The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Recap: 6 Ups & 4 Downs From "Years"

Rick Grimes and Michonne return to The Walking Dead with a flawed but gruelling descent into hopelessness.

The Walking Dead The Ones Who Live Years Rick Grimes
AMC

Another year, another chapter for The Walking Dead saga.

The Ones Who Live, taking its name from the final words spoken in The Walking Dead, is posited as a show all about Rick Grimes and his wife Michonne, two characters who left the mainline series years ago - Rick in 2019, Michonne the following year - and here seem destined to reunite and fight their way home. 

Starring Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira in their most iconic roles, with both actors serving as the show's co-creators, The Ones Who Live's first episode is centred almost entirely on Officer Friendly, whose years-long absence from the main show finally gets some explanation. And the results, whilst imperfect, certainly pack a punch. 

Set around the long-teased Civil Republic Military (CRM) and throwing our intrepid hero into a new world even he proves woefully unprepared for, The Ones Who Live plays with time and place to great effect, setting up a story and answering some big questions in a way sure to keep old Walking Dead fans happy. 

With that in mind - though not before a final warning about spoilers for the episode discussed - here are 6 Ups & 4 Downs from The Ones Who Live's premiere, "Years."

First, the Downs...

10. Down: The Mostly Forgettable Side Characters

The Walking Dead The Ones Who Live Years Rick Grimes
AMC

It's early doors, of course, but so far none of the new characters introduced to Rick Grimes have been able to break through, their thin characterisation a sacrifice to make way for Rick's development. 

Save for his de facto boss and on-and-off foe, Lieutenant-Colonel Okafor, many of the CRM's biggest figures never become more than their exposition. For example, fellow survivor Thorne seems to speak only in cliché and commentary, whilst CRM leader Beale is nothing more than his apparently impressive reputation.

This isn't to knock the actors - it's great to see Lost's Terry O'Quinn on-screen again, and Lesley-Ann Brandt does sell Thorne's conflicted mentality with a briefly great speech - but since the episode is so focussed on Rick and his new predicament, their existence thus far seems limited to telling us what's happening and teasing secrets.

As noted, Okafor is an all-too-brief brilliant addition to the fold, especially in the episode's second half when his greatest secrets are revealed, but even he feels wasted by the end. 

Contributor

I get to write about what I love, so that's pretty cool. Every great film should seem new every time you see it. Be excellent to each other.