Many would agree, for the most part, the ninth Season of AMC’s The Walking Dead has been a slow burn. Picking up the pace a bit in episode three, Warning Signs, it was on Sunday, October 29th that The Obliged offered one of the most enthralling segment in the series in some time. A great boost, things are about to get a lot more interesting with the premiere of What Comes After on Sunday, November 4th when we bid farewell to Rick Grimes. Wait, are they really going to write the story’s main character from the script only four episodes into what will be a sixteen episode season? Apparently so. Take a deep breath, before tackling the impending doom of Rick Grimes, let us look at The Obliged and what made it work so well.
Directed by Rosemary Rodriguez, The Obliged picks up shortly after Maggie and Daryl decide it is time to take matters into their own hands and finally rid the world of Negan. After all, it seems that the bulk of The Saviors are not having Rick’s unity for the betterment of the future and it seems another deadly conflict is on the horizon. With that, Maggie sets out to visit Alexandria while Daryl distracts Rick away from trying to stop her from snuffing out Negan.
Leading him away, the two longtime comrades find themselves in a scuffle that lands them in a deep hole, literally. Forced to face one another in a stressful situation, the exchange between Rick and Daryl could be some of the best moments in The Walking Dead in a while. Both pleading their case for how they feel, in the end, rather then rip out one another’s throats, they come together. No, they may not agree with one another’s stand, but they do respect it and at least try to understand each other.
A beautiful and bold aspect of The Obliged, is it looking too deep into matters to think perhaps this compromise/dialogue exchange is a subliminal cry out to everyone in the real world who ready to rip each other apart over politics? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it was moving to see, especially when everyone knows that Rick will be gone forever come What Comes After. Which raises the question, how will they cast off this legendary and vital character to the series? Interestingly enough, while down in the hole with Daryl, Rick made the remark if they kill Negan he will be made a martyr for the cause of more totalitarian leadership and order. That said, will Rick now become the martyr, bounding all the communities together seeing he inevitably is dying for his cause?
All this in mind, there is still a looming mysticism around the corner after Jadis fled the garage heap following her threat to kill Father Gabriel. What does she know? What will come next in the form of opposing evil? Also, was Negan’s attempts to get in Michonne’s head successful? Only time will tell, but truthfully, the real thoughts on everyone’s mind is what is going to happen to Rick Grimes?
There is no doubt that What Comes After is going to be an emotional episode. In many ways, it is the end of an era. It can go one of two ways – one, rejuvenate the series, or two, put the final nail in the coffin. Whatever it may be, grab your tissues and prepare to shed a tear because it is going to be tough goodbye to such a strong and important character. Until then, CrypticRock gives The Obliged 4.5 out of 5 stars.