moments in the series past. The first in season five, when Rick declares "We are The Walking Dead", as that is what the group had become at that point to survive. However, following the group's defeat of Negan and The Saviors in season eight, Rick himself amends this statement, declaring, like Daryl, that those still living should unite against the true enemy.
8. Maggie chooses mercy
Furious at Judith's shooting in 11x23, Maggie Rhee spends most of the finale plotting to assassinate Pamela Milton. However, as she is preparing to take the shot, she witnesses Pamela being arrested by Mercer. She will likely spend the rest of her life in Prison. As Negan explains:
"A person like that.. It's a fate worse than death."
Maggie decides against taking the shot, and instead, even saves Pamela when she is almost bitten by the Walker Lance Hornsby. It seems that now, Maggie fully understands Rick's decision to spare Negan's life in season eight.
9. Luring the Walkers with Music
With Pamela's arrest out of the way, our heroes are finally free to deal with the real problem: The horde of Variant Walkers swarming the Commonwealth. Filling the sewers with fuel, the survivors employ loud music to lure and trap the Walkers in the Estates, and, once the living are clear, blow up the whole area, destroying the Walkers. Prior to the explosion, the scene also features a sweet moment where Connie places her hand against the speaker to feel the vibrations as the music begins to play, her own way of fulfilling her promise to Luke, who died in the episode's opening minutes, to keep music alive. Connie cannot hear the music, but she can feel it.
The use of music to draw Walkers to, or away from, a particular area, is a tactic that has been used a number of times on The Walking Dead, most recently during the battle with the Whisperers, when our group hoped to lure the Whisperer's herd over a cliff.
10. Family Dinner
With the threat neutralised, our group gathers for a celebratory dinner. They toast the fallen, and look towards what they hope to be a happier future. Despite his more heroic role in the final batch of episodes, Negan is not included in the celebration.
For many fans, the dinner scene was reminiscent of a fantasy sequence experienced by Rick Grimes in the opening episode of season seven. Rick envisions a pleasant day with his found family sharing a meal together. In a tragic twist, it turns out that this dinner will never come to pass. Negan, who has just killed Abraham and Glenn, taunts Rick over the now impossible 'Sunday Dinner'. So, despite his attempt at redemption, it was only right that he was omitted from the finale's celebration.
With the past out of the way, fans can look to the future, and the many spin offs in the pipeline. Long live The Walking Dead!