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‘The Ones Who Live’ Picks Up Where ‘The Walking Dead’ Left Off. Where Was That Again?

After it was announced that Lincoln would be leaving “The Walking Dead” sometime during its ninth season, many fans assumed Rick would be killed off as many other characters had been before. Lincoln’s final episode, “What Comes After,” certainly set up that expectation, placing Rick in seemingly insurmountable jeopardy, gravely wounded and surrounded by a horde of walkers. As they close in on him, he has visions of friends and family he’s lost over the years, including Shane (Jon Bernthal), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and his first wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), driving home the impression that these are Rick’s final moments on earth.

Instead, Rick is saved at the last moment by Jadis, his antagonist and sometime-ally, who whisks him to safety in a mysterious helicopter with cryptic promises that things will be OK. (Using a radio to communicate with the pilot, she refers to “As” and “Bs,” insisting that Rick is an A, which is sure to figure into “The Ones Who Live.”) Badly banged up, he is placed on a stretcher and given an intravenous drip, and he drifts off to sleep as Jadis consoles him. It’s the last time we see Rick until the final minutes of the series finale, when we catch a glimpse of his life six years later under the iron rule of the heavily militarized city the Civic Republic, still dreaming of reuniting with his family.

After Rick’s departure, “The Walking Dead” skips ahead six years, revealing an older version of Rick’s daughter, Judith, and, in a surprise twist, another son, to whom Michonne gave birth after his disappearance. (Carl, Rick’s first son and a longtime character in the show, died in Season 8.) The time jump gave Michonne room to grieve offscreen, although as we see when we catch up with her, she still holds out hope of finding Rick again one day.

Right before his dramatic rescue, Rick set off a bundle of dynamite to wipe out the horde of walkers chasing him, throwing his body out of harms way but making it seem to his friends and family as if he had died in the explosion. After the time jump, everyone seems to have accepted that Rick died that day though Michonne remains reluctant to entirely believe it. Later, however, she comes across a pair of Rick’s boots and some drawings of her and Judith at an abandoned naval base, convincing her that her husband is still out there.

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