Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead, you might not want to read any read any further.
The question isn’t if Rick Grimes will recover from the gun clutching sabbatical he went on at the end of last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, but how long it will be until anger and paranoia conspire to push him to this reckless place again. Because while Rick has often been brought to the edge by circumstance and a need to protect his people before, his actions are becoming less defensible, and his fuse is becoming much shorter as he’s evolved into a creature who can handle the new world, but not necessarily the old.
With that in mind, here’s a look at Rick Grimes’ evolution from kindly small town cop to battle-hardened man and a potential ticking time bomb.
“I hear Nebraska’s nice.”
Supposedly, weary travelers Dave and Tony had wicked intentions for Rick and Hershel’s group in the Season 2 episode “Nebraska,” but despite the undeniable justification for Rick’s actions after Dave drew on him, these two still stand out because they were also Rick’s first human kills.
“I killed my best friend for you people.”
Anger guided the knife from Rick’s hand into Shane, and after the zombie herd tore through Hershel’s farm, Rick confessed to Lori that he wanted to kill Shane, causing her to push him away when he went to comfort her. Later, Rick shocked the rest of the group by saying that he had killed his best friend for them. He then brought about the end of democracy and the start of the “Ricktatorship.”
Tomas and Andrew
Once at the prison, Rick and his gang found a group of inmates, including Tomas and Andrew, a tandem that didn’t care for Rick’s presence. After a failed attempt to take Rick out, there was zero hesitation before he buried a hatchet into Tomas’ head. Rick then chased Andrew through the darkened hallways, trapping him outside as he begs to be allowed back in. Rick’s not good on second chances.
Following Lori’s death, Rick suffered his most everlasting and complete break from reality, talking to his dead wife on the phone and seeing visions of her and of Shane as the threat from The Governor loomed.
With Carl, Daryl, and Michonne in jeopardy, thanks to Daryl’s former buddy-by-circumstance Joe, Rick sank his teeth into Joe’s neck and gutted his associate. To my mind, this is the most brutal scene of a show with quite a history of on-screen brutality. It’s also the moment that may have severed Rick’s last tether to the old world. You don’t come back from something like that.
An Unholy Massacre
No conversation. No mercy for the wicked. Gareth and his Terminus flunkies had to be put down for their cannibalistic ways, and Rick was happy to dispense justice, much to the dismay of Gabriel and Tyreese.
The cracks have been evident since Rick got there. He’s not looking to fit in, he wants to take over. Even with Jesse, there is something more than merely wanting to protect her, obviously. Rick sees something (or in this case, someone) he wants, and he’s eager to take it by force.
In the closing moments of last week’s episode, the dog slipped its chain, and Rick’s secret gun finally came out. He’s convinced that he’s right. Convinced that through him is the only path to salvation, but good luck getting a consensus on that notion right now.
It’s hard to know what Deanna will do and who Rick can still count as a friend, but it seems clear that Rick’s state of mind and his ability to find balance between human nature and his feral side will greatly affect both the season finale and next season, especially if a bigger threat emerges beyond the wall.