Since AMC announced next week's episode of The Walking Dead will be Andrew Lincoln and Rick Grimes's last, fans have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is a TV show that has historically toyed with its audience, ending episodes with cliffhangers (Glen's dumpster death), and, worse, ending entire seasons with them (Negan's lineup). It's like a Gordon Ramsay reality show — edited for and around commercial breaks. Don't look for satisfaction here.
So it was with zero surprise The Walking Dead did it to us again last night with its hero and most popular character, Rick. The thing is, the show immediately ruined its own cliffhanger by previewing the next episode and showing Rick alive. Let's back up.
Last night's third episode of Season 9, "The Obliged," ends with Rick skewered on a piece of rebar after being thrown from his horse. As the episode fades to black, two huge groups of walkers close in on him and it appears to be the end. However, experience tells us it's not. Rick ain't going out like that. And we know it's not because, in the preview for next week's episode, Rick is seen back on his horse and nursing his wound. We haven't seen the last of him.
I can also tell you, as a veteran TV watcher, there's no way The Walking Dead kills off its hero this way. No chance. Rick will die glorious, not unceremoniously in the middle of nowhere. Dramatically, that makes zero sense. Expect Rick (and the preview confirms it) to follow through on Daryl's plan to lead the walkers to the bridge and wash them away en masse. It's exactly the kind of heroic send-off Rick deserves and, as fans, we deserve. He'll die a hero, saving Daryl, Carol, Maggie, Michonne, and everyone else from the walker horde one last time.
Rick will also get to say his goodbyes. This is something every TV show does when it kills a character. He did already have his moment with Daryl last night ("Be safe"), but Rick has to see Michonne again. He'll probably die in her arms, exhausted from leading the walkers to the bridge. For those of you hoping Rick will be eaten by the dead or killed in some gruesome fashion, I don't see it. But anything's possible. It would be amazing to see zombie Rick. We'll see what happens when the series returns next Sunday.