Warning: The following contains spoilers for The Walking Dead episode, “What Comes After.”
Now that Rick Grimes’ final Walking Dead “episode” (which was apparently also Maggie’s last episode, for now) is in our rearview and the Rick Grimes “movie” trilogy is on the way, let’s put on our thinking caps and try to theorize what these new big side quests will be about. We know the show’s taking Rick, and us, to “a whole different corner of the world” for, according to EP/writer Scott Gimple, “big evolutions of what we’ve been doing on the show, with the scope and scale of features.”
At this point, how can The Walking Dead get bigger? We’ve seen large communities rise up and go to war with one another. Between the two AMC shows we’ve witnessed massive herds, survivalist camps, dam explosions, and even cities like Los Angeles and Atlanta get overrun with hordes of zombies. What does star Andrew Lincoln mean when he says he likes the idea of “a bigger story, maybe with a sort of wider vista?” Are we leaving the U.S.? Are we headed to Nome, Alaska or the French Riviera? What gives?
Here are three things the Rick Grimes Walking Dead movies could be about…
If we’re keeping it simple and looking for something connected to the comic series, tethered to the source material, then The Commonwealth is an easy pick. With technological achievements and advantages far beyond that of Hilltop and Alexandria, and around 50,000 residents, this place is the most advanced and heavily populated city introduced in the Kirkman comics.
The Commonwealth, comprised of dozens of connected townships, has music venues, sports arenas, and many touchstones of the old world. It’s definitely the type of place to have helicopters at its disposal (like the one Rick left the series in) and it’s definitely in the general tri-state vicinity of where the show’s been taking place in these later seasons.
Though, as easy an answer as The Commonwealth might be, it’s also an unlikely next stop for Rick since these movies are being hyped up as an “original Rick Grimes story.” It’s not a lock, no, but all the interviews being done about these films subtly suggest a big break from the comics. Plus, The Commonwealth may already exist on the series. Georgie and all her handy tips about civilization and agriculture may be Commonwealth-related. There was also that signpost that read “Toledo” earlier this season. And, some of the new characters introduced on the show, at the very end of “What Comes After,” are part of The Commonwealth storyline in the comic. So it would also make sense for The Commonwealth to remain a future show element.
There’s also a strong argument against Georgie’s town, or “Toledo” (whether they’re the same thing or not) being The Commonwealth since it would be odd for A: a place this huge and advanced to exist on the show while no one actively talks about it, and B: this place to have existed through the new six-year time jump like it’s not a huge deal.
Far From Home
We don’t have any story specifics in mind, but let’s imagine that Rick’s taken out of the entire country. Like, overseas.
For one thing, it would solve the whole “Why doesn’t Rick ever walk back home?” conundrum. Because even if he’s taken a few states away – hell, even if he’s taken to Canada – this is Rick Grimes. There’s no way he’ll decide to let his loved ones think he’s dead. We just saw Morgan walk all the way to Texas because he was anxious and insane. Rick Grimes has to be fully incapable of getting back to Alexandria. And it might take an ocean.
Also, one of the big reasons Andrew Lincoln left the series was because he didn’t like being away from his family and shooting in Atlanta for nine months out of the year. Even though starring in these movies takes up way less time, wouldn’t it also be easier if they were shot somewhere else? Somewhere in the U.K. or thereabouts?
Moving the movies to a different country would also feed into everything Gimple and Lincoln are saying about the movies involving yet-unseen worlds, new corners, and things fans have been saying for years that they want to see in a zombie apocalypse. Giving us a look at the much larger world, outside of North America, would be a rad twist.
The Walking Dead continues to take flak, especially as it’s transformed into an exhaustively long-running series, over its lack of an endgame. There’s no intuitive end point within the established story for this show. Back in Season 1, in a break from the comics, Rick’s crew visited the CDC for a spell. Nothing came of it except to establish that everyone in the world was infected with a virus that turns them into zombies when they die, no matter how they die.
Another issue fans and critics have had over the past few years is the show’s reliance on cheap smoke and mirrors-style deception. From Glenn’s faked death to… well, the recent trickery involving Rick not dying, and instead continuing in these movies, the show’s cutesy tactics for trying to fool its viewers have landed less-than-ideally.
What if, as a way to make it up to us, these movies give the show an actual stopping point? That’s not to say everything ends with the third movie, but what if Rick’s adventure involves people trying to discover an actual cure? That’s how you eventually end the entire franchise. Rick’s currently headed to a place that has access to military tech and medical supplies. Maybe it’s a base, maybe it’s a research facility. One thing’s for sure: This group requires human specimens.
So what’s an “A” and what’s a “B?”
Initially, it seemed like a nod to the Whisperers (who are coming to the series). Then you sort of have to look back at all the “A” symbolism on the show (from the Terminus markings to the Alexandria tags to Daryl’s potato sack). If you’re able to see Anne’s storyline, and her As and Bs, as a brand new thing though, and look at what they mean with relation to Rick and Gabriel, it seems like these helicopter people are looking for people who’ve been bitten.
An “A” might be someone recently bitten. When Anne was looking to donate Gabriel, and Rick previously (she marked his container with an “A”), she was fixing to have them get chomped by one of her homemade walker contraptions. Then, after they were infected, they were set to get carted off to a place where science-type stuff could be done.
A “B” is probably someone who’s not bitten. Or maybe it means someone not bitten but injured, like Rick was at the end of his last episode when Anne scooped him up as a “B.” The chopper community would still have a use for them, medically speaking.
These movies could involve a cure or, in the very least, people looking for one. Either way, it’s the only viable endgame option this show has. Even if there are plans for it to continue on for another decade. Here’s hoping they use this opportunity to make that leap.
For more on The Walking Dead, see why Carl didn’t make an appearance in Rick’s final episode, and why we think the show’s latest time jump is a great idea.