(This article contains pretty much every spoiler for the March 22 episode of “The Walking Dead” on AMC)
We knew this day was coming, but we didn’t know when it would happen or how it would go down. But now we do, because we just watched Michonne’s final episode of “The Walking Dead.” But we may not have seen her for the last time in the greater “Walking Dead” universe.
This was, in no way, a conclusive exit. Michonne (Danai Gurira) isn’t just still alive — she’s going on a quest to find Rick (Andrew Lincoln). Presumably this quest is taking her out of the TV series and into the theatrical films that will explore what happened to Rick last season after he almost blew himself up and was spirited away on a helicopter by an unknown party.
Michonne’s final episode picked up right where we last saw her — heading off with a guy named Virgil (Kevin Carroll) to some island in the Chesapeake Bay to find weapons to use against the Whisperers. It turned out there weren’t any weapons there after all, but Michonne found something much more surprising: evidence that Rick survived the bridge explosion.
This isn’t news to us, but it’s a major one for Michonne and everyone else. On her way back to the mainland, Michonne hits up Judith (Cailey Fleming) on the radio, and Judith basically demands that she go looking for him. And so she does, hooking up with a massive caravan of people as the episode ends.
But I wanna talk for a minute about one of the things Michonne found that she took as proof of Rick’s survival. Virgil showed her an old boat that had crashed there a while back, and on it he found Ricks boots — which he had brought back to his bunker. And when Michonne looked around in there herself she found an old cell phone with a chalk drawing of Michonne and Judith on it.
So this phone is perplexing on a number of levels. First, you should know that this phone is not something you forgot about from a past episode of “The Walking Dead.” It’s a totally new thing, and that’s why Michonne took it as solid evidence that Rick could still be out there. Rick either drew that picture after the explosion on the bridge, or it was just a thing he had kept from before that we just never knew about.
And that invites a whole new set of questions for which we have no answers. This boat with Rick’s stuff, Virgil says, washed up on the shore during a storm, but he doesn’t say how long ago that was. With the six-year time jump that “The Walking Dead” did immediately after Rick’s disappearance, there’s no point in trying to use the storm to guess when that boat washed up because it almost certainly is just something we don’t know about.
The boat itself is another big mystery. Was Rick actually on it, and if so why would he leave his boots on it? It might be that the helicopter folks dropped him on the boat to treat his injuries and accidentally left the boots and phone behind whenever they dropped him off — Rick could have drawn the picture while he was being cared for on the boat.
You might have missed, or forgotten, only real clue we and Michonne have about Rick, since it came up for just a brief moment right before Michonne found the phone. That clue was the ship’s log, which recorded its last known destination as “New Jersey, Bridgers Shipyard.” That’s not a real place, so your guess is as good as mine about what that means or where it is. The New Jersey coastline is a lot of ground to cover on foot.
And then we’ve got this mysterious large caravan of folks. We know nothing about them, which is pretty notable considering how massive a group it is. Unfortunately, we don’t know where they dropped Michonne off when she returned to the mainland. But if it’s on the west side of the bay at a spot relatively convenient for a return to Alexandria, then it would be pretty weird for there to be a group that large that we didn’t know about.
But it’s more likely that once Michonne decide to go after Rick, they dropped her off further north, closer to New Jersey. Either way, this group is a total wild card. It’s conceivable that they’re even a group from the civilization that the helicopter folks hailed from, just because it’s so many people. It doesn’t seem likely that a group that big would just be a random collection of vagabonds. It would make more sense for them to be a group of settlers from a big civilization who are heading out to establish a new town or something.
Wherever this story goes, I wouldn’t count on finding anything else out before, at the very earliest, the season 10 finale. And maybe we’ll be stuck in the dark until the theatrical movies that will tell the story of what happened with Rick. “The Walking Dead” has been playing a long game with these helicopter people, so we’ll have to continue to be patient.