In ‘The Walking Dead’ recap, Rick Grimes rides off into the sunset in Andrew Lincoln’s final episode but it’s not exactly what you might expect….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Technically, Sunday night’s edition of ‘The Walking Dead’ was Rick Grimes’ final episode — but it was not the end of Rick Grimes.
In what has been advertised for weeks as the final appearance of Rick Grimes on ‘The Walking Dead’ as actor Andrew Lincoln prepared to leave the series, a major cliffhanger led into the announcement that AMC was developing at least three feature length movies — that will air on television — that will see the British actor continue his role as the iconic sheriff from Robert Kirkman’s comic book series.
In so many ways it feels like ‘The Walking Dead’ has jumped the shark by venturing into all these new avenues for a series with ratings that have been dropping consistently for the past couple of seasons.
Former showrunner Scott M. Gimple has split off to become the mastermind behind an entire ‘Walking Dead’ universe that includes two TV series and now this new film universe that he’s developing and writing the first movie that’s scheduled to go into production in early 2019.
On one hand, it’s nice to know that when ‘The Walking Dead’ finally comes to an end, you’re almost guaranteed a reunion between Rick Grimes and his family that he left behind. On the other, this expansion into films and separate features that could see the back stories of past characters told on screen as well as the possibility of new series developing almost feels like there will be a ‘Walking Dead’ overload.
Obviously if that happens, it will be somewhere down the road as AMC has already committed to at least three of these feature films starring Lincoln in his role as Rick Grimes with a lot more content on the way.
For now, let’s recap the ‘final’ episode of Rick Grimes on ‘The Walking Dead’ titled ‘What Comes After’ and stay tuned for a separate story on AMC’s plans for Andrew Lincoln and the future feature films…
Just like we left him last week, Rick is impaled on a rebar after his horse threw him with a herd of zombies bearing down on him. Rick’s big idea to save the bridge that probably wasn’t going to be finished anyways has now left him in a perilous position with a huge group of walkers all chasing after him.
Rick is able to lift himself off the rebar thanks to some MacGyver like ingenuity and he drags his bloody body over the horse that was spooked enough to throw him yet then decided to just stand where while the zombies were drawing closer and closer.
Rick hops on the horse and starts riding away from the herd but not too fast because galloping along too fast hurts his wound so man and animal are forced to trot along with a herd of zombies just a few feet behind them.
Rick continues to drift between barely awake and a half-conscious state thanks to his injuries and it’s during this time that we get a series of fever dreams where several long dead characters from the past of ‘The Walking Dead’ return to help him on his journey.
After ‘waking’ himself up from the hospital bed where we first met Rick Grimes nine seasons ago, we cut to a cop car where he’s reunited with his old partner Shane where they reminisce about the day he got shot and then finding his family after recovering in the hospital where they left him behind.
Shane’s return was definitely the highlight of the episode as he shared a burger and fries with Rick and he joked with his ex-partner about raising his daughter Judith (confirming what we already knew that Shane was her father or at least Rick believes it). That led into Rick waking up to a walker trying to bite his face off after he managed to stumble into an old abandoned cabin long enough to rip up some sheets and try to stop the bleeding from his wound.
The trippy journey continued with a visit from Hershel (Scott Wilson, who tragically passed away a few weeks ago filmed this scene over the summer), who told Rick that his daughter Maggie is strong and will just keep growing stronger as a single mother raising her son.
The next stop was the hospital from where he first escaped except this time when Rick walked out the doors that were previously marked ‘don’t open, dead inside’, he found piles upon piles of dead bodies and it was all of the people he’s known throughout his time over the past nine seasons.
That’s when Sasha makes her return (and as happy as I was to see Sonequa Martin Green back, her visit was the most bizarre considering she never really had a close relationship with Rick but was apparently available to shoot this scene) and she once again keeps Rick awake on his journey to get home to his family.
The final fever dream happens after Rick arrives at the campsite where the bridge was being built. He stumbles upon the aftermath of the fight that we saw break out a week ago — with a bunch of dead bodies lying around and many of the former Saviors transformed into the undead. Rick defends himself with his gun before then stumbling onto the bridge where he imagines Michonne, Carol, Daryl and everybody else arriving to save the say.
Except they’re not really there — at least not this time — because this is the last dream where Rick imagines Michonne telling him that they don’t die and that it was time to wake up…again.
Maggie finally arrives at Alexandria and the orchestrated plan to get her through the gates without anybody knowing works except somebody spots her and lets Michonne know that she’s arrived.
Michonne quickly heads over to the jail cell where Negan is housed because she knows there’s only one reason she would show up in Alexandria right now and that’s to settle the score with the man who killed her husband once and for all.
When they finally meet, Michonne does her best to talk Maggie out of killing Negan because it won’t bring Glenn back and there’s no way he’d want this for her. Maggie counters by saying she can’t know what Glenn would say or want because he’s dead and she needs closure by finishing off the man who killed him.
She also tells Michonne that if it was Rick who had his brains bashed in by Negan, he’d already be dead. Michonne wonders if Maggie can live with taking Negan’s life but she’s confident that she can live with anything that helps her find closure for the man who took away her husband.
It’s a compelling enough argument that Michonne hands over the keys and allows Maggie to walk into the makeshift jail where Negan is housed behind bars.
When she walks inside, Negan has been expecting her arrival.
He taunts her by talking about the day he killed Glenn, bashing his brains into bloody oatmeal after watching his eye pop out of his head. With every passing word, Maggie just just seething for the chance to make Negan pay while demanding he get down on his knees just like he did to Glenn before killing him.
Maggie finally unlocks Negan’s cell and demands he come out but when he does, the brash outspoken and brutal former leader of the Saviors is a shell of the man he once was. Negan begs Maggie to kill him as he breaks down into tears, sobbing about wanting to be reunited with his wife but no matter how many times he’s tried, he just can’t seem to take his own life.
Negan wants Maggie to finish the job so he can be with his family in the afterlife.
Seeing Negan this way snaps Maggie back to reality and she tells him to get back into his cell. Maggie says that she came to Alexandria to get justice for her husband and to kill Negan but he’s suffering a fate far worse than death right now.
“I came to kill Negan and you’re already worse than dead.”
Maggie emerges from the basement and Michonne barely has time to notice that the crowbar she brought along with her is still clean and not covered in Negan’s brains and blood. A second later, Michonne gets a call about something happening at the bridge campsite and everybody teams up together to find out what’s going on.
Rick Grimes Says Goodbye
Earlier in the episode we catch up with Jadis/Anne, who is driving towards a rendezvous to meet up with the people in that helicopter. She has promised to turn somebody over to them in exchange for rescue so she can join their community.
Meanwhile back at the bridge, Rick is barely hanging out with the herd of walkers getting closer and closer to him. Finally, the cavalry arrives with Michonne and the rest of the survivors showing up to try and save the day.
Right away they realize that Rick is drawing the zombies towards the bridge so it will collapse and wash them away in the river and save the communities from being overrun. Rick tries to wave everybody away but Michonne refuses to listen and she runs to try and save him. Daryl is firing off arrows from his crossbow, picking off walkers who are getting close to Rick.
Finally, Rick realizes that the bridge is holding — maybe one last sign that his plan to build it was worthwhile — but he now needs to destroy it to save everybody he loves. Thankfully a box full of dynamite has been knocked over and Rick knows this is his way to stop the herd from advancing.
He looks back at Daryl and Michonne one final time before raising his gun and firing off a single round into the sticks of dynamite laying on the bridge. A gigantic explosion goes off, the bridge is destroyed and the herd falls into the river, being swept away from the current.
And Rick Grimes is gone.
Daryl sheds a few tears for his fallen brother and Michonne is inconsolable as she keeps trying to get to the demolished bridge that was just blown up to stop the herd. It appears Rick Grimes died just as he lived — trying to save the people he loved most in the world.
But a few seconds later we see Jadis/Anne on the bank of the same river where she not only sees the explosion but the helicopter coming to pick her up. A few feet away, she spots Rick laying in the dirt after he was thrown from the bridge by the force of the explosion.
Jadis calls to the helicopter and tells them that she didn’t bring them an ‘A’ but instead she brought them a ‘B’ (whatever the hell that means because we still don’t know the classification system). The person on the other end of the radio doesn’t answer right away and Jadis begs for their help because she wants to save the person who helped to save her.
The helicopter lands and a few moments later we see Jadis looking over Rick as he wakes up with an oxygen supply running through his nose with his wound patched up and they are en route to some community far away from Alexandria. Rick didn’t die because he will return — presumably with Jadis — in this series of ‘Walking Dead’ movies coming from AMC.
Years Gone By
The final scene of the episode shows a new group of survivors scurrying to escape a growing group of walkers converging on them. The people are fighting back as best they can but the zombies are coming from all sides and hope is seemingly almost gone.
That’s when gunshots ring out and several of the zombies are cut down, enough to open up a path for the group to escape and run into the woods. The group then encounters the shooter — a young girl who holsters her weapon, picks up a sheriff’s hat to put on her head and she introduces herself as Judith Grimes.
That’s right — ‘The Walking Dead’ is getting a massive time jump when the show returns next week with six years passed when the story picks up again. Judith will be 10 years old when the show returns — the same age as Carl Grimes when ‘The Walking Dead’ first started. The new characters discovered this week are famous faces from the comic books who are joining ‘The Walking Dead’ series.
Now ‘The Walking Dead’ begins in uncharted territory with Rick Grimes gone and the family he left behind surviving without him.
‘The Walking Dead’ returns for a brand new episode next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on AMC and you can check out a couple of previews below: