It’s messy and in many ways entirely cynical and unsatisfying, but “Rest in Peace” was nonetheless a fitting send-off for The Walking Dead — even though it isn’t really going anywhere.
This recap of The Walking Dead season 11, episode 24, “Rest in Peace”, contains spoilers, including an open discussion of The Walking Dead’s Season 11 ending.
Very few people get to know the exact date of their death. In that respect, The Walking Dead was lucky. The release date of the final episode has been common knowledge for months, giving the long-time fans who have stuck with the show over perhaps the most tumultuous run in TV history plenty of time to prepare for it. They knew the final episode would be longer than usual, to account for all the goodbyes and spin-off setup. And they knew it was ending for good. Or did they?
The great trick of “Rest in Peace” is that it has no intention of allowing AMC’s flagship franchise to rest at all. It’s an ending without really being an ending – it promises more of the characters everyone cares about and less of the ones they don’t. It’s the TV equivalent of a fad diet, The Walking Dead shedding all its excess weight, probably in a way that’s unhealthy in the long term. Or, perhaps more fittingly, it’s a show about a zombie apocalypse proving it’ll never really die.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the final episode was a mess. How could it not have been? Even with the expanded runtime, there was just far too much to address. Intelligent zombies were introduced a few episodes ago and nothing ends up being done with that, for instance. There are all kinds of red herrings for characters who might die but don’t, emotional send-offs for characters that actually do die, a rushed culmination of the Commonwealth plotline, and then a speedy introduction of the three – technically four, if you count Fear the Walking Dead, which is somehow still on the air – shows that’ll shape the franchise’s immediate future.
And yet even despite all this “Rest in Peace” is still kind of fascinating. There will probably never be another TV show that manages to run as long as this one has, especially with undergoing so many reinventions and fluctuating so wildly in quality along the way. On that level, recounting what happened and whether it worked or not on its own terms is a bit pointless, but needs must so let’s try and do that now.
The Walking Dead season 11 ending explained
Things picked up where they left off in The Walking Dead season 11, episode 23, with Judith having been shot by Pamela and Daryl trying to get her medical treatment while the walkers threaten to overrun the hospital. This would have had more emotional power were it lingered over for longer, but we have to move on pretty quickly. I’ll spoil it now: Judith is fine. Nobody really believed they’d kill her off, I don’t think, since in many ways she represents the show’s idealistic yearning for a better future, and for AMC “a better future” means more spin-offs. It’s an emblematic thing.
There are deaths, of course. One of them is Luke, which is cheating a little since nobody cares about him. But the other is Rosita, and that one kind of works. They do the whole fake-out thing first, with her (and Coco!) falling right into a pack of ravenous walkers, but she springs up and fights them off. It isn’t until later that it’s revealed she was bitten. For once, the show doesn’t get sadistic about this – it’s actually played for its emotional significance, with a parade of touching goodbyes as Rosita finally fades away with Gabriel beside her. They don’t even show her die. True, Rosita wasn’t a big fan-favorite character, but she has been in the show for long enough that there’s still some punch to the demise.
It isn’t like losing Glenn, for example, which was such an important death that Maggie and Negan’s entire relationship is still defined by it. These two have The Walking Dead: Dead City to think about, so they spend all of “Rest in Peace” working together to snipe Pamela – they don’t in the end, as being kept alive is a fate worse than death for someone like her – and then to put aside their personal issues. As it turns out, Maggie can’t forgive Negan for what he took from her, but she is willing to live alongside him and star in a spin-off with him, which is basically the same thing.
We can touch on Pamela briefly. As if her villain bonafides weren’t already established, she proves her point by ordering all the poor people executed when they try to break into the luxury estates. She has still been a pretty lame baddie, though. She never seemed that intelligent or dangerous. “Disappearing” Commonwealth citizens isn’t exactly friendly, but aside from shooting Judith, which was an accident, it’s probably the worst thing we’ve seen her do on-screen aside from generic corruption, which is standard practice for rich and influential people and in this world is the equivalent of not paying a parking ticket or something. Negan used to beat people to death with a baseball bat and he’s one of the good guys now!
With Pam out of the way, and the gang having all rallied together to save the community, the walkers are expelled with pretty hilarious efficiency thanks to a Living Colour “Cult of Personality” needle drop and some explosives. After Rosita’s death, we cut to a year later to find Ezekiel governing the Commonwealth with Mercer. The citizens seem fine with the new leadership and the zombies, as they have been for much of the last few seasons, are of small concern.
How does The Walking Dead season 11, episode 24 set up the spin-offs?
So, let’s talk about spin-offs! Daryl leaves to hunt down Rick and Michonne, crucially without Carol, so he’ll be venturing off alone for the foreseeable future. Negan and Maggie have Dead City, as we’ve mentioned, though what the plot will be there remains anyone’s guess. And, finally, we have some last-minute appearances from Rick and Michonne, who will get their own spin-off as they attempt to find each other despite years of separation. It’s a pretty cynical way to end what was supposed to be an ending, but if there’s one thing you can rely on The Walking Dead for, it’s continuing to shuffle along way past the point it seemed to be dead. “Rest in Peace”, indeed.
You can catch The Walking Dead season 11, episode 24, “Rest in Peace” exclusively on AMC and AMC+. What did you think of The Walking Dead’s Season 11 ending? Let us know in the comments.