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The Walking Dead: The One Who Live’s Finale Landed The Emotional Beats, But I Honestly Don't Understand How Anyone Survived

 Rick at CRM gate in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.
Rick at CRM gate in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.

Major spoilers below for the final episode of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live are below, so be warned if you haven’t yet watched on AMC or with an AMC+ subscription.

After years of waiting for Andrew Lincoln’s Rick and Danai Gurira’s Michonne to return to their post-apocalyptic franchise roots, that six-week return is already over, without knowing if or where the couple will show up again in any upcoming The Walking Dead shows, whether it’s The Ones Who Live Season 2 or another spinoff. They definitely can show up again down the road, considering both somehow survived their sabotage mission against the CRM, among other things. In the end, fans got the reunion that many were presumably hoping for, but it possibly only happened because RIck and Michonne are now immortal. Which seems unlikely, but let’s do some celebrating first.

Rick and Michonne reuniting with Judity and RJ on The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live
Rick and Michonne reuniting with Judity and RJ on The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live

The Grimes Family Reunion

The episode “The Last Time,” with its ominous title, sadly didn’t fully bring viewers back to Alexandria to potentially reconnect with Gabriel following his return in the episode where Jadis died. However, the most important reunion possible did indeed occur, with Team Immediate Family all connecting for the very first time. And it was amazingly just as, if not more, emotional as I could have hoped, considering Andrew Lincoln’s Rick hadn’t appeared canonically with either Cailey Fleming’s Judith or Antony Azor’s RJ.

I may not go out on a limb to say this scene is destined for award reels, but as a father who probably hasn’t been away from either of my daughters for more than 10 days at a time, I wanted to leap into my screen and be the other rim for the Grimes fam’s group-hug, especially when Rick tapped RJ’s Carl-eseque cowboy hat. Stop it with those last-minute emotional pulls, The Walking Dead. Because I’m still wondering how we got to a place where Rick and Michonne were still breathing by the time the credits hit.

The CRM headquarters exploding on The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live
The CRM headquarters exploding on The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live

That Explosion Should Have Made The Grimes Family Reunion Impossible

It could very well be that I just don’t have the proper understanding of the exact damage that dozens of lined-up grenades will do from within a partial enclosure. It could be that I am just way too gullible for thinking that the explosion seen in the picture above, which sent bodies flying every which way and seemed to instantly zombify the entire 3,000-unit squad waiting to fly out to Portland, might do a fair amount of damage to both Rick and Michonne, who were walking towards the future epicenter before darting off for three seconds. I must be lost in my imagination for thinking those scant seconds wouldn’t be enough to make any moves that could guarantee their survival in the face of…[checks notes]...all them ‘splosions and such.

I’m clearly dripping with sarcasm, but am genuinely confused about how dousing themselves in water beneath a tarp was a strong enough defense for them to both walk away pretty much unscathed, beyond some potentially awful breathing problems down the road. I can understand the concept of water keeping them from burning in a minor fire, but the shock waves should have buried them under at least ONE of those shipping containers.

Granted, Michonne made the choice to throw her and Rick from a helicopter, and Rick survived cutting his own hand off, and Rick bested Beale in less than a minute of combat, and Rick also somehow got swarmed by zombies AFTER surviving the explosion, and still walked away without getting bitten. Seemingly at least. He should have been a goner like 17 times over at least.

Thorne right before explosion in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live
Thorne right before explosion in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live

How Does It Make Any Sense That Thorne Survived?

This is basically the same point as the one above, but stated far wider eyes and a more shoulder-straining shrug. If science allows for Rick and Michonne’s wet tarp plan to secure them another day on Earth, so be it. But Thorne didn’t even have that. She was literally less than 100 ft from Zombified Beale when that massive wall of fire consumed him, with nothing to stop the blast from knocking her across the ocean into Paris for Daryl Dixon Season 2.

But did she die or get incapacitated in any way? Nope, and what’s more, she was the aggressor in locating Rick and Michonne amidst the rubble, and didn’t seem to question for a second whether they might be dead or not. Which, I guess if she made it through, she had no reason to think they got hurt.

Having said all this now, I’ve started to convince myself that this whole season has just been a flash-forward fantasy, similar to the heavenly family dinner where Glenn was still alive to meet Hershel, and Negan immediately got along great with everybody. Well maybe not the WHOLE season, but there are theories to be strung together from dust that could, in time, be strong enough to support the idea that Rick and/or Michonne died in the blast, and the whole “The CRM is over and now peace will reign, and here’s your long-lost children” victory was just a few fleeting thoughts before the ol’ brain synapses slowed to none. Is THAT what the episode title “The Last Time” means?

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live may be over for now, but fans can always stream it on AMC+ while waiting for future seasons of Dead City and Daryl Dixon. Head to our 2024 TV premiere schedule to see what else is coming soon, while our upcoming horror shows will provide a more curated bite.