By: Zackary Kephart
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – The Nov. 4 episode of “The Walking Dead” was the sendoff for Rick Grimes, beloved leader for more than eight years. Andrew Lincoln, who plays Grimes, revealed earlier this year he would be stepping away to spend more time with his family. For any other show, this would likely spell the end, but AMC may just have found a way to keep this show alive.
Considering the ninth season of the show is currently underway, it was time for a change. Every season, viewers watch Grimes and company fight (live) villains, defeat them and finally repeat the process with another villain. Even the show’s ratings are not what they once were. Season nine thus far is different. There’s a focus on community building and shaping the future, a nice change for a show that’s always focused on living in the moment to survive.
Of course, this doesn’t completely let AMC off the hook for Lincoln’s final episode. Advertising the show as Grimes’ final episode and alluding to his demise is AMC’s tired attempt at trying to create interest only to do something completely different. Viewers only need to be reminded of Glenn’s fake death in season six or the infamous cliffhanger at the end of that same season to be reminded of how low the show is willing to go to drive interest.
Still, Lincoln’s last episode was tastefully done as a whole, and with Scott Gimple’s reveal on “The Talking Dead” that Lincoln will be back to star in three movies inspired by the show, the end isn’t truly here for the hero … at least not yet.
With the characters in the show thinking that Grimes is dead too, the show can focus on something different instead of turning into the “Finding Rick Grimes” show. The end of Lincoln’s final episode already introduced a myriad of new characters in a universe set six years after Grimes’ “demise.” Trailers for the next few episodes reveal a cast that is trying to find footing in a new, somewhat advanced world (at least compared to the past few years). For the first time in a long time, “The Walking Dead” is at a crossroads for which direction it could take, and there might be enough reason for viewers to care.