'The Walking Dead' Season 9 Spoilers, Rick: "The End of the Beginning"

Andrew Lincoln said goodbye to The Walking Dead series, but was that the end of Rick Grimes?

Andrew Lincoln’s last episode of The Walking Dead aired Sunday night, and it was full of twists — including one that was revealed after the episode ended. “What Comes After” not only addressed what came after his character, Rick, found himself bleeding out at the end of episode 4, but what happened after that situation was resolved and what the series has to look forward to: A future without Rick Grimes.

Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 5 below.

Rick initially wanted to lure a herd of walkers away from a bridge to keep it intact. However, by episode’s end, he’d led them to that bridge and planned to take them out (and save himself) by letting their weight bring it down. When it didn’t collapse, he had to destroy the bridge himself.

On his journey to the bridge, Rick hallucinated familiar faces whom he’d lost as he searched for his family, much like he’d done in season 1. Each offered words of advice. Shane played a role in the person Rick’s become since waking up to a world overrun with the undead. Hershel assured Rick he didn’t need to be the one to keep his family together. Sasha told him his family wasn’t lost.

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) tries to escape walkers on horseback in 'The Walking Dead' Season 9 Episode 5


Just as Rick reached the bridge, he thought his friends had come to his rescue, only to realize that too had been a hallucination. By the time the others did find him, they were too late. And when the bridge didn’t give out under their combined weight, it was up to Rick to blow it up.

Rick’s series-long journey culminated with his final words, a reference to his initial focus on finding his family in the Walking Dead pilot. “I found them,” he said before shooting the dynamite on the bridge to blow it up. In the end, Rick found a new family and sacrificed himself to save them.

As soon as the bridge explodes, everyone assumes Rick is dead, but there’s a twist. Viewers saw he was very much alive. Anne convinced the helicopter people to save his life, though he was a “B” and not the “A” she’d claimed to have for them. Anne and Rick flew away on a helicopter, and fans were left with many questions unanswered. Who are the helicopter people? What determines if someone’s an “A” or a “B”?

The twists kept coming as the final scene jumped ahead six years and saw a 10-year-old Judith saving people from walkers. Rather than show the immediate aftermath of Rick’s presumed death, these characters are already settled in a post-Rick Grimes Walking Dead world.

Even after the episode ended, there was one final twist. AMC announced Rick’s story will continue in a series of original movies starring Andrew Lincoln.

“These films are going to be big evolutions of what we’ve been doing on the show, with the scope and scale of features,” Chief Content Officer Scott M. Gimple said in a statement. “We’re starting with the first part of the continuing story of Rick Grimes, and there is much more on the way, featuring yet-unseen worlds of The Walking Dead and faces from the show’s past, as well as new characters we hope to become favorites, told by TWD veterans and emerging voices. We want to break new ground with different, distinct stories, all part of the same world that’s captured our imagination for nearly a decade of the Dead.”

“It’s not the beginning of the end, it’s the end of the beginning,” Lincoln said on Talking Dead following his final Walking Dead episode. “And I like the idea that we get to tell a bigger story, maybe with a sort of wider vista. And I’ve always been interested in what’s going on out there, you know, whether or not there is contact with the wider world. I want to know the meta of it all. And I suppose to be able to kind of touch upon that in a contained story for me is a very exciting proposition … Maybe it’s the start of a bigger story.”

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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