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Spoilers are ahead for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, episode 1, “Years.”

Summary

  • Despite being held captive by the CRM, Rick Grimes displays his potential as a leader.
  • Rick’s dream sequence foreshadows his potential rise as a CRM leader, hinting at his future role in the Civic Republic’s power structure.
  • Okafor recognizes Rick’s natural ability to attract followers and lead, preparing him for a significant role within CRM’s hierarchy.

Since Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) left The Walking Dead (TWD) in season 9, viewers have waited to see where the former main character’s story would take him. Having survived his apparent sacrificial play in TWD, Rick winds up being involved with the Civic Republic Military (CRM) — the most robust organized army The Walking Dead universe has ever seen. In “Years,” the premiere episode of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, Rick grapples with his confinement by the all-powerful CRM. Unable to see a way out, the former sheriff’s deputy contemplates death by suicide, but decides against it.

While the CRM is the name for The Ones Who Live‘s antagonist army, the larger community at play is the Pennsylvania-based Civic Republic. The episode skips ahead a few years to show Rick Grimes and his fellow CRM cosignees out on an assignment. Tethered to a CRM soldier, Rick cuts off his chained hand — a brutal twist on an iconic Walking Dead comic event. Although he’s tasered pretty immediately, Rick clearly isn’t just giving in to the CRM’s way of life. If anything, The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live hints at Rick’s future as a CRM leader.

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7 Okafor Is Vouches For Rick Grimes To CRM Leadership

Close-up of Craig Tate as Okafor in The Walking Dead - The Ones Who Live

After Rick sacrifices himself to destroy the bridge in The Walking Dead season 9, he’s taken captive by the CRM — the group of soldiers tasked with protecting a hidden community in Pennsylvania. Although the city appears to be self-governing, the CRM is clearly the source of power. Rick, like other cosignees who are “rescued” by the CRM, is forced to perform hard labor. In exchange, the Civic Republic promotes these rescued cosignees to citizens — after six years. After attempting to escape several times, Rick shows no signs of wanting to be promoted.

Even so, The Walking Dead‘s Lieutenant Colonel Okafor (Craig Tate) goes to bat for Rick. While the CRM’s leading officer, Major General Beale (Terry O’Quinn), asks Rick if he wants to kill or be killed, it’s Okafor who vouches for Rick. To Okafor, it’s clear that Rick has more potential than the average post-apocalyptic survivor. Beyond his hardened exterior and his aptitude for violence, Rick boasts undeniable leadership skills. Clearly, Okafor recognizes that; Rick’s furious reaction to Okafor more than solidifies that the long-time Walking Dead protagonist feels it too.

Rick Grimes is the former leader of the Alexandria Safe-Zone who was presumed dead in The Walking Dead season 9.

6 Rick’s Dream Sequences Tease Him Taking Over The CRM

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes and Danai Gurira as Michonne share a laugh in The Walking Dead - The Ones Who Live

After Rick cuts off his hand and gets tasered by CRM soldiers, he collapses. The scene fades into a telling dream sequence that hints at Rick’s potential future in the Civic Republic. Set in a space that feels almost pre-apocalyptic, the dream unfolds in an idyllic version of the Civic Republic. On his way to work, Rick asks a dream version of Michonne (Danai Gurira) for directions. Funnily enough, he’s looking for his new workplace (i.e. the CRM). Michonne is encouraging, telling Rick that he’ll get where he needs to go; together, they can do anything.

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5 Okafor Says Rick “Already Has Power”

In addition to seeing Rick’s potential as a future CRM soldier and officer, Okafor tells Rick that he “already has power.” Not only does Rick take hold of what little agency he has as a CRM cosignee, but he’s able to attract people. Folks listen to Rick Grimes and, more importantly, they trust him. While viewers know that Rick is a natural leader, Okafor seems to sense Grimes’ penchant for taking initiative, giving orders, and managing people. That inherent ability — and the way it shines through — proves Rick already has a kind of power.

4 Okafor Is Preparing Rick Grimes As A Future CRM Leader

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead The Ones Who Live looking directly at camera with blood on his face

While Okafor vouching for Rick and commenting on his natural abilities is a pretty big hint at Rick’s future within the CRM, Okafor takes things a step further when he asks Rick and another cosignee, Pearl Thorne (Lesley-Ann Brandt), to join his secret initiative. At first, Rick and Thorne agree to meet with Okafor in secret. Fearful that the CRM’s corruption will hinder the Civic Republic’s aims, Okafor explains that he wants to improve the CRM from the inside. Essentially, he recruits Rick and Thorne to his cause as he believes they can help him foster lasting change.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live is a six-episode series.

3 Rick Should’ve Been Killed By CRM But Was Spared

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes gazing upward with tears in his eyes in The Walking Dead

From the jump, the CRM hammers home its strict code of conduct. In order to keep the Civic Republic safe, the CRM ensures the location of their community remains a secret. That said, no one is allowed to leave the Civic Republic. When the CRM initially brought Rick in, he was considered a threat — someone to be killed. Walking Dead‘s CRM dubs Rick and Thorne “As” — strong-willed leaders prone to causing issues. Rick has no problem questioning authority or disobeying the CRM, so it would be rather fitting if he climbed their ranks.

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2 Rick Can’t Help But Notice The CRM Is Secretly Up To No Good

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes looks serious while raising his arm in The Walking Dead - The Ones Who Live

The CRM doesn’t let the Civic Republic’s citizens know what’s really going on behind the scenes. Instead, it promises them safety and a comparatively idyllic lifestyle in exchange for higher-ups secrecy. At one point during “Years,” several Civic Republic citizens protest the army, demanding more transparency. While Rick isn’t the only one who knows The Walking Dead‘s CRM is up to no good, he’s in a better position than most to make change. Rick mentions to Okafor that the CRM’s bombs are going out and not coming back. Rick claims he doesn’t care, but he’s clearly dwelling on it.

“This isn’t my city,” Rick tells Okafor. “Those aren’t my people.”

1 It’s What Rick Grimes Always Does

CRM consignees including Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.

This isn’t my city,” Rick tells Okafor. “Those aren’t my people.” While Rick’s monologue is all about choice, it’s hard to imagine him letting innocent people suffer. At one point during “Years,” Rick fumbles an escape attempt because he feels the need to save a child from Walkers. He might say he’s not interested in getting involved, but the past proves otherwise. From The Walking Dead‘s prison to Alexandria, Rick has helmed nearly every group he’s been a part of, and there’s no reason to think he won’t take charge in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live too.

New episodes of The Walking Dead: The Ones WhoLive air on Sundays through March 31, 2024.

  • The Walking Dead The Ones Who Live TV Show Poster

    The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live

    Release Date:
    2024-02-25

    Cast:
    Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Pollyanna McIntosh, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Terry O’Quinn

    Genres:
    Action, Drama, Horror

    Rating:
    TV-MA

    Seasons:
    1

    Story By:
    Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard

    Writers:
    Scott M. Gimple, Danai Gurira

    Network:
    AMC

    Streaming Service(s):
    AMC+

    Franchise(s):
    The Walking Dead

    Showrunner:
    Scott M. Gimple



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