I've been a big The Walking Dead fan since Day 1. I've followed the show closely, and eventually started reading the comics, too. I even belong to a "Walking Dead Talk Group" on Facebook, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. So I'm always ready to jump in on any conversation to be had about the show (or comics).
Yesterday, news broke that Andrew Lincoln, aka Rick (the show's lead), is reportedly leaving, and will only appear in 6 episodes next season. They offered a pay raise & the lead role to Norman Reedus (YAY Daryl! Even though he wasn't even in the freaking comics.) READ MORE HERE.
So, here's what I think about that. SPOILERS AHEAD, for those not caught up.
First, let me say...I've always said that Rick would die on the show. And not in the series finale, because that would be cheap, and an easy way out. The show is about survival, and how people can work together to make it in an apocalyptic world. So ending it with Rick's death would negate all that...I've always thought that they'd kill him off in either the last season, but toward the beginning of it...or in the second-to-last season, and then spend the final year showing how the "hero group" survives - and thrives - without him, perhaps based on everything they've learned from him.
That being said, we saw something happen in Season 8 that I did NOT, nor did I ever, expect to see. Carl's death. I always figured they were grooming Carl to be the leader after Rick was gone. That seemed like a natural fit, and Carl seemed to really be heading that way in recent seasons. Sure, he's still a punk annoying little kid, but keep in mind, HE'S A KID. Who had to kill his mother, and grow up in this BS world. He was growing and learning and probably could have been a great leader eventually, when it was necessary for him to step up. But they never gave him that chance, all to fix a stupid plot hole from the comics (I won't get into that here, but I STILL disagree with the decision to deviate from the source material. There were better ways to fix the problem).
However, now that Carl IS dead on the show, it kinda makes sense that Rick will be gone soon too. Carl was ALWAYS the thing that kept Rick going. More than his wife, who he hadn't seen eye-to-eye with even before the walkers came. More than his "other" child, and I put the word "other" in quotes because...you know why. More than his current girlfriend, because hey - we all love Michonne - but she's not Carl. He hasn't been through it all with her, but Carl...that's his flesh & blood. His one mission in this new world: Protect Carl. He's failed at that, so now he's not as motivated to provide that safe world he always dreamed about.
So. I'm not surprised Rick is leaving. But I AM surprised we know about it ahead of time. Not sure HOW this news got out, and it easily could have been someone on the inside that leaked it (and who will be in a lot of trouble if they're caught). But I can't imagine they ever wanted people to know when Rick would die. I mean, this WILL BE the biggest and most important death ever on the show. He's the lead character, for Pete's sake. On a show that gets its shock value (even more so than the blood & guts) from shocking deaths & plot twists, how could they not want to surprise fans with this death? And don't tell me they're going to leave him alive, but he'll be leaving the show to join Fear the Walking Dead or something like that. It's already stupid enough that Morgan has crossed over.
I know this show has a LOT of security measures in place to ensure spoilers don't get out, and we're only a couple months out from last season. There's still MONTHS to go before Season 9 starts, so how could this news be public knowledge? Makes me very disappointed. As I stated before, I have always EXPECTED Rick's departure/death. But I've also always enjoyed anticipating it - when will it happen? How will they do it?? I couldn't wait to find out what they had in store for our main man. But now, we know it's coming, and soon...so that takes a little of the fun out of it.
Darn you, The Walking Dead. But, let's be honest. I will continue to watch - on the edge of my seat - until the very last episode.