After Rick and Michonne’s Reunion, Where Will ‘The Walking Dead’ Universe Go Next?

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[This story contains spoilers from The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.]

Years after his presumed death, Rick Grimes is not only alive and well, but fully back in action.

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By the end of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, the Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira-starring and produced limited series, the powerhouse duo of Rick and Michonne officially reunited. Not just with each other, but with their family and friends. Having dismantled the nefarious CRM from the inside, the titular “ones who live” earned their way back to the Alexandria safe zone they called home for so many seasons, with Rick reuniting with his daughter for the first time in years, and meeting his son RJ for the first time ever.

All’s well that ends well, right? Just one problem: it ain’t over just yet.

While Lincoln, Gurira and franchise overseer Scott M. Gimple have all stopped short of promising another team-up in the future, the way The Ones Who Live ends not just opens the door for a follow-up, it all but kicks the door clean off the hinges. That’s because the Walking Dead universe has a lot of other things going on right now, much of which seems to thread back into the story of Rick Grimes.

Let’s start locally. The original Walking Dead ended with Alexandria joining up with the Commonwealth, a well-supported governing body now spearheaded by King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Mercer (Michael James Shaw). It’s a good thing Rick missed out on this entire era, because in Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s comic books, Sheriff Grimes’ time in the Commonwealth is…let’s say, unpleasant. Now that he’s back, however, there’s a sprawling new community waiting for him to explore.

That said, Rick learning the Commonwealth feels a good deal less interesting than Rick running into some old friends and foes, doesn’t it?

Beyond The Ones Who Live, there are two major Walking Dead shows up and running right now: Dead City and Daryl Dixon. Both series contain important reasons for a possible Rick and Michonne sighting. Beginning with Dead City, word that Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and her son are in danger would be enough to get the Grimes clan rallying the forces. Seeing the current condition of New York City, and learning more about the underground war being waged for supremacy over the city, would be enough to keep them there for a time.

And that’s not even mentioning the Negan in the room. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s baseball-bat-wielding antihero was Rick’s primary antagonist for Lincoln’s final run on the show, and they never really had the chance to close their story. Are the wounds still raw? Negan’s demonstrated some (emphasis on “some”) redemptive qualities, and Rick’s own children have soft spots for the former Savior, so it’s possible RJ and Judith could put in some work toward a healed rift between Rick and Negan.

The other option, of course, is for one of the men to kill the other. If anyone’s going to take Rick or Negan out, it’s going to be, well, Negan or Rick.

But RJ and Judith aren’t the only folks in Rick and Michonne’s lives who could vouch for Negan these days. It’s a stretch to call them “friends,” but in the final run of the show, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Negan teamed together on multiple occasions, even working together to send Beta (Ryan Hurst) into the great beyond. If Rick and Daryl meet somewhere during an eventual reunion with Negan, the story could get all the more complicated.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier in The Walking Dead
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon.

First, Rick and Daryl have to reunite, which frankly feels like the likeliest next step in the greater Walking Dead universe, at least as it pertains to getting more Grimes on the board. Brothers from another mother, Rick and Daryl have some unfinished business — or, more to the point, they’re way overdue for a tearful hug. Events in Daryl Dixon already indicate Rick’s return happened without Daryl knowing it, as Melissa McBride’s Carol tries to tell her old friend that “he’s back,” during a radio call gone wrong. Carol is co-leading season two of the spinoff, and if she knows how to track her BFF down, Rick can’t be far behind.

What’s more, Rick has an entire arsenal at his disposal now. He’s not in charge of the Civic Republic, but in the final moments of The Ones Who Live, a fleet of aircrafts drop off Rick and Michonne, completely changing the game when it comes to in-universe transportation. With the Civic Republic as an ally, combined with possible Commonwealth resources, the Alexandria crew’s ability to travel across the Atlantic suddenly opens all the way up. Not only are we likely to see some kind of major Walking Dead crossover at some point in time, but the way is wide open for it to take place in Europe, thanks to the gang’s new flyover capabilities.

While it’s not canonized on the show, there’s another element of Rick Grimes’ story that might connect him to Europe: his brother. A comic book called The Walking Dead: The Alien, written by Saga creator Brian K. Vaughan, reveals Rick’s brother Jeffrey is in Spain when the zombie apocalypse begins. Some story elements would need to be remixed and remastered in order to get our Walking Dead regulars and Jeff Grimes in the same space, but it’s one of the lingering major events from the comic book canon that has yet to be translated to live action — and if the show finally cuts off Rick’s hand, a new story centering on Rick’s brother doesn’t feel so far-fetched.

Clearly, there are a lot of different paths that could lead the main Walking Dead cast back to one another, whether in Dead City and Daryl Dixon, or on the other side of those shows. (This isn’t even mentioning Lennie James’ Morgan leaving Fear the Walking Dead in order to join back up with Rick Grimes; add it to the reunion bucket list!) Lincoln, Gurira and Gimple all seem to be on board with telling more stories together, assuming they can find the right story. Whatever decision they ultimately make, it won’t be for a lack of options.

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