Heads up, this blog will contain spoilers for The Walking Dead season 9 episode 5, What Comes After. Also, we’re talking about Rick Grimes leaving, so grab your tissues.
It was promoted heavily for weeks, with the showrunners making no effort to hide the leaked spoiler that main character Rick Grimes would be departing. Series creator Robert Kirkman had teased it before, but few ever thought he’d actually go through with it.
The previous episode had set the stage, showing Rick impaled on a piece of rebar with walkers coming at him from two directions. The excruciating opener saw him use his belt to hoist his wounded body up off the threat, blood pouring, as he limped toward his faithful steed.
Saddling up and riding off, Rick continued trying to lead the horde away to the bridge the group had just built. During the trip, he began to hallucinate from blood loss. This led to a number of flashbacks, or more like visions, as he saw characters from his past who were talking about things that had gone on after their demise.
First, there was Shane (played by Jon Bernthal), Rick’s best friend and partner on the police force before the apocalypse. Shane asked Rick how his baby was doing, then credited him for doing the tough things in order to make it through.
Rick then saw a vision of Hershel (played by the late Scott Wilson), who enjoyed one more sunset with him, albeit one that was in the mind. Rick apologized for what had happened to Hershel, and then Hershel let Rick know Maggie and her son, little Hershel, would be okay.
Finally, Rick met up with Sasha (played by Sonequa Martin-Green) who had a heartfelt talk with him about the family relationship the characters all shared. When Rick awoke, seemingly, he was on the bridge and his loved ones came running in to save him. But knowing better, he said it was all just a dream – and he was right. Sad that the bridge was seemingly going to hold and the walkers would continue their movement, he seemed to accept his fate.
But right before disaster struck, Rick was saved as his friends really did come to save the day. Leading some of the horde away, they moved off the bridge and gave Rick a chance to collect himself. Seeing some dynamite and aiming his iconic python one last time, Rick remarked he’d accomplished his goal – he’d found his family – before firing and seemingly being lost in the bridge’s destruction.
The others sobbed at Rick’s apparent demise, as burning walkers poured into the waters below. However, Anne found Rick laying on a river bank still clinging to life – and she quickly whisked him away in the helicopter, telling the pilot she had a “B.”
Scott Gimple revealed that Walking Dead feature films will be made for AMC soon, and viewers can expect to see the conclusion of Rick’s story there. We’ll miss him on the main show, but we’ll see you soon, Officer Friendly.