Last night, the fifth episode of The Walking Dead's ninth season, "What Comes After?", saw leading man Andrew Lincoln take his exit from the long-running series. His character, Rick Grimes, appeared to have sacrificed himself (and the bridge he helped build) to stop a growing zombie horde.
Then, in the show's final seconds, Rick was rescued by none other than Jadis, aka Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh), and taken aboard a helicopter and flown off with the promise of a better life to come. While Lincoln won't be returning to the flagship series, last night AMC announced that Rick Grimes would anchor a trilogy of feature-length films that continue his character's story.
From the sound of it, this trilogy's first installment will be coming fairly soon, as production will begin in early 2019. Scott Gimple, the franchise's Chief Content Officer, has said that the films will start with Rick's helicopter ride, and continue all the way through where the flagship series is now. It could also carry on past The Walking Dead's most recent time jump, which leads to some interesting possibilities.
While the upcoming trilogy is a small portion of where this new Walking Dead expansion could lead, here are a few ideas about where these new stories could take Rick Grimes.
One of the most telling things Lincoln revealed in his recent interview with The New York Times was his asking "what have the grown-ups been doing while we've been scrambling around in the dirt?" Given that his character was safely being whisked away from the banks of a river via helicopter, it could mean that he's headed toward some D.C.-area stronghold where the government and the military have maintained some semblance of order.
The search for answers with some kind of federal authority has come up on the show before. The first season ended with a visit to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, though the lone doctor remaining, Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich), did not have an optimistic outlook on this new world. As a result, he took his own life alongside original Atlanta camper Jacqui (Jeryl Prescott Sales), and the entire CDC building itself.
Despite that... less than optimistic turn of events, the initial plan was for Rick and company to push through to Fort Benning. Albeit, that plan got shelved almost immediately.
Later, Washington D.C. came up after the introduction of Eugene (Josh McDermitt), who repeatedly explained (and with as many syllables as possible), his mission to go to the nation's capital and undo the apocalypse. Of course, it all turned out to be an elaborate farce he'd cooked up as a way to stay alive in a world he didn't think he was meant for.
At this point, who's actually flying this helicopter is still a mystery, but it's safe to assume that whoever it is, they've secured a fair amount of resources to keep it in the air two-plus years after the end of the world.
Another possibility is the network of communities known as The Commonwealth. In Robert Kirkman's comic, the Commonwealth is about 50,000 members strong somewhere in Ohio that comes into play after the events of the Whisperers war. It's the closest thing to a "normal" society; they hold concerts and sporting events for fun, and there is as a rigid caste system in place, thanks to their Governor Pamela Milton. It also plays a major role in Michonne's (Danai Gurira) life when she discovers it's where her daughter has been residing.
The biggest hint here is that Jadis was asked, via radio, if Rick as an "A or B" person by his potential rescuers, which would fit into the community's stark divide between its upper-class and lower-class citizens.
Additionally, some viewers have also suspected that viewers got a sneak peek at one of The Commonwealth's representatives in season eight's "The Key," when a well-dressed woman named Georgie (Jayne Atkinson) showed up offering Maggie (Lauren Cohan) access to her record collection in exchange long-standing trust.
With Gimple promising these films will be big, epic installments beyond what we're used to seeing on the small screen, creating a fully-functioning community this size would be something we haven't really seen on the show before. Not to mention that, if the seeds of The Commonwealth have already been planted, it could open up the chance of a reunion. Eventually.
If Rick, say, becomes a valued member of The Commonwealth, (or elsewhere) and there ends up being a conflict with The Hilltop or The Kingdom, it could create one hell of a story dynamic. The Walking Dead previously squandered a similar opportunity after Rick took in all the surviving residents of Woodbury into the prison at the end of season three. By the time The Governor (David Morrissey) returned to attack the prison a second time in season four, most of the former Woodburians had all been killed off.
Back to Alexandria
Speaking of possible reunions, Rick Grimes is a character who, once he's all bandaged up and back on his feet, will want to get back to his family. Especially Judith (Caily Fleming), who, as far as the series is concerned, is much older, and quite proficient at taking down walkers herself.
Given that Lincoln's done with the series, the show's principal actors are currently negotiating new contracts that would allow their characters to appear in other Walking Dead-related properties, which could include the upcoming Rick Grimes trilogy.
Having Gimple at the helm of this now-rapidly increasing Walking Dead universe means that Michonne, Daryl (Norman Reedus), and Carol (Melissa McBride) could all find themselves alongside their former leader once again on the big screen.
Wherever this trilogy ends up taking Rick Grimes, Gimple told The Hollywood Reporter that they will explore the "vast mythology" of a world overrun by the dead. Given that the flagship series has now become tightly interconnected with Fear the Walking Dead, having numerous, interconnected stories told across several mediums certainly opens up quite a few possibilities as to where these characters could go. Rick Grimes in particular.