The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live is a worthy return for Rick and Michonne!

Fear not, Walking Dead fans: ‘The Ones Who Live’ is well worth the wait.
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

The Walking Dead fans rejoice! After years of waiting, the return of beloved survivors Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) is here — and it’s as epic as we all hoped it would be. Here's our SPOILER-FREE review of the first four episodes of the series!

In the time that's passed since The Walking Dead ended after 11 seasons in 2022, the franchise has continued through a slate of spinoff projects. First, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) returned to our screens in Dead City, which saw them head to a post-apocalyptic New York City where the dead roam and hardened survivors had carved out a community of their own. After that, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) got his own show where he washed up in France and tried to figure out a way home.

These spinoffs have been hugely successful, and both will return for another season. But perhaps the most anticipated of all is the long-awaited return of Rick Grimes and Michonne in The Ones Who Live. When we last saw Rick, he was being carried away, barely alive, in a Civic Republic helicopter in season 9. Meanwhile, Michonne departed the show a season later after receiving clues that Rick is still alive and out there in the world somewhere.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live has an epic scope!

At this point, we're all aware of the development hell this show went through. Initially, the franchise announced that Rick would return in a proposed trilogy of movies, but that never happened. However, The Ones Who Live feels like an epic movie disguised as a TV show. The set pieces are huge and the scope is bigger than anything we've seen from the franchise before. Everything about this show feels grand.

And yet, The Ones Who Live still manages to feel intimate enough to convey emotion with delicacy and maturity. You feel the pain and desperation of Rick and Michonne. It's touching, heartfelt, and feels like a real passion project. It's not without humor, either. Having Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira as executive producers has allowed them to really hone in on their characters. Gurira has previously called the show a love story, and that's exactly what it is, and it never loses that focus.

However, this is the Walking Dead universe, and the show doesn't hold back when it comes to dramatic twists and turns that will stun viewers.

Where are Rick and Michonne in the beginning of the series?

As the official trailer shows, both Rick and Michonne are still separated in the beginning of the series. Rick is a very reluctant member of the Civic Republic Military. The Civic Republic is not exactly a mystery to Walking Dead fans; we got plenty of details in the spinoff series The Walking Dead: World Beyond. For newcomers, they're a huge community, or better yet a trinity of communities, which be the biggest in the United States. Led by Major General Beale (Terry O'Quinn), a seemingly affable and trustworthy leader, the military is enormously powerful, and also pretty oppressive. The Civic Republic is secretive to a fault: those who arrive must never leave, and any attempt is punishable by death.

Terry O'Quinn as Major General Beale - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

And then there's Walking Dead veteran Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), the former leader of the scrapyard people from the original show. After saving Rick's life, Jadis goes on to become a high-ranking officer in the Civic Republic. Rick's interactions with Jadis are some of my favorites. There's a bloody history between them, and yet she decided to save his life.

The Civic Republic is like a different world to Rick. No longer is he a leader; he's got to function as part of a team. He's got to play their game on their terms, even if it means doing things he's intrinsically against. It's a case of adapt or die, and choosing the lesser of two evils when faced with unimaginable dilemmas.

Another character who's bound to become a fan-favorite is command sergeant major Pearl Thorne, played brilliantly by Lesley-Ann Brandt. Thorne is a badass leader and former member of the South African Navy. She's a natural leader, one the Civic Republic would classify as a 'B' rather than an 'A.'

Lesley-Ann Brandt as Thorne - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

Rick tends to spend more time with Thorne than any other person. While they certainly don't always see eye-to-eye, there's a mutual respect between them. Thorne brings a great energy to the show; her strict, direct nature is a joy to watch, especially when she's beside Rick.

As for Michonne, she's still out there looking for Rick. Her hope that he's still alive is the beating heart of the show, overpowering all else. The quote "Believe a little bit longer" acts as a perfect tagline for the series.

Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

While out in the wilderness, Michonne meets Nat (Matthew Jeffers), a member of the nomadic caravan of survivors, as teased in the final moments of her last appearance in the main show, "What We Become." Nat quickly became one of my favorite characters in the show. Kind and understanding, he becomes someone Michonne can confide in. He's very likable, and someone to help bring the story down to earth after scenes in the advanced, militaristic Civic Republic.

Matt Jeffries as Nat - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

The Ones Who Live is the show that fans have been waiting for, and it delivers. It's epic, emotional and a beautiful love story. You will cry. Episode 4, written by Danai Gurira herself, is one of the single best episodes to ever air in the entire Walking Dead Universe.

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

Grade: 9/10

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