Caution: Spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead - "What Comes After"
The Walking Dead has finally aired the highly anticipated final episode to star Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes and the show's former lead certainly left with a bang, albeit perhaps not quite the one most viewers expected. Here are the biggest questions surrounding "What Comes After". Rick's last outing began as many predicted, with the hero wrenching himself free from the lump of rock he collapsed onto last week and proceeding to wander around having hallucinated conversations with dead characters. Making his way to the bridge, Rick intended to carry out Daryl's original plan and let the zombies fall into the river but, ironically, Rick's people had done a better construction job than expected and the bridge held firm.
In a characteristic act of self-sacrifice, Rick chose to halt the now Hilltop-bound zombie horde by detonating the bridge in a fiery blast and he appeared be caught in the explosion. While Michonne, Daryl and the rest of Rick's family assumed their leader dead - as, presumably, did most fans - a bloody, but alive, Rick was found washed-up on the riverbank by Jadis and both characters were rescued by the mysterious helicopter that has been a key puzzle in The Walking Dead for some time.
The revelations didn't end there, however, as "What Comes After" concluded with a huge time jump that revealed a gun-toting Judith rescuing Magna's group from certain death and immediately after the episode, reports emerged that Rick's fate would be revealed in the form of three feature-length TV movies. With plenty to digest, here are the 7 biggest questions surrounding Rick's final episode on The Walking Dead.
- This Page: Questions About Rick's Survival & Future
- Page 2: Questions About Judith Grimes & The Walking Dead's Time Jump
How Did Rick Survive His Injuries?
How is Rick still alive? Because he's Rick Grimes, dammit. "What Comes After" will likely split The Walking Dead's fanbase into two camps: those who believe that no one, let alone someone on the verge of death, should survive such a huge explosion and those who reckon Rick was far enough away from the blast to live another day.
The debate will rage on but there's little point trying to make logical sense of the situation since everything about the episode, from the returning characters to AMC's promotion, suggests that "What Comes After" was designed to make fans believe Rick was going to die. Whatever incident befell the character also needed to be big enough to make onlookers assume Rick had died. The fact he didn't, however, is purely down to the network still having plans for him.
As far as unrealistic TV survivals go, Rick's is hardly the worst and, truthfully, there are probably even more unbelievable examples elsewhere in The Walking Dead's history (see: Daniel). However, there was certainly a lot of luck and coincidence at play as Rick lived through a gushing stomach wound, a massive explosion and a dip in a zombie-filled river.
What Makes Rick A 'B'?
The meaning of "A" and "B" as a classification of person in The Walking Dead is still unclear but "What Comes After" does provide a further clue when Jadis declares an injured Rick a "B" after previously tagging him as "A" when she first captured and stripped him in the Junkyard. One common theory regarding this mystery is that the letters denote a person's capability, with "A" meaning Alpha, or strong capable types, and "B" referring to weaker folk. This would certainly account for why Jadis told those on board the helicopter that Rick was a "B" after she saw his grievous injuries.
This line of thinking also works when considering Jadis' actions towards Gabriel earlier in the season. After he refused to run away with her, Jadis told the irritated priest "and all this time I thought you were a B" and went on to knock him out before threatening him with a zombie attached to a trolley. It's possible that Jadis' line was her way of saying how Gabriel's defiance proved he was tougher than she thought and the subsequent zombie stunt was intended to test his credentials as an "A". Interestingly, The Walking Dead's showrunner, Angela Kang, has strongly suggested in interviews that the show's "A or B" mystery does indeed refer to a person's ability.
If this is indeed the case, the forthcoming The Walking Dead movies could see a far weaker Rick Grimes. In the comic series, Rick famously loses a hand during a confrontation with the Governor and severely wounds his leg during the final battle with Negan. Although he avoided such injuries on TV, could the bridge explosion see Andrew Lincoln's character catch up to his comic counterpart in terms of physical damage and become a "B"?
Where Is Rick Headed?
Following the huge reveal that Rick has been taken by whatever group owns the mysterious helicopter that has been floating around intermittently since last season, viewers will surely be questioning exactly where Rick and Jadis are headed and whether their new associates are friend or foe. The answers to these questions will almost certainly be saved for the forthcoming Rick-centric movies AMC have planned but some scraps of information can perhaps already be inferred.
Many have theorized that the helicopter in question could belong to The Commonwealth, a massive and well-developed community from The Walking Dead comic books and while this group has already been linked to the Georgie character, there's no reason why her group can't also be responsible for the chopper. In the comics, The Commonwealth is also known to discriminate between the skilled and unskilled, which would neatly explain the "A or B" mystery, and they're also one of the few places with the facilities to treat Rick's heavy injuries.
However, with this story directly leading into a new branch of the The Walking Dead franchise, there's also a strong possibility that Rick will find himself in an entirely new community and, given that these people are seemingly involved in human trafficking, he may not immediately feel at ease there. In either case, the mystery settlement will surely need to be far enough away from Alexandria to prevent Rick returning home in time for The Walking Dead season 10.
Will Rick Return After The Movies?
Whether or not Rick Grimes will wind his way back to The Walking Dead following his stint in the series of planned movies is something that the actor himself may not even know at this stage. Lincoln left his role on TV out of a desire to spend less time away from home and a movie set-up allows him to do just that, while still continuing Rick's story. Whether or not he'll want to return to the intense shooting schedule of The Walking Dead afterwards is anyone's guess.
However, it seems reasonably certain that even if Rick doesn't return to The Walking Dead on a full-time basis, he will reunite with Michonne, Judith and the rest of the gang at some point for a proper goodbye, whether in a movie or in an episode of the TV series. It's almost implausible that Rick's family won't eventually learn about his survival, even if such a storyline is years away from hitting screens.
Any potential return for Rick surely also depends on the success of this new, wider The Walking Dead franchise. If the first movie bombs and viewing figures continue to drop for the TV series, AMC's plans could change very rapidly and long-term stories could be swiftly nixed in favor of short-term resolutions. The Walking Dead is taking a huge risk that could either backfire or pay off massively.