The Walking Dead Brought Back Two Old Friends For The Series Finale

This post contains spoilers for the "Walking Dead" series finale.

After 11 seasons of blood, guts, and long walks, "The Walking Dead" has come to a close with its series finale, which is appropriately titled "Rest in Peace." But while the original flagship series may have been laid to rest, the "Walking Dead" TV franchise is another matter. 

The first spin-off, "Fear the Walking Dead," is still going. Another spin-off, the anthology series "Tales of the Walking Dead," aired earlier this year (no word yet if we'll be getting a second season). And there are three more spin-off shows still to come: "The Walking Dead: Dead City," which focuses on Negan and Maggie and is set in New York; "Daryl Dixon," which will follow (you guessed it!) Daryl Dixon as he wakes up somewhere on the European mainland and has to figure out how he got there and how to get home; and an untitled six-episode spin-off series about Rick and Michonne (originally planned as a movie trilogy after Andrew Lincoln's departure).

So, while "Rest in Peace" was wrapping up the main storyline of "The Walking Dead," it also had to move the pieces into place for these three spin-offs. Daryl and Carol said a moving goodbye to one another, and Maggie and Negan both hit the road — but most intriguingly, we got a glimpse of what Rick and Michonne have been up to.

'No escape for the living'

"Rest In Peace" initially made it appear that Rick and Michonne were together: both are seen sitting by firelight, writing, their voices alternating. During this moment we got the "Walking Dead" version of the "In Memoriam" segment of the Oscars, with sepia-toned clips of the many, many characters who have died over the course of the show. Rick says that he still thinks about them every day, "their faces, what I learned from them, how they made me who I am — so much more than all this made me who I am." While Rick focuses on the dead, Michonne primarily addresses their two surviving children, Judith and R.J., and her longing to see them again. 

But just as it appears that Rick and Michonne are gazing romantically at each other over the fire, the ending reveals that they're still separated, and aren't even writing at the same point in time. Rick is hiding out from the Civic Republic Military (or CRM, for short), and we see him hide his journal, boots, and phone in a bag. It's the same bag that was later found by Michonne in "The Walking Dead" season 10, episode 13 — cluing her in to the fact that Rick is still alive, and inspiring her to go on a quest to find him. 

Rick rolls up his letter and tucks it into a bottle, walking out onto a beach fall of helplessly gnashing walkers stuck in the sand, and flinging the bottle into the water. That's when a CRM helicopter arrives and orders him to surrender, referring to him as "Consignee Grimes" and cryptically telling him, "Come on, Rick, it's like she told you: There's no escape for the living."

'We're the ones who live'

Michonne seems to be doing a lot better than Rick (though she does have the advantage of being a few years further down the timeline). Not only does she still have shoes, she has stylish boots to go with a badass new post-apocalyptic outfit, a horse, and her trusty samurai sword. Let's hope her new protective gear is up to the task, because Michonne is last seen riding directly towards a vast horde of walkers, sword raised. Meanwhile, Rick's scene ends with him kneeling in surrender in front of the ruins of Philadelphia, after a montage of flashback clips that repeat the mantra: "We're the ones who live."

It's a clear bid to get fans onboard for Rick and Michonne's next big adventure, and it wouldn't be at all surprising if these scenes were eventually released separately as a teaser for Rick and Michonne's series. The show's ratings had already nosedived by the time Andrew Lincoln left in season 9, but took another deep blow with Rick's departure. There are probably plenty of lapsed fans out there who lost interest in "The Walking Dead" due to its revolving door of new characters, but could be won back by the promise of a more focused story that sees Michonne and Rick reunited — first with each other, and then with their children. If "An American Tail" taught us anything, it's that "family members get separated and have to find each other again" is a pretty compelling hook.

What we're left with is a trifecta of upcoming shows, each focused on the show's most popular surviving characters, and each giving them a mostly fresh start so that fans who drifted away can get back onboard. It's a bold strategy, AMC. Let's see if it pays off.