'Walking Dead' fans, you've been here before. You know what this is like.
After a much-hyped exit for Rick Grimes, Andrew Lincoln's long-suffering character in AMC's 'The Walking Dead', it looks like the series pulled the rug out from under people yet again in a manner that shouldn't surprise anyone who's watched the show.
'What Comes After', the fifth episode of the ninth season, was expected to see Rick Grimes meet his end. In fact, the episode even leaned into this as it essentially set it up so that Grimes was able to sacrifice himself for the group, with all the characters reacting as if it were the end. And what happens? What happens?!
He gets airlifted out of the scene by a helicopter flown by Jadis, and the episodes jumps forward several years to reveal that Grimes has a zombie-murdering daughter named Judith. Not only that, it's implied that the group are still wandering the forest and that the zombie apocalypse is still ongoing. The remaining episodes are intended to set up a new era in the series, with AMC declaring Grimes' exit is "a promise of more story."
Speaking to THR, showrunner Angela Kang explained that "(any) big move we make on the show, there's some people who aren't going to be happy with it, but I think there will hopefully be a lot of fans who are excited that his story is continuing." As reported yesterday, Grimes will reappear in a three-movie spinoff that will be set before and after the events of the series.
"There have been conversations with Scott (Gimple, AMC's chief content officer) and Andy over time — like, for a long time — about what's the entry into the (feature film) universe... so we tried to map out a way that the story was left open for him to transition into these other stories and hopefully more stories going forward. And we just concentrated on trying to tell the best version of that that we could in the episode."
As Lincoln himself tells it, the decision to exit the series and remain on in a feature film universe was straightforward. "It was all about time, this decision," said Lincoln.
"And for me to want to just do a limited number of episodes a year wouldn't feel like I was doing my job properly, just because of the nature of playing this part has been so all-encompassing. I think I would get frustrated with that. So the idea of being able to contain the story and still work just as hard and tell a different story in maybe a more expansive narrative way seemed very exciting to me."
So, over to you - did you watch the episode? What did you make of the exit? Has it turned you around on 'The Walking Dead' or was it the final straw? Let us know in the comments!