The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Review The Nerdy Basement

‘The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live’ Review

It’s been a long time coming for fans of The Walking Dead, more specifically, fans of Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes and Danai Gurira’s Michonne. With a new spin-off of the horizon, the world of The Walking Dead aims to reunite the long-lost wife and husband duo Rick and Michonne in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live. I want to preface this review by providing a little context for those who have either not watched the final seasons of the mothership series or those who just need a refresher on the final whereabouts of both Rick and Michonne.

The last we saw Michonne was in The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 13, saving a couple from a heard of Walkers and helping them find safety amidst her solo quest of locating Rick. That’s until we see her return for a brief cameo in the series finale to show that she is well into her search for Rick but has yet to find him, while also serving as the setup for The Ones Who Live.

The same can be said for Rick Grimes who was last seen in The Walking Dead Season 9, Episode 5. This episode is solely dedicated to Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes as we venture down memory lane revisiting important moments of the series and the traumatic events that have led Rick to his eventual separation from the group at Alexandria and his captivity from the CRM at the hands of Jadis. We do get a glimmer of hope when Michonne comes across some of Rick’s belongings which prompts her to venture on her quest as mentioned above.

Additionally, we also get a brief cameo of Rick Grimes serving as a sort of status update (he was presumed dead following his exit from the series) for the character showing how he lost his belongings, leaving them behind as clues to his status and possible whereabouts. Here we learn that he is still being held captive by the CRM and that this precise moment was a failed attempt at escaping their grasp. Both appearances by Rick and Michonne in the season finale of The Walking Dead serve as precursors to The Ones Who Live and the story we are about to venture into.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Review The Nerdy Basement
Terry O’Quinn as Major General Beale – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Thanks to AMC Network, we were able to watch the first four episodes of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live and at the time of this writing, the series so far is a mixed bag. Some things work well while other moments just fall flat. At times the action provides that oomph that we come to enjoy when it comes to The Walking Dead and at other times, those interpersonal moments do not land as well as they should or as the series intends. That’s until we get to the fourth episode of the series which delivers those interpersonal and emotional moments the series wants to sell you on.

The events of the series serve to fill in the gaps between the last few seasons of The Walking Dead’s main series and this new spin-off series as we learn what Rick Grimes has been up to these last few years following his capture and his life within the CRM’s military base. Along the way, we are introduced to a pair of newcomers to The Walking Dead universe Donald Okafor and Pearl Throne both of whom play an integral part in Rick’s journey in this series. Both characters push Rick to do things that seem out of character for him which shows how much damage the CRM has done to him throughout the years.

This is a much different version of Rick Grimes, one who is broken down with no real sense of identity. A person who has just accepted his fate and would rather play along than risk the lives of others as he once did, even if it was for the betterment of his people. It’s a very noticeable contrast to Rick that highlights his duality between what some may consider a villain and others a hero. That’s all dependent on which side of the coin you are looking at. This new side of Rick may frustrate some viewers and others may just empathize with him as his motivations are burdensome.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Review The Nerdy Basement
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Then again this is something Rick has always had to battle throughout The Walking Dead series as a whole. Do I just bend the knee and survive or do I do what’s right (or wrong) so I can live to fight another day and also ensure that my community, my people can also live to fight another day? That inner conflict, again, is something that will either frustrate viewers or will have them rally behind his cause more than ever before I feel.

The same can be said for Michonne who has been on such an excruciating and emotional journey since she decided to leave not just the community of Alexandria and the Hilltop, but also leaves behind her children RJ and Judith to find Rick. As great as Andrew Lincoln is as Rick Grimes whenever we see him, especially in this series. To me, Danai Gurira’s Michonne is the real backbone of the series so far.

Gurira provides such an emotional heaviness in these four episodes that is palpable. Lincoln is no slouch either, when the emotions are needed, he is sure to deliver as well. Combine the two and you have an intense on-screen chemistry that is hard to turn away from. There’s a real sense of urgency and desperation for both Rick and Michonne in this series.

He wants to get back home and reunite with his wife and family but the small glimmer of hope that he has slowly diminished. We also get a breadcrumb trail as to what has Rick acting this way and eventually is holding him back. Meanwhile, Michonne is unrelenting in her quest. It’s that duality that makes the show interesting and engaging however, some of the more dramatic character moments are sluggish at times and overstay their welcome for the sole sake of building unnecessary tension.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Review The Nerdy Basement
Lesley-Ann Brandt as Thorne – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

There’s a charm in Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln’s on-screen chemistry that honestly doesn’t skip a beat. There’s a palpable disconnect between Rick and Michonne that slowly unravels and when those layers are peeled back fully, the series shines and the performances of our lead actors elevate that tenfold. So far for me, this is where the series has been the most effective. Everything else in between, at times, seems trivial and irrelevant and for the time being, shows no clear sense of direction especially when taking a step back to look at the bigger picture.

Rick and Michonne’s personal goals and vendettas are not the only goals that need to be met and time will tell how those goals are met and ultimately resolved.

After watching these four episodes I truly feel that this series should’ve happened sooner rather than later. The creatives behind the series are doing their best to bridge that gap and make the connections seem rather seamless but the main series has come to an end and we are still trying to pivot and connect to a story that has wrapped rather than venture out on its own like The Walking Dead: Dead City and The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon. I think this will be the series’ biggest hindrance, but I could be biting my tongue by the time the series wraps. I’m still interested in seeing where it all goes.

Especially with the CRM. They’ve been a lingering threat that wasn’t fully explored until Fear The Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond. They’re front and center here and are shown to be the biggest threat to this world yet. Everyone else the group has had to deal with truly pales in comparison and that’s something I can commend the series for. How, if, and when the CRM is defeated remains to be seen. The odds are heavily stacked against Rick and Michonne and any chances of survival seem rather slim.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live premieres February 25th on AMC and AMC+.

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