The Walking Dead is an AMC television adaptation from showrunner Angela Kang pulled from the pages of the hit Image comic series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. The series stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Khary Paton, Lauren Cohan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Melissa McBride. Season nine is currently airing.
MAJOR SPOILER WARNING FOR THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 9
Season 9, episode 5 aka Rick Grimes’ final episode of The Walking Dead. So what happened? After months of promotion where AMC decided to not give a shit about spoiling Andrew Lincoln’s departure from the revolutionary AMC TV series – we are finally here. Only five into season nine, we now know how Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes departs the show: on a helicopter radio’d in by junk lady Jadis, who pleads with the mysterious operator that they need to come and save an “A”. As Rick lies bleeding out on the side of the river, moments after blowing the bridge so he can drown the massive herd of walkers heading towards his family and friends, he’s then loaded into a chopper and flown to safety after everyone assumes he died in the explosion. Then flash forward 5-6 years and we see little Judith rocking the signature hat and being the little ass-kicker we all knew she’d one day become.
“I don’t think I’m done with the guy. I love this character [of Rick Grimes]; I love the world that we inhabit. So why don’t we try to potentially continue this story in a different way and maybe complete his story so the mothership can continue.” – Lincoln speaking to THR.
So what does this mean? Fun fact, the chopper that lands and saves Rick, has an “A” on the side, which lends more mystery to this whole A versus B thing and what Jadis and her mystery high-tech team is trying to secretly accomplish. There was mention of her lab being compromised at the landfill, so this all seems to be inferring that Jadis and her secret helicopter crew are a team of scientists, likely working on a cure of some sort. Rick has been spotting helicopters since episode 1 of the series so it’s kinda fitting in a way that he’s saved by one. But it’s his LAST EPISODE EVER – so WTF amirite? Turns out Andrew Lincoln has signed on to star in potentially THREE feature-length films where the story of Rick Grimes will continue in movie-form. Chief creative content advisor Scott Gimple has been planning this kind of insane thing with Lincoln as far back as season four. So there you have it – Rick Grimes isn’t dead, everyone thinks he is, but in fact he’s really on a helicopter with Jadis flying off to star in a trilogy of Walking Dead movies that will all air on AMC somewhere down the line while the TV series’ continue without his involvement.
It’s a fascinating if bold and insanely ambitious thing to pull off considering ratings have been declining for the series now in its ninth season, and I don’t know whether I like this shake-up to the series or not at this time. Part of me revels in the fact that Rick was just possibly recruited by some Army type secret organisation to help fight the war on zombies on some global scale, or help them discover a cure or something weird as well — all things totally absent from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s comic series in which this show is based. Rick Grimes and his son Carl are still very much alive in the comic book, but with Carl toast and Rick being shipped off solo to star in some movies — all bets are off and we’re left wandering around Scott Gimple’s Walking Dead-verse just trying to figure out what the Hell is happening.
“I wanted to finish telling his story in the way that we began it: with a filmic sensibility on a bigger scale and a more contained story — with an end point. There is something exciting about moving toward an end game for Rick’s story that appealed to me. I hope people will be relieved that he hasn’t bled out.” – Lincoln speaking to THR.
The episode itself in which Rick leaves, was an emotionally powerful and suspensful hour of TV that was among the finest of any Walking Dead episode that came before, but it also misdirected the fans’ emotions with another fake-out of sorts. We spent an incredible amount of time seeing Rick’s fever dreams where old and dead characters came back to give him pep talks as he bleeds out, with an amazing showdown on the bridge that featured all of the other major characters witnessing his final act of heroism, only for the final 5 minutes of the episode to reveal he didn’t die saving everybody – he left the show on a mysterious chopper instead…
I’m still confused as to what is happening here and I know I’m not alone. Apparently Gimple has revealed in the wake of this mess that in addition to a trilogy of TWD movies starring Andrew Lincoln, that there will be MORE Walking Dead spin-off series, as well as stand-alone specials (which I’m assuming will be the inevitable crossover between TWD and Fear The Walking Dead among other things). Norman Reedus (Daryl) and Melissa McBride (Carol) just signed three-year major contract extensions with options to MOVE between the flagship series and spinoff shows so expect to see a lot more of these two. Danai Gurira (Michonne) is still negotiating a similar deal but because of her breakout performances on the bigscreen, her time may be more limited for television.