The Walking Dead Penultimate Episode Recap: "Family"

Warning: this story contains spoilers for Sunday's "Family" episode of The Walking Dead"For the longest time, we were just fighting to survive. Trying to get back what we lost. This family, my family, we would do anything to protect each other. And we're fighting now for something else. Something bigger. A new beginning. But that comes with a cost. There's always a cost." Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) picks up a katana and a Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver, weapons wielded by mom Michonne (Danai Gurira) and dad Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). "I never got to know my mom, Lori. My brother, Carl, dreamed of a day when we'd all live together in peace."

Today is not that day. "My mom Michonne tried to hang up her sword. My dad, Rick, was searching for mercy. And me? Well, I guess I'm a Grimes, too." Judith unfurls the Multi-Community Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the document chartered by Michonne to unite the Coalition of communities after their war with the Saviors. "I keep thinking about something my mom told me. A secret saying she used to share with my dad. It was like a good luck charm. For me and RJ, too. I was afraid to say it out loud. I was afraid to say so many things out loud."

Judith takes Rick's sheriff hat — the hat handed down to her older brother, Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) — and places it on her younger brother, RJ Grimes (Antony Azor). "But we didn't know when we started this that this would be the day everything changed forever."


At Alexandria, the survivors have taken back their home after Commonwealth Governor Pamela Milton (Laila Robins) turned the Safe-Zone into Outpost 22: a labor camp of enslaved "exiles" from the Ohio community. As Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) search for answers about their missing daughter, Baby Coco, ex-trooper Tyler Davis (Cameron Roberts) reports kids without parents would end up at the city's children's home.

Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) tells Maggie (Lauren Cohan) they don't need the others to "take out the bitch" back at the Commonwealth. "Look, I get that others have their own reasons for going back. But as far as I'm concerned, none of us are safe as long as she's still breathing," Negan says. "Together, you and I, we get this done."
"We're not a 'we,'" Maggie replies. Maggie has her goodbye for now with son Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller), while Negan parts with pregnant wife Annie (Medina Senghore).

Judith convinces Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) to let her come on the mission to the Commonwealth.

"This isn't the future my brother wanted. Not what my mom and dad fought for. Not yet," Judith says. "What we're doing could help everyone. Not just us, but maybe everybody everywhere. I want to be part of that. To make what my family believed in real."
"We've all been so focused on what's right in front of us for so long. You're thinking about what's after," Carol replies. "That's a good thing. Maybe we could all do a little more of that."


At the Commonwealth, General Mercer (Michael James Shaw) and Lt. Rose (Dexter Tillis) escort Eugene (Josh McDermitt) after breaking him out of death row. Reunited with girlfriend Max (Margot Bingham) and lawyer Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), Eugene agrees to lay low while Mercer gathers enough troops willing to turn against Governor Milton. Meanwhile, Max and Yumiko plot to get the public fired up to help turn the tides on the corrupt governor when it's time to make their move. 

Outside the walls, the Alexandrians have hijacked a Commonwealth train. Rosita plans their route to find the children's house and rescue Coco. The plan: the group will move the prisoners into hiding, get Mercer on their side, and take out Governor Milton while Rosita and Gabriel head through the lower ward to the children's house. Gabriel is confident they're going to get their daughter back. 

"Is that your faith talking?" Rosita asks.
"In you, yes," Gabriel responds.

As Tyler and Princess (Paola Lazaro) work on an antenna to get in contact with her boyfriend, Mercer, Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Kelly (Angel Theory) tell Tyler they're happy they found him. They've been looking since the night Tyler went missing (in "New Haunts"). Back at the Commonwealth, an angry mob protests outside the governor's office. Furious her son's killer escaped custody, Governor Milton commands Colonel Vickers (Monique Grant) to keep an eye on Mercer and orders a door-to-door search for Eugene. Governor Milton dismisses Vickers and radios in an order: "B-17."


After learning the fate of Oceanside, Aaron's (Ross Marquand) group of Jerry (Cooper Andrews), Lydia (Cassady McClincy), Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari), Luke (Dan Fogler), and Jules (Alex Sgambati) walk with the dead, covered in walker guts. On orders of B-17, troopers shepherd the zombie herd towards their target: the Commonwealth. On the train, Maggie overhears as Negan thanks Ezekiel (Khary Payton) for taking a stand against the Warden (Michael Weaver) in "Faith."

"Dying a martyr is too easy. You living, making something positive out of your days, now, that... that'll keep me from giving in to anger over what I lost," Ezekiel tells Negan. "I don't want to live out whatever days I got left in bitterness." When Ezekiel asks why Negan was willing to give his life for everyone else's at Alexandria, Negan answers: "For my wife. My kid. To leave a better story about me than the one you've been telling. That when it mattered, I did something right. And it wasn't to prove anything. It wasn't to get anything in return. Hell, it wasn't even to save my own ass. It was to save all of you. You all are better than me. And if you think I don't know that, then you haven't been paying attention."

Down the carriage, Judith tells Daryl and Carol it's been a long time since she's heard from her mom (only Judith knows Michonne is away searching for Rick). 

"Could be a lot of reasons for that. But she can take care of herself better than just about anyone I've ever known," Carol tells her. Adds Daryl, "She'd be real proud of you. Your dad, too."

"Carl, too?" asks Judith.
"You two are a lot alike," Carol says.
"He died saving people," Judith says. She wishes she had more time with Carl. She wishes they had more time to remember the ones they've lost.
"When this is over," Daryl assures her, "I'm gonna tell you every story I remember, about all the people that loved you."


Princess makes contact with Mercer, revealing she's on a train to the Commonwealth depot with the prisonsers that Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) and Governor Milton disappeared. If they can get the prisoners back to Mercer, those witnesses will give him legal grounds to remove Governor Milton. Mercer and Princess plan to rendezvous at an old access tunnel under Union Station so Mercer can sneak the Alexandrians into the Commonwealth. Vickers reports a walker swarm is approaching from the east, putting the Commonwealth into lockdown protocol.

In the herd, Aaron, Jerry, and Lydia make it inside an abandoned RV, but the wave of dead pushes Jules into the crowd, leaving Luke to go after her. When walkers pin Elijah against the RV, Lydia tries to hold onto him — exposing her wrist. A walker sinks its teeth into Lydia's arm and Elijah is dragged away. Aaron and Jerry are forced to amputate Lydia's arm before the infection spreads. Meanwhile, Max alerts her brother that Governor Milton used a swarm as an excuse to clear the streets the last time the Commonwealth went into lockdown. With Mercer's troopers ordered to divert the swarm, Max and Yumiko will have to meet Princess and the Alexandrians at Union Station to sneak them into the city.  

At the depot, the Alexandrians spot armed guards outside Tunnel H leading toward Union Station. "We are sitting ducks," says Negan, who knows they can't be patient and wait for Mercer to show. Carol will sneak around to try and find another way to slip in, but Maggie wants to take out the four guards. If they do, Rosita warns, "The clock's ticking on us."

Before they can decide on a move, Lt. Rose calls off the guards from Tunnel H under Mercer's orders. The group of rebel prisoners — Daryl, Judith, Maggie, Rosita, Gabriel, Negan, Ezekiel, Princess, Connie, Kelly, Tyler, Magna (Nadia Hilker), and Dianne (Kerry Cahill) among them — make their way through the tunnel and into Union Station.


As the dead descend upon the city's borders, the Commonwealth Army loses control of the herd. While Mercer's soldiers try to divert the herd before it reaches their walls, Eugene escapes the door-to-door search, and Jerry wades back into the horde to find Elijah, Luke, and Jules.

At Union Station, Daryl suspects something isn't right. The doors are chained shut. The realize too late that they walked right into a trap. Governor Milton's men open fire from the platform above, riddling Tyler with bullets and sending the group scrambling for cover.

At the wall, Vickers arrests Mercer for treason by order of Governor Milton — and any resistance will be met with life in prison or death. Soldiers loyal to Mercer raise their weapons, but the general orders them to stand down. He'll go peacefully, but Vickers needs to fortify the city's defenses before the swarm reaches the perimeter. He tells her to stop the dead before it's too late.

The group returns fire, but they're outmanned and outgunned. With Gabriel covering her, Rosita tries to free the chains from the doors. On the platform above, a vengeful Governor Milton shoots at the Alexandrians.

Judith leaves Daryl's side to save Maggie, who watches in horror as the bullet meant for her strikes Judith. A shocked Governor Milton freezes until Carol fires back at the platform. Maggie, Negan, and Gabriel gun down the governor's men, but she's able to retreat. "You did this!" Milton screams. "You did this!!"

Daryl tells Ezekiel to throw a nearby fire extinguisher. With Rick's gun, Daryl shoots and hits the extinguisher, giving the group cover to escape.


In the town square, Max and Yumiko reunite with Eugene as the group escapes Union Station. At the wall, the Commonwealth Army is swarmed by the herd and variant walkers that are capable of climbing walls. As a climber sinks its teeth into a sentry, the guard's flailing arm accidentally knocks a switch and opens the gates. The dead flood into the Commonwealth.

Vickers reports the perimeter has been breached and Section F is overrun with rotters. "The dead are in the Commonwealth, Governor."
"This was just supposed to be a lockdown while they cleared the swarm," the governor, still in shock, responds. She's even more shocked to learn the dead are climbing the walls. Governor Milton orders Vickers to pull the forces back to the Estates, put additional troops on her home, and secure the surrounding area. If they divert the swarm toward the lower wards – the poorest area of the Commonwealth – it will buy the military time to gather essential personnel.

"Governor, that would leave thousands of citizens unprotected," Vickers says. "That is a death sentence."
"We protect the Estates," Governor Milton barks back. "Seal the rest off."


Daryl carries an unconscious Judith through the streets of the Commonwealth. As the group heads for Ezekiel's clinic, an army vehicle cuts them off. They turn down another street — they're blocked again. And again. They're surrounded. No way out.

But when Commonwealth troopers begin to barricade the streets, Carol says they're not being followed. Horror sets in as the group realizes they're being pinned in with the walker herd. The troopers block off the streets with walkers. The dead come from everywhere. Negan sees a walker climb a fence, letting out a "What the f-?!" 

The group huddles. Just then, Luke and Jules emerge from the herd, reuniting with their friends. Together, everyone moves as one down another street towards an alley. With the herd on them in every direction, they have to forge a path for Daryl to get Judith to safety.

Carol clears the way for Daryl and Judith to escape down an alley, but the dead are right on them. Everyone makes a stand. Daryl cradles Judith as Carol, Maggie, and the rest of their family disappear, swallowed up by the walker herd. "Daddy?" Judith says out loud, her eyes closing.

End of episode.

Follow @CameronBonomolo and @NewsOfTheDead on Twitter for TWD Universe coverage all season long.