“Brother, take my hand.”
I thought I was ready for it, but I’m not. The death of Rick Grimes is going to hit me hard. Seeing him impaled, screaming in pain, with walkers swarming him, it dawned on me that this is actually the end. Sure, he’ll get off the spike, but he’s definitely gone next episode (thanks AMC marketing department). But this episode gave us some idea of the world he’ll leave behind.
There’s a melancholic feeling throughout the first portion of this episode, as Rick basically says goodbye to a few big characters. Whilst they’re not strictly goodbyes, the sense that these characters probably will not interact again is definitely there. It’s like the end of a game, where you know the final level is coming up and you have all of the final conversations with the NPCs (see Shepard and her crew in Mass Effect). First up is Eugene, where Rick more or less confirms that Eugene is forgiven after the events of last season. Then there’s Carol, one of the remaining OG characters. Seeing these two characters share their final scene was tough. I feel like I’ve known these characters for a huge chunk of my life – 8 years! That’s longer than I’ve known some of my very closest friends.
Not everyone is so emotional with Rick (at least not straight away). After finding out Maggie is making her play for Negan, Daryl offers Rick a ride to Alexandria – only to start a fight with him. They soon fall into a massive hole. Which not only makes for a thrilling set piece, it gives the guys a chance to hash things out. Norman Reedus gets some really solid material here and it makes me realise how wasted Daryl has been over the past few seasons. And Andrew Lincoln is fantastic in is scene They clear the air and by the time they’ve climbed out of the pit, they’re pretty much bros again. Not there’s much time for fist bumping and macho hugging, there’s a herd heading right for the group.
Elsewhere in the episode, Michonne is restless. The Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul-esque opening montage showed us that, despite the babysitting and kid’s books, the warrior in Michonne is still there. She’s getting a little bit of cabin fever, being cooped up in Alexandria all day. This leads her to Negan, who’s seemingly on the verge of a hunger strike. As a massive defender of Negan, it was amazing to see more of him this episode. JDM is phenomenal. Sure, some people find his affinity for Lucille a little too wacky, but hey, that’s comic books for you. Personally, I love it. Though it does worryingly show that Negan is far from being in a position to take the reigns when Rick kicks the bucket (or is flown away in a helicopter). But hey, we can dream right?
Elsewhere, things are in motion. Maggie is on a mission of vengeance to kill Negan, something which I can only hope she doesn’t manage to do. Jadis/Anne seems to have finally left, seemingly deciding that Gabriel was a filthy ‘B’ after all. Perhaps she’s offered Rick up instead? A bona fide, 100% ‘A’ sort of guy like Rick would get her wherever she needs to go – and maybe that helicopter is Rick’s way out, leaving the door open for a return. Obviously, I’d personally rather Rick lived, but a death would serve the story far more.
And let’s not forget that ending. It was a cliffhanger done right, poetic too. Rick was thrown from his horse in the premiere, so it’s fitting that it happened again. Though this time there was no Glenn to run in and help, or a tank to crawl under. Like I said earlier, Rick will not die here. The overzealous AMC marketing made sure we all knew that. He’ll get up and get back on the horse. And the next episode looks like a real doozy. There are flashbacks, returning characters (I saw the back of Jon Bernthal’s head!) and trippy dream sequences. I. Cannot. Wait. It looks like Rick is going out on a high.
Next week, we say goodbye to possibly my favourite TV character of all time.
Reviewed by Jack