The Ones Who Live’ Boss on Epic Finale — and Whether We’ll See Rick & Michonne Together Again

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, Season 1, Episode 6, “The Last Time.”]

Did you reach your box of tissues in time? From the start of the sixth and final episode of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live (including that incredible establishing shot it opened on), it was clear that fans of the long-running zombie franchise were in for a gut-punch of an episode. The most formidable couple at the end of the world — Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) — faced a series of life-altering decisions and ultimatums as they stole Jadis’ (Pollyanna McIntosh) secret file on them, learned just what the Civic Republic Military in Philadelphia were up to (in short, total domination…), and, of course, took the bad guys out (RIP, Terry O’Quinn‘s Major General Beale, who made a fantastic walker).

And all those epic explosions and near-bites from the dead were great, don’t get us wrong, but they were nothing compared to the emotional impact of finally seeing Rick and Michonne safely reunite with their children, Judith (Cailey Fleming) and R.J. (Antony Azor) after years away. (Yes, Rick Jr. finally meets his dad, who he sweetly calls, “The Brave Man”!)

Below, we check in with The Walking Dead Universe’s Chief Content Officer Scott M. Gimple about that hard-hitting final scene, how this episode could change TWDU forever, and more.

First, is this really the last time we’re going to see Rick and Michonne on screen together?

Scott M. Gimple: …Could it be? I guess it could be, but you never know. You know, I have dreams and wishes, and this show that we’re seeing here is representative of dreams and wishes, and that happened. So we have a very good track record of dreams coming true, but we’ll see.

Speaking of dreams, that was an absolutely beautiful ending to the series. I can’t imagine there will be many dry eyes after that reunion scene.

Oh, yeah. To get those kids there, which was terrifying, when it was like, “What if we don’t get the kids there?” What if, for some reason, it doesn’t work out? And then, in the brief period that they’re on screen, the work that they do, [it] was incredible.

Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1, Episode 6

Gene Page/AMC

There was some nervousness just because of schedules and stuff like that, it not working, and I was like, “No. It has to work. I will go down to wherever with an Alexa camera — I’ll do it. Don’t worry about it. It’s going to happen.”

Was everyone bawling on set when you shot that last scene? Was it a small set?

The strike was called during that, so I didn’t get to see anything.

Oh my gosh.

It was a strike that we had to do. I’m very, very proud and glad we did it… but I didn’t want to miss that stuff!

Was there ever another ending on the table, one that didn’t tie it up in the same way, or was that always the goal when you set out to write this with Andy and Danai?

I don’t recall there being [anything else]. That was our endpoint, and we figured out the journey to that endpoint of two people not just physically finding each other, not just physically bringing each other back, but doing that on an emotional level, on a spiritual level, on an identity level. But then, once they do that, and in finding themselves, they’re the type of people who are selfless, who will risk their lives for other people. By doing that, that’s ultimately how they get what they want in the end. And so, that was the ending as I recall. It was never like, “Man! After 6 years, bring them back, kill them!” That isn’t the story.

That would have been very hard to see, in a totally different way.

[Laughs] Yeah, I can’t imagine. People die on The Walking Dead, and things are horrible, but the story carries on to balance things out. This is a limited series, so you end with [death], and you know, there’s no balancing.

For sure. I also love that we got to see Rick reflect on what he considers to be the worst thing that he’s ever done — biting someone’s neck to kill them. Were there any other past Rick actions you considered for that moment, or was that choice unanimous when you were all writing? I’m not thinking of another moment. This isn’t a trap, by the way.

It’s a pretty specific question. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to save somebody you love’s life? I mean, in some ways, that’s just serving Rick a fastball, right across the plate. I wasn’t there for the shooting, so I’m watching that scene, and the way Andy does that, it’s like, “Wow!” You know, Terry does most of that scene, but Andy, I feel, does some of the most amazing acting of the franchise in that scene, and he’s just listening. And then he says things, like the way that came out of his mouth, the softness as well as the threat… So long story short, Andy made me believe him. [Laughs] Like I wasn’t saying, “Was there another thing?” Rick seems pretty sure.

Talking about that scene, I found a lot of the language that Beale was using to be interesting — this “next world,” “the start of what’s next,” “a day completely about tomorrow,” all of those little, beautiful nuggets of dialogue. Was the future of the franchise on your mind while writing this scene?

I think about it all the time. I mean, it’s just fan fiction, it’s just in my head. We can only make so many shows at once. So I get to dream a lot and find my opportunities to make things. And some of that is fan fiction, and some of it evolves.

Is humanity only having 14 years left officially canon in TWDU, or is that just a theory that died with Beale and his CRM cronies?

Absolutely. I don’t think it’s the perfect canon at all, but I think the CRM is a pretty formidable organization, and I think it’s a pretty good piece of data, though they aren’t without fault. They aren’t bulletproof with all of their assumptions, especially in a world where you only have so much intel, and so much computing power. I think it’s entirely possible, but the things that he’s talking about, absolutely, there are stories behind it.

[And] there are so many stories even leading up to this that we haven’t gotten to tell. I worked on a very deep dive of stories just in the Civic Republic that have very little to do with the CRM, and what it’s like to live in a place like that, and characters and stories in there. There’s been stuff with the CRM that has nothing to do with Rick and Michonne. We play around with so much stuff, but we can only make so much stuff. But it always serves as a benefit, because you’ve done that much more homework.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, AMC+

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