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‘The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live’ Review: Reunite with Rick and Michonne

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The Walking Dead universe has returned with its third spinoff in the past year, The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live. The show features the long awaited return of Andrew Lincoln as our main protagonist Rick Grimes, along with the return of Danai Gurira as Michonne. The show also features an old face and some new ones including Pollyana Mcintosh returning as Jadis, along with new cast members such as Lost alumni Terry O’Quinn, Leslie Ann-Brandt, Matthew Jeffers and more. 

The trailers established that the main setting of this series would be where Rick was lifted off to back in season nine of The Walking Dead, A place called the Civic Republic. The show very quickly establishes where Rick has been for the many years he’s been missing and why he’s still there, along with Michonne’s continued search for him. While there are some supporting cast members, the show heavily focuses on both Rick and Michonne throughout the first four episodes. This entire review can essentially be broken down into two parts, Rick’s story and Michonne’s story. 

[Warning: Early impressions/mild spoilers for episodes 1-4 of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live below!]

Rick Grimes returns in this long-awaited The Walking Dead spinoff

Fans will be absolutely delighted to see such a glorious return of Rick Grimes. For the many years he’s been gone, so many longtime, loyal, and dedicated fans have spent a considerable amount of time in YouTube videos, forums, and chats theorizing about where Rick went and what his future story would be.

After a six-year-long wait, I am absolutely thrilled to report that Rick’s story is given an incredibly substantial amount of thought and care and has been handled brilliantly. AMC is reported to have spent nearly $100 million dollars on the six-episode first season, and it is incredibly evident. The production design, cinematography, and quality are highly elevated to match the grand world that Rick Grimes finds he’s been dropped into. 

the ones who live rick grimes
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live (AMC)

The Civic Republic is the largest world we’ve seen so far in The Walking Dead universe. Back in the main series, the show ended with our main group finding permanent refuge at the Commonwealth, which was once thought to be the largest civilized community left in the world. The Civic Republic largely blows that out of the water. Along with the Civic Republic being an absolutely massive community, the CRM or the Civic Republic Military is touted as the largest and most powerful military left in the world. 

The series finale of The Walking Dead revealed Rick Grimes has been unable to leave or escape the Civic Republic. The show predominantly touches on that and explores the struggles of a man who’s been taken away from his family to a safe haven, but is never allowed to leave.

Right away, the show establishes the tone as a serious drama. The Walking Dead would sometimes lose focus and stray off into being a simple comic book adaptation, but this series is not the case. The Ones Who Live features such impressive gravitas and composure in its script and performances that it almost doesn’t feel like a The Walking Dead series at times. Andrew Lincoln proves just how much of an extraordinary actor he is in record time throughout the duration of this show. He sells perfectly the desperation of a man trying to get back to his wife and children at any cost. 

The theorizing and fantasizing about where and when we would see Rick Grimes had reached MCU levels throughout the fandom for the past few years. I’ve seen many longtime TWD fans cosplay as Rick with his Civic Republic jacket on at comic cons and pictures of Walking Dead meetups.

The show is certainly going to fulfill many fantasies and fan theories that have been spread and discussed throughout the fandom for the past few years. After watching the first four episodes, I can confirm Rick Grimes diehards are in for a treat. 

Michonne’s journey in The Ones Who Live

While many loyal and returning TWD fans will be tuning in for Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira’s Michonne is also given a story with an incredible amount of heart. Navigating around the plot of this show is difficult due to avoiding spoilers. Almost everything that occurs in this show feels like a spoiler in one way or another. It’s clearly evident AMC has spent a lot of time and effort into preserving the secrecy of this show, and the payoff should be massive. 

What can be said about Michonne’s journey in the show is that it picks up right where it left off in the tenth season of TWD. Michonne is still looking for Rick and is on an incredibly long and hard journey to find him. The last we saw of her, she found Rick’s old boots and an iPhone with a sketch of her and Judith on it, along with a message written in Japanese.

Danai Gurira as MIchonne in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live
Danai Gurira as Michonne in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live. (AMC)

The trailers reveal that Michonne is traveling with a new companion, Matthew Jeffers’ character Nat. In the trailer, Nat reveals to Michonne that the message that’s written in Japanese on the iPhone actually says, “believe a little bit longer”. The specific scene is delivered with heart and essentially reveals the theme of the show. Much of the show revolves around the message of “believe a little bit longer” and the power behind that message. 

Regarding Michonne, beyond what we’ve seen in the trailer is getting into heavy spoiler territory. What can be said though is that Michonne’s storyline in this show is given the same amount of heart and care as Rick Grimes. These characters are truly treated as the two main protagonists of the show and are truly given time to shine on their own.

What’s truly great about Michonne’s arc is it feels like a fluid continuation from her departure in the original main series. Switching to a new show could have led to a time jump or something of that nature, but the show picks up essentially where it left off. Her character arc from what we’ve seen so far has been incredibly satisfying and fulfilling. 

Watch The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live soon on AMC+

Overall, Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira give such compelling performances in this series. If this wasn’t a TWD show, I would say they would both have a legit shot at some nominations during next year’s award season. The show delivers by far the greatest performance, visuals, cinematography, and writing we’ve seen since the early days of The Walking Dead.

AMC will soon have boasted three incredibly fresh and successful TWD spinoffs in their new age of stories they’re telling (See below for links to my reviews of the other two). Barring the season finale having any specific finality to it, there’s little reason to doubt why this show wouldn’t continue into a second season for The Ones Who Live.

I expect this show to be incredibly well received both by the fans and the critics. TWD universe fans have a legitimate reason to be excited for the future. 

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live premieres AMC+ on February 25, 2024 . Are you excited for this new series? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or on The Cosmic Circus Discord.

(Update: read my review of the full season of The Ones Who Live here!)

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Drew Reed

Hey I'm Drew Reed, Staff Writer here at The Cosmic Circus. I love Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, The Lord of The Rings and many more fantasy and sci-fi universes. You can find me on twitter @ DrewReed1099

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