Goodbye Rick, Hello Judith: A New Generation for The Walking Dead

By Ryan Peplowski

First airing on October 31, 2010, AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” based on the comics by Robert Kirkman, instantly became a fan favorite. Andrew Lincoln came on as the lead role, Rick Grimes, a former Sheriff who does everything he can to protect those closest to him when the world as we know it comes to an end.

On Sunday, episode five of season nine was Rick’s final episode. The episode was fun, suspenseful and incredibly emotional.

Rick’s final episode was a visual masterpiece that was complemented by Lincoln’s stunning performance. The music and cinematography complemented the episode by keeping me on the edge of my seat. The episode took us through a set of suspenseful flashbacks accompanied by previous cast members including Sonequa Martin-Green’s Sasha, Scott Wilson’s Hershel and Jon Bernthal’s Shane. The episode paid tribute to Lincoln’s nine-year stint on the show.

All of these emotional flashbacks led up to Rick making the ultimate sacrifice to protect the ones he loves — his family. In the final heroic scene, Rick is standing at the end of the bridge facing hundreds of walkers coming toward him. The groups came to his rescue, but he knew what he had to do to save them, sacrifice himself. Believing that he died in the blast, we thought Rick’s journey was officially over, until Anne saved him.

The episode brings the story of Rick on the show to an end, but not the character itself. AMC announced after the premiere of Rick’s final episode that a new set of original movies will continue to tell his story.

As a fan of the show, I along with others have become frustrated with the direction the show has taken over the past two seasons. The storyline moved slowly as the war between the Saviors and the Alexandrians continued. As Rick struggled with giving up his leadership role over all the communities, the direction of the groups began to come in question. This caused me and many other fans to question if the show could continue on without Rick.

When the news broke that Lincoln would be leaving the show, Scott Gimple, chief content officer for the show, continued to reassure everyone that the show can and will go on. With the main character exiting, it will allow the writers and supporting cast to take the show in a new direction. With a six-year time jump happening, the show will continue to evolve and take on a whole new storyline that slightly deviates from the comics.

Rick’s final episode, for me, was an emotional roller coaster. It was sad to see such a beloved character leave; however, the after show sneak peak into the future built more excitement. The six-year time jump introduces Judith Grimes in a new supporting role to represent the Grimes family. The sneak peak also makes reference to the walkers evolving, introducing a new storyline. Whether you’re a fan, former fan or have never seen an episode, the exit of Rick is opening the doors for fresh new episodes that are sure to excite.