|This article is about the TV Series episode. You may be looking for the Comic Series volume.|
"The Calm Before" is the fifteenth episode of the ninth season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the one-hundred and thirtieth episode of the series overall. It premiered on March 24, 2019. It was written by Geraldine Inoa & Channing Powell and directed by Laura Belsey.
In a flashback, a man and a woman find their way to the Hilltop and quickly integrate into the community. Years later, they make some crafts and board a carriage to the Fair at the Kingdom. In the woods, they are ambushed and killed by Alpha, who then proceeds to scalp the woman.
In the Kingdom, Ezekiel addresses the crowd and declares they’ve finally accomplished Rick, Carl, and Jesus' dreams of reuniting the communities. “Let the fair of new beginnings begin!”, Ezekiel says. As everyone celebrates, Daryl, Michonne, and the convoy arrive. Carol scolds Henry for running away while Michonne greets Ezekiel, who’s shocked to see her. “I was in the neighborhood”, Michonne says. Carol and Ezekiel marvel at how much Judith has grown while Tara spots Lydia among the group. “The plan was to bring Henry... just Henry,” Tara says angrily to Daryl.
Inside the theater, Michonne convenes the leaders and tells them she’s finally ready for Alexandria to help out. “We’re here now,” she says. Gabriel announces Alexandria is willing to grant asylum to Lydia, but Tara warns if her mother retaliates it’ll be against Hilltop. Michonne reminds her that none of them were trusted when they were first introduced to the Survivors, and Tara relents.
They all agree to send some of their own to Hilltop to guard against any potential attacks from the Whisperers and Michonne decides to re-establish the charter, establishing that an attack against Hilltop counts as an attack against all of them. Ezekiel then retrieves the original charter as Tara and Michonne finally make up. They all sign the charter, and Michonne tells Gabriel he should sign for Alexandria as the head of the council.
In the fair, everyone enjoys trading goods, learning survival lessons, playing carnival games, etc. Henry shows Lydia around and then Ezekiel tells them he hopes to see them at the movie tonight. Luke tries convincing Alden to perform with him. Enid accidentally calls Alden her boyfriend, but he decides that it’s ok. Kelly emotionally tells Connie how upset she is that she left without saying goodbye and Connie apologizes but says she had to protect that baby. Michonne informs Siddiq she’s going to leave for Hilltop with the first group and he tells her he has some news to tell her when they’re all back at Hilltop. Addy apologizes to Henry for ratting him out but he forgives her. Gage and Rodney introduce themselves to Lydia and tell her that Addy has a thing for Henry, making her uncomfortable.
Meanwhile, Daryl, Carol, Michonne, Magna and others leave the Kingdom to go to Hilltop and leave some soldiers in case of a possible attack. In the woods, they encounter Ozzy, Alek, and D.J. and find a Hilltop wagon overturned, but no bodies. Carol, Daryl, Michonne, and Yumiko decide to track for any possible signs of survivors while Magna and the rest head to Hilltop and Ozzy and his group patrol the Kingdom's outskirts.
At night, Daryl and the group gets attacked by walkers. They take them out one by one until the Whisperers surround them. Beta emerges from the trees and tells them to drop their weapons. “You just had to give me the girl,” he growls at Daryl, telling him their deal is off.
In a flashback to earlier that day, Alpha walks in disguise at the fair, wearing Hilde's clothes. Meanwhile, Eugene tells Rosita that he’s collected radio parts to make it easier for the communities to communicate with each other. Rosita tells him that despite her pregnancy, things don’t need to change between them and they are still friends.
Elsewhere, Henry assures Lydia he likes her. They kiss and he leaves to check on the pipes, asking her to save him a seat at the movies. Nearby, Ezekiel introduces himself to a disguised Alpha. She presents herself as Deborah from Alexandria and asks him to show her around. Later, at the movies, Lydia worries about Henry not being back yet. Suddenly, Alpha sits down next to her and quietly tells her not to say anything.
Later that night, Alpha, now out of disguise, approaches Daryl and the group tied to a tree. She tells them she ran into trouble on the road as she wipes her bloody knife on her pants. Michonne warns her if she tries to get Lydia back they’ll respond in force, but Alpha assures her Lydia isn’t her concern anymore. She takes out a shotgun and tells Daryl to come with her alone.
At dawn, Alpha forces Daryl to the top of a cliff overlooking a ravine where a massive horde of walkers and Whisperers walk beneath them. Alpha says Daryl’s communities are a joke and that her way of life is best for her people. She then tells him his friends at the camp are fine, but the next time his people cross into her land she’ll release the horde into theirs. She clarifies she marked the border and Daryl asks if she killed Lydia.
Flashback to earlier that night, Alpha confronts Lydia about being a traitor but she tells her this is a better way of life. She then threatens to scream if she doesn’t leave and Alpha tells her she was never one of them. Lydia breaks down in tears as Alpha leaves. Back in the present, Alpha tells Daryl she didn’t kill Lydia and doubts he can protect her. He tells her she's wrong and leaves.
In the camp, Beta asks Alpha about Lydia. “I want to be alone,” Alpha orders him, but a Whisperer accidentally witnesses her crying. She stabs him in the neck, making sure no one sees her being weak.
On their way back to the Kingdom, Daryl, Michonne, Carol, and Yumiko find a beaten and bloody Siddiq tied to a tree. He points them to a nearby hill, which has ten pikes in the ground. Each spike has a severed head stabbed on top of it. The group walk devastated towards it and look in horror at the victims: Ozzy, Alek, D.J., Frankie, Tammy, Rodney, Addy, Enid, Tara, and Henry. As they see each head, a flashback reveals people at the fair asking others where they are. As Daryl sees Henry's head, he rushes over to Carol to stop her from seeing it, but it's too late. He comforts Carol and tells her to look away, but she is overwhelmed with emotion.
Later, in the Kingdom, Siddiq addresses the crowd to deliver the tragic news. He tells them that Alpha left him alive to tell a story of the evil that happened and to drive the communities apart again. Instead, Siddiq tells a very different story: before the end, the prisoners were found by Ozzy, Alek and D.J., who gave them the chance to fight back. The prisoners fought like hell to the end, protecting each other like family even though some of them didn't even know each other. Though they failed in the end, they died heroes which is how Siddiq wants them to be remembered and honored. In flashbacks, Ozzy, Alek and D.J. are seen arriving to help, Tara grabs a knife and kills a Whisperer that tackles D.J., Tammy Rose protects Rodney, who is still tied up, Addy and Frankie fight a Whisperer together, Enid fights and kills Whisperers using another dropped knife. Despite his injured leg, Henry stands up bravely. Just moments later, Alpha arrives to interrupt the fight.
Sometime later, Daryl and Lydia return to the border. Lydia leaves the necklace Henry made for her on the ground by the pike that once held his head and as the two walk away, snow flurries begin to fall.
- Angel Theory as Kelly
- James Chen as Kal
- Matt Mangum as D.J.
- Anthony Lopez as Oscar
- Avianna Mynhier as Rachel Ward
- Elyse Nicole DuFour as Frankie
- Caroline Duncan as Hilde
- Jansen Panettiere as Casper
- Gustavo Gomez as Marco
- Brian Sheppard as Miles
- Kelley Mack as Adeline
- Jackson Pace as Gage
- Joe Ando Hirsh as Rodney
- Jason Kirkpatrick as Alek
- Josh Ventura as Martin
- Hilde (Off-Screen)
- Miles (Off-Screen)
- Martin (Alive and Zombified)
- Casper (Alive and Zombified)
- Ozzy (Alive and Zombified)
- Alek (Alive and Zombified)
- D.J. (Alive and Zombified)
- Frankie (Alive and Zombified)
- Tammy Rose Sutton (Alive and Zombified)
- Rodney (Alive and Zombified)
- Adeline (Alive and Zombified)
- Enid (Alive and Zombified)
- Tara Chambler (Alive and Zombified)
- Henry (Alive and Zombified)
- At least 8 unnamed Whisperers
- 4 horses
- 1 deer
- 1 boar
- 1 unknown animal
- First (and last) appearance of Miles.
- First (and last) appearance of Hilde.
- First (and last) appearance of Martin.
- First (and last) appearance of Casper.
- First (and last) appearance of Alek.
- Last appearance of Alice. (Unknown)
- Last appearance of Ozzy.
- Last appearance of D.J. (Alive)
- Last appearance of Frankie.
- Last appearance of Tammy Rose Sutton.
- Last appearance of Rodney.
- Last appearance of Adeline.
- Last appearance of Enid. (Alive)
- Last appearance of Tara Chambler.
- With Tara's death:
- There are no known members of the Chambler family left alive.
- Any connection left to The Governor's Militia against the Survivors has been erased.
- Rosita and Eugene are the only remaining characters introduced in Season 4.
- Aaron is now the longest-living LGBT character.
- All Novel Series adapted characters are dead.
- This is the fourth time that leader/former leader of the Hilltop has died/written off in this season, with the others being Gregory, Maggie Rhee, and Jesus.
- Also, this is the second time that the Whisperers killed a leader of the Hilltop.
- With Tara's death:
- Last appearance of Henry. (Alive)
- With Henry's death:
- There are no known members of his biological family left alive.
- All of Carol's children, biological and adopted, are dead.
- With Henry's death:
- Last appearance of Kal. (Unknown)
- This is the eighth episode to share the same title of a Comic Series volume, after "Days Gone Bye", "Made to Suffer", "This Sorrowful Life", "Too Far Gone", "No Way Out", "A New Beginning" and "What Comes After".
- The title of the episode, "The Calm Before", is a reference to the residents enjoying the fair before the tragic event.
- This episode's title is similar to the following episode, being put together to form the common phrase "the calm before the storm".
- This episode marks Oceanside's return since their disappearance in "What Comes After".
- This is the fourth time that two main characters die in the same episode. The other times were in "Too Far Gone", where Hershel and The Governor died, "Four Walls and a Roof", where Gareth and Bob died and "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be" where Abraham and Glenn died.
- The reaction of Carol and Ezekiel to Michonne and Judith shows that its been years since they've seen each other, especially Judith.
- Rachel Ward, Gage, Lydia, and Alice are the last remaining named teenage survivors now that Henry, Adeline, and Rodney are dead.
- Of these, Gage is the only named teenage male survivor left.
- Michonne reminds Tara of how in the past, the two of them were in the same position as Lydia: distrusted by the others due to their pasts but proved themselves trustworthy in the end.
- Michonne's charter is finally signed by Ezekiel, Carol, Rachel, Tara, and Gabriel, officially forming The Coalition.
- Tara's theft of the charter and supplies in the flashback in "Bounty" is mentioned. Its revealed that Michonne never noticed that it was gone. She and Tara also make amends for their past troubles.
- Rachel's full name is revealed to be Rachel Ward when she signs the charter.
- Rachel mentions her desire to kill Tara during "Swear" before signing the charter.
- The Whisperer baby is revealed to have been named Adam Sutton.
- The scene of Michonne's group fighting off the herd is similar to the slaughter of the herd in "No Way Out".
- This episode marks the first time the Whisperers are called by name: "Alpha" calls her people the Whisperers while talking to Daryl.
- Tammy Rose Sutton is the only pike victim that is consistent between the TV series and the comic series. All of the other victims did not get the pike in the comics. Of the characters who were pike victims in the comics:
- The prominent deaths in the series (Enid, Tara and Henry) are different from the comics, where Rosita and Ezekiel are killed instead, but several callbacks are made in the flashbacks shown before the reveal of the victims.
- Gabriel is speaking to Eugene about finding Tara, and it was implied that he was searching for Rosita before Tara is revealed.
- Lydia speaks to Ezekiel about not finding Henry before he is revealed to be the final victim.
- Daryl is offered the chance to live at the Kingdom which he promises to consider. Additionally, even before the charter is signed, Alexandria has agreed to grant Lydia asylum within the community per an informal vote by the council at Gabriel's request.
- As of this episode, Paul Rovia's death at the hands of the Whisperers and the fact that Lydia used to be one of them has become public knowledge.
- Alpha leading Ezekiel away was an intentional misdirection for readers of the comic, as Ezekiel was one of the heads on the pikes at the end instead of Henry.
- The cartoon they are watching mirrors the episode. The character has it's head removed like mask and if you listen to the dialogue, you hear them say "let's play hide and seek", which is exactly what Alpha does in this episode.
- This episode marked the first time that snow is featured in the show.
- The additional running time was not communicated by AMC to cable providers. Many viewers who watched the premiere broadcast via DVR missed the last 25 minutes. The episode cut off at the movie theater scene.
- Sydney Park, who portrays Cyndie, was unable to film for this episode due to the scheduling conflicts as she also needed to film for Pretty Little Liars.
- A portrait of Rick Grimes can be seen in the fair.
- Of Alpha's eight original random victims, the only two that may have been planned were Henry and Tammy. Henry for seducing Lydia away from Alpha and Tammy for adopting the baby that the Whisperers left behind.
- Interestingly enough, the first initials of all the pike victims spell out "Art Of Death". However, showrunner Angela Kang confirmed on Talking Dead that this was simply a coincidence, even noting that she wished she was that clever.
- Art - Adeline, Rodney, Tammy
- Of - Ozzy, Frankie
- Death - D.J., Enid, Alek, Tara, Henry
- The pikes was originally going to occur on the season finale, but change into this episode as essentially, Kang didn't want to have a filler episode.
- The fair where all the communities attend is adapted from Issue 142.
- Eugene tinkering with a radio is adapted from Issue 143.
- Alpha infiltrating the fair is adapted from Issue 142.
- Alpha being greeted by Ezekiel at the fair is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 142, where she meets Earl Sutton instead.
- Alpha showing Daryl the herd from a cliff is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 143, where she shows it to Rick from the top of a building instead.
- Alpha telling Daryl the communities' way of life is a lie and a myth is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 143, where she tells this to Rick instead.
- Alpha killing a Whisperer who saw her crying is adapted from Issue 148.
- The heads on pikes marking the Whisperers' border is adapted from Issue 144.
- Alpha decapitating ten victims is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 144, where she decapitates twelve victims instead. Tammy Rose is the character who is killed in both the graphic novel and in the show.
- Daryl, Michonne, Carol, and Yumiko discovering the border is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 144, where Rick, Lydia, Carl, Andrea, Michonne, and Dante discover the border instead.
- Siddiq's hopeful speech to the crowd is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 145, where Rick addresses the deaths of the pike victims instead.