If there’s one thing being a fan of The Walking Dead teaches you; it’s that no one is safe. There are no guarantees, no immunity, no complete sense of comfortability – your life is on the line every moment of every day. However, it’s not always death that the characters and fans fear while they watch the show, it’s losing the sense of power and confidence they’ve gained along the way. Andrew Lincoln recently did an interview with Entertainment Weekly and confessed that season 7 is going to show Rick as quite powerless.
“As the season finished, the story was about Rick being broken and realizing that basically everything that he thought has been turned upside down in the space pretty of much of a day. The world that he fought and strove for for so long has irrevocably changed.”
“You meet a man who’s powerless, terrified for his own life and his son’s family’s life, and everybody else beside him and he realizes that there’s a new world, a much bigger, scarier, and formidable world.”
Rick’s sense of self worth and confidence have grown as fans watched him navigate the zombie apocalypse for going on 7 seasons now. He started off lost and confused and quite frankly, overwhelmed, and when the danger presented itself in a very real way, he had two options; fight or flight, and he fought. He is a natural leader, someone who can walk into a room and demand your attention, but that wasn’t a responsibility he was sure he wanted and because of that – some inner struggles ensued especially during the first few seasons. After he was presumed dead his best friend slept with his wife and to top that off, she got pregnant…not exactly a happy welcome back. This led to external struggles, and the death of Shane, alongside what war was raging inside of him. Some might think this would have been the start of Rick’s demise, but it was the start of what made him strong enough; strong enough to survive this far, strong enough to assume the role of a leader, and strong enough to save the people he could along the way.
In a trailer for season 3, Rick was seen telling the group one of his most popular quotes of the show’s entirety.
“Let’s get one thing straight. This isn’t a democracy anymore.”
In season 4 he made an inspiring speech that he used to try to convince The Governor to change his mind, to let their opposition know that this hadn’t gone too far, not just yet.
“We let go of all of it and nobody dies. Everyone who’s alive right now, everyone who’s made it this far, we’ve all done the worst kinds of things just to stay alive. But we can come back. We’re not too far gone. We get to come back. I know we all can change.”
In season 5 he delivered another speech that really cemented his role as a leader as he let everyone around him know that while this world was hard and difficult, they couldn’t keep living behind walls and relying on them to stay alive. It was time to make choices and make changes.
“You still don’t get it, none of you do. 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. You pretend like you know when you don’t. I wish things weren’t what they are, but you want to live? You want this place to stay standing? Your way of doing things is gone.”
In season 6 Rick made a statement that showed strength and power and, while true up to that point, might be the last time he truly feels the way he did in that moment.
“Confrontation’s never been something we’ve had trouble with.”
So to hear Andrew speak so openly about the powerless and broken version of Rick that we’ll see on October 23rd, and in the episodes following, shows just how much Negan’s presence really does change everything. The characters will lose a family member, the fans will lose a loved one and the cast will lose both. Since Rick has been the leader of the group for so long we anticipate that some of the brokenness will also come from feeling a sense of guilt and concern, wondering that if somewhere along the way they’d made one different step or one left turn instead of a right – would they have still come to this moment, kneeling in front of a man who would take away everything?
Andrew concluded his EW interview with a statement that proves to us all that no matter how detrimental the upcoming loss is and how devastating of an end it seems like we’re all approaching, this is just one more step along the way.
“It’s just a continuation of a much bigger story,” says Lincoln. “We’re heading towards a bigger end point.”
The Walking Dead returns to AMC on October 23rd at 9 pm.