‘The Walking Dead’ finale ending with Rick and Michonne explained

‘The Walking Dead’ finale ending with Rick and Michonne explained

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SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead series finale.

The Walking Dead easily could have ended its epic 11-season, record-breaking run with Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) riding off into the distance on his motorcycle. It looked like it was going to for a while, until the screen went black. The match was lit.

The series finale took a dramatic turn in its final few minutes, looking both ahead and back as viewers saw the return of Andrew Lincoln‘s Rick Grimes and Danai Gurira‘s Michonne — who will be returning for a 2023 spin-off series on AMC. Although they were at different times and places, they were connected by images of campfires and the sounds they made reciting the words in their journals. It turns out that they were both writing in the same journal.

The Walking Dead series finale

Andrew Lincoln on ‘The Walking Dead’

| Credit: Curtis Bonds Baker/AMC

That’s because as we saw Rick (shoeless and wearing jeans and a Civic Republic Military jacket) in one scene put his boots, journal, and phone in a bag and then toss it on a boat to avoid it being confiscated by an approaching CRM helicopter, we also saw Michonne with that very same bag, journal, boots and phone in another — the clues that have led her on her journey to find her lost husband.

I think of the dead all of the time,” Rick wrote in a letter. He was referring to the faces of his friends, both living and deceased. — flashed across screen. “And about the living. Whom I have lost. They are my inspiration. Their faces. What I learned from them. They made me who and what I am today. It was so much more than this that made me who I am. ”

Michonne jumped into action, wearing a fancy new samurai suit and slicing one walker’s head while galloping past on horseback. Rick was then approached by a helicopter, who informed him that he had been located and asked him to surrender. Keep your hands up and remain in place,” she said, before adding “C’mon Rick. It’s as if she said it. There is no escape for the living. “

Then, before Michonne rode to the largest herd of zombies that we have ever seen in our area, her letter was sent to Judith. She said: “Remember what you said. It’s what he said. Keep it close to your heart. It’s true. Forever.” And with that, we flashed back to more images of other Walking Dead characters over the course of the series as we heard their voices repeat the same words: “We’re the ones who live. “

The final scene ended with Rick raising his arms and surrendering as the helicopter fell from the sky between him, the city below, and the city beyond. Rick looked up and… smiled. The scene cut to Rick’s children, Judith, and RJ at the Hilltop. Judith told RJ her little brother that “We get to begin over.” We are the ones who live. ”

How did this final montage become possible? It was filmed in which location and when? Which cast members have returned to lend their voices? Where is Rick? Below are the answers! (And check out Greg Nicotero’s exclusive storyboards to the scene and answers to the other finale burning questions as well. )

The Walking Dead series finale

Credit: Curtis Bonds Baker/AMC

When and where was the final Rick and Michonne sequence filmed?

While production wrapped on the finale in April, a crew — including finale director Greg Nicotero — returned to The Walking Dead‘s base of operations in Senoia, Georgia, four months later in August for a two-day shoot to film the final section with Lincoln and Gurira.

“At one point people were like, ‘Hey, we want to shoot in Savannah with the Fear the Walking Dead crew,'” Nicotero tells EW. Or ‘We want it to be in New Jersey. I replied, “Guys, I really want the crew from The Walking Dead ..” I would love to shoot it at our base. It’s important and meaningful for us to shoot the show at our home base. The network and other producers eventually agreed.

“From a filmmaking perspective, we didn’t had this endless amount of time,” Scott M. Gimple, chief content officer, says. “We were ramping this production up again after the production had ceased, so it was a smaller team. Greg, [showrunner Angela Kang], Andy, Danai, and I — we knew pretty much every shot. There wasn’t a lot of footage to go through. We didn’t have the time. We did a lot of research on what was said and how it was shot, and the relationship to future stories, but we were able to see a lot of the direction this was heading. ” This was due to the prepping Lincoln and Nicotero did throughout the country before filming. The director said that Andy came to stay with me for a week in L.A. “And we really took out all the layers. We just got back in it like we hadn’t stopped. It was amazing. ”

The Walking Dead series finale

Credit: Curtis Bonds Baker/AMC

When did producers land on this as their series finale ending?

The plan to bring Rick and Michonne back was in Kang’s mind from the very beginning: “From the first pitch I did for the ending of the series, I said to the network and the producers, ‘Hey, I really feel in my heart of hearts that the show is not going to feel totally complete unless we have Rick and Michonne back. I am aware that there are many universe implications over which I don’t have complete control. This is the ideal version. “

It took a lot of effort to get the ideal version. Kang explains that it took a long time to lock it up. Kang explains, “Because there were so many moving parts in the universe. It took a while and there were many conversations. There were also business aspects that had to be worked out. We were then able to ask, “Well, what’s this piece and how does it feel?” ‘”

” “Honestly, I think some of the stuff was inspired by some ideas and suggestions from Norman,” Nicotero states. “Because Norman was once talking about how cool it would have been for Rick Grimes to reunite with Daryl in some capacity. I thought, “Oh, that’s a great idea.” I would have watched that show. It was one year and a half ago. The conversation began. “

What they ended up with was a collaborative effort not only between Kang, Gimple and Nicotero but also among the returning stars. Kang says that Andy and Danai wanted to know what the terms of their new contract might be. They didn’t want to feel like they were overshadowing the work of the current cast. They didn’t want it being the final piece of the show. We would integrate it. They had to be creatively excluded from certain aspects. ” We didn’t want it take away the story that had been told over the last season-and a half,” Nicotero says. “Because it wouldn’t make sense to just have Rick save the day. That would be a distraction from other characters. So we went back and forth for a long time about whether it was going to happen, whether it wasn’t going to happen, whether Danai was going to be available. It was a lot of back and forth. ”

Because Gimple was acting showrunner for the upcoming Rick & Michonne series, he wrote the scene. Gimple states that Rick and Michonne were needed to complete the story of The Walking Dead ,. “And to show Rick, Michonne, we had the opportunity to put them in the same circumstances they are in. It was as if, no matter their circumstances, where they are, or whether they are living or dead, they are forever connected by their interactions with one another. They are part of an unbreakable family. That is, in some ways, one long life. This theme has been invoked throughout the series as well as in the final moments. That’s what we started with. “

It felt like the only way to integrate it, if they weren’t showing up at Alexandria’s gates, was to be more about their emotional connection through the idea of, We’re the ones who live’,” Kang states. “And that’s how it all happened. ”

The Walking Dead series finale

Credit: Curtis Bonds Baker/AMC

What is the significance of the “We’re the ones who live” line?

The line “We’re the ones who live” was first uttered by Rick in the season 5 episode “Try” after battling “Porch Dick” Pete in the street and challenging the more passive residents of Alexandria. Deanna Monroe (Tovah Fieldshuh) and the rest of the group heard him say, “We know what we need to do and we do it.” “We are the ones who live. “

The phrase was then repeated back to Rick by Michonne in the makeshift Alexandria jail in the season 7 midseason finale, “Hearts Still Beating.” Michonne stated that Rick was still alive. “So much has occurred. We have seen so much that we shouldn’t have. We survived it, maybe even because of it. We are still here. We are the two of us. We are still standing and will continue to stand. What do we do? How can we make that meaningful? We are the ones who get things done. That’s what you said. We are the ones who live. “

Michonne recited the words to Rick in “Rock in the Road” after surviving a close encounter with a herd. “We’re here! You can smile. We can do it. We are the ones who live. “

It was always this phrase which was quite wild,” Gimple told EW. “As many people as possible were dying, and we could still say, ‘We’re alive.’ It was not something I took to mean that only the living people were affected. It seemed too much to say, “Hey, we’re all alive, but what about all the people we love?” It felt to me like there was a continuum of love and a relationship that can’t be broken. That is what we have forged together in the hell we have lived through. The best thing about it is that we have always lived through each other and all the way to the end. This seems to me to be the essence of the whole thing. ”

Who are the voices repeating back the “We’re the ones who live” line?

As we hear Michonne’s voice reading her letter, the action cuts to a montage of scenes featuring current characters like Maggie, Gabriel, Aaron, Eugene, Ezekiel, Negan, Carol, Daryl, while we hear them repeating the “We’re the ones who live” line.

Also included is former TWD and current Fear the Walking Dead character Morgan (Lennie James), but he is not the only former cast member who came back to participate. Here is a complete list of the current and former cast-member voices that can be heard saying “We’re the ones who live” in the montage:

Lauren Cohan (Maggie)
Seth Gilliam (Gabriel)
Ross Marquand (Aaron)
Lennie James (Morgan)
Josh McDermitt (Eugene)
Laurie Holden (Andrea)
Khary Payton (Ezekiel)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan)
Melissa McBride (Carol)
Norman Reedus (Daryl)
Chandler Riggs (Carl)
Michael Cudlitz (Abraham)
Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha)
Nadia Hilker (Magna)
Eleanor Matsuura (Yumiko)
Angel Theory (Kelly)
Christian Serratos (Rosita)
Paola Lazaro (Princess)
Cassady McClincy (Lydia)
Cooper Andrews (Jerry)
Okea Eme-Akwari (Elijah)
Margot Bingham (Max)
Steven Yeun (Glenn)
Danai Gurira (Michonne)
Andrew Lincoln (Rick)

Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee – The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 7

Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee on ‘The Walking Dead’

| Credit: Gene Page/AMC

At one point, Gimple did not just want to stop at the voices. He says that he had visions of how to photograph people and then integrate them into the scene. “With the speed at which we were moving, it was difficult to visualize it in a way that looked amazing. “

In the end, logistical issues and the difficulty in visual matching forced them to abandon the idea. “This was a tight schedule and we would have had to schedule multiple shoots across the country to do it. Also, you know in older seasons of Survivor, when they went directly from the last Tribal Council to the live event, and everybody looks completely different over the span of 30 seconds? I was also worried about that. Josh McDermitt has a blond hair right now. ”

Seeing images from the 11-season journey with the newly recorded audio did the trick. Gimple says, “At night, looking at the editorial work we did, I was very happy that it had come through. There’s something to looking back. “

What is Michonne wearing?

While Rick is shoeless and rocking a raggedy CRM bomber jacket, Michonne is sporting much nicer duds — she wears an ensemble that makes the katana-wielding warrior look like a cross between a samurai and Marvel superhero (something Gurira knows a little something about). It also includes a cage mask and a badass cape.

The “classic Walking Dead wardrobe,” as Gimple describes it, was put together by original TWD costume designer Eulyn Hufkie, who is now working on the Rick and Michonne spin-off. Michonne came across this battle-ready armor from where? Gimple promises that there is a story behind the armor. “But Rick is in very diverse circumstances, and it’s not just geographical. There’s a lot happening, and the armor she wears is part a larger story. “

The Walking Dead series finale

Credit: Curtis Bonds Baker/AMC

Where exactly is Rick?

The montage ends with Rick standing across the water from a decrepit looking city. But which city is it? Gimple won’t be able to pinpoint exactly where Rick is, but he does offer some clues: “You saw the black helicopter. We know that the helicopter is CRM. It’s even visible on this jacket. People could speculate that the CRM may have been associated with the city. “

On The Walking Dead: World Beyond, the CRM destroyed the city of Omaha using chlorine gas and covered up the assault by staging a large walker attack, so if you’re looking for a city that has clearly seen better days and has a CRM connection, that could be it. (Notice the instrument Rick uses to smash the zombie skull resembles a similar device used by Silas and others to de-brain walkers on World Beyond. )

But there is another World Beyond possibility as well. The series ended with the heroic tykes saving Portland from a similar fate to Omaha (or so we thought). We know that the CRM has a lot invested in Portland. The city is also located on the Willamette and Columbia rivers. This could explain why Rick was separated from the ruins.

But before you lay all your money down on a World Beyond connection, wait! Gimple has more clues! “I’ll tell you this: People have discovered the city online. You can also look at the skyline to find out where it is. People have seen that skyline referenced already in promotion. It’s been mentioned before. These dots could be connected, I believe. Let’s connect them. Back in the summer of 2019, it was announced that the first installment of what was then planned to be a trilogy of Rick Grimes movies would appear “only in theaters.” A teaser video was made, which showed a helicopter and a skyline. This skyline appears to be the same as the one in the final scene. Online sleuths have previously identified the skyline as Philadelphia (see video below).

It looks like we might be able to see how much brotherly affection Rick Grimes feels in the zombie apocalypse.

Finally, why is Rick smiling?

The dude is shoeless, just had to ditch his bag with all his possessions, is surrounded by rotted corpses, totally needs a shower, and appears as if he is about to be apprehended yet again by the CRM, so why is the last image one of Rick Grimes smiling? Gimple said that Rick still has some fight left. Rick is determined, Rick isn’t yet broken. Michonne is also defiant. These people draw strength and joy from the continuum of love they have created, even if it is through tragedy or loss. “

Gimple continues: “And so, he’s totally screwed there — I’m talking like Ezekiel — but he smiles because he still believes in himself and isn’t letting his guard down. Michonne is able to get into the walker herd because of that same thing that gives him that smile. That gives Judith the strength and ability to look at the future and say, We’re the ones that live.’ It’s her strength that will get her through. So that smile is indicative of the strength that is drawn through 11 seasons of The Walking Dead.

And now, more spin-off seasons to come.

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