Every character in The Walking Dead has gone through some type of personal evolution. Having seen the things they have seen and lost what they have lost, it makes perfect sense.
Rick Grimes, though, has become something of a Shane Walsh revisited. In seasons one and two, Rick was the morally grounded leader and Shane was the aggressive, take no prisoners, kill first and ask questions later antagonist.
Rick’s evolution from “Officer Friendly” into, in many ways, Shane part two, came full circle in the penultimate episode of Season Five, when a bloody rabid Rick confronted the residents of Alexandria by declaring, “We know what needs to be done and we do it. We’re the ones who live. You, you just sit and plan and hesitate…Things don’t get better because you want them to. Starting right now we have to live in the real world. We have to control who lives here.”
It is reminiscent of Shane’s emphatic speech to kill Randall in Season Two: “You’re going to bring this piece of garbage… This piece of garbage! He shot at you Rick! He ran with men that tried to kill you! You’re going to bring him back to where Lori sleeps? To where Carl sleeps?” Shane’s speech before opening the barn at Hershel’s farm to put down the zombies, including Sophia, inside, was similar: “Rick, it ain’t like it was before! Now if you all wanna live, if you wanna survive, you gotta fight for it, and I’m talking about fight! Right here, right now!”
Rick has become the man who will kill without hesitation whenever he or his post-apocalyptic family is threatened. His list of still human victims killed violently and without remorse is extensive: Tomas at the prison, Joe (and others in his merry band of “claimers”), Gareth the Termite, Officer Lamson on the run, and Pete at the end of season five.
It’s almost difficult to remember how emphatically Rick declared that the group does not kill other humans back in season two.
This is not to suggest that Rick should not have done what he did in each of these situations. It is pretty easy to imagine how in most of them, had he not taken the murderous action he took, it would have meant the lives of those close to him.
What I am wondering is how the return of Morgan will mesh with Rick’s new world view. TWD fans have been anxiously awaiting the return of Morgan believing the reunion would be a happy one. After all, Morgan and Rick had a similar view of the world in Season One. Rick wanted to protect human life, and so did Morgan. Otherwise, he would not have taken Rick – a stranger with an unknown malady – into his hideout with his beloved son.
Fast forward to the season five finale, and Morgan still wants to preserve life. He explains to Daryl, after Daryl wonders why Morgan saved his life, “Why? Because all life is precious, Daryl.” Morgan clearly means what he says. He allowed two wolves who openly threatened his life to live.
But, Rick has clearly gone down a different path.
The first trailer released for season six foreshadows conflict between these two friends, even to the point that the editing suggests Rick points a gun at Morgan.
Lennie James (Morgan) speaking to Access Hollywood, said of the trailer, “I can tell you that a lot of the trailer isn’t necessarily literal…” but that is likely just to throw us off the scent. I do not think the reunion of Rick and Morgan is going to be a happy one.
What do you think? Will Morgan be Rick’s ally, or will his belief that all life is precious put him at odds with Rick’s kill or be killed philosophy? Will Rick pull a gun on Morgan? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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