How The Walking Dead Made Rick's Upcoming Exit That Much More Depressing

Spoilers below for The Walking Dead's latest episode, so make sure to watch before reading on.

Under showrunner Angela Kang, The Walking Dead has layered its scenes and characters with more emotional underpinnings. Predictably, Andrew Lincoln's impending exit has added an indeterminable heaviness to Rick's final episodes, particularly where Michonne and Judith are concerned. In "Warning Signs," the creative team struck another heart-rending blow by having Rick and Michonne lovingly agree to try and have a baby together. This isn't going to end well, people.

Admittedly, the episode did not shy away from cluing viewers in on the danger our heartstrings were in. Early on, Rick had a quiet moment reflecting on Carl's death, by way of the handprint-endowed porch boards hanging on the wall. Rick and Michonne had a fun afternoon with Judith, allowing their attention to land on something other than the Savior-killer drama, the imprisoned Negan and all the other problems.

Later, when they're alone, they discuss that old chestnut about building a future for their loved ones. It's here that Rick introduced the idea about making their own personal contribution to the future. Though he doesn't make a big winky face or use any explicit language or gestures, it's clear that he's talking about conceiving a child with Michonne.

Rick and Michonne bringing a kid into the world is a more complicated concept than one might think, judging from all the warm feelings invoked by the episode scene. For one, the supply situation still hasn't fully been worked out (although there are less Saviors around to eat the food). As well, Michonne and Rick are two top-tier leaders within the communities, both from mental and physical standpoints, so it would be fairly problematic to have either or both once again dedicated to raising a newborn child.

Psychological complications are also worth noting here. Each of Rick and Michonne's biological children are all dead now, and they're raising a daughter whose DNA came from Lori and Shane. While neither one of them has any outspoken regrets about it, it's clear they would also like to have their own biological offspring to carry their combined bloodlines beyond the post-apocalypse.

However, for as beautiful as the concept of a Richonne baby may seem on the surface, fans are well aware that Rick will only be around for two more episodes in Season 9. Which generally means one of two things will likely happen.

Rick and Michonne could successfully conceive a new child that would go its whole life without knowing his or her father. Not the most ideal situation, but not the worst, as proven by Maggie and Lil Hershel. Alternately, Rick could die before the conception can happen, leaving Michonne with all kinds of "what could have been" scenarios floating around in her head.

In fact, Danai Gurira spoke at San Diego Comic-Con about her biggest Walking Dead challenge happening during Season 9's production, when a highly emotional sequence kept getting delayed by weather. In her words:

I had to experience that three times, a scene that required all of me like that in a very, very emotive way, I had to carry through about six days and three attempts that didn't happen because of Georgia weather. I think when the scene was over, I went through this weird physical response to having released it, and that was new. I was like, 'What's happening to me?'

Could it be that the turmoil Michonne will go through is tied to Rick's offspring plan? Or will her darkest days be wholly centered on Rick's death regardless of a possible pregnancy? There could some other reason, but it's not the most likely guess.

I'll admit that in all the ways I've envisioned The Walking Dead attempting to make Rick's departure as powerful as possible, I didn't envision Rick and Michonne wanting to give Judith a baby sibling to love on. Honestly, I can't even decide how I want that situation to turn out, although I feel safe sticking with "whatever Michonne wants."

Are you guys ready for the gut punch that's coming when Rick says farewell? Be sure to tune into The Walking Dead every Sunday night on AMC to see how it all gets resolved. Our fall TV premiere schedule can offer some fine alternative programming for those needing some lighter fare throughout the work week.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.