Fans of The Walking Dead knew that after “The Obliged” aired last night there was only going to be a single episode left with Andrew Lincoln’s heroic Rick Grimes. The long-running AMC zombie show has suffered from low ratings this season with the impending loss of its lead, though perhaps a shock to the system is exactly what it needs to get back on track. And that shock is definitely coming.
Explaining and confirming the upcoming loss is showrunner Angela Kang, who spoke to EW about the end of the man the show’s been with from the beginning. After Rick was impaled by a piece of rebar after being thrown from his horse, two herds of zombies are closing in. Things look bad in the cliffhanger ending. How bad?
“It is the end of Rick Grimes’ story on the series,” Kang said. “How that plays out, I hope people will watch. We wanted to pay tribute to the fact that Rick Grimes is a character who is a survivor. He will fight as hard as he can for the people that he loves. That’s been one of his defining characteristics and that is a part of the story. We’ll see his grit and his heroism. We’ll see what happens.”
Rick had some conflict and resolution with Daryl earlier in the same episode, bolstering the most powerful relationship the character had forged over nine seasons. How Rick will find peace with the rest of the survivors remains to be seen, but at least fans know that he’s going to go out a hero and a leader, as true to character as possible.
An interesting thing to look forward to is how Anne factors into all this. The character “has admitted that she is involved in some form of human trafficking and there is a category of people that are As and Bs,” Kang teased. “I’ll say that eagle-eyed viewers will remember that when Rick was in the Heaps, she marked his container with an ‘A’. She believes that Rick is an ‘A’. She thought that Gabriel was a ‘B’, but her opinion changed. Those are the clues.” Though Kang didn’t elaborate, she did say these designations are “part of a story we’ll continue to play out in the next episode.”
The next episode of The Walking Dead, “What Comes After,” says farewell to Rick on Nov. 4.