(Spoilers from AMC’s The Walking Dead will be found below.)
No one has been given a bigger task in nine years of The Walking Dead than the one overseeing the exit of its lead character, Rick Grimes. The challenge that faced showrunner Angela Kang was huge: She had to honor Rick Grimes with a fitting exit, and in doing so, she had to use the same episode to maintain fan interest in the series after the departure of Rick. I thought she nailed both aspects of that, but I also thought she magnificently maneuvered an even more delicate situation: She gave Maggie a reason not to kill Negan, which allows the series to keep around one of its biggest players without eliciting the ire of those who have grown weary of Negan and want as much as Maggie to see him die.
Angela Kang crushed it, except for the helicopter coda, and like much of The Walking Dead fanbase, I’m going to scapegoat the episode’s co-writer and previous showrunner, Scott Gimple, for that. I kid, but it’s also probably not far from the truth. “What Comes After” is one of only three episodes in the entire history of The Walking Dead with a “Story By” credit, and it’s attributed to Scott Gimple. Clearly, Gimple outlined the story and left longtime writer Matthew Negrete to work out the details.
In fact, the helicopter coda feels like the work of someone whose job is now Chief Content Officer, and I do wonder if it is part of a bigger storyline or perhaps even part of a plan for a spin-off. Angela Kang and Matthew Negrete created this otherwise perfect episode, marred only by a scene that almost feels out of place, like those scenes in Marvel movies designed to set up future storylines.