Rick Grimes' final episode of The Walking Dead began with the character pinned on rebar before becoming an emotional journey down memory lane for his sendoff from the AMC zombie drama.
Rick’s journey starts with his wounded self in the Atlanta hospital where the apocalypse started for him. Now, he is hearing Morgan say, “What is your wound?”] and looking at his bloody hand before his hospitalized self orders his injured self to "Wake up, a--hole." So, he does, and rides his horse toward a cabin in the woods only to pass out again.
This time, while unconscious, Rick would have a long conversation with Shane Walsh. As they sit in the police cruiser just like they did in the very first episode, burgers, fries, flipped car from criminals, and all, Rick’s inner monologue comes out from his imaginary frenemy. Shane proceeds to mock Judith being his baby and calims to be grateful she doesn't have his nose. He goes on, referencing the time Rick "bit" someone's throat out and slaughtered a guy with a red machete in a church. Ultimately, Shane forgives Rick for killing him back in Season Two before jumping into his face and demanding he wake up. The dream scenarios are heavy.
Meanwhile, Maggie’s effort to kill Negan turns into a scene from much further down the line in Robert Kirkman's comics where Negan begs Maggie to kill him in The Walking Dead issue #174. Just like the comics, she doesn’t, and claims he’s already worse than dead. It also seemed to have squashed the debate between Michonne and Maggie regarding Negan's fate.
Back to Rick, his journey includes a touching conversation with the late Scott Wilson’s Hershel Greene as they observe a sunset from Hershel's barn. Hershel tells Rick his family is not here after Rick unveils his guilt for the losses Maggie has felt. Hershel, however, insists Maggie is a strong girl and someone else is capable of leading these people, as Rick has grown tired. A frame of the scene was shot on the same angle as Hershel’s daughter Beth’s death scene -- a nice touch by director Greg Nicotero.
Rick continues on his horse after waking up, with a glimpse of Hershel's hand on his heart. He eventually falls unconscious again and this time finds himself walking through the Atlanta hospital's doors labeled, "Don’t Open Dead Inside." Like the first episode, a blinding light catches Rick off guard, but this time he emerges upon a sea of bodies. It is everyone from his post-apocalyptic journey, including Beth, Shane, Maggie, Negan, Carol, director Greg Nicotero and many others.
The scene which sees Rick standing above a sea of bodies is the live-action equivalent to the variant cover of The Walking Dead issue #100. That cover saw Rick Grimes standing over the same devastating pile. Only, this graveyard has Sasha stand up to tell Rick some encouraging and rewarding things to Rick towake him up.
Back to reality, Rick makes his way to the bridge, almost simultaneously to as everyone else from his group -- twice. The first time is in dream form which is the closest to last words between Rick and Michonne as they'll get on the AMC series. The second arrival in real form is a little too late. Rick tries to wave everyone off but ends up having a last eye to eye moment with Daryl before he blows the bridge, with his last words being, “I found them.” Going back to the first episode, Rick started as a man searching for his family, and now he knows: Michonne, Eugene, Ezekiel, Carol, Maggie, Judith, and everyone with him is that family.
Daryl cries, including a devastating lip quiver, and the survivors pack it up, presuming Rick dead.
Rick isn't dead, though. Jadis finds him after he floated down the river and tells her helicopter people that she has a B. They fly off into the sky and the same song from the end of the very first episode, "Space Junk," by Wang Chung, comes in to send Rick off with Jadis.
The episode doesn't end there but instead introduces a bigger-than-ever time jump. Magna, Yumiko, Luke, Connie, and Kelly (characters first introduced in issue #127 of the comics) are introduced beside a shipping container just like the one on the cover of their comic book intro. When they’re in trouble, some gun shots from the woods save them, and it’s a little girl -- a 10-year-old Judith Grimes. It is more accurate to the time jump which follow the All Out War story in the comics.1comments
Then, the credits roll, and Andrew Lincoln's time on The Walking Dead TV series has concluded.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season in 2019. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter and watch ComicBook.com's After The Dead each Sunday night following new episodes.