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It’s clear that The Walking Dead isn’t the show it used to be. Nothing proved this more than the Season 9 premiere with its new polished feel. Yet, despite the writer’s attempts to breathe new life into the show, it still manages to be uninteresting. We’re only one episode in, so things can get better as the season progresses, but that’s the same mentality that disappoints me each season.
Now I’m not going to bash the premiere or discuss why this season will be bad because I honestly hope the show reaches its former glory. Despite whatever I think or hope, there’s no arguing that this season will forever change the course of the show. If you don’t know by now, Andrew Lincoln, the actor who plays Rick Grimes, is leaving. This means that Rick Grimes will no longer be on The Walking Dead after this season.
Losing Rick Grimes is probably the toughest thing the show has had to deal with. Judging by how fans already have lost interest in the story, if this season doesn’t have anything to hook fans, then The Walking Dead will also be losing a lot more fans along with Rick Grimes. And if anything’s clear, the only thing this season has hooked us on, is Rick Grimes’ fate.
If you’re a fan of my Vocal page, you’ll know my first article “Why The Walking Dead Isn’t as Good as It Used to Be…” discusses how in recent seasons, the writers choose shock value over storytelling to hook fans. One of the examples being how they marketed Carl Grimes death in order to bring fans back in the second half of Season 8. Andrew Lincoln departing the show isn’t necessarily the cause of shock value; it’s clear the actor just has a life to live beyond the show, which is understandable.
The issue here though, is AMC’s marketing of this season. At the 2018 San Diego Comic Con panel, the writer’s and Andrew Lincoln confirmed his departure from the show, stating, “This will be my last season playing the role of Rick Grimes.” After the panel was over, AMC posted the Season 9 trailer on their page for a brief time period. They eventually took down the Season 9 trailer from their page; then a few months later rebranded the trailer as “Rick Grimes’ Final Episodes.” Most promotion behind Season 9 has taken an emphasize on Rick Grimes’ Final Episodes, almost becoming a tagline. You can’t talk "The Walking Dead Season 9," without saying "The Walking Dead: Rick Grimes’ Final Episodes."
Andrew Lincoln also stated at the panel that “no one is bigger than the story.” Yet, his exiting seems to be overshadowing the season’s story. I don’t care that there’s tension between Maggie and Rick. I don’t care that the Whisperers are being introduced. I want to see how they kill off Rick Grimes. That’s not Andrew Lincoln’s fault, but whoever is in charge of marketing the show really ruined what could’ve been an amazingly shocking moment. Imagine going into this season without the knowledge that Rick Grimes is either going to be killed off at some point. Then imagine seeing that live while watching the episode. That would’ve been crazy! So that begs the question, why is the show going out of its way to spoil itself?
A simple answer would be to prevent leaks. Rick Grimes’ final episode is speculated to be episode 5 “What Comes After” since Greg Nicotero will be directing it. Greg Nicotero recently stated he’ll be directing Rick’s final episode, and the only other episode he directed this half season was the premiere. Clearly, Rick didn’t die last week, so episode 5 seems to be his final episode. So not seeing Andrew Lincoln on set for the other 11 episodes this season would spark some questions. That’s not including people who work on set, edit the show, and the actors themselves, who can all also potentially spoil this major death. So really, it’s AMC doing damage control.
Another reason, which could be the case since it has happened before, would be for hyping the show again. Whether or not you disliked Rick Grimes, he is the main character. He’s the first character we’re introduced to, and his journey has been the one we’ve followed for 9 seasons. His death is unquestionably the biggest event the show is dealing with, and promoting that will bring together old fans, new fans, fans who left, and people who are just following a hype train, towards watching this season.
The Final Verdict
The writer’s of The Walking Dead have to give the fans something big this season. For many people, Rick Grimes is the heart, soul, and spirit of The Walking Dead. This has been his story, and watching it end means people will be checking out. This isn’t just a death; it’s what will define The Walking Dead from here on out. It’s clear episode 5 of this season has some pretty gigantic shoes to fill.
Recently the show hasn’t been interesting, I have a whole article discussing why. So this season’s hook can’t just be Rick Grimes’ final episodes. It always has been the story that kept fans around. So this is The Walking Dead’s last attempt to change the negative outlook most fans have on the show. Thus, Episode 5 “What Comes After” asks the question most fans have been asking. When The Walking Dead finally kills off Rick Grimes, what comes after?
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