The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4 Review: The Obliged

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It can't end this way for Rick. Can it?

We've had months to prepare for it, and the closing moments of The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4 set up Rick Grimes' final episode. If anyone had any hope that Andrew Lincoln's tenure would end on a positive note, things certainly aren't looking that way right now.

You would think that the swan song for a major character such as Rick would be saved for a mid-season finale, but to have his farewell episode set merely five episodes into the season is unexpected.

Not Alone - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4

The world that Rick and his group had built following the war with The Saviors was impressive, with its future bright and full of optimism.

It's quite amazing how quickly things can go downhill.

I couldn't help but draw a parallel between Rick's vision for the future and the bridge. Just like the world that's been built, the bridge was in severe jeopardy of crumbling.

Let's Go Camping! - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4

Was anyone else concerned for Gabriel's life during his encounter with Anne?

As previously noted in my review of The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 3, Anne was attempting to do to Gabriel what she had planned to do to both Negan and Rick during The Walking Dead Season 8.

Given the fact the both Rick and Negan wiggled their way out of similar situations, I thought for sure Gabriel was a goner. What were the odds that Anne would fail for a third straight time?

While I would have hated to see Gabriel go out in such a way, I was very disappointed that Anne -- and the writers -- failed to pull the trigger.

The purpose of that scenario was to show that Anne possibly has genuine feelings for Gabriel, but at the same time, I wish the writers would show some cojones every now and then and truly shock us.

Rick: You know what keeping Negan alive means for us.
Daryl: I know what killing him means for her.

I'm not quite sure I understand the reasoning behind trying to infect these "A" people? What use could they be after being chowed on by walkers?

Could the helicopter group be experimenting on people who are infected?

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While Gabriel is safe, Anne's whereabouts remain a mystery following her sudden disappearance. Could she have been picked up by the helicopter? Unlikely, since the price of admission is being in possession of an "A."

Could Anne have found someone else to take Gabriel's place while he was knocked out?

This Looks Familiar - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4

My initial thought was the possibility of Rick being taken by that group, resulting in a non-lethal way of writing Rick out of the series.

Andrew Lincoln has stated that while he's leaving the series, his "relationship with Rick Grimes is far from over." That's a very cryptic message and has many fans speculating that just because Rick is leaving the series, that doesn't mean we won't see the character again in some capacity.

Scott Gimple also teased in a recent interview that something "big" was coming to the Walking Dead universe.

Could a Walking Dead movie be on the horizon which would follow Rick's journey after leaving the series? Angela Kang has also hinted at the possibility of more time jumps. If that's the case, a film centering around Rick may fill in the gaps following his departure.

Trouble In Paradise - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4

However, that would leave Rick's story open-ended. The character -- and the fans -- deserve a sense of finality to Rick's arc. As much as I hate to say it, death seems to be the only logical and appropriate way for Rick's story to come to an end.

Regardless of how Rick is written out of the series, The Walking Dead needs to tread very carefully with how it plays out to avoid adding to the series' already dwindling viewership.

Negan deserved to die when it ended. Rick was wrong because he made a call that wasn't his to make. I just want to make sure that you're not wrong in the same way that he was.


Maggie, on the other hand, feels to be a more appropriate candidate to leave with the helicopter group and pave the way for Lauren Cohan to return to the series down the road. If not with Anne's group, the next obvious choice would be for her to leave and join up with Georgie.

That letter that Maggie received from Georgie was mentioned for a reason. Perhaps the contents of the letter could be asking Maggie for some assistance with Georgie's group.

Perhaps Maggie will end up taking Georgie's place and begin traveling to different communities and help them rebuild, just as Georgie had done for Hilltop.

Of course, it's all speculation at this point, but that's what makes it so much fun!

You Have A Visitor - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4

If anyone was eager to see more interactions with Negan, this episode did not disappoint. His conversations with Michonne were gripping and helped us dive deeper into both character's psyche.

Negan knows how to read people. He was able to see right through Michonne trying to hide her difficulty adjusting to the new way of life. Michonne's late night walker rendezvous is the only thing that is keeping her sane.

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Like Negan, Michonne is built for the old world -- the warrior's world-- not the new one Rick is shooting for. And it's taking a mental toll.

We also had some moments of exploring Negan while at his most vulnerable, and learning more about his late wife's passing was heartbreaking. It brought more clarity to why his bat is such an important part of who he is.

I'm interested to see if the conversations between them continue and what they'll further reveal, that is if Maggie doesn't do something stupid.

I think I'm not meant to be rotting in this cell just like the warrior in you is not meant to be planting kale and kissing boo-boos.


When Rick caught wind of Maggie heading to Alexandria and hitched a ride with Daryl, we knew what was about to transpire.

I'm sure that I wasn't the only one rolling my eyes when Rick and Daryl went at it for the hundredth time. Seriously, how many times are we going to see them trade blows? It's getting old, guys.

Biker Buddies

While the pit was conveniently placed, the two of them tumbling in was probably the best thing that could have happened for their relationship. There was nowhere for either of them to run and were forced to confront each other.

Rick has been so caught up in trying to shove this new world down everyone's throats that he never really listened or considered what was in everyone else's best interest. Daryl drove home some heavy points to Rick, but they had merit.

Rick doesn't want Carl's death to be in vain, but at some point, Rick needs to realize that there is only so much that can be done. You can't help everyone, and more importantly, you can't help people that don't want to be helped.

I'd die for you... and I would have died for Carl, you know that. But you gotta hear me, you're chasing something for him that ain't meant to be, man. You just got to let him go. Let him go.


As difficult as it is to watch these two at odds, at the end of the day, they're family. It's something we can all relate to in our daily lives. We fight, we disagree, we argue, but in the end, families come together.

While some things that were said were difficult for Rick to hear, they needed to be said. It was a productive conversation and one that was a long time coming. The sad thing is that may very well be the last time those two speak to one another.

When Rick told Daryl that he was going to try and lead the herds away by himself, it felt extremely foreboding.

Coming For Dinner? - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4

Rick being thrown from his horse paralleled the very first episode of the season in with Rick riding through the streets of Atlanta. Only that situation on The Walking Dead Season 1 Episode 1 didn't involve RIck getting impaled on rebar.


While the location of the wound itself doesn't appear to be lethal, the problem is that Rick's now unconscious as the two herds are quickly approaching. Will Rick's end come lying there helplessly as he's torn apart by hundreds of flesh-starved walkers?

Not a chance in hell.

While the closing moments of the episode certainly set it up that way, it wouldn't be befitting for a character that has overcome so many dangers, trials, and tribulations to be done in by a freaking horse. When you think about it, it sounds too ridiculous to even be considered.

Relaxing by the Oceanside. - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4

If Rick is going out, he's going out on HIS terms. It makes me wonder if Rick will find one last bit of strength and lead the herd back towards the bridge. With it already about to give way, Rick might lure them right to it, causing it to collapse and wash away the walkers -- even if he dies in the process

Again, it would suit the character better to go out with one last heroic act saving his friends. Doesn't that sound much more in line with something Rick would do rather than being helplessly devoured by walkers?

Daryl: Man, you got that guy sitting in a cell like a damn symbol! To all them assholes who can't wait to see things go back tot he way that they were!
Rick: Keeping him alive is how we make sure it won't!
Daryl: No, keeping him alive gives them hope that it will.

However, I do believe that while Rick is unconscious he will have a dream of seeing his buddy Shane again. Since we know that Jon Bernthal is making a brief return this season, it would make the most sense of going that route.

Related: The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 3 Review: Warning Signs

What would be a pleasant surprise though, is having Chandler Riggs and Sarah Wayne Callies making appearances as well. Who knows what surprises might be in store for the upcoming episode.

Regardless, it's sure to be an emotional one. It's one that I'm dreading but at the same time looking forward to seeing how Rick's journey comes to an end.

If Rick does indeed die, it makes the recent family time shared with Michonne and Judith that much more meaningful. We often take those moments like those for granted, so if Rick doesn't get a chance to say goodbye, at least they have that time they spent together to cherish.

Get Off Your High Horse - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4

And just like that, we're one episode away from Rick's last!

The episode that will forever change The Walking Dead is upon us, and while we don't yet know for certain how it will all play out, having a box of Kleenex handy may be the only way to properly prepare for it.

Stray thoughts:

  • Did anyone else love the fact that Eugene has a system in place to track and name walker herds like hurricanes? Awesome!
  • I want more Jerry! He's been vastly underused so far this season.
  • The mother/son dynamic of Michonne telling Negan to eat his food was hysterical.
  • It was sad how disappointed Rick was with Carol deciding to leave her post at the Sanctuary. Rick has always looked to Carol for her approval, and for her to tell Rick that things aren't going to work was a tough pill for him to swallow.
  • Who made the pit that Daryl and Rick fell into, and what could it have possibly been intended for?

What did you think of "The Obliged"? Will someone come to Rick's aid or will he meet his end by the approaching herd? How do you think Rick's last episode will play out?

Hit the comments below and let me know!

Remember, you can watch The Walking Dead online right here at TV Fanatic.

Be sure to tune in for Rick's final episode on Sunday, November 4 on AMC!

The Obliged Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (20 Votes)

Steven Ford is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4 Quotes

Rick: You know what keeping Negan alive means for us.
Daryl: I know what killing him means for her.

Negan deserved to die when it ended. Rick was wrong because he made a call that wasn't his to make. I just want to make sure that you're not wrong in the same way that he was.