Caution: Spoilers from episode 915 of The Walking Dead lie ahead.
Flashback 5 years. A couple evades a walker in the woods. It’s their anniversary and the woman leads him to Hilltop.
Flash forward. It’s their anniversary again, and 5 years after they arrived. Her name is Hilda, and they cherish a wooden coin she made 5 years earlier. They call it a symbol of hope.
Another year later and present day. They wish each other another happy anniversary. His name is Miles. They hop in a horse and carriage and head to the fair. She is going to sell her coins.
Flash to a little bit later in the day. Hilda has been killed by Alpha. The horse and buggy didn’t make it to the fair, and Alpha begins to skin her head. Her coins litter the forest floor.
At the Kingdom, the fair has begun. Ezekiel addresses the people of the fair and instills courage and hope in them. He stands on a balcony next to a paper maché tiger. Tara, Eugene, Gabriel, Jerry and his family, and Rosita are also in the crowd. “Drink, trade and be merry.” he says.
Jerry stands up and shouts a longer name for the fair, that Ezekiel quickly corrects. “Let the Fair of New Beginnings begin!” People cheer and they release doves. He looks at Carol in the distance. She’s getting ready to leave to find Henry. Music plays and he walks to her. He feels guilty that he isn’t coming to find Henry. Just then Daryl, Michonne, Connie, Henry and Lydia drive through th gates. Connie reunites with her family, and Carol hugs Henry. She tells him he can’t ever run away again. He pr0mises he won’t. Ezekiel joins them for a family hug.
Carol hugs Daryl. Ezekiel approaches Michonne who jokes she was in the neighborhood. Carol sees Judith. She hasn’t seen her in a long time, and barely recognizes her. Michonne nods that it’s her. Tara sees they brought back Lydia. She’s upset. Michonne says to gather the leaders. She says Alexandria’s future is together and they lost sight of it.
Gathered in the theater, Gabriel says they have voted and agree to grant asylum to Lydia. She thanks them. Tara warns that her mother will retaliate against Hilltop. They try to persuade her that nobody trusts anybody in the beginning, and reference all the times she wasn’t trusted and the Governor’s firing line and again at Oceanside when she washed ashore.
Michonne says they should face Alpha together and make a pact. All the leaders agree. To seal the deal, Ezekiel reveals the declaration from backstage. Ezekiel, Carol, Rachel of Oceanside and Tara sign. Michonne tells Gabriel to sign for her, and be the head of the council. He signs last.
Back at the fair, crowds trade and chat. Henry and Lydia walk through the fair to see several different stations. Enid hosts a medical demonstration. Tammy and Earl host people at their metal shop. Eugene sits atop a dunk tank labeled Oceanside. Judith dunks him. Everyone is jovial.
Henry asks Lydia if she sees anything she likes. She is nervous and sees Daryl get his bike out and get ready to leave. They talk about wishing they can go too. Ezekiel hears and says he expects both of them to be at the movie tonight. Lydia is excited by the idea. Carol tells them to go have fun and she won’t leave without saying goodbye. Ezekiel and Carol consider the fact that their son is taking a date to the movies tonight, that it sounds impossible.
Luke and Alden argue about performing later on. Enid and Alden have candied apples and she accidentally calls him her boyfriend. They have a sweet moment and confirm the title. Luke wants him to sing for his girlfriend. They don’t come to much of a conclusion.
Connie and Kelly talk. Connie says Luke is so excited. Kelly is upset that Connie left without telling them. She begins to cry an says any goodbye could be the last. She doesn’t want to lose her sister. Connie says she needed to go because the baby being left alone to die made her feel emotions she thought she’d buried. Kelly forgives her and they hug.
Siddiq walks with Michonne, and says Ezekiel started the fair off with a speech about Rick. She says she’s leading the first group out. He questions it and she tells him he deserves to enjoy the fair and to keep and eye on Judith. He mentions he needs the experience with kids. She’s confused. He backs away and makes an excuse to tell her later.
Henry’s friend asks to talk to him. She apologizes for ratting him out. He says it’s okay, and they stand for a moment. Lydia looks on. Two of the young guys then sit down with Lydia and say that girl Addy has a thing for Henry and that Henry has a thing for her too. They threaten her to not cause problems. She gets angry and storms off.
Tara says goodybe to Diane and her group as they get ready to go off. Daryl pets Dog. Connie wishes him luck and he asks her to feed Dog while he’s gone. Ezekiel asks him to move back to the Kingdom. He says he will think about it. Carol hugs Henry goodbye and tells Ezekiel to enjoy the fair. He says he won’t enjoy anything until she’s back. They kiss.
Daryl, Carol, Yumiko, Michonne, Magna and about 5 others head off in carts and horses.
In the woods, the cowboy protectors ward off some walkers. Daryl and the rest pull up to them. They found a scene that was lived in by a group.The guys think it was people, and Michonne asks if it was the skins. He said that’s his guess. They see that something was drug. It’s likely the crime scene from Miles and Hilda. They decide to split up because they could be alive.
Yumiko talks to Magna, everybody is splitting up and Magna is hanging back. She doesn’t think anyone survived the encounter that took place here. They kiss goodbye.
Daryl, Michonne, Carol and Yumiko are alone now, and they walk slowly through the woods at night. They find a fork and hear walkers. They are surrounded and begin to fight them, unsure if they are skins. Walkers close in from all directions. They kill and kill until more emerge, Now they are Whisperers that are surrounding them. They all pull out guns and knives. Beta tells the four of them to drop the weapons. He targets Daryl because of their previous encounter, when Daryl thought He’d killed Beta in the elevator shaft. Beta says the deal is done, all he had to do was give up the girl.
Back at Hilltop, Henry and Ezekiel wave goodbye to the group that leaves. Jerry and his wife talk, and we see a woman dressed as Hilda from the opening of episode. We slowly realize it’s Alpha who has infiltrated The Kingdom in disguise.
Rosita walks in as Eugene works on an electrical project. Rosita tells him that they can still talk even though a lot is changing. She says things don’t need to change between them. She thanks him for the Gabriel situation and talking him into staying. He says it was more like a “had to and didn’t want to” type of thing. She sits and begins helping him. He says he thought she was going to rest. She jokes that she has to do this not want to. He invites her to a group meeting and she tells him not to push it.
Henry knows Lydia is gone and is looking for her.
Tara talks to Rachel and Gabriel about some new fighting tactics to get ready for winter. Tara is nervous and wants to get on the road. She has a moment with Gabriel about her being a good trustworthy leader. Gabriel smiles and is obviously proud of her.
Luke and Alden stand onstage getting read t sing. Enid laughs at them from below.
Henry finds Lydia who is sitting alone. He asks if something happened.
The incognito Alpha walks through the camp and see a sketch of Carol and Ezekiel. Earl and Tammy walk by her with the baby. She hears them.
Henry tells Lydia it’s not true about Addy and says he doesn’t like her, he likes Lydia. She says she likes him too. They kiss. She says it’s good because she shoved goat poop in the faces of the kids.
They hear pipes making noise and Henry goes to investigate. They will meet later at the movie.
Incognito Alpha locks eyes on Rosita, Gabriel and Eugene. She is suddenly approached by Ezekiel. She introduces herself as Debra from Alexandria. He says he’s sorry they have never met. She speaks to him and pretends to be amazed by the Kingdom. She says she looks forward to meeting the queen. She asks where the clothing is, and says she has a feeling it’s going to be a hard winter. He happily guides her.
Everyone gathers in the movie theater during the day. Lydia sits alone. Jerry is in the front row with his kids wife and Judith. The movie begins. Henry isn’t there yet. Lydia finds herself enjoying it and smiling. Suddenly, Somebody sits next to her and touches her hand. It’s Alpha dressed as the member of Alexandria. She gestures to be quiet. Lydia is shaken.
It’s nighttime now. Daryl Michonne Yumiko and Carol are tied to a tree, Alpha, now out of the Fair and Kingdom, talks to them. She asks if Michonne answers to Daryl. She says Lydia is no longer a concern, and tells them to break the habit of threatening them. She holds Daryl as gun point and says to come with her. Carol is nervous.
Alpha leads him into the sunrise over a rocky mountainous hill, overlooking a ravine. The ravine is full to the brim with hundreds and hundreds of walkers for a mile at least. Alpha tells him she let him and his friends live and it’s only because of her they can. She tells him her people live as nature intended. She says they follow her because she is Apha and if Alpha doesn’t assert herself, then there is chaos. She tells to tell her friends the net time his friends cross her land, the herd will cross to theirs. She tells him which land is hers and he will see it as he leaves. He asks if she killed Lydia…
Back at Kingdom, we see what happened. Alpha has Lydia up against a wall outside and calls her a traitor. Lydia says she likes it here and cares about them. Alpha says it’s poison talk. Lydia says she will scream and they will kill her. Alpha says she risked everything for her and calls her “her bug”. She says she’s a mother protecting her young. Lydia says she knows what she’s done, and shows her her scars. Lydia then says he doesn’t want the people to hurt her mom and just wants her to go. She says she is giving her mom a choice, more than her mom has ever given her. Alpha says she was trying to make her strong, but now she sees that she isn’t one of them and never was. She looks her up and down, and turns to leave. Lydia cries and sinks to the ground. She has stood up to her mom for the first time.
Presently, Alpha tells Daryl she doesn’t think he can protect her daughter, but hopes she’s wrong. He says she is. They begin to go back to where the others are held hostage.
They are released and Carol hugs Daryl. The four of them head back unharmed.
Beta approaches Alpha. Lydia, he asks. She tells him she wants to be alone. She’s crying. A Whisperer steps out from behind a tree. She beckons him. He comes t her and she stabs him vilently in the head, killing him. She takes a deep breath.
They find Siddiq tied to a tree. Michonne picks him up, he’s bleeding. They walk up a hill where he points them, horrified to see several piles standing at the top of it. As they get closer, heads are revealed. Some of the protectors are there. We see Frankie, Tammy, Rodney, Addy, Enid, Tara and Henry. They are all horrified. Daryl runs to grab Carol when she sees Henry’s head. She’s in shock and he holds her.
Later, Siddiq speaks to a crowd. He says he was taken with them and was supposed to die with them. He says Alpha whispered in his ear to tell them, and then knocked him out. He says she left him alive to tell the story and scare them and drive them apart He says the real story is that everyone fought for their lives. We see them all fighting the whisperers in a barn. Finally we see Henry look at Alpha one last time as he approaches him. Siddiq says they need to keep going, to honor them and remember them. He says they were heroes and that’s the story he wants them all to remember.
Daryl and Lydia stand by the pikes, now bare. She places a necklace at the bottom of where Henry’s was. It’s one of Hilda’s H coins, and it begins to snow on top of it.
The Walking Dead will air its season 9 finale on March 31st at 9 PM ET on AMC.
Shannon Toohey is Editor-In-Chief of FanFest.com. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2015 with a B.A. in Journalism from the Lawrence Herbert School of Communications. Shannon has been a proud member of the Fan Fest team since 2013. Tweet her in your prettiest bird voice: @shannontoo