This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live episode 6.

Going into The Walking Dead spinoff The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, the goal for Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) were perfectly clear: to find each other once again. Having been separated since Rick left the flagship series midway through season 9, all this married couple wanted to do was get back together.

Well Rick and Michonne do get back together early in The Ones Who Live‘s run. And yet, the series still persisted on. That’s because getting back together is easy, but building the world where they’ll never have to leave each other again is significantly harder. The Civic Republic Military, of which Rick is unwillingly a part of, is hellbent on conquering smaller communities like Rick and Michonne’s own Alexandria. What’s worse is that Rick’s old “friend” Jadis is a full CRM believer and has a written confession about Alexandria’s whereabouts ready to be discovered in the case of her untimely death.

Since Jadis’s untimely death occurs at the hands of Rick and Michonne in the series’ penultimate episode, our star-crossed duo has a couple of very clear missions to accomplish in the finale. First up is for Michonne to recover the Jadis papers and destroy them (that proves to be easy enough). But more importantly, Rick must receive the hallowed “Echelon Briefing” that reveals what the CRM is really all about and then reveal that information to the Civic Republic so they know what their military helpers have really been up to.

How does that latter mission go? And how does Rick Grimes’ story on The Walking Dead ultimately end? Find out below …

What Was in The Echelon Briefing?

It’s no secret that The Civic Republic Military is bad. Watchers of previous Walking Dead spinoff The Walking Dead: The World Beyond already know that the CRM committed villainous acts like destroying their Omaha allies and feeding innocent people into cruel scientific experiments. What The Ones Who Live promises is an answer to why they’re so bad in the first place. We get that answer (for the most part at least) when Rick sits down with Major General Beale (Terry O’Quinn) to receive the mythical “Echelon Briefing.”

Before we get into the meat of the Echelon briefing though, I need to point out something that’s bugging me. Beale tells Rick that he’s given this briefing “2,533 times.” And I’m sorry, but that’s just a preposterous number. The Walking Dead‘s timeline is pretty incomprehensible at this point but we do know that the world ended in 2010 and the events of The Ones Who Live take place around 2022.

If Beale has given 2,533 Echelon briefings in 12 years, that means he’s delivered a briefing nearly every day since the apocalypse began. And surely the Echelon briefings didn’t start immediately on zombie D-Day in 2010. It probably took a couple of years to develop enough secrets to even justify needing an Echelon briefing. Beale has undoubtedly had to deliver at least one briefing per day for the entirety of his post-apocalyptic life with no time off. It’s not like this is a quick download of information either. As we see with Rick, there’s a big ritual surrounding it. Where does Beale even find the time to be a bad guy?

But I digress. CRM = bad. And they’re bad because they think they need to be to survive. The “first secret” that Beale tells Rick is that the CRM’s scientific modeling suggests humanity only has about 14 years left before extinction. That’s because CRM helicopters have discovered herds of zombies that number in the millions out in the wild. However much clearing of the dead they’re doing, it’s not enough. Eventually the living will be overwhelmed. That’s not even to mention other survival challenges like disease, famine, and political conflict.

The other secret is the one that viewers are already familiar with: the CRM has been liquidating its other allied communities so that the Civic Republic can consolidate resources and survive longterm. Next up on the chopping block is the community in Portland and CRM troops will be heading there imminently to kill virtually everyone. Then they will declare martial law and officially take over the Civic Republic. It’s at this point that Beale offers Rick the opportunity to bring his loved ones to the CRM after the Portland massacre, effectively setting up a situation where Rick can save Alexandria at the cost of another community he’s never been to.

Thankfully, Rick has been at this post-apocalyptic game long enough to know bullshit when he hears it. Whether he disbelieves Beale’s first secret (and he should…there absolutely cannot be billions of dead still out there this far into this. It’s preposte….*forcefully dragged away from keyboard*) or he just stubbornly thinks he can save everyone anyway, Rick activates badass mode and kills Beale with a ceremonial sword.

What Happens to the CRM?

While Rick was having his meeting with Beale, Michonne was receiving the same information re: Portland massacre, having gone undercover to attend a CEP (Child Evacuation Protocol) meeting. Upon reuniting, Rick and Michonne are in agreement: the CRM must be stopped. To that end, the duo come up with one of the more creative uses for zombies yet.

As thousands of CRM troops muster on a runway for takeoff, Rick and Michonne rig a munitions building with explosives. The triggers for those explosives are none other than the zombified forms of Beale and an anonymous guard that Michonne killed. Though Pearl Thorne (Lesley Ann-Brandt) tries to stop them, the zombies shuffle far enough and the bombs go off, destroying precious CRM resources and killing countless soldiers.

There isn’t much time left in the episode at this point so things get a little sloppy from here. As Rick and Michonne fly off to safety, we hear a voiceover news report of what’s gone on at the CRM since. Rick and Michonne must have successfully communicated to the Civic Republic government what their military was doing behind their back. The Civic Republic Council voted unanimously to establish civilian oversight over what was left of the CRM. The CRC is also now allowing for free movement of its citizens, ensuring that they are no longer pseudo prisoners in Philadelphia.

Do Rick and Michonne Make it Back Home?

They do! The Ones Who Live‘s budget must have been completely shot at this point because instead of landing in Alexandria, Rick and Michonne’s helicopter settles down in a nondescript field outside of it. There Rick and Michonne are reunited with their children Judith (Cailey Fleming) and RJ (Antony Azor).

In the case of the latter, Rick is actually meeting his son for the first time.

“You’re the brave man?” RJ asks Rick, using the nickname his mother gave him.
“I am. But maybe you can call me dad.”
“I knew you’d come back.”
“I believed.”

Rick adjusts the little guy’s hat and everyone lives happily ever after.

Will There Be a The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 2?

Going into this finale, it really seemed as though a second season was in the cards for The Ones Who Live. Not only is The Walking Dead a franchise that likes to keep its storytelling options open (both the Negan/Maggie and Daryl Dixon spinoffs concluded in open-ended fashion) but wrapping up all the loose threads of the CRM story was truly a tall task.

Ultimately though, episode 6’s title may have been appropriate as “The Last Time” gets through the fall of the CRM and Rick’s return home really quickly. After seeing the Grimes family all reunited, it’s really hard to imagine The Walking Dead putting them in danger again in a second TOWL season. Not only that, but both Lincoln and Gurira left the franchise of their own accord once already. It’s likely that they viewed this series as Rick and Michonne’s swan song.

AMC has not yet made any kind of announcement regarding The Ones Who Live season 2. Color us surprised is they ever commission it.

The post The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Ending Explained appeared first on Den of Geek.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.