Previously on The Walking Dead: Michonne and Negan confronted each other over who they really are and what they truly want. Daryl and Rick confronted each other over the fact that Maggie is on her way to kill Negan. And Rick’s attempt at watching over the bridge while dealing with the oncoming hordes of Walkers results in his very indecisive horse throwing Rick off and causing him to be impaled on rebar and bleeding profusely.
THE STORY SO FAR: Rick manages to remove himself from the rebar that he’s impaled on and climb back up on his indecisive horse to get away from all of the Walkers, who are determined to follow him no matter where he goes. And Maggie gets what she’s wanted for the last eighteen months and is able to finally confront Negan.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE: Scroll down for the answer to this question.
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE: Same response
IS NEGAN IN THIS EPISODE?: Yes, he is, and once he realizes that Maggie is present and more than willing to beat him to death just like he did to her husband, he starts talking plenty of shit like the Negan of seasons past about how much joy he took in what he did to Glenn so that it will be easier for Maggie to go to work on him with her crowbar. Only Maggie realizes that dying at her hands is exactly what he wants, because he’s so overwhelmed with guilt and because he wants to be reunited with Lucille. Not his trusty barbed-wire-covered baseball bat, mind you, but his late wife. Maggie refuses to give him what he wants and upon realizing how broken and pathetic he’s become, she puts him back in his cell and leaves him be.
MICHONNE?: Yes, and at first, she stands before Maggie and tries to convince her not to go through with killing Negan. Which only infuriates Maggie even more as she tells her that if the situation was reversed, and Negan killed Rick the way he did Glenn, she would never stand in her way to keep him alive. And once Michonne realizes that there is some truth to her statement, as well as the fact that nothing she says can make her eighteen months of anger and grief disappear, she gives Maggie the keys to Negan’s cell and steps aside.
CARL?: Still dead, and considering how Chandler Riggs made his exit from the series, I seriously wasn’t expecting him to appear onscreen as Carl Grimes any time soon.
JUDITH?: She makes quite the memorable appearance, that much I can tell you.
CAROL?: She, along with Michonne, Maggie, and everyone else, do everything they can to keep the Walkers back from the camp and from crossing the bridge, which does a damn good job of remaining in one piece despite Eugene’s predictions and calculations that it wouldn’t.
JADIS/ANNE?: Still on the run, and in contact with the black helicopter to come pick her up, as well as the “A” she has accompanying her.
IS DARYL STILL ALIVE? BECAUSE IF NOT, THEN WE’LL
PROBABLY RIOT IF WE HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO DO: He’s still alive and thanks to him and his ever-present crossbow, he comes through in saving Rick from many a Walker bite as he attempts to cross the bridge.
ARE MAGGIE AND DARYL AND JESUS STILL PLOTTING AGAINST RICK AND MICHONNE TO KILL NEGAN?: Not really, especially since Maggie already attempted to resolve the issue, and decided that Negan was no longer worth it, which apparently seems to be the last we’re probably going to be seeing of Maggie and of Lauren Cohan.
I’M SORRY, WHAT NOW? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? IS LAUREN COHAN NOT GOING TO APPEAR IN ANY MORE EPISODES? IS SHE NOT GOING TO GET HER OWN FAREWELL EPISODE?: For now, it doesn’t seem very likely. According to Vanity Fair…
Sunday night was not only Lincoln’s final episode on the flagship series, but Lauren Cohan’s as well—at least for now.
Right now, T.H.R. reports, Cohan has no future episodes planned with the series, although her fate remains open-ended. Both show-runner Angela Kang and AMC Programming President David Madden confirmed the news to T.H.R.—although both indicated that they’d love to see more of Maggie Rhee in the future. “We’ve been talking to Lauren and hopefully we’ll get to tell more story for her,” Kang told T.H.R. “We definitely have some things up our sleeve that we’d love to do. A lot of that is just a scheduling conversation, so hopefully that will all work out, because I think mutually we would like to continue with Maggie’s story, for sure.” It seems fair to guess that how soon future Maggie episodes might happen rests largely on the fate of Cohan’s ABC pilot, Whiskey Cavalier.
Cohan’s official—if possibly temporary—exit from the series was announced this spring. The actress first put herself up for pilot season when her contract negotiations with AMC stalled. (Cohan had requested a large pay raise—although it was made clear she was not seeking parity with male leads Lincoln and Norman Reedus.)
UH……HUH! ANYWAY…WERE THERE ANY SIGN OF THE WHISPERERS IN THIS EPISODE?: None whatsoever.
ANY SIGN OF THAT BLACK HELICOPTER FROM LAST SEASON?: The black helicopter appears at the end of the episode when…hold up, as I’ll definitely need to rewind and explain this ending that had many viewers responding like this…
And like this…
And like this…
As Rick continued bleeding out while crossing the bridge and the hordes of Walkers following him, he realized that bridge was not going to collapse at all, that they’d all make their way into the camp to kill everybody, and that his friends were on their way to put their own lives at risk and confront them all face-to-face. Rick didn’t want that to happen and upon noticing that a random Walker had knocked over a crate full of dynamite, he used his last ounce of strength to raise his revolver, point it at the dynamite, and fire. The entire bridge exploded into flames, killing Rick and nearly all of the Walkers attempting to cross. The Walkers who weren’t on the bridge but kept moving towards it only wound up in the waters below and swept away by the currents. And Daryl, Michonne, and everyone else were left shocked and heartbroken over losing Rick and losing someone who clearly meant the world to them and who did everything possible to look out for them, to keep them alive, and to help them build a future that they could all be proud of.
Except for the fact that….well, Rick didn’t actually die.
Like most of the Walkers, Rick fell in the water and was swept away by the currents, only to end up on dry land not too far from where Jadis/Anne was waiting to meet the black helicopter. When Jadis/Anne saw Rick near death, she immediately contacts the helicopter and tells them that she doesn’t have an “A,” but actually has a “B.” But he’s strong and can be of good use to them, and so she begs them to save him, much like how he once saved her, despite the fact that she was previously warned of suffering the consequences of lying to them. And Rick, instead of departing the land of the living and becoming a Walker, actually regains consciousness while hooked up to some medical equipment and sees the face of Jadis/Anne, who tells him that she’s saving him, as the two of them fly off to whereabouts unknown.
(And as a nice callback to the pilot, the song that accompanies Rick’s final scene in this episode is the same song that accompanied Rick’s final scene in the pilot, when he was trapped in the abandoned tank surrounded by Walkers and he heard Glenn’s voice for the first time)
Fast-forward to about ten years later or so, when we still see Walkers hunting a group of people when are struggling to both run from them and fight back against them. And just when it looks like they’re surrounded and all hope is lost, several of the Walkers are taken down by long-distance headshots and the group of people run into the woods and put as much distance between themselves and the Walkers as possible. They introduced themselves to the person who shot at the Walkers and saved their lives. That person?
Judith Grimes, who looks to be about ten years old, and who is rocking a
katana wakizashi (a sword that looks like a katana, but is much shorter in comparison) of her very own, a revolver just like her dad’s, and a Sheriff’s Department-issued hat just like her older brother.
WOW! I…WELL. WOW! I’M NOT ENTIRELY SURE HOW TO FEEL ABOUT THIS!: I know. It’s kind of a lot to absorb.
IT REALLY IS. ALL THESE WEEKS THEY SPENT TRYING TO CONVINCE US THAT RICK WAS GOING TO DIE, AND THEN THEY PULL THIS?: True. But to be fair, much of that weeks-long campaign came from AMC’s marketing department and not the actual creatives making The Walking Dead, and considering that their ratings have been falling more and more these last couple of seasons, they were going to milk this as much as possible and do what they could to get people to tune in and watch.
BUT…THIS IS JUST AS ANNOYING AS THAT SHIT THEY PULLED WITH ‘DUMPSTERGATE’: For those of you who need a reminder as to what ‘Dumpstergate’ actually is, here’s The Hollywood Reporter to remind you:
For those in need of refreshment: Glenn appeared to die in season six’s third episode, “Thank You,” an episode that acted as a veritable love letter to the beloved character. Toward the end of the hour, while standing atop a dumpster, Nicholas (Michael Traynor) killed himself and fell forward onto Glenn, causing both bodies to plummet into a crowd of hungry walkers. The episode’s final image of Glenn was an aerial view in which it appeared he was being eaten alive, eviscerated guts and all.
For the next three full episodes, Glenn was presumed dead, thanks in large part to the series’ own efforts to misdirect viewers through tactics including scrubbing Steven Yeun’s name from the opening credits. Fast-forward to season six’s seventh hour, “Head’s Up,” in which it’s finally revealed Glenn crawled underneath the dumpster and survived his fate — an incident that subsequently became known in the fandom as “Dumpstergate,” as dubbed by those who predicted Glenn’s method of survival and were frustrated by the misdirect attempt.
WELL…AS FRUSTRATING AS ALL OF THIS SEEMS, AT LEAST ANDREW LINCOLN WAS ABLE TO BE GIVEN A SOLID WAY TO SAY FAREWELL TO THE SHOW AND TO THE CHARACTER OF RICK GRIMES: Yeah. About that ….
“There is more story to tell, and we’ll be telling it.”
Those are the words of The Walking Dead chief content officer Scott M. Gimple, who tells The Hollywood Reporter that leading man Andrew Lincoln — following his departure Sunday from the flagship series — will reprise his iconic role as Rick Grimes in a series of three big-budget, feature-length TV movies for AMC. Gimple is currently writing the first of the untitled series of telepics, with production set to begin in 2019. Still to be determined is an air date and where the movies will film, as Lincoln departed The Walking Dead in order to spend more time with his family in England. The trio of movies are the first of multiple new scripted ventures that will come from Gimple as AMC kicks off its long-term plan to grow its multibillion-dollar franchise.
“The story of Rick will go on in films,” Gimple says. “Right now, we’re working on three but there’s flexibility in that. … Over the next several years, we’re going to be doing specials, new series are quite a possibility, high-quality digital content, and then some content that defies description at the moment. We’re going to dig into the past and see old characters. We’re going to introduce new characters and new situations.”
SO, HOLD THE FUCK UP! AMC SPENT ALL THIS TIME TELLING US THAT WE’D ALL HAVE TO SAY GOODBYE TO RICK BECAUSE THE ACTOR IS LEAVING THE SHOW, ONLY TO TELL US AFTER THIS EPISODE THAT NOT ONLY IS HE STILL ALIVE, BUT HE’S GETTING HIS OWN MOVIES?: All signs point to ‘yes.’
I JUST…I GOT NOTHING AGAINST ANDREW LINCOLN OR HOW MUCH HE LOVES PLAYING RICK, BUT…IS NO ONE AT AMC AWARE THAT THE RATINGS AND OVERALL INTEREST IN THE WALKING DEAD HAS BEEN DROPPING MORE AND MORE THESE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS?
The only real answer I have to this particular query is…
I READ THAT THERE WOULD BE FAMILIAR FACES BELONGING TO DEAD CHARACTERS APPEARING IN RICK’S VISIONS IN THIS EPISODE. DID THAT HAPPEN?: It did. The first one to pop up was none other than Shane himself, who went back and forth between happily busting Rick’s balls about the fact that Judith is actually his daughter to letting Rick know that the killer instinct that he used to kill Shane makes the two of them a lot more similar than he’d like to admit and it’s that same killer instinct that will keep him and others alive.
There was Sasha, who let Rick know that everything being done to help rebuild society was more important than just one person, and that everything being done would be remembered and carried on by the people he loved and inspired with his words and deeds.
And finally, there was Hershel, who reminded him of how strong Maggie truly is, and that he did everything he could to look after his people, to look after his family, and keep them out of harm’s way. And yeah, it goes without saying that when Scott Wilson appeared onscreen once more, my living room got really dusty.
SO…HAVE YOU LISTENED TO THE NEW SONG BY ARIANA GRANDE? I sure did, and much like my reaction to “Party For One” by Carly Rae Jepsen, I liked it a lot more than I expected to. Both of those songs (pulls up Urban Dictionary.com) slap!
DID YOU WATCH TALKING DEAD TO SEE HOW THEY WOULD PAY TRIBUTE TO ANDREW LINCOLN AND HIS TIME ON THE SHOW?: I’ll fuck both Venom and Pennywise The Clown in a three-way all day and all night long before I give Chris Hardwick even a millisecond of my attention.
TO SUM IT ALL UP: Well, look on the bright side. At least there were no Flash-Sideways involved in how Rick made his exit.
In all honesty, there was a part of me that expected the black helicopter and the people connected to it to have a role in Rick’s final appearance on the show. And as upsetting and polarizing as all of this is for a lot of people, I’m still more satisfied with this being his fate than him dying from rebar. (Which is what probably would’ve happened if Joss Whedon was showrunner, just to try and cleverly subvert expectations of what they’d expect for the lead of the show that will no longer be around). And for as long as I’ve been watching The Walking Dead and as long as I’ve been recapping it for Pajiba (much to the disappointment of people out there who still love the show as much now as they did when it first premiered), I haven’t been shy in expressing how I feel about the many ways that the show has dropped the ball and failed to live up to its potential when it comes to consistently achieving greatness. But I’ve also and always been willing to give credit when credit is due, and I’m more than willing to admit that when The Walking Dead was and is really good, when the show is absolutely on and firing on all cylinders, it reminds me of why I started watching in the first place, and is able to accomplish what few shows on television can.
And much of the credit for that belongs to Andrew Lincoln, who has carried the weight of The Walking Dead on his shoulders for almost nine seasons and has done the same as Rick Grimes, as we’ve seen him fight and struggle and plan and love and work his ass off when it came to keeping himself, his friends, and his family alive against all enemies, both alive and dead. Whether the episode we’d be watching on Sunday night was good or bad, there was never any doubt that Lincoln was giving his all every time he was onscreen, and that episode would be all the better because of that.
And for further proof of this, just click on this link in which past and present cast members each wrote a tribute to Lincoln for Entertainment Weekly’s website, and described how much he meant to them and how much he meant to the show. Your surroundings might get just a little bit dusty as you read each one.
And as for Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, every word of praise that I just heaped on Andrew Lincoln-as-Rick Grimes is just as applicable to her as it is to him. To see her go from a carefree young girl living and working on a farm with her family back in Season 2 to a battle-hardened leader who has overcome unthinkable loss and is still determined to keep fighting and keep living no matter what, Cohan’s work on the series has been impressive to watch every step on the way, and it’s why I look forward to seeing her on Whiskey Cavalier, and on any other project that is smart enough to hire her.
Despite Rick’s horse making me shake my damn head at times, despite Maggie and Negan’s scene together succumbing to the trope/cliche of “I’d kill you, but you’re just not worth it,” this episode was one more reason why this season has been an entertaining ride with very little usage of the Idiot Ball compared to seasons past, with the cameo appearances by Jon Bernthal, Sonequa Martin-Green, and the late Scott Wilson all being cherries on top of a terrific cake. As much as Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan will be missed, it really does seem that The Walking Dead has gone back to being capable of being consistently great when it really wants to be. And here’s hoping that the show stays that way.
Now let’s roll this beautiful bean footage of Rick saying the name “Carl” as only he can, Lincoln’s castmates playfully teasing him about how he says the name “Carl”, and the Rick-telling-Dad jokes-to-Carl meme that spread all over the Internet like wildfire.
And here are also a couple of memorable scenes featuring Lincoln and Cohan as Rick and Maggie alongside their equally talented castmates:
This episode of The Walking Dead was brought to you by “Space Junk” by Wang Chung:
And also brought to you by “The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash:
Header Image Source: AMC