The board has been set and all the pieces are in place for Rick Grimes’ final episode next week. Let’s take a look at how “The Obliged” will lead us there.
past tense: obliged
make (someone) legally or morally bound to an action or course of action.
Just as the episode labels them, “The Obliged” is about all the people who are committed to course ahead…
Those who want to kill Negan and those that want to keep him alive. All of them have a part of play in Rick Grimes’ death, but this episode allows Rick to gain closure with everyone except Maggie. It will be interesting to see if that relationship is resolved or if the writers choose to leave it hanging so Maggie will leave due to the guilt.
Here’s what everyone is up to in “The Obliged”.
Her dark and light sides battling it out in earnest. This is shown in actions in the cold open.
She’s taking care of the ASZ and Judith in the day and killing walkers at night. Not just killing them if they’re at the gate either. Michonne is going outside the fences and searching for walkers to take out her aggression on. One night, she finds a walker who has been hung, but we don’t know who he is or where he’s from.
It’s enough to make her distracted and almost get her killed by another walker. She grabs the nearest weapon and realizes too late it’s a bat. She’s just bashed in a walker’s head, and she sees the blood on that bat before dropping it and walking away.
This forces the direction of the story to showcase her relationship with Negan and their similarities. I feel like this is a true reach, though. It seems more of a set up to bring them closer to working together after Rick’s death than anything else. Not that they’ll ever be romantic, but I simply mean that Negan will escape and his and Michonne’s connection will play centerstage instead of his and Rick’s.
It’s a shift in the writing so we’re not losing out on Negan screen time since he won’t have Rick to be his foil anymore.
All that said, Negan tries to bond with Michonne over the loss of people in their lives, his wife and her biological son. He tries to tell Michonne that she’s probably secretly glad that Andre didn’t survive because this world isn’t for people like Andre or Negan’s wife, and if he had survived, he would have made Michonne weak.
“We’re the same, and you can’t stand that we’re the same.”
Michonne tells him that she’s not like him because he gets off on the killing, and her way is making the world better.
“I do get strength from the dead, but I live for the living, and I make no apologies for that. My sons are gone, but this world is going to be better for my daughter and for every other child who comes along.”
When he finally asks about Lucille, and Michonne tells him that they left the bat out in the field, he loses it. He just wanted to see the bat, and he’s been trying to force an connection with Michonne to get it. It didn’t work like he planned.
After Michonne leaves, he says he’s going to see Lucille, and he bashes his head against the wall of his cell.
So there’s that coming.
The structural integrity of the bridge is compromised and can’t be completed yet, especially with everyone leaving camp. Rick and Eugene have a small moment together where he reassures Eugene he’s important.
“You’re not just some guy that reads books. You got us here. After everything, that’s everything.”
The next scene between Carol and Rick at camp (after his talk with Eugene) is obviously their last scene together because they’re both extremely emotional for something as simple as the bridge and the Saviors leaving.
“So, it’s up to them to figure out who they want to be.”
“Like you did?”
“Like we all did.”
“I don’t know if we’re doing the right thing here. I really don’t, but if anyone gives me hope for how things can turn out, it’s you. You know that, right?”
“I’m still trying to figure things out. I am sorry, Rick. I really wanted it to work.”
“I know. I know. Get out of here.”
I desperately want to know if “get out of here” was improvised because Andy and Melissa looked so damn torn by this encounter.
Maggie’s decision, Oceanside’s complicitness, Daryl’s plan, and Saviors being Saviors
All these things contribute to Rick’s death along with his own stubbornness.
To start though, Maggie leaves Hilltop, disregarding Jesus’ concern for what she’s about to do. He argues that killing Negan is too late. If he died, it should have been when Rick slit his throat. Apparently Maggie’s revenge had a statute of limitations that we didn’t know about.
Maggie sets out to kill Negan because it’s finally time. She’s waited long enough, and Oceanside gave her the push she needed.
Jesus puts a call to Jerry who tells Rick that Maggie is riding for the ASZ, and she’s going to kill Negan. Rick puts everyone on alert, but Oceanside isn’t going to stop Maggie, so the messge doesn’t make it. When Daryl offers to take Rick, he ends up going in the other direction to help Maggie’s cause again.
“I already called it in. Maggie’s not getting through the gates.”
“Yeah, that message didn’t go through.”
“You messed with the relay?”
“It’s time, man. It’s gonna go the way it was supposed to.”
They get into a bit of a fight and roll into a sinkhole. This forces them to have the conversation they’ve been needing to have.
“You wouldn’t be alive without Glenn. You wouldn’t have found Carl or Lori or any of us! He did that or did you forget?”
Daryl tells Rick that Negan took Glenn away from them, and Maggie deserves to be able to do this. Rick thinks Negan is necessary for the remaining Saviors to see that the world won’t be like it used to be, but Daryl vehemently disagrees.
“Keeping him alive is giving them hope that it will.”
“Truth is she just couldn’t live with it. Just like Oceanside.”
Daryl drops a bomb on Rick that Oceanside killed those Saviors. He’s shocked that Daryl would lie for him or even make it to where no one found it was Oceanside.
Rick believes that if Negan dies that the war will be for nothing, that Carl’s death would have been for nothing. He think that the others just have to believe that everyone’s on the same page. Daryl calls him out for how simplistic it is.
“What about all the shit we’ve been through? You think we couldn’t handle it? You asking us to have faith in all these other people, but you don’t have faith in us.”
“You know that’s not true.”
“I’d die for you, and I would’ve died for Carl. But you hear me, you’re chasing something for him that ain’t meant to be, man. You have let him go.”
“I never asked anyone to follow me.”
“I know. I know. But you should’ve.”
The pit soon begins to fill with walkers after some gunshots sound in the distance. Rick and Daryl manage to make it up the side by climbing up the exposed roots, and in what could be Rick’s last words to Daryl, he reaches his hand out, much like Glenn reached his hand out to Rick in Atlanta, and says:
“Take my hand. You’re almost there. You’re almost there. Brother. Brother, take my hand.”
Back at camp, the gunshots have come from a group of Saviors that insinuate having killed Alden and stolen his weapons, and they’re ambushing Carol and Jerry as they leave for The Kingdom.
We have no idea who survives this shoot out because we follow Rick and Daryl.
Rick says that he’s going to lead the herd away by riding a horse near them. Daryl takes his bike to ride back to camp. Daryl wants Rick to lead them the bridge and let it wash them away, but Rick tells him that he’s not ready to give up the bridge yet.
They tell each other to be safe and go their separate ways.
Or course, the gunshots have caused the herds to merge, and in another scene that gives a nod to “Days Gone Bye”, Rick is cornered by two massive herds of walkers and his horse rears up, knocking him off. This time, though, he doesn’t land on pavement and scurry away. He lands on an exposed piece of rebar and the episode ends as the walkers close in on him and the camera pans up, just like the finale shot of the series premiere.
Later, Maggie passes by all the walkers that Michonne has been killing in the night as she makes her way extremely close to Alexandria and Negan.
I understand Rick’s hesitation a little better because of “The Obliged”, but I’ll be honest, I get Maggie and Daryl’s reasonings, too.
They want revenge on Negan for all the bad shit he’s done, and Rick wants to honor Carl’s memory. Here’s the thing, though, Carl wouldn’t have expected Rick to keep someone like Negan alive if it meant it was going to rip the group apart.
This was such a flimsy reason, and it’s a shame that trying to save Negan’s life will indirectly be responsible for Rick’s death. Yes, there are two herds of walkers coming together, and it’s obvious that Rick will lead them to the bridge and sacrifice himself, but why?
Saddiq saved Negan when he had a slit throat. Aaron’s still alive after Enid amputated his arm.
You’re telling me no one could talk Rick into trying to get help? Or is this the only time in The Walking Dead history that something actually hit a major organ when someone was stabbed/impaled?
Or even worse, does Rick never seen anyone again, and all the people he sees next episode are just hallucinations?
Rick giving up here when he’s talked about nothing but a bright future is tragic because it’s not the Rick Grimes we’ve come to know and love. He’s broken, and maybe that’s what this world does to people, but I was never expecting Rick’s character to break like this.
Make sure you tune in next Sunday for “What Comes After”. It’s time to say goodbye to Rick.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.