The Walking Dead Series Finale Ending Explained: How It Sets Up Rick and Michonne's Return
And then there’s that final sequence…
Yes, The Walking Dead series finale features the long-awaited return of both Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne Hawthorne (Danai Gurira). As two of the series most dynamic characters, the brief couple of minutes that they occupy the screen is immediately electric…and also makes clear just how much this franchise missed them. Thankfully there’s more Rick and Michonne on the horizon in the form of their six-episode unnamed spinoff, expected to premiere in 2023. Before we get to that, however, that’s lay this era of The Walking Dead to rest by breaking down that finale. And let’s just go ahead and start with the moment we’ve all been waiting for.
One might argue that it’s rude for a series finale to save its best material for what is essentially a trailer for an upcoming series that will demand more of its viewers time. And “one” might, in fact, be me. I’m arguing that. Still, regardless of how I feel about Rick and Michonne’s cameos in relation to the rest of the finale, I can’t say their return wasn’t awesome.
After Daryl (Norman Reed’s) rides off into the distance, we see a character strike a match. Then we see another character light a fire as well. The Walking Dead doesn’t delay the mystery much longer and quickly treats us to anguished closeups of Rick and Michonne’s faces. Separated from each other and the rest of their family, they’re both writing letters to their daughter Judith. And the prose is actually really lovely. Rick and Michonne narrate how they’ve come to understand that all life is one life. They are endless. Pieces of a whole that just keep on going. One unstoppable life.
But Rick and Michonne aren’t just poets. They’re individuals of action. And into action they soon spring. Michonne throws on some absolutely badass armor and rides a horse into an unimaginably huge herd of walkers, continuing her journey to find her man and make her family whole once more.
Meanwhile, Rick wanders through the wilderness, shoeless and wearing a jacket with the distinctive circular logo of the Civic Republic Military. (For more on them, read up over here.) As Rick arrives to a stream, he hears the sound of helicopter blades whirring and panic. A voice from the loudspeaker of said helicopter calls out and says “Consignee Grimes, you’ve been located and are instructed to surrender. Remain in place with your hands up.” The voice then adds, more personably “Come on, Rick. It’s like he told you: there’s no escape for the living.” The camera then pans back to reveal that Rick is on the edge of a massive ruined city. The skyline is expansive enough to suggest that it might be New York. And that would make sense given what we know about the CRM.