‘The Ones Who Live’ Ending Explained & Finale Recap: Do Rick And Michonne Save The World?

Almost fourteen years ago, The Walking Dead, the TV show, came into our lives and became an instant favorite. There had been movies and shows with post-apocalyptic themes and zombies (28 Days Later, for example) before, but the way The Walking Dead managed to influence pop culture was simply unparalleled. The comic books and the video game were already there, but it was the TV show that propelled this franchise to the heights of unimaginable success. And the name Rick Grimes became synonymous with the rise of this gigantic franchise. There shouldn’t be any argument over the fact that the character is the face of the franchise.

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Cut to the present. The franchise is still going strong, with one after another spinoff being churned out. But the appeal is long gone. And the only way the franchise could regain some of its past glory is by bringing Rick Grimes back, who took an exit from the mother show in its ninth season. The Ones Who Live was supposed to be the glorious return of one of the greatest characters of modern-day TV. Sadly, though, over the last five weeks, we’ve realized that Rick Grimes’ comeback story also lacks the edge, just like most of the franchise, barring a rare exception like The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon. Expecting The Ones Who Live‘s finale to be anything good would have been foolish after that, and the finale turned out to be just like the rest of the show: banal and underwhelming. Rick and Michonne beat CRM, saved the world, and that was it. Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira tried their best to salvage things, but with such poor storytelling, what could they possibly do? Let us take a closer look at The Ones Who Live, for one last time.

Spoilers Ahead

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What is the Echelon Briefing?

The term “Echelon Briefing” has been uttered by the major characters many times already. We all knew it was supposed to be something not great considering it involves the CRM. And it turned out to be pretty much what we thought—at least I did—a CRM version of mass genocide, for the sake of a “better world.” It is basically CRM destroying every single community and handpicking some children who will become the CRM of the future. The briefing is basically Beale explaining things to Rick and asking him to fully commit to this madness. Well, if one thing CRM has been right about, then that has to be the leadership qualities of Rick Grimes. Okafor saw it and wanted to harness it, which would have been the right way. But Beale was your one-dimensional militant villain from the get-go who just wanted to retire and put Rick in his place. While Rick gets the briefing from Beale, Michonne completes the first part of the master plan, which is destroying the files that have all the information about Alexandria and killing a random CRM soldier in the process. And it all came so easy because this is the finale and there’s not going to be another season of this (well, hopefully).


Does Beale die?

The Lost fan in me has been really sad to see an actor of Terry O’Quinn’s stature getting wasted in a role like Beale. The Emmy-winning actor does bring all his charisma, but it’s impossible to achieve anything substantial with a character as boring as Beale. From the moment he met Rick Grimes, we knew his death sentence was signed by the writers of The Ones Who Live. It’s quite ironic that Beale got killed by Rick with his own sword, which is, of course, the ending he deserved. 

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What Happens to Thorne?

Thorne could have been a far more complex and fascinating character, but the writers of this show clearly didn’t know how to do that. The result of that is another one-dimensional character who’s slightly more developed than Beale. From the very beginning, Thorne was very pro-CRM, and nothing could actually change that. For a person as intelligent and skilled as her, it’s not very convincing that she didn’t know what Rick was actually trying to do, but for the sake of this story, we’re to believe that she is that clueless. But since this is the very end, Thorne was supposed to find out who Rick truly is. She was obviously heartbroken upon realizing Rick (and Michonne) pretty much played her, and she tried her best to stop them. But the death of CRM was written in the stars, as was the death of Thorne.


Do Rick and Michonne manage to save the world?

Rick Grimes and Michonne have always been saviors of the weak, and why would this show be an exception to that? Especially when the whole point of The Ones Who Live is establishing the myth of Rick Grimes saving the world yet again. But after all the fuss about CRM being this and that, they could have at least tried to throw some worthy challenges their way. Instead, all we get is Rick and Michonne practically bombing the CRM with a plan that looks a lot like a parlor trick. I’ve got to give it to the show for giving us Walker-Beale as an aid to team-Rick in the climax, and O’Quinn absolutely killed it there—even literally, if you know what I mean.

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The dumbest bit of the entire finale has to be the scene where Michonne lectures Thorne about love, although it might cater to some of you who find the whole Rick and Michonne romance believable. Nothing against the characters, but I don’t think The Walking Dead ever really tried to properly set the biggest romantic arc of the show after Glen and Maggie (remember them?). Speaking of former characters, I did hope some familiar faces would pop up in the finale, but the makers of the show clearly thought it would be great to saddle the entire episode with random flashbacks of every one of the characters, from Shane to Carl to everyone else. Thanks to this atrocious move, the finale mostly feels like a filler episode.

During The Ones Who Live‘s ending, Rick Grimes does get reunited with Judith and Rick Jr., which is a happy ending the character certainly deserves. But the fans of The Walking Dead definitely didn’t deserve such a half-baked spinoff with the most beloved character at the center of it. And I don’t think there can be any valid excuse behind this failure, especially in a world where HBO’s The Last of Us also exists.

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Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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