Update: Following the conclusion of this episode of The Walking Dead, AMC announced Andrew Lincoln would continue with the franchise as the lead in three upcoming movies centered around the character of Rick Grimes.
It's the end of the road for Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead... right? Andrew Lincoln's final episode of the AMC series has come and gone. After that conclusion, though, you might be wondering just how final Rick's fate is.
Throughout the episode, it was clear that the former sheriff was at death's door. After falling onto some rebar, which ripped through him, he spends the majority of his last hour on the show bleeding out and trying to escape a herd of zombies, while having hallucinations of those he's lost in the past, including very short returns of Shane (Jon Bernthal), Hershel (Scott Wilson), and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). That is until he blows up a bridge he and the walkers are on, sending them into a raging river below.
As Daryl (Norman Reedus) and the rest of our heroes looked on, distraught, it seemed as though Rick had really gone out with a bang. The episode didn't end there, though.
Instead, the show went back to Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh), the former Jadis. After seeing the plume of smoke from the explosion in the distance and heard commotion over the radio, she spots Rick's body washed up on the side of the river as that mysterious helicopter reappeared. "I have a B," she says into her radio. "Not an A, I never had an A. He's hurt, but he's strong. Can you help him?" From there, we quickly shift to the chopper taking off, with Anne and Rick safe and sound as "Spacejunk" by Wang Chung plays--no, seriously.
"You're still here," she tells Rick on the helicopter. "You're going to be okay. They're going to save you."
Who is they? That's the big question we're left with or at least one of them. The answer is most likely the Whisperers. This isn't the first time we've heard the terms "A" and "B" thrown around. While we can't be sure, this is most likely a reference to alphas and betas. As fans of the comics know, the Whisperers are led by a woman named Alpha, with her second-in-command named Beta.
While they have yet to arrive on the series, we know they are coming and are going to be a major antagonist later in the season. That doesn't necessarily bode well for Rick, though.
Still, this is Lincoln's final episode, and it ends with him alive, which could lead to two outcomes. Either this is how the series is leaving the door open for his possible return one day or the Whisperers are going to make an even more fierce introduction.
For those that don't follow the comics, the Whisperers travel through herds of walkers by wearing the skin of the dead over their own. It's disgusting and actually makes perfect sense in this disturbing world. If the show was looking for a way to really make an impact when they finally show their faces, wearing the skin of Rick Grimes would certainly create a lasting and haunting image. For now, though, this is the last we'll see of Rick Grimes--until he potentially comes back.
That wasn't the only thing that left jaws on the floor at the end of this episode, though. There was also a flash forward to an older Judith Grimes. While she's still young--clearly no older than 10--this Judith was walking, talking, and killing zombies. It would make her dad proud, but he's definitely probably dead.
When a group of people are saved from a small herd, they find this little girl with a sheriff's hat and a katana strapped to her back is their savior. While this short moment does give hope for the future of the Grimes name, it raises a lot of questions. How did this little girl end up on her own and, more importantly, where's Michonne? With her surrogate mother's weapon over her shoulder, it definitely leaves you wondering if she, too, has become just another victim of this horrible world.
As much as this was theoretically the end of a major chapter in The Walking Dead, the story of Rick Grimes, it certainly feels like a new beginning. It will be interesting to see where the show goes from here.