It’s almost time to say goodbye to Rick Grimes, as things get more serious than ever before in this week’s episode of The Walking Dead.
Since Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) announced his Season 9 departure from The Walking Dead, it’s been hard to come up with a way out for him that didn’t end in his death. Sure, he could have gone off of the deep end (again) after his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) was killed off in Season 8, but Rick he still had Michonne (Danai Gurira) and his daughter, Judith, not to mention that new civilization he’s been working so hard to build, to live for. After watching Andrew Lincoln’s penultimate appearance in The Walking Dead Season 9, Episode 4’s ‘The Obliged,’ all signs are, sure enough, pointing to a bloody, painful death for the show’s central character.
The episode begins with Michonne, whose in bed with Rick. Over the course of the scene, we see her completing mundane tasks like taking care of Judith and visiting patients at the infirmary. At night, however, she releases her pent-up frustration by killing walkers. Twice she does this, which suggests that she’s not completely content with her action less, homemaker role, which Negan, who’s been imprisoned for two years, ends up relaying to her during a chat.
Negan hasn’t been eating. Michonne interprets this as a hunger strike and encourages him to end it. He insists that’s not the case, and that he’s simply not hungry. In a bid to get her to stay and talk to him, he says, “You want me to eat, I want you to stay and talk to me. I mean, I’m proof that you’re making civilization right? That’s what your boyfriend said. Hard to do that if I’m dead, right?” Michonne begrudgingly agrees, offering Negan twenty minutes of her time, during which he ends up attempting to appeal to the commonalities between them. Both have lost people close to them: Negan, his wife, Michonne, her son. Negan admits that he’s somewhat happy/relieved that his wife didn’t live to see the man he’s become. He suggests that Michonne is also happy that her son is gone, “Because you know all he woulda done was make you weak,” he assures her, before she leaves in anger.
In a really weird scene, Anne then prepares to kill Gabriel with a walker. According to her, he’s the price of admission for the place she desires to go. As she leans the walker closer and closer she pulls it back, unable to go through with it. Instead, she holds a cloth to his mouth, which ends up knocking him out. Later on, he wakes up with a note she left behind for him.
Rick and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) then come to blows over Maggie’s (Lauren Cohen) decision to go to Alexandria to find Negan, who murdered her husband, Glenn (Steven Yeun), and return the favor. At first, Daryl offers to give Rick a ride so they can intervene, but he conveniently misses their exit.
Once Rick realizes that Daryl has no intent on actually taking him there, they end up hashing things out as they do best—in a fist fight, which leaves them both trapped in a pit. With nowhere to go, they have no choice back to hash out their contrasting philosophies.
Rick believes that sparing Negan, Carl’s last wish, is crucial for the world they’re trying to build. “If he dies, he becomes a martyr,” he says. Daryl, on the other hand, agrees with Maggie that Negan deserves to die.
Back In Alexandria, Michonne simmers on Negan’s words awhile longer. When she returns to his cell she’s ready to apologize, but she’s still not backing down on Negan’s stance that they “are the same.”
“No,” she tells him, “We’re not. Yeah, we do what we need to to get s*** done but you get a kick out of it. Me? I’m trying every day to make things better.” She adds, “I do get strength from the dead but I live for the living,” Michonne says. “My sons are gone but this world is going to be better for my daughter and every other child that comes into it,” she adds.
If Rick does indeed die, then it will be interesting to see if Michonne, who will undoubtedly be affected more than anyone, will be able to stay true to her word.
What comes next is painfully predictable, but still satisfying, as a gunshot lures walkers down into the pit with Rick and Daryl. It’s now a race against time, as they use roots to pull themselves out, as walker after walker, waddles into the hole.
Despite their differing opinions, it’s clear that the bond between the two men is as strong as ever, as they band together to help each other out of the hole. With Daryl’s help, Rick makes it out first. Daryl’s feet still dangle inches about the hungry walkers’ underneath him. Using a longer tree branch to anchor himself, Rick uses his strength to pull Daryl, his “brother” up out of harm’s way.
When walkers show up, Rick decides to mount a horse that appears out of nowhere, to lead them away from the bridge, which he feels to be a crucial asset to the community they’ve built.
It was obvious where the writers were going next, but again, it was satisfying to watch the unfolding scene nod back to The Walking Dead pilot episode, when a significantly younger, less scruffy Rick rode a horse into a deserted town and was immediately taken down by walkers. This time, though, a startled horse flings Rick into a pile of rubble, where he’s impaled by a long spear. The pilot scene saw the horse succumb to the bloodthirst of the walkers; Rick’s inability to move, in the recent scene, as walkers approach him on all sides, suggests that, this time, it will be him who’s eaten alive.
Despite the work Rick’s put into creating a new world for the main group, we know he won’t be a part of it much longer, whether by way of death or some other (hopefully honorable, though unlikely) exit.
“Get Obliged” uses much of its hour tying up a few loose ends of the other characters, and setting up just how the show will live on without its star (that’s if it can live on at all).
Chandler Riggs’s exit (which surprised even him) from the show inspired several threats to boycott, and one online petition which garnered over 50,000 signatures. Though not yet confirmed, Tom Payne (Jesus) has even suggested that he believes Chandler’s axing led to Andrew reevaluating his own role, and ultimately influenced his decision to leave. If true, that would mean that the star left because of the death of a beloved main character. It remains to be seen if viewers will stick around after the star suffers the same fate.
You can tune into Rick Grime’s last episode of The Walking Dead on Sunday, November 4 on AMC.