Is it pessimistic to suggest that Rick Grimes is being set up for a major fall? Is it worse to suggest that it needs to happen? To be clear, I'm not suggesting that Rick will die anytime soon. But he may be due for a massive setback, which would perhaps throw some necessary perspective back into his life. And the timing would be right for this to happen during next week's mid-season finale.
Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers from this week's episode of The Walking Dead ("Crossed").
Rick really doesn't need to lose anyone else to remember he's a human being, or reclaim his inner sheriff's badge, but Season 5 is definitely building toward something and a big part of that seems tied to this hardened version of the series' lead character.
We can look back at the end of Season 4 when Rick Grimes tore a man's throat out to protect his son. He didn't think twice, and though the moment was brutal, we celebrated Rick's bravery and determination to keep his people safe. But looking at the massacre in the church and more recently, the way Rick was ready to kill a man during tonight's episode, until Daryl called him off, it's evident that his judgment is slipping.
There also seemed to be some hesitation in his face when new-Bob (aka Sitwell from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!) asked Rick if he was a cop. Ok, that poker face response may have been Rick's unwillingness to reveal anything about himself to this stranger, but some part of it may have been due to Rick barely associating himself as the lawman he once was. Because he's not really that guy anymore, despite what some of his mannerisms may suggest.
Can he ever be that guy again?
Right now, Rick is angry and it's unclear if there's any hope left in him. He's coming off as a man whose only purpose is to keep his people alive at all costs. While it's good that he prioritizes his people so highly, at the rate he's going, it won't be long before there's nothing left of the Rick we once knew. So either, Rick is headed over the edge, or something needs to happen to snap him out of it.
Will that something be the inevitable showdown with Dawn? "Crossed" put the pieces in place for Rick's group to face off against the people in the hospital in an effort to rescue Beth and Carol. When we consider the proximity of this ordeal to the escape from Terminus, not to mention how (relatively) easy it was for Rick's people to escape from Terminus, it seems like a reasonable prediction to suggest that the hospital will prove to be a more challenging, and potentially more devastating endeavor than Rick and his people are prepared for.
The matter's complicated more by the fact that Dawn's staff seems to be a mixture of people who are loyal to her and those who just want out. It's also worth considering that Dawn's people may be armed, but they don't seem as lethal as the Governor's guys, or the Terminus cannibals, which may make this situation seem like an easier objective. But maybe that's what we're supposed to think.
If Captain Obvious were sailing a ship through The Walking Dead, the boat's name would be "Something Bad Is Going To Happen." Something bad happens a lot on this show. Just watch Daryl stick his fingers into the melted eye-sockets of a pavement zombie and use it as a weapon for evidence of that. It's not out of left field to speculate that things aren't going to work out perfectly for Rick and his team as they attempt to get Beth and Carol back, nor should we discount the notion that things might get worse for Glenn, Maggie, Tara and Abraham's faltering team. But it seems necessary to emphasize that Rick's humanity has been slipping inch by inch for a while now, and he may be due for a wake-up call, which could very well come in the form of a major casualty.
Rick's evolution is one of the most interesting arcs of the series, and while he's proven to be strong and brave in the face of the worst kind of people -- living and dead -- internally, he's been heading down a dangerous road for a while now, and it seems like it's only a matter of time before something happens. We'll find out if that something actually does happen as Season 5 reaches its halfway point next Sunday.