The Walking Dead reached new levels of EPIC tonight, and Rick’s departure was explosive.
Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) was, of course, the big focus of tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead. Thankfully, after months of apprehensive nail-biting, we find out he doesn’t die at all, and lots more too.
Rick’s immediate story, (at least as far as the episodic series is concerned), is over for now. Season 9, Episode 5 of The Walking Dead, packed to the brim with dream sequences of beloved characters, wrapped up the central hero’s story in a loosely tied bow that had many highs and a few lows.
Sadly Rick is gone for a while, BUT, breaking Walking Dead news just in confirms he is returning for three TV movies of The Walking Dead; of course all based around the TV Series.
NEW WALKING DEAD NEWS: Andrew Lincoln Will Return as Rick Grimes. READ HERE.
The episode opens with a dream sequence of Rick hallucinating in the same Atlanta hospital he first broke out of in the pilot. There are two Ricks. One is lying on a gurney, wearing a pristine hospital gown. The other Rick is dressed as the real man and has a nasty wound. Bed-ridden Rick then tells the real Rick Grimes to wake up.
Rick comes to, and sees the horde of walkers approaching him. Panicked, Rick removes his belt and uses it to pull himself up off of the rebar spike that’s impaled him. It’s a wonder he didn’t pass out again from the pain, but then again, self-preservation is a powerful motivator. He then mounts the horse, which, somehow, hasn’t been spooked away by the onslaught of walkers, and slowly—and I do mean slowly—trots away, barely keeping ahead of the walkers.
Down the road, the horse picks up as a severely injured Rick struggles to ride away from the horde. Eventually, he loses them, and finds an old abandoned shack. After stumbling inside, Rick finds some cloth, which he tears in an effort to cover his wound and stop the bleeding, just before he passes out again.
In the second dream sequence, Rick is back in Atlanta, again, riding the horse from the pilot. He comes across his dead best friend, Shane (Jon Bernthal), who he had to kill in self-defense several years ago. Despite their speckled past, all is well between the two former cops, as they sit in their patrol car and share some fast food. Shane tells Rick that he’s proud of him for having the gall to kill him, and relays to him that that same energy will be needed to get out of the situation he’s in. Shane, who had an affair with Rick’s late wife Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) also tells him that Judith is actually his daughter—not Rick’s, after Rick says he wants to find his family. Oddly, this doesn’t upset Rick Grimes. In fact, he even laughs about it, which leads one to believe that he already suspected and had made peace with it. Shane then tells him to wake up, just in time to thwart the attack of the walkers who’ve gained on him.
Meanwhile, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is still harboring her bloodlust for Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) When she arrives in Alexandria, she comes face to face with Michonne (Danai Gurira), who’s not too keen on letting Maggie murder her prisoner in cold blood. In an impassioned plea, Maggie tries to appeal to Michonne’s maternal side, saying that if Negan had killed Rick and left her alone to raise her child, he would have already been dead. Though sympathetic, Michonne is first unmoved. Eventually, though, she does give in, and let Maggie have access to Negan. Face to face with Negan, after getting in a couple of good hits, Maggie realizes that this Negan isn’t the same man that killed Glenn (Steven Yuen) anymore. He begs her to kill him so he can finally be with his wife, Lucille. It’s unclear if Negan was being sincere, but his act works on Maggie, who ends up sparing him.
Rick returns to our screens shortly before passing out again. In this dream state, he comes across Hershel (Scott Wilson). They’re standing in his farm, before the peaceful community that Hershel envisioned for them before he died. Rick apologizes for his death, and how his daughter, Maggie has fared in the time since. Hershel assures him that Maggie will pull through and says that her baby with Glenn will motivate her. Rick then mentions how he needs to find his own family, but Hershel tells him he doesn’t because, even in his absence, everyone will get to a better place one day. Hershel then tells Rick to wake up.
He does, though not for long. The episode heads into another dream sequence, which places Rick back in the hospital from the opening. Down a long hallway, Rick walks through a door to find a field of his dead friends. Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) is who Rick’s mind conjures up this time. Her purpose is apparently to tell him that he’s more than done his part at making the world a better place and that the big picture is larger than him or any one person.
These dreams get more frustrating as time goes on because, aside from being an excuse to bring back old characters, they’re obviously tools to help Rick come to terms with what he thinks is his impending death, which literally no one, save for Andrew Lincoln, actually wants. Perhaps it’s also because of all the people Rick’s known over the years, having Sasha as part of his dreams seems random, since they never had a close-knit relationship.
The next scene has Rick Grimes waking up at the bridge camp, just as the walkers make their presence known. He then decides to lead them to the bridge, which he hopes will collapse under the weight of them all. By this point, Rick’s bleeding through his makeshift bandage and is getting weaker and weaker. One wonders how much longer he can hold out on the bridge, when Daryl and the others, come running to his aid. A pep talk with Michonne, in which she tells him that he isn’t supposed to die yet, makes Rick, much to the dismay of the viewers, eventually realize that isn’t real, and that he’s dreaming again.
Back in the real world, Rick ends up leading the walkers, who just are dead set on getting to him (as if he’s the only man in the area), to the bridge. It doesn’t collapse how he hopes it would, though. The group finally spots him and realizes he’s hurt. They then do their best to detract the ominous group of walkers approaching him. Rick’s already come to terms with his death, though, and encourages the group to stay back. They don’t, of course, and race towards him. Only the amazing Daryl Dixon listens, as he uses his bow and arrow to stave off the stragglers from the herd who are closest to Rick. All is for naught, as Rick eventually shoots some sticks of dynamite, which blows him up, right along with the walkers. The then scene cuts to the others reacting to seeing Rick go up in flames, and a distraught Michonne being held back.
For anyone else, this would have been the end, but not for Rick Grimes. Turns out, he survived the blast, and has made his way to the shore of the river. Nearby, while waiting on her ‘friends’ to pick her up, Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh) spots Rick, rescues him, and takes him away with the mysterious, unseen, people in the helicopter that she has been communicating with. What happens to him after is anyone’s guess, but surely the much-rumored Whisperers will have something to do with it all?
The episode then ends with a major time jump (we are guessing at about 5 years), as a badass new group of characters try to fight off a large heard of walkers. They are surrounded and overwhelmed, but someone shoots several of the dead and frees a path for them to escape. They run into the woods, where they find the shooter, a young girl carrying a tiny katana and pistol. When they ask who she is, she dons a familiar sheriff’s hat and says, “Judith. Judith Grimes.”
Yet, things get even better, when the episode finishes we are given an unprecedented future view of not one, but three more episodes. (Did The Walking Dead just regain EPIC staus? Yep).
We then see a montage of all the surviving characters, and their new looks; with feature spots of Michonne sporting an interesting undercut; Carol, who also has achieved an interesting ‘grow-out’ – and last, but by no means least, Daryl Dixon in what looks like a horrific green whaling jacket.
And they aren’t finished with Negan yet either. He seems to once again be in high spirits.
Also, the dead are showing new behavior, and the quote “The dead are evolving” is heard. There is also footage of a creepy-as-hell scene where herd-members are seen to communicate, asking each other: “Wherrre arrre theyyyyy.”
Overall, Rick’s last episode was a solid one, and a HUGE set-up for the major new spinoffs. The introspective emotional scenes balanced quite nicely with the action, and Andrew Lincoln gave a fantastic performance, as did the everyone else. The show has definitely returned back to quality, and surpassed all previous seasons in pace, casting, cinematography, writing and acting. New showrunner Angela Kang means business – and we thank her for bringing The Walking Dead TV series back from the…um…dead.
The big question is – who is going to lead everyone now that Rick Grimes has departed for a while? Daryl, Maggie or Michonne? Maybe Negan??
We’ll just have to wait and see.
The Walking Dead airs every Sunday on AMC at 10/9c.