Rick Grimes has finally left The Walking Dead after almost nine and a half seasons, but not in the way fans were expecting.
AMC certainly played a cruel trick on us all by whisking away Rick Grimes in that darn helicopter. Yet the whole scenario was fishy from the outset, with the overly-hyped ‘Rick’s last episode’ campaign little but a marketing ploy to bolster dwindling viewing numbers.
However, it seems to have payed off, as Rick’s explosive farewell received the highest average rating of any episode since season six.
Whilst Rick’s departure leaves The Walking Dead to finally move in a new direction, this is not the end of his story. Chief content officer Scott M. Gimple announced on Talking Dead that three feature length TV movies are on the way, with production beginning on the first next year. This has been confirmed to directly follow Rick on his journey to a new community.
The new format will also allow Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes, to spend more time with his family in the UK, whilst continuing his saga in a dynamic new way.
Gimple also hinted that there “is much more on the way, featuring yet-unseen worlds of The Walking Dead and faces from the show’s past.”
Perhaps these TV films will finally move the world of The Walking Dead towards an endgame – possibly even a cure. Certainly, this new civilisation is far more technologically advanced than anyone already encountered on the show. Rumours are circulating the internet about the mystery behind their classifications of trafficked people as an ‘A’ or a ‘B’, and whether they stand for someone recently bitten, or someone merely infected, taken for human testing of a potential cure. Thinking of Jadis’ treatment of Gabriel, this isn’t an implausible theory.
But who are these “faces from the show’s past?” Obviously, Rick will feature alongside Jadis/Anne, but the others are currently unknown. One other potential character springs to mind. Many viewers may have forgotten all about Heath, the Alexandrian whose disappearance all the way back in season 7 has never been accounted for. A theory circulating online suggests that Corey Hawkins’ character was snatched up by Jadis’ junkyard crew and traded with the community Rick is currently being taken to. Given TWD’s tendency to bring back long-lost characters (Merle, Morgan), this certainly may not be the last we see of Heath.
These films seem to be part of a larger multimedia effort to expand the franchise, with AMC teasing the prospect of ‘additional films, specials, series, digital content and more.’
Back on the main show, Rick’s departure has been followed by a six-year narrative jump, with viewers treated to their first glimpse of a 10 year-old Judith Grimes – the same age as Carl was when the show began.
Surprisingly, episode five was also the last we will see of Maggie for this season, but showrunner Angela Kang is hopeful she will return soon.
The Walking Dead is also set to be reunited with a familiar face. Michael Cudlitz (known for playing Abraham) is set to make his first return to the world of The Walking Dead after getting his brains brutally bashed in by a certain baseball bat wielding sociopath. Culdlitz will unsurprisingly not be reprising his role as Sergeant Abraham Ford, but is in fact the director of episode 907, ‘Stradivarius’.
Fans may have to wait several years for the continuation of Rick’s story, but at least the main show seems to finally have regained some traction, thrusting the remaining characters into an uncertain new future.
In the meantime, check out this new trailer to catch a glimpse of what’s in store for the remaining survivors in a world without Rick.