“The Walking Dead” Beginner’s Guide: What You Need to Know for “The Ones Who Live”

To delve into the world of Rick and Michonne, you need some background knowledge. Our “The Ones Who Live” guide revisits the key moments.

It’s been over five years since Andrew Lincoln bid farewell to “The Walking Dead” as Rick Grimes. On February 26, 2024, he makes his big comeback in the spin-off “The Ones Who Live.” However, a lot has happened in the zombie franchise in the meantime. We’ll refresh your memory and explain in detail what you need to know to follow the story of Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira). Our video provides a brief summary:

The main series “The Walking Dead” has provided us with new stories of Police Officer Rick Grimes and his allies for a total of twelve years. Not all fans have remained loyal to the series over this long period, but that doesn’t diminish the interest in the new spin-off – quite the opposite. In fact, the departure of the former main character in Season 9 seems to have been a reason why a significant portion of the audience turned away from the zombie franchise. A graphic from Statista shows that the viewership ratings nearly halved from Season 9 to 10:

However, “The Walking Dead” had already experienced significant declines after the glorious times of Season 6. Therefore, it should be even more exciting for you to find out what has happened in the meantime. If you had already turned away from “The Walking Dead” universe (TWDU), or if you are completely new to it, you will learn everything you need to know to follow “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” – including how the Amazon spin-off “The Walking Dead: World Beyond” is involved.

Rick and Michonne: A “TWD” Love Story At the beginning of “The Walking Dead,” Police Officer Rick Grimes is severely injured on duty and falls into a coma. When he wakes up weeks later in the hospital, the world is no longer the same. Shocked, he not only discovers that the deceased are wandering around as undead beings but also that his family has left the house. Rick embarks on a dangerous journey to find his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and son Carl (Chandler Riggs) – successfully.

However, happiness is short-lived: Lori is pregnant and eventually dies during the birth of her daughter. This fate is difficult for Rick to bear. As if the death of his wife wasn’t enough, he doesn’t even know if he is the father – or if the girl is the result of an affair between Lori and Rick’s former best friend Shane (Jon Bernthal). Despite this, Rick gradually forms a deep bond with the child, named Judith after an idea from Carl.

From then on, Rick has to watch Carl and Judith (Chloe Garcia-Frizzi / Sophia Garcia-Frizzi) grow up without a mother. However, this doesn’t last long. With Michonne (Danai Gurira), Rick’s crew gains a new member. Although the survivors are initially skeptical of her, she quickly establishes a connection with Carl and eventually becomes a permanent member of the community. After standing by Rick’s side as a helping hand for a long time and having already won the sympathies of Judith, Michonne eventually also captures Rick’s heart. Since Season 6 of “The Walking Dead,” they have been a couple.

“The Ones Who Live” Explained: What’s Behind the Title In fan circles, Rick and Michonne are called “Richonne” because of their affection, which is based on immense trust, boundless understanding, and selfless sacrifice. “The Ones Who Live” will continue their love story. The series title is not chosen arbitrarily but has a deeper meaning. The phrase “We are the ones who live” first appeared in Season 5 of “The Walking Dead” when Rick, holding a gun, explained to the residents of Alexandria that only he and his group knew how to survive the post-apocalypse. Since then, the words between Rick and Michonne have served as a kind of mantra to guide them out of difficult situations. It is also of great importance in the eleventh season of the main series. You can read more about this below.

Abducted by CRM: How Rick was torn from his family life

As the main character, Rick Grimes was essentially indispensable to “The Walking Dead.” However, at the beginning of the ninth season, fans were presented with a fait accompli. In order to save his community from a horde of walkers, Rick blows up a bridge in the episode “Wake Up.” Subsequently, he disappears without a trace. While Daryl (Norman Reedus), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and others believe Rick died in the explosion, the audience knows better: Anne, also known as Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), former leader of the Scavengers, found Rick critically injured near the bridge. However, instead of bringing him back to his group, she handed him over to the Civic Republic Military (CRM). While this saved Rick’s life, it also sentenced him to a seemingly eternal captivity, to advance within the military ranks of the Civic Republic.

First clues: Rick’s boots and a smartphone portrait

Nine months after Rick’s disappearance, Michonne gives birth to RJ (Antony Azor), their shared son, whom Rick likely knows nothing about. Unlike her allies, Michonne still believes months later that Rick could be alive. After a horror trip to Virgil’s (Kevin Carroll) island, she actually finds clues on a ship that Rick is not dead: both his iconic cowboy boots and a smartphone prove he survived the explosion in Season 9.

On the phone’s screen, Rick’s name and the Japanese characters for “Believe a little longer” are carved. Below are portraits of Michonne and Judith (Cailey Fleming) – however, the drawing depicts the girl at the age she actually is at that time, not the age at which Rick last saw her. Since Rick neither speaks Japanese nor knows what Judith looks like now, it’s possible he didn’t carve the clue himself. The drawing could be from an unknown ally secretly supporting Rick within the CR.

For example, “World Beyond” character Silas Plaskett (Hal Cumpston) could be involved, as he promised his superior Dennis Graham (Maximilian Osinski) before his death to infiltrate the CRM as a mole to report on the CR’s activities. Rick could be the first ally in the CR for this endeavor, spreading the news further. It’s also possible that Rick imagined what Judith might look like after all these years.

Michonne follows her instinct and sets out to search

When Michonne contacts Judith to report her findings, the girl encourages her adoptive mother to leave her and brother RJ behind to search for Rick. With a heavy heart, Michonne actually leaves her children in “The Walking Dead” Season 10. As she heads north to search for more clues, she encounters a couple asking for help: the man is injured and needs assistance to keep up with his wandering community – which turns out to be a group of hundreds of people.

Do they possibly know more about the CR? The end of “The Walking Dead: World Beyond” reveals that former CR allies have traveled to Portland to warn the residents of an impending CRM attack – and to order reinforcements for the remaining scientists who are currently hiding from the military at Cornell University and continuing to work on a cure. It’s entirely possible that Michonne could have encountered this reinforcement, as “TWD” showrunner Angela Kang revealed that Michonne was between Virginia and New Jersey at the time – precisely the area that the Portland patrol would have to cross to reach the CR in Philadelphia or Cornell in Ithaca (via ComicBook.com).

How Rick and Michonne fared afterward is revealed only in the epilogue of the grand “The Walking Dead” finale. We see Michonne writing in a diary – apparently the same one Rick wrote in before packing it along with his boots and a phone in a backpack to flee. But before he can leave, a CRM helicopter locates him. Rick throws the backpack onto a boat and raises his hands.

“The Walking Dead: World Beyond”: The Connection between Rick and the CRM

Apart from Rick’s abduction, the CRM doesn’t play a major role in “The Walking Dead,” but it’s an essential part of the spin-off “The Walking Dead: World Beyond.” In the series, we learn that the Civic Republic is possibly the largest community in the United States. To ensure survival, they keep their exact location a secret. Therefore, residents are generally not allowed to leave the secure walls.

As revealed in “World Beyond,” the military has much more drastic plans than the CR itself: In order to produce a cure to establish a new world order, the CRM commits genocide but conceals this from their own government. Like many others, Rick could have ended up as a test subject if Jadis had not classified him as a “B,” a person with a weak, submissive character, before handing him over. Only “A”s, combat-ready survivors with leadership qualities, were subjected to the unethical experiments of the CRM.

Nevertheless, Rick does not lead a pleasant life in the CR. Apart from being separated from his family and group for years, the above trailer shows us that Rick is involved in decontamination efforts. Along with other prisoners, he must “cleanse” the surroundings of the CR from the undead.

What Rick has experienced in the years of his absence, how Michonne manages to locate her great love in the secret city, and whether they manage to escape together, we will find out weekly starting from February 26, 2024.

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