Warning: This article contains spoilers for the most recent episode of The Walking Dead.
At this point in the show’s history, fans are quite used to The Walking Dead pulling the rug out from under them or using a sort of fake-out. This may not be the intention, but it’s definitely how fans have chosen to interpret it. One infamous example would be the episode “Thank You,” where fans saw Glenn supposedly ripped apart by walkers, only to learn later that he’d survived by crawling under a dumpster. Not that Glenn would’ve died there as it would be an odd ending to a main character to have him killed without anyone knowing.
This isn’t even getting to the now infamous Season Six cliffhanger where Negan killed… somebody, only fans to have to wait the entire summer to find out in the Season Seven premiere who his victims ended up being. This show is notorious for stringing fans along, and AMC certainly plays a part in that with how The Walking Dead is marketed. Season Nine has been marketed as the last hurrah for main character Rick Grimes. This, in turn, led many to speculate that Andrew Lincoln’s character would be killed off.
The fact that Rick Grimes took rebar through the chest and spent the most recent episode traveling down memory lane to revisit Shane, Hershel, and Sasha didn’t help and for a moment, it did seem like Rick Grimes would ride into the sunset and head to Character Heaven. By episode’s end, though, after blowing up the constructed bridge in order to prevent walkers from further advancing, it was revealed that not only is Rick alive and well, but he’s being flown away to parts unknown with Jadis at his side.
So while it’s not entirely deceptive, it does feel like the series wanted to have its cake and eat it too, with AMC telling viewers that yes, this was the final episode for Rick Grimes, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to kill off his character. The season has felt like a rejuvenation for the franchise under the guidance of new showrunner Angela Kang who, along with Andrew Lincoln on last night’s Talking Dead, discussed the implications of Rick’s exit from the series, but not necessarily the end of his story. As Lincoln said:
“It’s a promise of more story, but I suppose cliffhangers in general are looked upon a certain way. I imagine no matter which way the story went, there would be people who loved it and people who hated it. I hope not for the latter, but I just think literally every entertainment that comes out now, that’s what happens. Certainly anything unusual or different in some ways gets that [treatment].”
Kang concurred, noting that she hopes there are some fans still excited to see the series continue well beyond the exit of Rick Grimes:
“I think there will hopefully be a lot of fans who are excited that his story is continuing. There have been conversations with Scott and Andy over time — like, for a long time — about what’s the entry into the [feature film] universe … so we tried to map out a way that the story was left open for him to transition into these other stories and hopefully more stories going forward. And we just concentrated on trying to tell the best version of that that we could in the episode.”
With all this in mind, coupled with the announcement of there being Walking Dead-based films starring Rick Grimes, what do you think of the recent development with the franchise? And what did you think of Rick’s exit from the series? Let us know in the comments below.
The Walking Dead airs on Sunday nights at 9 P.M. on AMC.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter