"The Storm" is the sixteenth and final episode of the ninth season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the one-hundred and thirty-first episode of the series overall. It premiered on March 31, 2019. It was written by Angela Kang & Matt Negrete and directed by Greg Nicotero.
Several months after the fair massacre, the Kingdom has fallen due to burst pipes, rot, and fires that have consumed multiple buildings across the Kingdom. Ezekiel uses a radio to explain its demise and asks for shelter from the storms to come. Meanwhile, Carol sorts through some of Henry's old stuff and Daryl servers a plate of dinner to Lydia. Inside the theater, Ezekiel looks longingly at the community charter before packing it up and heading out. Outside, the remaining Kingdommers get ready and set off into the cold to take refuge at Hilltop, leaving the community behind.
On the road, Yumiko informs Michonne they've sent letters to Maggie but haven't heard back, and the Hilltop is still reeling from the loss of another leader. Suddenly, they spot walkers in a field, and Alden asks Lydia if they're her people: "We followed their rules, haven't they done enough to us?", but he is shut up by Daryl. Lydia tells him, "I don't want to cause any more problems", but Daryl reminds her that people should stop blaming her.
Later, as it becomes colder, Daryl reminds Carol that Henry wanted Lydia to be with them. She admits all she can see is Henry when she looks at her, and Daryl asks what she sees when she looks at him. She assures him she just sees him and puts her hand on his shoulder. Ezekiel notices this, getting uncomfortable. Suddenly, Jerry warns him that they need to find shelter before the storm arrives.
At Alexandria, Eugene, Gabriel, and Rosita discuss that the town will split up into three groups, taking shelter in Aaron's house, Barbara's house, and the meeting house, as they have the largest fireplaces in town. At the meeting house, Gabriel and Rosita keep warm by staying close but Eugene interrupts them to report on the storm. Gabriel concocts a plan to group up next to large fireplaces in the church and realizes they'll have to free Negan from his cell so he doesn't freeze.
On the road, Daryl and Carol kill a couple of walkers. Daryl tells the group to keep moving as he and Ezekiel go to retrieve his crossbow bolt. In the woods, Ezekiel tells Daryl he wants a fresh start with Carol at Hilltop, stating "it would be easier if it was just us." Daryl doesn't say anything and looks at him in thought. Meanwhile, Lydia wanders into the forest and finds a walker trapped in ice. She takes off her glove while crying and offers her hand to the walker to commit suicide, but stops when Carol appears, and she follows Carol back to the group. As more snow starts falling, Michonne decides to take the group to the abandoned Sanctuary.
Back in Alexandria, residents take shelter in the church. Negan jokes about Rosita's love "quadrangle" and taunts Gabriel by calling him "father…not the father", to Eugene's amusement. Judith tells him she's worried about Dog, whom she lost despite Daryl asking her to watch over him. Suddenly, the group smells something and Eugene pulls Siddiq and Gabriel away from the fireplace before it explodes. He says the chimney makes it unsafe to light anything else on fire, so Gabriel decides they're moving to Aaron's house. They all tie a rope around themselves and head out into the blizzard.
In the Sanctuary, everyone tries to warm themselves. Daryl sits with Carol and she asks him if something happened back there between him and Ezekiel. He says no, but Carol's suspicious. She admits with Henry gone she feels like she's losing herself again, so Daryl offers to take Lydia away and protect her on his own, even though he doesn't want to leave.
A while later, the leaders map their route through a frozen lake on Alpha's land and Michonne warns they will have to leave now or they won't make it. Afterward, Ezekiel laments his failures with Michonne, who says if their communities had known each other better, Alpha would have never been able to blend in. She vows to never let them get divided again and reminds him the Kingdom is here with them. The group gets ready and departs the Sanctuary.
In the woods, the group passes the pikes into the Whisperer's territory. Meanwhile, in Alexandria, Judith hears Dog barking in the distance and lets go of the rope to chase after him. Negan races after her.
Back in the woods, Michonne kills frozen walkers, unsure if they're Whisperers or not, before reaching the frozen lake. Daryl notices Lydia's missing again, so Carol leaves to find her and instructs him to get everyone across safely. Suddenly, walkers rise from the snow banks, and the group kills them one by one before escaping across the ice.
Meanwhile, Carol tracks down Lydia in a cabin and demands to know what she's doing. Lydia explains she can't cross the river because going to Hilltop won't fix anything, believing everyone will still blame her for what happened. "Your son's dead because of me," she says, before asking Carol to kill her. Lydia holds Carol's spear to her own neck and tells her this is how she ensures they don't lose anyone else. Carol considers doing it but stops herself and kills a walker instead. "You're not weak," Carol says before taking her back to the group again.
Elsewhere, Negan gets hit by debris while searching for Judith. He screams her name until he hears Dog barking and finds her. Negan puts Judith on his shoulder, grabs Dog's leash and gives her his coat to stay warm. He then ties up his injured leg and carries her and Dog away.
In the morning, with the storm over, the group finally arrives at Hilltop, where Daryl knocks off the head of a frozen walker. That night, Daryl informs Lydia they'll leave for Alexandria in the morning. She asks why he left Hilltop and he says he'll tell her that story another day. Meanwhile, Carol tells Ezekiel she's going to leave him and head to Alexandria with the others. He reminds her he'll always love her and she says she'll "never regret the fairy tale." She hands him back her ring, but Ezekiel lets her keep it.
The next morning, Michonne, Daryl, and the others return to Alexandria, along with Carol and several Kingdom refugees. Michonne hugs her children and the group plays in a snowball fight. Later, she heads to the infirmary to visit Negan. She thanks him for saving Judith and he muses that last time they were there Rick had just slit his throat. He compliments her on having the guts to cross through the Whisperers' territory.
In their camp, Beta tells Alpha "the time away has been good for the pack." Alpha reminds him she'll need to be strong for what comes next and Beta assures her she will be. She then hands him a stick with which he flogs her arm.
In Hilltop, Ezekiel converses with Judith on the radio and says just because they lost their house doesn't mean they lost their home. They get off the radio and he leaves. Suddenly, another voice comes through asking if anybody is out there.
- First appearance of Max Mercer. (Voice Only)
- Last appearance of Richie. (Corpse)
- Last appearance of the Kingdom.
- This marks the second community to fall, after the Sanctuary. Both fell to uninhabitable conditions, versus walkers or people.
- Last appearance of the Sanctuary.
- Ironically, the Kingdomners take shelter in the Sanctuary to avoid the storm.
- The title of the episode, "The Storm", refers to the blizzard the survivors had to endure in the winter.
- This episode's title is similar to the previous episode, being put together to form the common phrase "the calm before the storm".
- This episode marks the first time Daryl Dixon has appeared in all episodes of a season.
- It also marks the first time a character has appeared in all sixteen episodes since Season 3, when the number of episodes were upped.
- This is the first season finale to feature no living character deaths.
- One of the walkers found on the road is a direct reference to the interrogated zombie in the 1985 film The Return of the Living Dead.
- That same walker could also be a nod towards a zombified Hannah.
- Lydia nearly allowing a walker to kill her, as well as asking Carol to kill her as retribution for the pike victims' deaths, is similar to Charlie doing the same with a walker, and Alicia, in "Close Your Eyes" after her involvement in Nick and Madison's deaths.
- Several months appear to have passed since "The Calm Before". However, it is unknown exactly how many months.
- With Carol and Daryl's return to Alexandria, all the remaining members of the Survivors who arrived at Alexandria in Season 5's "Remember" reside in Alexandria.
- Carol moves back to Alexandria permanently for the first time since she left in "Twice as Far".
- Daryl moves back permanently for the first time since the aftermath of the war against the Saviors in Season 8, having first left to lead the Sanctuary and then staying away because of Negan and his search for Rick's body.
- This was the last episode to air before the final issue of the Comic Series was released.
- The group encountering frozen and brittle walkers in the snow is adapted from Issue 8.
- Lydia's suicide attempt through suicide-by-walker is a slight nod to Carol's suicide in Issue 42.
- An unknown voice coming through the radio but not being heard is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 151, where Stephanie's voice comes through and Eugene hears it instead.
- Lydia asking Carol to kill her is a slight nod to when Negan asked Maggie to kill him in Issue 174.
- Radio communications have been established between Alexandria and Hilltop.
- A voice can be heard calling out over the radio, but it is unknown if anyone heard her as Ezekiel had already left and Judith may have as well.
- Several survivors, including Alden and Carol, have become aggressive towards Lydia, blaming her for the pike victims' deaths. In contrast, Daryl still defends Lydia and reminds Carol that Henry had wanted her with them.
- Lydia, in turn, is forming suicidal tendencies, such as trying to let a walker bite her and trying to get Carol to kill her.
- Michonne's sense of unity between communities has been revived.
- She has also gained some respect for Negan after Negan risked his life to save Judith.
- With their marriage having fallen apart after Henry's death, Carol and Ezekiel divorce and Carol returns to Alexandria for good for the first time since she left in Season 6.
- They are the first known married couple of the series to divorce in the apocalypse.
- The Kingdom finally has to be abandoned after a series of disasters including the ailing boiler finally going, the rot spreading as well as several fires. In the final shots of the Kingdom, the fence appears to be scorched with several buildings showing extensive fire damage to the point of some missing their roofs completely or partially.
- Before the Kingdom had to be abandoned, Daryl and Lydia appear to have settled there.
- The Hilltop is now ruled by a council which can't come to any security resolutions, still reeling from the losses of Jesus, Tara, and everyone else. They have also sent letters to Maggie, but she hasn't yet responded.
- The bridge that Rick Grimes tried to fix is mentioned. According to Aaron, it would've cut half a day off the trip.
- The storm is shown to be so severe that walkers are frozen solid in place to the point that their heads shatter when hit.
- Negan appears to know about the Whisperers during his conversation with Michonne. The conversation suggests that he heard stories about the trek from someone.
- Alpha has taken time away from the Whisperers and after returning, has Beta flog her as she used to do to Lydia.