Contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 5.
Andrew Lincoln has made his final appearance on The Walking Dead, with this week's instalment, What Comes After, bringing his eight-year story to an end.
Following on from last week's episode, The Obliged, we find Rick gravely injured, with a bad, bleeding wound in his side, and a massive herd of walkers on his tail. Making his way off the piece of metal that impaled him, what follows is a desperate bid for survival that sees him and his loyal steed (pale white, in true Biblical fashion) trying to stay ahead of the zombies, with his single goal being to get back to his family.
First, he makes it to a cabin, where he patches himself up as best as possible and, slipping in and out of consciousness, has his first vision: Shane. Recreating their first scene together, eating fast food in the cop car, the pair talk about Judith, and about Shane being an a-hole, before his old friend encourages him to tap into the rage, and use it to wake up.
Wake up Rick does, and gets back on the move. Riding down along the road, it's time for the second of his three ghosts: Hershel. With the late Scott Wilson returning, and the setting of the farm, with a lush sunset, it's an emotionally charged scene where Hershel forgives Rick and tells him he has high hopes Maggie and little Hershel, before also encouraging Rick to wake up.
He's then whisked off again, this time to the 'Don't Open Dead Inside' (or 'Don't Dead Open Inside') corridor from the show's beginning, except this time the 'don't' has been crossed out. Rick opens the door, and finds Sasha, who teaches him that it's ok to die, and that it isn't the end.
He wakes up once more, falling off his horse as he reaches the site of the bridge he's been working on all season. The herd is upon him, but right at that moment Michonne, Daryl et al run in to save the day. Except that too, of course, is just a vision.
Rick stumbles his way across the bridge, walkers gaining on him, when at last his family does actually appear, with Daryl killing a couple with crossbows, before he, Michonne, Carol, Maggie, and many others try to distract the walkers away. Rick, however, sees a different way to end this: he fires his gun at the dynamite on the bridge, blowing it up and going down into the water alongside the walkers, but saving everyone else in the process.
For a moment, that appears to be the end of Rick Grimes, and his family certainly think so, but there's a twist. We pick things up with Jadis/Anne who is awaiting a helicopter to pick her and the 'A' she's supposed to have up, when she finds Rick, injured but alive, washed up on the river bank. She tells whoever is piloting the copter that she lied about having an 'A', but she's got a 'B', and that he needs saving.
The helicopter picks them both up, and the last we saw is Rick being treated as he flies off into the great unknown with Anne, and out of the show for good.
What did you think of Rick's departure? Let us know down in the comments.
NCTJ-qualified journalist. Most definitely not a racing driver. Drink too much tea; eat too much peanut butter; watch too much TV. Sadly only the latter paying off so far.
A mix of wise-old man in a young man's body with a child-like wonder about him and a great otherworldly sensibility.